Generating the Florida Master Site File

As I’m sure you know by now, RuskinARC™ generates important state survey forms automatically from the information you put in. One of the more unique forms we’ve had to deal with was the Florida Master Site File. It wasn’t so much the information on it that was unique, but the format it had to be in.

The Florida Master Site File

Page 1 of the Florida Master Site File
The Florida Master Site File

The Florida Master Site File is an electronic form, more specifically a PDF that the user needs to fill in on their computer. Once filled in, they can be sent to the Florida Division of Historical Resources where they are loaded into their database by directly pulling the information from the PDFs.

After Miami Beach joined us as a client, we felt a moral imperative to get this form into RuskinARC™. They had told us pretty early on that their process for surveying at that point was to fill in the Florida Master Site File and then put the same information into RuskinARC™. This was the exact thing we were trying to avoid in making RuskinARC™ and we knew we had to do something. Getting rid of this kind of duplication is what the application is for!

The Method to Our Madness

Needless to say, when we started looking at integrating the Florida Master Site File, specifically the  Historical Structure form, into RuskinARC™, we saw immediately that it was going to be a problem. It’s not just that the form is a PDF, but a specially formatted PDF with embedded custom programming. We couldn’t just recreate it or make it a static form, we had to use the exact file issued by the Florida Division of Historical Resources. That meant figuring out how to get RuskinARC™ to fill in the PDF for us.

Lucky for us Adobe, the makers of the PDF technology, has already thought of this issue. It boils down to us generating a mapping between our information and the information that the Florida Master Site File expects (which we’re getting very, very good at now). We then merge the PDF and the information file together and get a finished PDF out the other end, fully mapped and ready for the Florida Division of Historical Resources.

The Results

Now with RuskinARC™, you can export a whole district’s Florida Master Site Files and get a zip file with hundreds of PDFs all ready for submission. This has saved Miami Beach countless hours of work and it’s now fully integrated with RuskinARC™ to save the next Florida community that uses it even more time and money.

Maybe our tagline should be “RuskinARC™: doing the painful work so you don’t have to.”

RuskinARC upgrades, new features!

Dear clients and friends of RuskinARC,

We’re starting the year off with a bang. RuskinARC is now better than ever for managing, mapping, and documenting your historic sites! It’s exciting to see all those great historic places mapped and managed online. Some projects are featured at — thanks to those who have let us showcase their historic architectural surveys and great places!

Major Improvements.

We wanted to make you aware of upgrades that will be rolled out on Sunday, December 16th, 2012. The improvements make RuskinARC work better in several important ways.

resource_summary_viewQuick summary of changes:

  1. New navigation — now condensed into smaller two top bars, allowing your sites to “shine” better onscreen.
  2. New “responsive” screen layout. RuskinARC will automatically fit itself to screens better, whether you or your visitors are on an iPad, a tablet, or a regular web browser with lots of room.
  3. Explanatory “titles” and helpful hints on what certain things mean.
  4. New “carousel” view that shows the photos of a historic resource when viewing its summary. There is a “detail” view for each historic site that prints out all the information recorded about it, but we want your visitors to get a better look at an individual building. More is coming on that, after this rollout.
  5. De-emphasis on language specific to the US National Register system. We’ve altered language here and there to accommodate other countries which may not use the exact terminology used in the States. We’ve done this while retaining all the utility for those using the US National Register system.
  6. Easier to enter the information you need. It’s now easier to “skip” certain bits of information if they don’t apply to what you’re doing. We did this by allowing sections of the page to open or close.
  7. Easier to make custom survey forms. Snappier back-end. Bugfixes. And much more.
  8. Most importantly…

edit_screen_partialRicher, more complete input.

Our most significant upgrade is offering more ways to record information, in better categories. For instance, you can now talk about whether or not a resource is open for tours, whether it’s for sale or rent, and whether or not it is endangered, and why.

All point and click.

RuskinARC has always worked on the principle that you are free to fill out the form as completely or incompletely as you wish, depending on your need. With the upgrades we can accommodate important needs that weren’t addressed before.

Better location and map info.


  • Local place name for subdivisions, plats, blocks, and more.
  • Setting, Landscape, and Site Features
  • Acreage, parcel, land unit size
  • Quad/Map name and date
  • more…

You can now tell the ‘story’ by simply adding a Historical Summary.

This is a great way to engage interest beyond the details and description.

Endangered or Threatened?

Add notes, recommendations, contact information

Is it a tourism or featured destination?

Add Contact information, Hours, and Amenities

Is it for sale, rent, or lease?

Residential? Commercial? Mixed? Add remarks, comments, contact information, and notes.

Easier handling of architectural descriptions, with more detail, as needed.

Add simple notes on architectural style and distinguishing features
Use simple text in addition to detail fields.

Better ways to talk about eligibility and integrity.

A breakout on historic Significance and Context.

Theme, area(s) and period of significance.
Add a statement of significance as needed

Improved handling of secondary or ancillary structures.

Better handling of moves, alterations, additions, and modifications.


Thank you all.  Again, we look forward to hearing from you. Contact me any time.

— Glen Payne



New Features: Updated View Page

We’ve just released a pretty big change to how buildings and sites are viewed. For the longest time, we’ve had what I like to call the data dump view; a large list of vitals that, while informative, wasn’t very pretty to look at. It’s something that is very useful for professional surveyors to view what kind of wall cladding material is in use and whether the windows are original or not, but for the average viewer, it didn’t concisely tell them what the building’s story was.

Details View
The Details View

In a step towards a more story-centric view of RuskinARC, we’ve come up with a new condensed view for all buildings and sites.

Story-Centric View
The Story-Centric View

By making the map, pictures and descriptive paragraph the central highlight on this page, we’ve showcased the most important pieces of what this building is about. Most of the details that are on the Detail View are also auto-built into the paragraph as well, so almost all the information entered is still there, just with a much more friendly way of seeing it. And all the detail information is still available through a Detail View button at the top of the screen, so nothing has been taken away.

We think this is much more accessible for a public view of the site and gives a much better view of the story of a building rather than just it’s vital statistics.

You can check out the new view and how it fits in with the rest of RuskinARC by viewing the Old West Lawrence District. If you have any comments or questions for us, feel free to comment below or contact us.