• Accuracy Tips

    Accudraw keyin snaps


    If AccuDraw is the focus, just C to find the center snap. The benefit is that you can work on stuff whole zoomed a long way out and force the particular snap rather than have the machine try to decide which is best for you. It is useful where there are a lot of snap points within a certain area.




    Changing the AccuDraw Coordinate Units


    Ever wanted your AccuDraw window to display North (N) and East (E) coordinates instead of X and Y? Well, you can change that! In the Key-in window (Utilities | Key-in) type the following: accudraw settings northeast


    The AccuDraw dialog box will look like the image below.


    To change it back to XY, key-in: accudraw settings xy




    Faster Key-ins with AccuDraw


    When you are typing values in AccuDraw did you know that you can use the semicolon or the colon as the working units separator. No need to use the shift key so you can keep you hand on the mouse. Want to draw a line segment 1’-4”. With AccuDraw running Place the first point, lock to an axis and type 1;4, then data point.




    AccuDraw to modify Elements


    AccuDraw can be a great time saver in modifying certain types of elements quickly and with precision. For instance if you have a line selected, with AccuDraw active, just click on one of the handles, type in a length value and Presto!; you have a line that exact length. Have you ever wanted to change the vertices of a linestring from sharp to rounded. With AccuDraw active select the modify element tool and data point on a vertex. Notice the tool settings box displays the vertex type button and the rounding radius field. To change between sharp, rounded and chamfered just hit the key with the tilde (~) on it and AccuDraw “bumps” the value between the three. Set the rounding radius or chamfer offset and data point. You’re done.




    Quick access to past values in AccuDraw


    AccuDraw is a truly fabulous tool for design work. Something you may not be aware of, to speed up even more, is that you can use the “Page Up” and “Page Down” keys to cycle backward and forward through past key-in values. This is great if you have to make lots of entries of similar distances, but not the same one over and over which AccuDraw already does well. For example you are drawing a line string. The first segment is 6’:6”, the next is 8’:4.5” and you want to reuse the 6’:6” value again. Lock to the appropriate axis and hit page up twice and then data point. The new segment will be 6’:6”.




    Centering text placement


    Question - Is there a way to place text that is centered between two snap points without using dimensioning? Sometimes I have various items randomly spaced in a file and for visual presentation I'd like to snap to both of them and have MicroStation place my text centered between them.


    Answer - Try the following with Accudraw enabled:


    1) Start the Place Text tool (make sure active justification is Center something).


    2) Enter the text to place.


    3) Tentative on the first point (do not click Data).


    4) Press the letter "O".


    5) Tentative on the second point (do not click Data).


    6) Enter /2.


    7) Click the Data point.



  • Cell Library Tips

    Ever wonder how to change the origin of V8 cells, particularly the ones that originally were V7 and converted to V8?


    All V8 cells are Models and origin at 0,0 for 2D (and 0,0,0 for 3D) and individual cells are models within a cell library.


    First, open the cell library as you would a DGN file but make sure the selector in MicroStation Manager shows "*.cel" then select the model icon.


    Make sure AccuSnap is active, redefine the Global Origin by using the following key-in: GO=0,0 (GO=0,0,0 for 3D files) and setting a data point on the new desired origin point via the AccuSnap Key point End point or Mid point.


    Should you wish to use the Center or Intersection then make the AccuDraw focus active and then input a "C" or an "I" respectively then data point at the desired snap point.



  • Dimension Tips

    Editing placed dimension text


    Is it possible to apply a slant angle to dimension text/numbers after the dimensions have been placed?


    In V8, using the word processor text editor, it is possible to edit dimension text by adding an italics property to some or all of the dimension text.




    Modifying dimension leader


    Is there a way to modify dimension leader dynamically on screen? Currently, the text position can be modified, but the entire dimension changes when the leader line is extended.


    Currently, the start point establishes a relative point for the location for the dimension line. If this changes, then the location of the dimension line changes. The second extension line can be modified without changing the location of the dimension line. A change is possible in a future release.




    Creating a dimension with no dimension lines in V8


    Although this is not necessarily possible, there are ways to achieve this effect. One possibility is to make your dimension line the same color as the background. Alternatively, you can use the Label Line tool and have it just display the distance which would provide you with the dimension without the dimension line.




    Dimensions settings dialog box keyin


    Question: Is there a key in to bring up the Dimensions Settings dialog box so I can assign it to a function key?


    Answer: Try the key-in dialog dimplace open. For V8, you can use "mdl load dimstyle; dialog dimstyle".




    Change dimension extension toggle


    Question: Prior to V8.5, the key-in DIMENSION EXTENSION TOGGLE would allow you to select a dimension string that had been previously placed and toggle the extension lines on/off. Now it appears to only have effect during placement of dimensions. Please restore old functionality.


    Answer: The key-in you are looking for is - CHANGE DIMENSION EXTENSION TOGGL



  • Element Tips

    Converting a complex chain to an element


    Is there a way to convert a complex chain to a single element?


    If the complex element does not contain any arcs, then convert it to a shape using the Modify Element tool. Ensure that the Smartline Modification Settings are set to "Minimiza number of linear elements" then snap the same vertex twice and then reset so the element is not altered in appearance.



    File with tagged elements slow to open


    Question: I have a dgn with many tagged elements. The opening of the file process lasts more than five minutes. After that it works perfectly. Can too many tag associations slow down the initial process.


    Answer: This is a bug. MicroStation is needlessly double-checking all of the connections between the tags and the tag set definitions. Because there are so many, this takes a while. This will be fixed in MicroStation V8 XM.




    Function Key Tips


    Function keys - How to control and benefit from them


    MicroStation provides a number of tools that can aid any designer to increase the speed and accuracy of design work. One of these is function keys. They offer a quick way to accomplish many task and are very easy to configure and change.


    The basic concept of function keys in MicroStation is to associate a key-in command or a series of key-in commands to a function key on the keyboard or a combination of a function key and the “Shift”, “Alt” and “Ctrl” keys. This gives you 96 unique combinations. Since almost anything can be done with key-in commands in MicroStation, the possibilities for their use is only limited by your imagination.


    After a default installation of MicroStation, a standard function key menu is loaded when MicroStation is started. To find out which function keys are mapped and the commands they are mapped to, click on the “Workspace” pulldown menu on the main MicroStation menu bar and select “Function keys…”. This opens the “Function Keys” dialog box as shown below.


    Notice that the name of the file which defines the values in this dialog box is displayed in the title bar at the top. Funckey.mnu is the default menu file name. It will normally be located in the ..bentley\workspace\interface\fkeys\ folder. The function key menu file that MicroStation opens when started is defined by the configuration variable “MS_FKEYMNU“.


    Any function key combination that is currently being used is listed in the display area at the bottom of the dialog box. To see all the values you can simply scroll down the list. If you notice a missing function key or combination it just means that it has not been defined yet. In the image above you can see that function key “F1” is assigned to the key-in command “help”. That’s why when you hit the F1 key the MicroStation help file opens up. The “F2” key in the image above is assigned to a series of two key-in commands. If you look closely you can see they are separated by a semicolon (;). The semicolon is the character you use to separate multiple key-in commands entered on a single line. The MicroStation key-in “dialog reference” opens the reference file dialog box. The second key-in “reference display design” makes sure the reference file dialog displays the vector reference file attachments. As a note I have the “Shift-F2” combination mapped to “dialog reference;REFERENCE DISPLAY RASTER”. This allows me to quickly change between raster and vector reference display, which is something I frequently do.


    The area at the top of the dialog box labeled “Shortcut Keys” is used to designate the function key you want to view, change or define. The check boxes next to “Ctrl”, “Alt” and “Shift” can be clicked on or off independently in any combination. The “Key” drop-down button to the right of these check boxes and labels has the choices “F1” through “F12” representing each of the function keys on your keyboard. By clicking on the appropriate check boxes and selecting a function key in the “Shortcut Key” section, you can view that combinations current value, click the delete button at the bottom of the dialog to remove it’s current assignment or use the “Edit” button to change its existing value or create a new value if it is currently undefined.


    As a simple example of how function keys can save a lot of time in doing repetitive tasks, let’s set up the function key combination “Shift-F11” so that when pressed, it will close all view windows, then open view one maximized and fit the view. This could be used as part of setting up deliverables to meet a client’s standard. To start you would want to work out the key-in commands required to accomplish the above and test them manually to make sure they worked. The string that we will use to do the above is.


    “view off all; view on 1;window tile;fit all;selview 1”


    Now open the “Function Key” dialog as described above and click on the “Shift” checkbox and select “F11” from the drop-down button. If this combination is being used it will highlight in the display box in the bottom section of the dialog box. If it is not defined you will see (undefined) next to the label “Current”. In either case click the “Edit” button. This opens the “Edit Key Definition” dialog box. Now type the key-in string from above into the “New” field. Keep in mind that there is a 56 character limit in entering key-in commands in this dialog. In another tip I will show you how to overcome this limitation, but for now, when the string is entered click the “OK” button to close the dialog. When you are done making changes to the function key list click the “OK” button on the main “Function Key” dialog box.


    Clicking the “OK” button will bring up an “Alert” dialog box asking the question, “Save changes?”, with three choices: “Yes”, “No” and “Cancel”. “Yes” saves the changes to the file listed at the top of the “Function Keys” dialog box. “No” closes the dialog box with your changes active for the current session but does not save the changes you made to the file. “Cancel” returns you to the “Function Keys” dialog box.


    As a final note the main “Function Keys” dialog box has a “File” pulldown menu that allows you to “Open”, “Save As” or “Save” function key menu files. If you create a new menu file and open it remember that it will only remain active in the current session unless you update the value of the MS_FKEYMNU environment variable to point to this new file.




    Function keys commands that wait for a data point


    If you’re like me when you need to do the same set of actions over and over again you start looking for a faster and better way to accomplish it. While macros can be created for just about anything they are usually not as easy and fast to create as a simple function key. When you want to string together some key-in commands but one or more of them require a data point along the way you can use “%d” as a separate key-in. In other words when you use %d in your set of key-ins MicroStation will wait for you to enter a data point and then continue to the next command in the series.


    As an example lets say you always seem to need to copy the contents of a fence from one place to the other and you want to be sure it is set to inside. Set up the following key-in commands and assign them to a function key:


    lock fence inside;place fence;%d;%d;fence copy


    Each separate command is separated with a semicolon. The two %d commands cause MicroStation to wait for two consecutive data points from the user, when it receives the second data point the last command activates the fence copy command. The function key commands are done and MicroStation is waiting for the user to define his start point for the fence copy.




    Multiple function keys


    The Function Key is the easiest and most under-used facility on MicroStation. Here is how I have been using it in my work.


    From the pull down menu, select “Workspace > Function Keys”. Then select “File > Save As” and save function key settings as survey.mnu. Next, resave it as electrical.mnu then resave it as feature.mnu.


    Now here is the clever bit. Take the default funckey.mnu and edit to am=Survey,fk and to am=Electrical,fk.


    So as long as you follow the format am=filemane.fk it will load any function key menu, load the required tools or macros and such, and you haven't altered the settings of funckey.mnu, just extend it by the Shift key.




    Multiple version of your function keys


    Did you know you could have multiple versions of your Function key menu? Let’s say you have a bunch of macros, key-ins and so forth that are specific to some tasks to be carried out over a long project.


    Normally, you would call up the macros and select them. But since they don’t always get used, you wouldn’t bother to assign them to your already crowded F key menu, right? A trick comes into play here. Draw up some function key overlays for your keyboard and make a few blank copies and print them out. Then open your function key menu (Workspace>Function Key).


    From the “File” menu, make some function key menus and save them as MenuX.mnu, MenuY.mnu and MenuZ.mnu, etc.


    Now, load your default function key funckey.mnu. We can now edit from here. Lets use F1 for this example. For F1 type in the following: ATTACH MENU menuX.mnu, FK SHIFT F1- ATTACH MENU menuY.mnu, FK and ALT F1 - ATTACH MENU menuZ.mnu, FK


    Notice that the FK tells the function key dialog manager that we want a function key menu to be loaded. Within each of these function key menus you can set up your workflow specific function keys, for example, in menuY, I could set up F1 as wt=0;co=3;ft=1025;tx=3 and F2 as Macro mygrid.bas.


    Note: Remember to assign one F Key to take you back to the original default function key menu, ATTACH MENU funckey.mnu,FK for example. Otherwise, you have to use the pull down to reload the original F key menu




    View models using function keyins


    Did you know a saved view in one model can be viewed (vi=) in any model (same design file). For example, in a model, save a view called "today". Now open another model, in the same file. In the saved view dailog box there is no saved view called "today". BUT if you vi=today, the exact view (X,Y) location will be displayed. So how is this helpful? If you have many models all with the same global origin, you can quickly move to exact locations by a push of function key. For example, you could swap to exact view locations in a skyscraper building file (100's of models) with a push of a button. No need to keep track of exact view names as your zooming around, just program sv=whatever into a function key that continuosly gets overwritten. Remember, program the other recall fuction key to be vi=whatever.



  • Key-in Tips

    V7 key-ins in V8


    I am about to move from V7 to V8. Will my shortcut key-ins work in V8?


    There are no problems using your key-ins. Just take your shortcuts.txt from the Workspace | System | Data menu and copy it into the same location in your V8 setup.


    However, there are some minor changes in syntax; reference or level type ones for example. There have also been a couple of changes to AccuDraw's shortcuts in V8




    Checking the rotated view


    Is there a way to check if a view has been rotated, and if so by what angle?


    Try the key-in “dialog viewctrl”. The spin angle in the dialog box will show you the degrees the view has been rotated.




    Closing the keyin window


    What is the key-in to close the key-in window?


    Try "dialog cmdbrowse off".




    Executing long sets of key-in strings


    Many dialog boxes in MicroStation have limitations to the length of strings that can be entered into them. For example the “Function Keys” dialog when creating or editing a function key value has a 56 character limitation.


    Let’s say that you want to set up a function key that allows you set up an active design file’s settings and view display for a customer submittal and because you have a lot of drawings to get ready you will need to do this many times.


    Because the quantity of settings you want to ensure is large, the key-ins required will take far more than 56 characters, so you can’t do the whole thing with one function key.


    The solution for this is really simple. Create a text file that contains all the key-in commands that you want to run in the appropriate order, one command to a line. Save this text file with an appropriate name in a directory that is not too deep in the directory structure. Make sure that you do not use spaces in the file name or place it in a directory path that has a space in it.


    Now all you need to do to run this script from the MicroStation key-in browser or from a function key is to call it using the “@” character and the full path of the text file. Here’s an example of what you would type if the path to your script file was “c:\scripts\project35\setdgn.txt”:




    Make sure there are no spaces used anywhere in the string and also make sure that the full string does not exceed the maximum characters allowed in the dialog box.




    The global origin


    You may be wondering how to get MicroStation to tell you the relationship between the global origin and the position within the design cube?


    Also, when setting the global origin into a new, empty design file, how could the center of the design cube be selected as the new "origin" point?


    To accomplish this, key-in "go=$" to have MicroStation report the current global origin settings.


    The coordinates read out are the distance from the lower left corner of the lower left corner of the design plane to the coordinate (0,0). Or, in other words, the coordinates of the lower left corner, with the sign reversed.


    To established the global origin as the center of the design plane:


    Key-in "go=(key-in coordinates here)" and hit "Enter"

    When prompted for a monument point, key-in "xy=0,0/UOR"

    Note: All key-ins are entered without quotes .




    The incremental update command


    Ever have one of those drawings that contain lots of graphics and when you click “Update” it seems to take forever? The only reason you are updating the view is because you just deleted this big ’ole heavy weight line that left all those gaps in the view. Granted, the update probably only takes a few seconds but it still seems like an eternity when the boss is breathing down your neck. Your solution is the incremental update command <iupdate>.


    In the “Key-in” browser type <iupdate>, then click on a data point in the related view. This will only update the active elements that need to be updated and will not update reference files. To update the reference file you must use the regular “Update” command.


    There are several options available with this command. Using the “Key-in” browser you will see that you can also use <iupdate 1>, <iupdate view>, etc. Now you can really get fancy and set this up as a function key or in a custom tool box.




    Key-in for changing the dimension terminators


    What is the key-in for changing the dimension terminators (inside, outside, auto)? I need to use it for a function key.


    The following line should be entered as a single key-in.


    mdl load calculat; calculator mdlDimStyle_setIntergerProp (mdlDimStyle_getActive (), X, 716)


    You should substitute X for one of the following integers: 0 for Auto, 1 for Reversed, 2 for Inside and 3 for Outside.


    Note that this key-in will affect the active dimension style.




    Quick two letter Microstation key-ins


    Although a graphical interface is great for many things I still find it a lot faster in many cases to use the two letter MicroStation key-ins to adjust settings. For example to set the active scale to 2.0 you can simply type “as=2” in the key-in browser. MicroStation has quite an extensive list of these two letter key-ins for setting all manner of things from the active level (lv=10) and color (co=3), which just about everyone is familiar with, to saving views (sv=plot) or activating them (vi=plot). Do not use a space before the equal sign for these key-ins.


    The following is a list of two letter key-ins separated by categories:


    View Manipulation

    OF= Turn off levels by number

    ON= Turn on levels by number

    RV= Rotate view(s) about center

    WO= Set view origin

    SV= Save view

    VI= Attach saved view

    DV= Delete saved view


    Text and Dimensioning

    FT= Active font

    DF= Opens font dialog box

    TH= Active height

    TW= Active width

    TX= Active height and width

    LL= Active line length

    LS= Active line spacing

    TB= Tab spacing for importing text

    TI= Tag Increment amount

    LD= Dimension level

    TV= Upper and lower dimension tolerance limits



    AA= Active angle

    AS= Active scale

    XS= Active x Scale

    YS= Active y Scale

    ZS= Active z Scale

    GU= Master/Grid

    GR= Reference grid

    KY= (Snap) Divisor

    UR= (Unit Lock) Distance


    Set Element and Pattern Attributes

    AP= Active pattern cell

    LV= Active level

    CO= Active color

    PA= Active pattern angle

    LC= Active line style

    PD= Active pattern spacing

    WT= Active line weight

    PS= Active pattern scale


    Precision Input

    XY= <x,y,z> from origin along design files axes

    DI= <distance, direction> from last data or tentative point relative to view axes

    DL= <Dx, Dy, Dz> from last data or tentative point in design coordinates

    DX= <Dx, Dy, Dz> from last data or tentative point in view coordinates

    AX= Distance from ACS origin

    AD= Distance from last data or tentative point in ACS coordinates



    AC= Set active cell and select place active cell tool with relative off

    AR= Set active cell and select place active cell tool with relative on

    CM= Place active cell matrix tool

    PT= Active point

    LT= Active terminator

    TS= Terminator scale

    CR= Edit cell information

    CD= Delete cell from cell library

    CC= Create cell


    3D Modeling

    DP= Set the display depth from 0.0 of view’s z-axis

    DD= Distance to move display depth from current values

    AZ= Set the active depth from 0.0 of the view’s z-axis

    DZ= Distance to move active depth from current value

    SX= Save ACS

    RX= Attach ACS

    PX= Delete ACS


    File Management

    RD= Open design file

    XD= Open design file with active design’s view configuration

    RC= Attach cell library

    RF= Attach reference file

    DR= Displays contents of a text file

    CT= Attach color table

    AM= Attach and activate menu

    AT= Activate tutorial



    AE= Define active entity

    DA= Displayable attribute type

    DB= Attach control file

    DS= Specify fence filter

    FI= Set database row as active entity

    RA= Set attribute review selection criteria

    RS= Name report table



    SD= Active stream delta

    ST= Active stream tolerance


    User Command

    UC= Activate user command

    UCC= Compile user command

    UCI= User command index

    OX= Retrieve user command index



    EL= Create element list file

    FF= Copy fence contents to new design file

    GO= Global origin

    SF= Move fence contents to new design file




    Redundant "Design" key-in


    In V7, a key-in “design” will bring up a dialog box called “Design Options”, which contains buttons for other dialogs for Data Readout, Working Units, Active Scale, etc. What is the equivalent key-in for V8?


    That dialog box is now gone. The Design options dialog which was a little different from the Design Settings dialog in that it opened some dialogs that are part of Design Settings as well as the Reference dialog, the Cell maintenance dialog, etc.


    You can create a simple VBA macro that opens a form and performs the same end result that is better than the original, as you can include other options, as you desire.




    If there is a particular area in a design file that you want so see as a reference file, then go into the file you will attach, zoom in to the area you want to see and save that view by using the key in “sv=(name of saved view)”. Be sure to include the parentheses and not the quotes.




    Now go into the master file you want to attach the view to. Open the “Reference Files” dialog box in MicroStation. When the “Attach Reference File” dialog box comes up, select the “Saved Views” name you gave it.




    Then, place the attachment where you want it. This works great when you only want to reference a certain area of a design file and nothing else.




    V8 key-in tip: Finding the active angle dialog box


    In V8, where is the old set active angle dialog that looked like a compass?


    Try the key-in "dialog activeangle". To find those old dialog boxes, key-in "dialog palette" in the key-in browser. Here you will find some of those old dialog boxes that you have forgotten about.



  • Keyboard Tips

    Edit Text - "Apply" from the keyboard


    I frequently hear users complain that you have to manually click the “apply” button on the text editor dialog with the mouse to commit the proposed text changes to the design file. There are actually two fast and simple ways to accomplish the same thing from the keyboard.


    After making the appropriate changes in the text editor you can apply it by using the “Ctrl + Enter” keys together.

    You can also activate the “Apply” button using the hot key combination of “Alt + A”.




    Quick element selection - for V7 and V8


    You probably know that if you drag the element selection tool, you can select any element that is completely inside the selection area (shown as a dashed line below).


    But, what you may not know is that by holding down the <Ctrl> and <Shift> keys while dragging the selection pointer, you can select the elements inside the selection area and elements that merely cross it. This is very helpful for quickly selecting elements whose endpoints intersect an element that you do not want included in the selection set


    By holding down <Ctrl> and <Shift> while dragging the element selection tool over the elements you want to select, you can quickly include elements that are completely inside the selection area and elements that merely overlap the selection area. It beats <Ctrl> clicking on each element!



  • Plotting Tips

    Fence and load plot dialog


    Here is a key-in command line that will fence to the edge of your element and load the plot dialog:



    Add it to a Function key so it loads with just one keystroke. It work best if you only have a drawing sheet or border in the design plane, but it will work on any snappable elements in the design plane.




    Raster images printing to light


    Having problems plotting raster images (.jpg or .tif) that are inserted on drawings, when using the File>Import>Image command? Do these images always plot “light and very fuzzy”?


    By adding the following setting to plt drivers:



    In this case, ignoring transparency would improve image quality.




    Using level symbology to plot thinner lines


    1) From the "Reference" dialog box, select the reference file you want to plot.


    2) Go to Settings | Level Symbology. This will open the "Ref Level Symbology" dialog box for that reference file.


    3) Select the levels you want to make "thinner", then click on the Weight check box, under the "Settings" area.


    4) Modify the Weight and click <OK>.


    5) In the View Attributes for your active view, turn on "Level Symbology".


    Enable the "Level Symbology" view attribute to see the level symbology you just set.

    That's it! This does not affect the actual element symbology, only how the element displays in that view. You can turn off the level symbology when you are done plotting.


    If you use this procedure often, it would be good practice to set up this up in an unused view. This gives you a "plotting view" that you can modify however you want, without modifying the actual drawing.



  • Reference Tips

    Align reference files


    Q: I’m working in a 3D contour file and I am trying to reference 2D file within it. However, the 2D file comes in at the wrong location. How do I align the two files files?


    A: Different global origins or working units could be the reasons why you are having problems.


    Try placing an element at a known coordinate in the first file.

    Use a window center command, snapping to that element to make it centered in the view.

    Create a saved view of the view.

    In the second file, re-attach the first file, using the saved view (step 3) and at a 1:1 scale.

    Both coordinates and scales should now line up the files.




    Copying to a specified level from a reference file


    Is it possible to copy levels from reference files into a level instead of it going to the same level as the original file? For example, if I copy from level 2 in the reference file, it will automatically be pasted into level 2 in the master file.


    Try the following steps to copy to a specified level from a reference file:


    Place your fence

    Copy element with "Use Fence" on.

    Enter data point anywhere

    In the Attributes tool bar, select the new level

    Move your cursor back to the AccuDraw compass and ensure it's reading 0,0,0

    Enter another data point

    Reset to complete




    Default attachment mode


    Is there a configuration variable that can set the default attachment mode (Orientation) for references when they are first selected? Can a preset be chosen between Coincident, Coincident-World and Top instead of scrolling down to choose?


    Setting MicroStation_REF_COINCIDENTWORLD=1 in the current MicroStation V8.1 will make it default to Coincident-World.


    Setting MicroStation_REF_DEFAULTSETTINGS (new in MicroStation 2004 edition), you can put the keyword attachment method=world in this configuration variable to set Coincident-World as the default attachment setting.




    Dragging and dropping reference files


    Save some time and attach reference files to a design file by selecting them in Windows Explorer and dragging and dropping them into the “Reference Files” dialog box in MicroStation. This can be especially helpful for users with multiple monitors and can be done with both vector and raster reference files.




    Live nesting and copy attachments


    Have you managed to get your head around the Live Nesting and Copy Attachment reference options in V8 yet? Have you accidentally live nested a reference when you really wanted direct attachments instead? In V8.1, the Make Direct Attachment option allows you to flatten live nested references, making them direct attachments of the active file. Using Live Nesting (in conjunction with the Nest Depth value) to attach a reference that has at least one attachment means that nested attachments also will appear in the active file. (The number depends on the nest depth value.) When you look at the attachments in the References dialog box, however, you will see only the parent reference. To see the hierarchy of any nested references, you have to use the pull-down menu in the References dialog box.


    Using the alternative attachment option, Copy Attachments in conjunction with the Nest Depth value, you automatically can attach child references of a parent attachment. This, however, will make the child references become direct attachments of the active file instead.


    The Make Direct Attachment option in V8.1 allows you to make a nested attachment (attached using Live Nesting) into a direct attachment of the active file (as though it were attached using Copy Attachment). Highlight the child Reference(s) and go to Tools > Make Direct Attachment. The direct attachment now appears with the original parent attachment in the References dialog box. The redundant nested attachment (in the hierarchy) is denoted with quotation marks in the display, snap and locate columns of the References dialog box.




    Reference file colour table


    What color table does a reference file use when it has a color table attached?


    If you have Workspace>Preferences>Reference>Use Color Table turned on, it will use the color table that is attached to the reference file.


    You can tell whether a particular file has a color table by opening Settings>Color Table. In the open Color Table dialog, choose File>Get Info to get the required information.


    If the reference file doesn't have a color table, it uses the color table of the master file.




    Referencing a PDF


    I often get PDFs of concept plans from developers and cannot check them in MicroStation with other cadastral data alignments or see where it fits in with other plans… as you cannot reference a PDF right? Here is a crude but effective workaround.


    When I know I’m getting a PDF from a client that is of coordinate defined data, I ask they provide Northing and Easting coordinates of the bottom-left and top-right corners (the SW, NE corners for example).


    Then, I open the PDF and turn it into a Raster file (usually JPG with the highest resolution) either through SNAG-It or some other graphics screen region capture program.


    In MicroStation, I can now draw a polygon via the two x-y coordinates that cover the extent of the PDF design plane and place the raster via the polygons coordinated corners interactively.


    It is not great but usually you only want to overlay the PDF with existing CAD data just to check things and for referencing — so it works well enough.




    Aligning two files


    Question: I have two files that should appear on top of one another if referenced. Unfortunatley, they do not line up. I think it is because they were created using two different seed files. Any ideas why?


    Answer: Two things can occur in V7 to cause this. They are different working units and/or different global orogins. If you attach one to the other without using a saved view and then look at the scale factor between reference and active, if they are not 1:1 then you have different working units issue. Using the Scale Reference tool, you can set it to 1:1 and they will be in agreement for element size as long as they both are using hte same master unit but their coordinates will not agree.


    Now, find or create a point of commonality between both files. If I have to create one, I place a coordinate leader using CIVTOOLS at a nice even coordinate value (turn On Grid Lock and set GU=50 or GU=100. Then you can use the Move tool to move one from its position to hte same position in the other.



  • Setting Tips

    Turn off the global freeze for merging


    Do you have a file that will not allow you to merge a reference file into the master? When attempting to merge the reference into the master, are all of the necessary levels created in the master file, but none of the elements come over and the reference remains attached?


    One possible solution is that you need to turn off the Global Freeze toggles in the reference Level Manager.


    Select Settings>Level Manager. Select all levels then right click Properties from the floating menu. Turn off Global Freeze. Then the merge will work.




    Upgrade and keep your settings


    Ever wanted to save your tool bar and program settings so that after you upgrade, MicroStation has the same layout you're accustomed to?


    The file that you will need to copy over is the ustn.mol file, which is located in the following directory.


    C:\Program Files\Bentley\Workspace\Interfaces\MicroStation\default


    This should copy over all the toolbars and settings for MicroStation. Another file you should look at doing the same too is the untilted.ucf, which is located in the following directory.


    C:\Program Files\Bentley\Workspace\users


    This holds all you custom settings for things like printing and cell libraries and things like that.




    Disable the DDE link alert box


    Question: Is there a way to disable the Alert box that pops up when you open a DGN that has DDE links? It's annoying because it interrupts some batch processing.


    Answer: You can rename CLIPBRD.ma during the Batch process to suppress the dialog box from displying. This MDL is located in ....\Program\MicroStation\mdlsys\required.



  • Symbology Tips

    Filling a shape


    I am having problems filling a shape with color. What am I doing wrong?




    Make sure "Fill" is check on in the View Attributes dialog box for that particular view.

    Make sure the element is actually a shape. If not, you will need to use the Create Complex Shape tool or Create Region tool on the element.



    From the Change Attributes toolbox, choose the Change to Active Fill Type tool.

    Set Fill Type to "Opaque" or "Outlined".

    Adjust Fill Color.

    Pick the element to be filled.




    Consistant pattern appearance


    If you use a lot of hatching or crosshatching in your designs this tip might be of interest. Anyone who uses hatching or crosshatching is familiar with setting spacing and angles and keeping them consistent. What is usually not so apparent is the affect of the data point used to accept the hatch and fulfill MicroStation’s request “Accept @pattern intersection point”. This point defines the intersection point of the hatch being placed. If the same point is always used for each hatch placed then the look of adjacent hatched areas or elements will line up nicely throughout the design. A very good procedure to produce this type of consistent hatch is to use the key-in “xy=0,0” instead of a random data point whenever accepting hatch placement.


    If you do a lot of this it would even be worthwhile to set a function key to this key-in command.




    Match colour hatching


    Is there a way in MicroStation to match colored hatching? The Element Information tool does not determine the actual hatch line color, only the border color.


    Drop association on the pattern, then matching the symbology and the pattern attributes. Finally, Undo the drop. This technique is also useful for matching the Annotation Place Note Text, as the Match Dimension doesn't quite work on these.


    Note: If you are using MicroStation V8.5, there is a new position on the Match Pattern Attribute tool called "Match Symbology" which will set your active symbology from the patter you identify.




    Place note dashed lines


    MicroStation represents the leader of a note by an associative dimension element. The associations that allow the leader to follow the text when the text is moved. When you delete the text, the leader (dimension) changes into a thick dashed symbology to tell you that it contains a “lost” association.


    There are two ways to deal with this.


    First, turn off the toggle: Workspace>Prefernces>Operation>Display Broken Associations with Different Symbology.


    The downside of the approach is that you are disabling a potentially useful feedback. It's recommended doing this only if you never use associative dimensions.


    Secondly, “Drop” the association from the dimension. For this, there is a “Drop Association” tool on the Drop toolbox, or you can use the key-in DROP ASSOCIATION.




    Turning off level symbology


    All elements are displayed only as white with a weight of 0. For example, I drew a line with a color as red and weight of 3 and it shows up on the screen as white/weight 0. The “Element Information” tool shows the line as red with a weight of 3.


    It is likely that “Level Symbology” is turned On the view. Click on the Bentley logo in the corner of the view then click on “View Attributes”.


    A dialog will come up and one option on the right hand side should be “Level Symbology”. Untick this and select “Apply” or All for all views. Then click “Save Settings”.



  • Text Tips

    Dimension text justification


    Have you ever wondered where is the setting that allows the text within a dimension to be center-center justified?


    In the Dimension Settings dialog (Element>Dimensions), under the Text category the option for Justification will shift the Text from Left, Center and Right relative to the dimension line. Orientation is another option for moving the Text above the Dimension line, inline, etc.




    Text styles in V8


    Have you ever wondered if there's a way to edit text located within a cell?


    In MicroStation J, you can edit text within a cell without dropping it in the Element Information box. To do this, select a cell with the Element Information tool, then scroll through the elements until you find the text element. The dialog will expand allowing you to edit the text. Change the text and select Apply to save your changes.


    In MicroStation V8, it is possible to have different text styles in the same text node and even have different text styles on the same line of text.


    Thus, the feature in the Element Information dialog to edit text node no longer relates to lines of text but to pieces of text which have the same text attributes making the editing of text using this dialog confusing.


    In MicroStation V8, the Edit Text tool will allow you to edit text directly in cells. Also, the Find and Replace Text tool will allow you to edit text in a cell.




    Substituting a TrueType font when placing excel data


    Do you need to get MicroStation to substitute the active font and use the font used in Excel?


    If you do, it depends on how you copy the data from Excel into MicroStation. If you cut and paste the text into MicroStation, then you can control font that is used to display the information.


    If you have embed the Excel object into MicroStation, MicroStation does not control the way the Excel file is displayed. Hence, it cannot do any font substitution.


    You can trick MicroStation into using a different font is to place the data in Excel with a TTF font that you don't have on your system. That way, MicroStation notices that it's missing and will substitute the active font. Note that this may cause formatting problems.




    Text style indicators in V8


    Q: In the Text Styles dialog box, I noticed that some text style names have a little arrow next to them and some text styles do not. What does it mean and why do some arrows turn blue?


    A: A text style name with the little arreow next to it means that the text style definition is coming from a dgnlib (text style library). Text style name without the arrow means that the style was defined in the active design file rather than the definition being read from the dgnlib. The blue arrow means that the text style in the dgnlib has been modified and is now out-of-sync with the definition in the active design file. If you do a "update from library" they'll turn white again.



  • Tool Tips

    Additional tools in the primary toolbar


    If your Primary tool bar does not have all the tools you desire, the move your mouse over the Level Manager icon and right mouse click it.


    This will bring up another menu. Only the tools that are visible will have a tick. To add more, move the mouse over the unticked name and left click. The new icon will be added to your Primary toolbar.




    Deleting a user defined tool


    Have you ever tried to create a custom tool and a custom toolbox using Workspace>Customize. If so, you may have noticed that each edition was saved as a different tool. This is because the dialog allows users to modify a toolbox or frame but not a user defined tool.


    There is no way to delete these via the Customize utility. It is possible to remove the unwanted resources programmatically through MDL, but you must know the resource .ids of the tools you would like to remove.


    The resources are stored in your user interface directory, by default Bentley/Workspace/Interfaces/MicroStation/. All of your custom tools will probably be stored in a single file, ustn.m01.


    To delete the tools, you must use MDL to search for the tools and remove them form the resource file.



  • Working Units

    Metric imperial dimensions


    Question: How can I do "multi dimensions"? I want my dimensions to show Metric units above the line and Imperial units below.


    Answer: • In the Dimension Settings window, select the Unit section. Next, toggle On Show Secondary Units.


    You can choose the Settings button to set the units below the dimension line to what you need htem to be. Once this is set, you will have two dimensio values showing when you dimension.




    Measuring the total length of all the lines


    Question: Is there a way to determine the total length of a larger number of separate lines in a drawing?


    Answer: Select all the lines you want to measure with the Element Selection or PowerSelector and then use the measure length tool. It should tell you the total length of all the elements.



  • Miscellaneous Tips

    Fading images


    Question: In 2004, is there a way of fading or screening your image back, like you can do in AutoCAD? I can only see that you can adjust contrast and brightness.


    Answer: In the Raster Manager there are two settings: display gamma and plot gamma. Display gamma controls how the image is hsown on the screen and plot gamma controls plotted images. Set these to higher numbers (between 1.5 and 3.0provides agreeable results) to make the image lighter.


    Have you tried Transparency? Just double-click on your image area in Raster Manager and on the colour tab click transparent ON and adjust the slider for All Colours.




    Linking to database records


    Q: How do I link any element to database records?


    A: First, you put them all into a selection set and then Export Coordinates from the Annotation tools. This will create an ASCII text file with coordinates for each point. Then you import that into an access database.


    You now you have unique IDs or primary keys and X-Y coordinates for each point. You then need to link this to a MicroStation database linkage and actual graphic elements too.




    Microstation to Powerpoint


    Did you now that you can convert MicroStation design files to a MicroStation PowerPoint format? Basically, you can do a select in MicroStation. Then do a copy (Edit>Copy). Open up PowerPoint and do a paste. This will bring the selected item(s) in as a picture.


    You can use the OLEserver capability that is in MicroStation V8 2004 edition. Use these steps…


    MDL LOAD oleserve.

    OleServe viewcopy.

    Select the view to *copy*.

    Task switch to open a PowerPoint presentation.

    Edit>Paste Special and select MicroStation View Object

    This process uses the EMF.PLT driver, but results in a dynamic view that can be updated at a later time (using OleServe update).




    Save a view by fence


    Q: How do I link any element to database records?


    A: Do the following:


    Place fence.

    Key-in: FIT TOFENCE.

    Save view.




    Unsure if DGN files are V8 or Microstation J?


    In V8 Microstation Manager, before opening a dgn file,

    the 'Show File Icons' can be selected to show which

    Dgn files are V8 and those that are Microstation J.


    V8 files will have V8 Icon.

    Microstation J files will have the Bentley Logo Icon.




    Unsure if DGN files are V8 or Microstation J?


    In V8 Microstation Manager, before opening a dgn file,

    the 'Show File Icons' can be selected to show which

    Dgn files are V8 and those that are Microstation J.


    V8 files will have V8 Icon.

    Microstation J files will have the Bentley Logo Icon.




    DGN drawing to powerpoint or word


    Have anyone of you try to put the DGN drawing to powerpoint or word document? Instead of doing MDL load Oleserve, Oleserve viewcopy process?


    By using the plotdriver jpeg.plt or emf.plf file driver you can easily cut and paste the plotfile

    produce to office programs.


    For plot driver "jpeg.plt"don't forget to change and edit the jpeg.plt background color "pen(0)=/rgb=(254, 254, 254)" using notepad. Hope this tips helps.




    Matching the leaders attributes


    Question: How do you match the leaders size, geometry and text definitions, e.g., the same way you match different dimension definitions or text properties?


    Answer: Since the text note is driven by a dimension style and a text style, you need to match it in two steps.


    1. Invoke Match Dimension Attributes and select leader (dimension).


    2. Invoke Match Text Atrributes and select the text.


    Unfortunately, you couldn't do the same with the "arrow" bit itself. There is no way to match it because it simply draws a few primitives and not a coherent leader.




    Your mouse and view controls


    In this tip, you will learn how to change the view control settings associated with your mouse's wheel. This tip assumes two things: 1) you are using MicroStation V8 and 2) your mouse has a wheel.


    First, go to Workspace | Preferences and click on "Mouse" from the category selections.


    Under the "Set Mouse Preferences" section of the dialog box, you can specify which view functions you want associated with your mouse's wheel by selecting an option from the drop-down menu.


    You can also specify the view behavior when you hold down <Ctrl> or <Shift> and roll the mouse wheel. The behavior can be set to the following:

    • Zoom In/Out: Move view closer in or farther out from where the cursor is located.

    • Pan Left/Right: Move view to the left or to the right.

    • Pan Up/Down: Move view up or down.

    • Pan Radial: Move view at an angle - set in the "Radial Pan Angle" field - in relation to the location of the cursor.

    • Pan with Zoom: Move view to where cursor is and zoom in or out on that area.


    Once you have defined the behavior of the mouse wheel, you can then specify the pan, zoom and radial angle values.