Sharing Files the PDF Way, Part II

15 Aug, 2004 By: James Dyer

Use MicroStation to enrich your PDF files with links, attachments, search capabilities, and more.

This month's Productivity Corner column continues its focus on the power of effectively and securely sharing AEC drawings and project information. This is Part II of a two-part series on creating enriched PDF files and navigating PDF documents produced from MicroStation.

Last month we learned how to produce authentic Adobe PDF documents directly from MicroStation V8 2004 Edition. That means anyone using that version or any of its vertical applications can produce Adobe PDF files to efficiently and securely share project information.

This month, we'll discuss how to use MicroStation V8 2004 Edition's PDF Composer to publish rich PDF documents that contain engineering links, searchable text, advanced security options, and level and file information, as well as audio or video instructions, bookmarks, internal PDF document links, Web URL links, digital signature fields, and attachments that contain project specifications.

Creating a PDF
Let's explore creating a PDF from a PDF Composer plan set. By selecting the Export PDF option in PDF Composer, you can choose a plot set of all or selected sheets as well as set configuration options such as the version compatibility of Adobe Acrobat Reader and level and file information, including how that level and file information will print (figure 1). You can specify whether to include URLs, engineering links, and searchable text. Inaddition, you can apply a document-open password as well as a password to restrict printing and changes. Print options include restricting recipients to high or low resolution or not allowing them to print at all. Another four options govern what changes are allowed within the PDF. Finally, you can choose whether to invoke the PDF viewer after creating the PDF file.

Figure 1. Set your output configuration options.

After you create the file, Acrobat Reader automatically launches and displays the new PDF file, at which point the system asks you to enter the file-open password you established during configuration. Notice that the PDF file contains bookmarks for each of the sheets it contains, making it easier to navigate composite PDFs (figure 2). You can turn layers on and off within the sheets and use the printing options to print a document as it appears on screen or in its original format. You can search for specific text contained within the PDF file. Search results appear as hyperlinks that take you directly to the selected PDF file.

Figure 2. Simplify PDF file navigation by using bookmarks and layer controls.

PDF Files with Added Intelligence
Let's look at creating a PDF file that contains added intelligence. When you draw an object in MicroStation, it has certain visual attributes such as colors, lineweights, thickness, fills, and patterns. Collectively, these are known as the object's symbology.

By default, MicroStation publishes objects with the same symbology used to draw and display them on screen. However, you may want to alter the appearance of certain objects during publishing without modifying the original files. This process is called resymbolization, and you accomplish it using design script files (figure 3). When you enable design scripts, you can add intelligence to the PDF document in the form of multimedia with bookmarks to video clips, digital signature fields, nested bookmarks from the sheet level, interdocument links that allow users to dynamically move to a specific part of the PDF file, Web URL links, and file attachments.

Figure 3. Increase the richness of your PDF documents by using design scripts.

Once you configure your composition parameters within MicroStation and your design script, you'll need to attach the design script to the sheets to incorporate this additional intelligence in the PDF document. Update the current Settings file by first selecting it. It's always good to check the Printer setting while you're at it. You can also edit the iPlot section, which controls settings for DGN and DWG files. Use the right-mouse click to attach the design script (figure 4). Then simply save your updated Settings file using the right-mouse click option.

When you've appropriately configured all parameters, use the File Export PDF feature. Now MicroStation publishes the composite PDF file that contains the sheets selected and the output settings, incorporating the design script components in the process.

Figure 4. Attach the design script to the sheets you are publishing.

Navigating the Intelligent PDF
Now let's look at how to navigate the intelligent PDF file we just produced. Of course, the first step is to enter the file-open password established in MicroStation. Nested bookmarks provide more comprehensive top-line navigation. The PDF file contains a bookmark that allows you to navigate directly to an embedded multimedia file, which you may select to run from within the PDF file. Project specifications have also been added to one of the sheets in the PDF document.

MicroStation automatically places a "pushpin" that navigates directly to an embedded PDF file when selected. You may also bookmark areas of interest that users can click on to navigate directly to the referenced information. Another way to navigate to areas of interest is a hotlink within a sheet (figure 5).

Figure 5. Added intelligence simplifies PDF file navigation.

You can also navigate to a section of a given sheet that has a signature field, which the design script placed. Select the Signature field to apply a digital signature to the PDF document. Add the digital ID from within Acrobat Professional. When you create the digital ID, you first need to supply your personal information for the signature. Once you create the digital ID, you can apply it to a PDF set (figure 6). Include a description of the reasoning for the document, if you wish. Note that the Digital Signature field displays your digital signature. Once you complete this process, save the information to the same PDF document or use the Saveas option to save it under a different name.

Figure 6. Use your digital ID to sign and authenticate documents.

Winning Combination
Adobe PDF is the universal format for sharing AEC drawings and project information, and MicroStation V8 2004 Edition's PDF capabilities represent the most comprehensive in the industry. The tips I've shared in this two-part series should help you make the most of the system's features and reap the benefits of the PDF file format.

Until next time - enjoy MicroStation!

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