PRODUCTIVITY CORNER: Design History Basics

11 Apr, 2006 By: Bentley Systems,Incorporated

How can design history help you?

Question 1: What is Design History?
Answer: Design History is the ability to record changes and additions made in a design file.

Design History provides a complete revision control system, which enables users to track and view incremental changes made to a model or drawing. Changes also can be tracked all the way to the element level. To help track the revisions, each is identified with a revision number, the time and date, the author and a description.

Design History can be and should be turned on by default. Therefore, all changes in a model or drawing are identified and tied to a specific revision number. By tracking all changes on the element and revision level, users easily can roll changes back in time in a nonlinear way.

Design History can:

  • Track all committed changes
  • View and print changes before and after
  • Undo changes
  • Redo changes
  • Select via List Filter
  • View changes on an element by element level
  • Restore revisions by date and number

Question 2: How Do I Start Using Design History?
Answer: You can initiate Design History in a couple different ways. Go to the Utilities pull down and choose Design History. Then, from its resulting submenu, choose Initialize. Alternatively, right-mouse click on the Design History area of the status bar and choose Initialize from the menu.

Turn Design History on as soon as a file is created. It works best if it is turned on by the first user immediately after a file is created from the seed file. Typically, the Design History is started by the site administrator. Once turned on, all changes in a model or drawing are identified and tied to a specific revision number. By tracking all changes on the element and revision level, you can easily recover any prior state of a model or undo any single desired change. How often the revisions are committed (recorded) is under user control. The general recommendation is that changes to files should be recorded at least daily to allow for easier recovery. For some projects, more frequent recording of data may be desirable.

Question 3: Can Multiple Users Access the Same Design File?
Answer: Currently, file sharing is not available. The ability to share files is planned for MicroStation V8 XM. When file sharing does become available, the files must be accessible over a network and design history must be enabled. The file then will be designated as a shared file, and ProjectWise V8 XM Edition will copy portions of the shared file to the local cache directory on the client machine. This version will be treated like the original file. When the file is ready to be committed, MicroStation will then check to see if any new changes have been made to the original file. If new changes are found, only those changes will be sent to ProjectWise V8 XM Edition, read and merged into the master of the file.

Question 4: Can I Use Design History with Other Products that Run on top of MicroStation V8?
Answer: Design History works at the raw element level; therefore, the application used to modify data does not matter. It will not record changes that come from applications outside of MicroStation, such as databases.

Question 5: How Does Design History Resolve Conflicts?
Answer: Design History does not resolve conflicts at this time. This functionality will be incorporated into ProjectWise V8 XM Edition.

Question 6: What is the List Filter?
Answer: The List Filter allows you to list design history elements according to selected text criteria. Search options are revision, date, author and description.

Question 7: What Does the Show Design History Dialog Box Do?
Answer: The Show Design History dialog box is primarily a viewing tool. Any changes you make with "Undo" or "Redo" are limited to the selected elements in the selected revision. In contrast, the effects of the Restore elements dialog box are cumulative. If you elect to restore an earlier revision, all of the changes following the selected revision are removed. Therefore, it is suggested to use the Restore elements dialog box for recovery to a specific version.

Figure 1. Use the Show Design History dialog box to view all the revisions made.

Changes are tracked for all elements. Although the Commits are keyed to a single author, the changes can be viewed and restored from a wide range of combinations. Because the logic for combinations of selection sets, multiple revisions and undo's and redo's can be quite complex, the examples deal with the straightforward use.

A revision records the difference between the current state of the model and the last revision saved. Only the delta is saved in the Design History area of the file, which minimizes additional storage requirements for history. Design History revisions record changes in a linear fashion, from the inception of history to the present. Branching currently is not supported.

When enabled, the history becomes part of the file. MicroStation preserves the integrity of the history as carefully as it does ordinary elements; therefore, Design History serves as a reliable audit trail.

Question 8: How Can I Set the Revisions Numbers to What I Want?
Answer: By going to the Utilities pull-down menu and choosing Set Revision Number you can create a new revision in history. The updated version number displays in the Design History dialog box and all subsequent commits will have revision numbers following on from that (figures 2 and 3).

Figure 2. Changing the revision number.

Figure 3. The updated revision number in the Show History dialog. Revisions will now be subsequent to that new revision number.

Question 9: What is the Difference between Commit and Save?
Answer: Save is just what you would do in MicroStation and should be done while you are working in the design file. A commit is a copy of all of the elements you've changed since the last commit. Actually, it is not the copy of the elements themselves but a copy of the elements as they existed before your changes. It is recommended that commits be done when a significant amount of edits or additions have been made to the file. When you commit you also change the revision history, but you don't when you save. The Design History is maintained even with a File/Save As. Within the Element Changes dialog box, this history is indicated as a change in the design filename. All other items in the Design History are unchanged.

Question 10: Will System Requirements Change with Design History Initiated?
Answer: No. System requirements will not change. MicroStation V8 incorporates a high degree of file compression.

About the Author: Bentley Systems

About the Author: Incorporated

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