Collaboration Made Simple

9 Apr, 2004 By: James Dyer

Add models and references to your projects to improve collaboration and information exchange.

This month's Productivity Corner focuses on MicroStation V8's powerful models concept. More people than ever are contributing to today's design and engineering projects, requiring structure in how we establish and navigate the relationships of our deliverables. In this column, we concentrate on creating models that help maintain order in a project and ultimately compose your design drawings for printing.

A MicroStation V8 DGN file is composed of one or more models you create. These can be design models, sheet models, or both. A design model is either 2D or 3D, consists of design geometry, and stores as a discrete object within the DGN file. A sheet model is used to attach references for composing drawings.

As you draw or place elements in a MicroStation DGN file, you are in essence creating a model. Think of a DGN file as a box that can contain both 2D and 3D objects -- models -- any of which you can view individually. Think of the sheet model as the blank piece of paper used for the composition of construction documentation. You can assemble their scale-dependant views onto the sheet model. The sheet model is the key to ensuring predictable printing results. You establish the drawing border for a dedicated output scale. Should the sheet have views with multiple scales, each view will be placed as required. Within a DGN file, every model has its own unit system. However, levels are DGN file-specific and not model-specific. Finally, every model has its own set of eight views. The model that has views displayed or available for display at a given time is the active model. You can display only one active model at any given time, either a sheet model or a design model.

Create a Design Model
When you create a DGN file from a seed file, you are generating the empty container setup with a default model ready for you to create your design. If you use a 2D seed file, the default setup is 2D; a 3D seed file defaults to a 3D setup. In either case, you can create both 2D and 3D design models in the open DGN file. Set up a DGN seed file that contains a series of design models and sheet models that adhere to working practices, and you'll improve consistency throughout the project.

Figure 1. MicroStation's Models dialog box lets you create and move among different models in a DGN file.

Use MicroStation V8's Models dialog box (figure 1) to create discrete design models within a single DGN file and to quickly switch between those models.

We'll use the MicroStation sample file OFFICE.DGN throughout this exercise. You can find OFFICE.DGN in the directory : \ PROGRAM FILES \ BENTLEY \ WORKSPACE \ PROJECTS \ EXAMPLES \ ARCHITECTURAL \ DGN.

Each new DGN file contains a default design model. The default model is ready for element placement. However, the name and description are default values, so I recommend you open the Models dialog box and change these to more meaningful values.

Create a Sheet Model

    Figure 2. Initialize creating models.
  • Click on the Models icon. The Models dialog box opens and displays the current models within the active DGN file.
  • Select the Create a New Model button.
  • Choose Sheet from the pull-down menu. The system prompts you to name the sheet model and provide a brief description. Name the sheet model OFFICE LAYOUT and in the Description field type PROPOSED FLOOR PLAN.
  • In the Annotation Scale field, enter 1:50.
  • In the Sheet Properties area, click on the jump box and select the size ISO A0.
  • The Cell Properties toggle should be unchecked. To use this sheet model as a cell in the future, check the toggle Can Be Placed As A Cell.
  • Click OK.

Congratulations! You've just created a sheet model. The screen should display a white background and no graphical elements.

You can dynamically change any model parameter whenever you desire. And as with design models, you use the Models dialog box to navigate between sheet models.

To explore further, examine the header bar at the top of the MicroStation V8 window, which shows you are still in the OFFICE.DGN file. However, notice that the sheet model's name now appears in the Active view. Furthermore, identifying and navigating between models is simple because the system presents different icons for design and sheet models in the Models dialog box.

Referencing Models
In a typical project, a design model consists of the active model as well as one or more references to other models. As you might expect, references can be from the open DGN file or from other DGN files within the network.

Of course, models included as references to the active model retain their links to the original, or source, model. Therefore, any changes to the original model reflect in the references. Using references gives you the option of having several designers work on a project simultaneously. Let's now attach a title block as a reference.

  • Double-click on the sheet model Office Layout. Notice the shadow around the sheet area. This is the printable area of our ISO A0 sheet.
  • Launch the References function. Select Attach.

Figure 3. Establish your Reference Attachment settings.

  • In the Model pull-down list, choose 1:50. Orientation should be Coincident -- Aligned with Master File to match the sheet scale size.
  • The True Scale toggle should be checked.
  • The Nested Attachments option should be Live Nesting.
  • Select OK.

Now we have two models in the OFFICE.DGN file: one design and one sheet. To finish our exercise, reference your design model into your sheet model for printing purposes.

Attach the Model to the Reference

  • Keep the Models dialog box open, or reopen it if you closed it.
  • Keep the References dialog box open, or reopen if you closed it.
    Figure 4. MicroStation's References Attachments dialog box.
  • Highlight the Design Model default. Drag and drop it from the Models dialog box to the References dialog box.
  • The Attach Source Files dialog opens and prompts you to specify the method of attachment for this one reference or multiple models or references. Select Interactive and click OK. A References Attachment dialog box opens (figure 4), where you can choose various options.
  • The model name should be Default.
  • Orientation should be Aligned with Master File.
  • True Scale and Show Raster Attachments should be toggled on.
  • Select OK. The attachment is complete (figure 5), and you're ready to print.

Figure 5. The model is now attached to the reference attachment file.

Models are a tremendous productivity-enhancing toolset. As you can see, it's simple to create, identify, and navigate MicroStation's design and sheet model functions. Incorporating models and references in your projects is a structured way to collaborate and exchange information.

Until next time -- enjoy MicroStation!

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