Productivity Corner: MicroStation V8 Lets You Interactively Create and Audit Working Drawings

14 Dec, 2004 By: James Dyer Cadalyst

Dimensioning, reporting, and standards-checking capabilities help ensure you communicate your design intent

Cadalyst MicroStation Productivity Tips included in Productivity Corner are compiled by James Dyer and were tested using MicroStation V8 2004 Edition.

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This month's Productivity Corner column will focus on interactively creating and auditing your working drawings in MicroStation.

Dimension Creation
The MicroStation V8 dimension toolbox has consolidated many of the dimensioning tools used in prior versions. There has also been a change to the traditional dimension placement order for linear dimensions. Each dimension has a new behavior whereby the selection of a linear or radial element will automatically display the appropriate dimensioning tool. Let's explore the new MicroStation Dimension toolbox and its changes.

An important change has been made to the traditional dimension selection order and is a new MicroStation default selection order. The new selection order intends to provide a more immediate dynamic display of the dimension. The default selection order is controlled by the setting of the MS_DIMLEGACYPOINTORDER configuration variable. The traditional dimension select order is active when the MS_DIMLEGACYPOINTORDER variable is set to 1.

Prior versions of MicroStation had numerous dimensioning toolboxes (figure 1).

Figure 1. Prior versions of MicroStation had numerous dimensioning toolboxes, such as this.

Element Dimensioning. This is used to dimension an element (line, line-string, multiline, shape, circular arc, or circle). Associations can be made to the element, as well as to components of complex elements that are part of a shared or unshared model (cell). This tool has a unique behavior whereby the selection of a linear or radial element will display the associated dimension tool for the selected element.

Linear Dimensioning. Dimensions linear distances between two points. An important function located in the Linear Dimension tool is the ability to select multiple elements before placing a dimension.

Angular Dimensioning. Determines the dimensioning of angular geometry.

Ordinate Dimensioning. Labels distances along an axis from an origin along the ordinate axis.

Change Dimension. Changes a dimension element to the active dimension attributes.

Match Dimension. Sets active dimension settings to the dimension attributes of a dimension element.

Reassociate Dimension. Reassociates dimensions to individual elements or a selection set of elements. Dimensions that lose their associativity are emphasized with a thick, dashed line.

MicroStation V8 has consolidated the dimensioning tools into one Dimension toolbar (figure 2).

Figure 2. MicroStation V8 consolidates the various dimensioning tools of previous versions into one Dimensioning toolbar.

Dimension Auditing
The Dimension Audit tool (Utilities / Dimension Audit) searches all dimensions in the active model, testing them for overridden text, dropped dimensions, and loss of associativity by toggling the Criteria option icons.

To find dimension errors, follow these steps:

  • Select one or more of the Criteria icons to set the criteria. Audits can be done using all the criteria at one time, or on any single or combination of criteria.
  • Select the Find icon.
  • Select a view with a data point to make it the active view.
Each error is highlighted with a red ellipse. When the error is corrected the ellipse changes to green. Any dimension errors are also listed in a report that displays in the Report field at the bottom of the dialog box (figure 3). Any problem dimension is highlighted in the file and the area is zoomed to in the active view.

Figure 3. MicroStation V8 checks for dimensioning errors, then highlights and reports them automatically.

Checking for Standards Compliance
The Standards Checker lets you check design files for compliance with predefined standards. The utility can check compliance using plug-ins for:

  • levels
  • dimension styles
  • text styles
  • line styles
Additional plug-ins can be written in either VBA or MDL. You can store the Standards Checker plug-in settings in DGNLIBs, just as for other project standards.

Defining settings. The Standards Checker Settings dialog box is where you define settings, which are saved in a DGNLIB. You first define the DGNLIBs that contain the level, text style, dimension, or line style standards. You can refine the search using options in the Checker Settings dialog boxes. These settings can be modified when you run the standards check.

Properties to check. If a property is selected, the Standards Checker compares the value for the property in the standards to the value for the property in the file being checked.

The Standards Checker Settings dialog box (Utilities / Standards Checker / Configure) lets you define a set of standards checks that will be saved in a DGNLIB.

The simplest way to organize standards check settings and standards is to store them in the same DGNLIB. You can also create a DGNLIB to store only the settings, and keep the standards in other DGNLIBs.

For dimensions, additional properties to check include the following:

  • Nonstandard Dimension Styles: Standards Checker compares the names of the dimension styles in the standards to the names of the dimension styles in the local file being checked. It then identifies the dimension styles that are not standard dimension styles. If you choose to fix the problem, the nonstandard style is deleted, and all dimensions that use the nonstandard style are reassigned to a standard style of your choosing.
  • Standard Dimension Styles: Standards Checker compares the properties of the dimension styles in the standards to the properties of the local file being checked. If you choose to fix the problem, the Standards Checker updates the properties of the local styles to match the properties from the standards.
Running an interactive standards check. The Standards Checker examines the active design file and compares the contents to the standards selected in the settings. In Interactive mode, the Standards Checker opens a window that displays the status of the process. When the Standards Checker finds a difference from the standard, it displays a message that explains the difference between the values found and the standard values. For each difference, you can choose to fix, ignore, or skip the problem. If you choose to ignore a problem, the Standards Checker records the fact that the problem is ignored, the current user, and the time.

Reports. The report file records the problems that Standards Checker encounters. The report file is written in XML format and contains information about the Standards Checker plug-ins that were applied to the file, the standards that each is checking against, the files that were checked, and details about the problems that were discovered.

The default report file name is displayed in the adjacent field. The default location for the report file is specified by the configuration variable MS_STANDARDSCHECKER_OUT.

To view the XML file in an easy-to-read format, you need an XML style sheet. The MS_STANDARDSCHECKER_STYLESHEET configuration variable specifies the style sheet to use. A default style sheet is provided, but you may want to develop a custom style sheet.

Standards checks as a batch process. The Standards Checker can be used in conjunction with the Batch Process utility to automate checking standards for many files at once.

To do this, you edit the batch process command file to include the command to run the Standards Checker, then you select the files to process. For an overview of the process, see Setting Up and Running a Batch Process. In the batch process command file, the syntax for the Standards Checker execution command is:

standardschecker execute [keyword=value,keyword=value[mldr ]]

By making it easy for you to examine your working drawings, MicroStation's dimensioning, auditing, and standards-checking capabilities help ensure you communicate your design intent.

Until next time -- enjoy MicroStation!

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