Standard Operating Procedure

16 May, 2004 By: James Dyer

MicroStation V8 makes it easy to establish consistency throughout the design process.

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This month's Productivity Corner focuses on the power of standards. With the increasing number of people and documents involved in the design process, establishing comprehensive standards is more important today than ever before. Standards come into play in many different areas of design. This article, Part I in a series on standards, examines level considerations.

Establishing CAD standards is the first step toward ensuring consistency throughout your design operation. Once established, standards require continual monitoring and enhancement. The ease with which you can create, implement, and update your standards is key to accelerating your organizational efficiency and productivity. MicroStation V8 makes it easy to accomplish such tasks.

MicroStation V8 removes all barriers associated with establishing standards. In moving to MicroStation V8, you should evaluate your existing standards and determine whether to migrate them as is or update them. Most companies choose to update standards during their MicroStation V8 migration.

Develop a systematic approach to establishing company-, project-, and user-level standards for creating, exchanging, and collaborating on project-level information. During this process, keep in mind that standards should:

  • be easy to use, understand, and update;
  • complement industry-accepted references;
  • improve consistency in shared documents;
  • improve the efficiency of document creation; and
  • support your organization.

The architectural/engineering/construction world abounds with standards, ranging from international standards such as ISO to industry standards such as BS 1192 to data-exchange standards such as IGES, STEP, and so forth. When you explore the definition of a new standard, I recommend you review public standards as a reference and to accelerate your efforts.

One of the first areas to focus on when establishing standards is how you will identify levels. Each element in a model is on a drawing level. Levels in a CAD model, as you know, are analogous to transparent overlays on a hard-copy design. In the pre-V8 days, MicroStation limited the number of levels and required you to name them Level 1 through Level 63. MicroStation V8 allows a virtually unlimited number of levels (4 billion) in a DGN file, making it possible for you to organize your files in an entirely new way.

When you move to MicroStation V8, the system automatically assigns names to all levels if you have not defined names in the pre-V8 file.

Pre-V8 Level Number V8 Level Name
1 Level 1
16 Level 16
63 Level 63

However, if you associate names with your pre-V8 levels, your results will be different.

Pre-V8 Level Number (with name) V8 Level Name
1 Geometry
16 Dimensions
63 Borders

Controlling the migration of levels to MicroStation V8 is further automated by configuring MicroStation Workspace Levels variables (figure 1).

Figure 1. The Levels Configuration dialog box.

You can use level filters to control which levels you see at a given time. Level filters are a great way to display associated levels that you wish to view -- or not view -- as a group. Because most DGN files contain hundreds of levels, not to mention references, you might want to filter levels based on disciplines, group, or subgroup. You could easily define a filter called Wall, for example, that shows only levels that have the word wall as part of the description.

Architecture Full-height Wall Demo Level
A Discipline Group
WALL Major Group
Full Minor Group
Demo Status

Using Filter Row in the Level Manager dialog box (figure 2), you can name, save, and recall filters as needed or define them on the fly for immediate, one-time use. Use the Level Display dialog box to turn filters on and off, and use filters to turn levels on or off across a model and all its attached models. You can filter levels using attributes such as filename, color, style, line weight, and level groups, to name a few.

Figure 2. The Level Manager dialog box is used to create filters and groups.

When defining filters, you can use different expression types depending on the column where you input the expression. The three basic forms of expression are string, integer, and Boolean. The system provides a syntax to filter attributes with wildcards (such as * and ?), similar to the search criteria of Windows Explorer. In addition, you can use set-based operations such as | (or), & (and), and - (minus). String expressions are applied to string values. Integer and Boolean values use integer and Boolean expressions.

String expressions. The string expression format (figure 3) is similar to the format supported in the Windows Explorer Search dialog. Again, set-based operations uch as | (or), & (and), and - (minus) are available. String expressions are valid for the Name, Description, File, and Logical columns in the Level Manager dialog box.

Figure 3. Examples of string expressions.

Integer expressions. Integer expressions (figure 4) apply to integer numbers -- for example, 1, 10, 15-20. Integer expressions also use comparison operators: > (less than), >= (less than or equal to), < (greater than), <= (greater than or equal to), and ! = (not equal to). Integer expressions are valid for Number, Color, Style, Weight, and Elements in the Level Manager dialog box.

Figure 4. Examples of integer expressions.

Boolean expressions. Boolean expressions (figure 5) apply to check boxes. They can take a value of 0 or 1. Boolean expressions are valid for Global, Lock, Used, and Library in the Level Manager dialog box.

Figure 5. Examples of Boolean expressions.

Optional flexibility for Bylevel symbology. Finally, MicroStation V8 supports the use of Bylevel symbology so you can change the symbology of individual elements. When you run MicroStation together with the MDL application SYNCHBYLEVEL (figure 6), the active color, active line style, and active lineweight reset to Bylevel each time the active level changes.

Figure 6.

The standards-setting facilities of MicroStation V8 are the most comprehensive in the industry. Using company-, project-, and user-level standards make the difference in operating productively and proficiently. The levels capabilities in MicroStation V8 deliver significant flexibility to you and your company. And as you've seen, creating level names, filters, and groups couldn't be simpler.

Next month we'll continue our journey through standards with a focus on symbology, libraries, and text.

Until next time -- enjoy MicroStation!

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