Tracking Your Every Move

12 Mar, 2004 By: James Dyer

Design History feature lets you record, review, and restore changes throughout a project

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

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This month's column focuses on the Design History facility of MicroStation V8 2004 Edition. Today our design and engineering projects are increasing in complexity and evolving from task-based design activities to interdisciplinary activities. Being able to record, review, and restore information at specific stages of the project life cycle lets you work more efficiently and make decisions more effectively.

Design History
Design History is a comprehensive revision-control system. You can track design changes from the file to the element level, restoring elements to a prior state at any time. Each revision is identified with a unique number, the time and date, the author, and a description.

In MicroStation, a revision records the difference between the current state of the model and the last revision saved. To minimize storage requirements, the system saves only the incremental changes in the Design History area of the V8 DGN file. Design History revisions record changes in a linear fashion.

Once you've started Design History, you cannot remove revisions from the Design History of a V8 DGN file. Similarly, there is no way to modify historical information. MicroStation preserves the integrity of history as carefully as it does ordinary elements, so Design History serves as a reliable audit trail. The system maintains Design History even if you save the file to a new name.

Initializing Design History
Design History works best when the first user turns it on immediately after creating the file from the seed file. Once you turn on this facility, the system identifies all changes in the file and ties them to a specific revision number. Typically, a site administrator initializes Design History. You then make changes and commit them as revisions. You control how often to store the revisions.

  • Open the Design History tool box: Tools menu / Design History.
    Figure 1. Initiating the MicroStation Design History.
  • Observe that there's only one icon available, the Initialize option (figure 1).
  • Click the Initialize tool.

Once you initialize the file, Design History is active within that file.

You now may set your own version-labeling system within Design History. SetVersion allows you to change the numbering or representation of the Design History. For instance, if you are on Revision A.1, you can use History SetVersion key-in to up that to Revision B.1.

Commit Changes
You should periodically commit your changes using the Record Changes icon. A prompt asks you to enter a message with each commit. You should commit changes at least daily, even hourly on complex designs. These time increments are entirely under your control.

    Figure 2. Record your changes to the Design History at regular intervals.
  • From the Design History tool box, select Commit and enter what you have done (figure 2).

Design History now shows the graphical changes from the previous version.

With Design History turned on, you can view the Design History and, if desired, restore the Design History. You can perform restorations at the revision level, element level, and by area, with a fence, or with a selection set.

  • Open Design History.

Figure 3. Design History log tracks revision numbers.

Observe how the Design History has advanced to the next revision number based on your preference settings (figure 3).

You should commit your Design History state before closing your MicroStation session. If you close a drawing without committing, the next person to open that file receives a prompt warning them that changes have occurred.

Should you open a file with Design History active, I recommend that you first Select OK on the Warning dialog and then explore the history of the document. Notice that whatever went on in the file now has your name next to it, and you can use Design History to show you what went on in the previous revision.

Delete Design History
Deleting the Design History may be necessary for a number of reasons (figure 4). Perhaps the design has reached a milestone in the schedule or program, a copy of it has been made, and now you want it to be a new drawing moving onward.

  • Open your V8 DGN file.
  • Open Design History to see the history.
  • Open the Configuration dialogbox by selecting Configuration from the Workspace menu.
  • Select the Design History category.
  • Select the option Design History Capabilities.

Figure 4. Deleting the Design History.

Read the information in the Description dialog box. By default, Commit, Browse, and Create are on and Delete is off.

  • Click on the Edit button and enter delete=1. Select Enter and input the Configurations dialog box, and click Enter once more to accept the changes.
  • Exit MicroStation and reopen the same drawing.
  • Go to your drop-down key-in and type:

Does MicroStation prompt you? Hint: Enter the prompt, and when you press Enter, you'll be greeted by a dialog box that asks if you really want to delete the Design History for the file you have open.

  • Click OK and look at the Design History toolbar.

Commit on Save in Design History
In MicroStation, you can configure Design History to commit your changes when you save the design file. This is a good option if you must save a series of smaller revisions rather than one large one at the end of the day. If you activate Commit on Save, the system prompts you to save the revisions before exiting the drawing.

  • Open the Configuration dialog box: Workspace menu / Configuration.
  • Select Design History from the left list.
  • Highlight Commit on Save, then select Edit.
  • Enter 1, then click OK.
  • Save your changes as you exit the Configuration dialog box.
  • Exit MicroStation and reopen the drawing.
  • Make a change, then click on the Save icon or Ctrl-S. The Design History Commit dialog box appears.

Commit on Close in Design History
You can also configure Design History to commit your changes on closing a design file. The Commit on Close automation works exactly the same as Commit on Save, except that it doesn't depend on you to save your work.

  • Open the Configuration dialog box: Workspace menu / Configuration.
  • Select the Design History category.
  • Select Commit on Close, then Edit.
  • Enter 1, then click OK.
  • Save the change you just made as you exit the Configuration dialog box. Note: To implement the changes, you must exit MicroStation, then open the same drawing.
  • Exit MicroStation.
  • Make a change to the drawing and close the drawing or MicroStation. The system prompts you to commit your changes.
  • Open the Configuration dialog box and review the Commit On Save or Commit On Close configuration variables and take a look at the options. The 1 option implements the action stated, but note that 0 is the default. Option 2 allows you to "quietly" commit changes, which means you won't be prompted to enter a revision and the changes will be committed.

As you can see, Design History is an efficient way to record, review, and restore incremental changes to a design file.

Until next time - enjoy MicroStation!

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