Productivity Corner: Borders and More with Model Seeds

15 Dec, 2005 By: Bill Wandersleben Cadalyst

Automate your drawing production by using the border file as a seed model.

In the first part of this article, we talked about using the delivered border files as reference file attachments or placing them as cells. Each method has advantages and disadvantages. I prefer the reference file method because with a reference file I can lock the files, thus enforcing company and project standards.

You can automate more of your drawing production by using the border file as a seed model.

MicroStation V8 introduced the concept of models within a design file. Part of the model implementation is the ability to create a model from models that reside within a seed file.

This particular option is especially useful if you use the referenced border technique for composing your drawings. It has further advantages if you also scale your border with the Annotation Scale tool that you can apply to text and dimensions. The Annotation Scale setting enables you to set your text and dimension text heights to the correct size to plot instead of having to scale text for plotting.

Models, or specifically sheet models, introduced the concept of a persistent plot layout or area. This addresses one of the fundamental functions users have had to do for ages, namely place a fence around the part of the drawing they wish to plot and then issue the plot command. Even with some of the previous enhancements such as batch plot, this solution wasn't as clean as it is now. You can still use a fence if you want to capture an area to plot, but if the sheet layout is present, the plotting dialog box will use it as the first option for the plot area.

While this discussion may seem a bit off topic, these operations are an important part of creating a new drawing, whether from a highly modified company seed file or working from scratch.

Knowing this, if you investigate the contents of the border files delivered with MicroStation (by default: Bentley\workspace\Projects\Examples\Borders\ANSI\Architectural\ISO), you find that all of these important settings are already established for each and every scaled model contained therein. So, how do you use them in your work? If you create a new model, you can select two basic types of models: design and sheet. Of these two, the sheet model is the only one that supports the sheet layout. So when selecting your new drawing scaled sheet, you want to select Sheet From Seed during the Create New Design operation. As an aside, you can always change a design model to a Sheet model via its Properties dialog box -- especially handy if you have existing V7 files you want to bring into the V8 sheet layout workflow.

The next step in the process is to select the specific seed file and sheet model. Fortunately, in the Create Model dialog box, a browse icon (looks like a magnifying glass) provides a quick method for performing this function (figure 1).

Figure 1. The Create Model dialog box with the browse icon just to the right of the Seed Model field.

The File Select dialog box appears (figure 2).

Figure 2. Navigate to select a file.

Once you have selected the appropriate seed file (the contents of the seed should be obvious by its file name), you'll need to select the sheet model within the seed file (figure 3).

Figure 3. The name of the model indicates the target scale of the border attached as the new design's reference.

If you look closely, you'll see that the name of the sheet models use a semi-colon and not a colon, as you would expect. This is to help avoid confusion with the use of the colon as a special character in coordinate data entry

When the different scaled models are used, the Annotation Scale is automatically set, in this case to 1:10, and the Annotation Scale Lock is turned On. The Display Sheet Layout is also enabled and the size is set to the correct border, in this case ISO A1.

At this point, you are ready to begin your design work without further consideration for the layout of the drawing itself. Cool, huh!

If you tried using the border in the first part of the article as a reference file attachment, you may be confused when you look at the Reference File dialog box after using the sheet model seed method. When you attach the model as a reference file, the model that was selected is referenced, and the default model is nested to the scaled model. In the sheet seed method the default model is referenced and the scale is set in the reference file attachment with the same settings used in the seed model. Note that the Nesting is set to none (figure 4).

Figure 4. Nesting set to none.

Whether you use the cell placement method or the reference method, your setup will reflect your company's standards and workflow. In either case, you'll find that sheet models, annotation scale and the example borders help to make your drawing setup and output more productive and efficient.

About the Author: Bill Wandersleben

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