Productivity Corner: Border Utility for V8

13 Oct, 2005 By: Bill Wandersleben,Frank Conforti Cadalyst

Customizable sheet borders help you develop ANSI, architectural and ISO drawings in the standard drawing scales.

At one time or another, you've needed to set up a sheet drawing scale and fill out a drawing title block's text. You may have accomplished this task with the assistance of a VBA application or an old user command. Enter_data fields were, and still are, often used in this process.

Design Files

Figure 1. MicroStation includes three sets of border folders that correspond to the three major categories of drawing types: ANSI, architectural and ISO.
However, MicroStation has a method for developing perfectly scaled sheet layouts without the aid of a third-party application. A series of design files in the Example folder can provide you with customized sheet borders ready to use with minimal modification to develop drawings at any of the standard drawing scales you will likely encounter (figure 1).

Within each of these folders, you'll find design files with names associated with the size and type of border you'll work with. For instance, the ANSI folder contains the following files:


An ANSI drawing user should know what each of these represent. What's more important is what is contained within each of these files. Let's take a look at any of the files in the Examples/Borders/ANSI folder. When you open any of the files, you will see the border in the default model. Open the Models dialog box, and you will see several different models in the design file (figure 2). Each of these models has the default model referenced into the different models. It is important to note that whether you use the reference attach method or the place cell from cell library method (you can use either technique), you do not select the default model. Instead, you will pick the model that represents your target drawing scale, including 1:1 (full scale).

Figure 2. The list of models contained within each ANSI border design file. Note the use of the semicolon in the model cell. This was necessary because the colon is a special character that cannot be used in a model or cell name.

You can see from the name that the scale is different for each model. If you open the 1:2 scale model, you will see the same graphics as you do in the default model. If you open the Reference File dialog box, you will see that the default model has been referenced at a scale of 2:1. Each of the models has been referenced at the appropriate scale. The only graphics that is in each model is the scale in the title block. The rest of the graphics are all in the default model, so you can make global changes to each of the different scales just by changing the default model. Because you can place models as a cell, you can use the same file as a cell library and just select the border scale by the name instead of looking up the scale factor on a chart. Same with the reference file attachment. All you need to do is select the model and the applicable scale model and keep the reference scale factor set to 1:1.

Title Block Tag
You may notice a little note at the bottom right corner of the border that states: "Copy this cell to the master file." This cell has a tag associated with it to fill in the title block. If you attach the border as a reference file, then you need to get the tag set locally to the master file. Use the Copy Element tool to copy the element from the reference file to the master file. Once copied, you can easily fill in the title block information by using the Edit Tag tool (figure 3).

Note: The copied cell is on its own level, so you can turn it off after you have filled in the values for the tag fields. Without the cell you cannot edit the tag fields because you need to have something to select to use the Edit Tag tool.

Figure 3. The Edit Tag dialog box is easy to fill out with the new Style dialog box.

The title block is reflects the data you enter in the Edit Tag tool dialog box (figure 4).

Figure 4. Note how the tag text now appears in the title block at the proper scale.

With MicroStation V8, you can now move from one tag entry to the next by using the Tab key and the Shift-Tab keys to move up.

Tags are the way to go for the title block. They go back and forth to DWG well, and if you are considering ProjectWise as your project/document management application, ProjectWise uses this same tag set to extract the title block information.

Attach or Insert?
Now that you see how you can use a border DGN file to set your drawing scale, let's review the issues surrounding the decision to attach these models as references versus inserting them as cells.

If the border is a cell, then you don't have to include the border file in the data set. Nice if you have a small job to transport with just the single file and not worry about the reference file attachment. However, if you need to customize the border with customer name and project number, then you need to modify the cell for each job so you end up keeping the modified cell with the project.

If the border is a reference file attachment, then you need to keep the reference file in the reference file directory path. Using the reference file method has great advantages from the project management side. If global changes need to be made to the border sheet, then everyone in the project will get the changes when they open the different files. With today's ongoing business penchant for merging companies, this happens more often than we like to think.

In most cases it is best to customize the border files for each project and keep them with the project. A good practice is to keep these files locked so they don't get changed by unauthorized team members. This is also a good time to investigate the use of MicroStation's support of digital signatures!

If you like the reference file method, next month we'll discuss model seeds and how to further automate your drawing creation.

About the Author: Bill Wandersleben

About the Author: Frank Conforti

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