Microstation Tips and Tricks: Setting up Microstation for Multi-disciplinary Environments TutorialOverview
Workspace development refers to the technology that allows the user to set all Microstation variables at the start of a design session.Variables
Variables enable programmers to write flexible programs. Variables allow users power to control the way a program operates.
If you take a program like Microsoft Word, access to variables is via the drop down menus. Under tools > options, you can change the default location for saving documents. Under format > font, you can change the size, font type etc of the default font. In Word, you can also create templates for different requirements like invoices and delivery notes.
The weakness of this setup becomes clear when you consider the strong possibility that invoices and delivery notes need to be stored in different directories. Word has no solution for this simple challenge and the user will have to delve into the sub-menus or remember to change directories each time they carry out the save operation.CAD variables
A similar approach would be completely unacceptable in a CAD program due to the sheer number of settings and selections that would have to be made at the start of every design session. The return on the significant investment for CAD buyers is the resulting efficiency and standardisation benefits and neither of these goals are likely to be achieved if the management of settings is carried out in sub-menus and dialog boxes.
The challenge for the Microstation programmers becomes sterner when you consider:
- the need to be able to set variables according to the discipline being carried out.
- the additional complication that some of the settings will depend on the client, or the project being undertaken.
- from an efficiency point of view, changing settings is not enough. The layout and access to tools should vary according to the work being undertaken.
- Microstation needs to be installed with all variables pointing to local (hard-disk) locations. However, most design teams would want to change many of the settings to point to the network, to reduce the number of resources to maintain and promote standardisation.
The Microstation solution to this challenge is the workspace.Workspace Components
- User Interface
The following simple remit is required for a company seeking to improve their Microstation efficiency: On entering Microstation, the design team should be able to select from electrical and architectural disciplines and to produce drawings for client A and client B.
Electrical drawings are produced using a cell library t:/CAD/cells/electrical/circuits.cel and are printed on A3.
Architectural drawings are produced using cell library t:/CAD/cells/building/architectural.cel and are printed on A0.
Drawings for client A are stored on the network in t:/CAD/Clients/ClientA/Drawings.
Drawings for client B are stored on the network in t:/CAD/Clients/ClientB/Drawings.
The user component usually sets the variables that relate to the discipline being undertaken.
When we first launch Microstation, the workspace components are selected at the foot of Microstation Manager. Under user > new, we can create new users 'architectural' and 'electrical'. This creates new user configuration files (.ucf) called architectural.ucf and electrical.ucf which will be stored in c:/bentley/workspace/users and can be edited directly using Notepad. If the user 'architectural' is selected and a Microstation drawing opened, any selections made under workspace > configuration will similarly result in amendments to file c:/bentley/workspace/users/architectural.ucf.
Project Configuration Files (.pcf) can be created under Projects > new. The files ClientA.pcf and ClientB.pcf can be created and will be stored under c:/bentley/workspaces/projects/examples.
The creation of a new .pcf file also creates a directory structure that can be used for storing project resources.
The variables that need to be set for this assignment are as follows:
- MS_CELL sets path to the cell library.
- MS_DEF sets the path to the design file locations.
- MS_DESIGNSEED sets the path to the default seed file.
- _USTN_PROJECTNAME stores the name of the currently selected project in the user configuration file.
Some of the variables can be set immediately if we stick to our rule of using the .ucf file to set discipline-specific variables and set project-specific variables in the .pcf file.
|User Configuration Files|
|Project Configuration Files|
|MS_DEF=t:/CAD/Clients/ ClientA/Drawings||MS_DEF=t:/CAD/Clients/ ClientB/Drawings|
On entering Microstation and making our selections for user and projects, we can now correctly set the paths to cell libraries(in the ucf) and design directories(in the pcf).
However, a significant problem arises when we try to set the path to the correct seed file using MS_DESIGNSEED. We cannot set this in the user component if we want be able to produce that discipline's drawings for both client A and client B. Yet we cannot set the path in the project file when the project requires both electrical(A3) and architectural drawings(A0).
The solution is to use an additonal variable in the user configuration file. For example, in the electrical user configuration file:
MS_DESIGNSEED = t:/CAD/Seeds/$(_USTN_PROJECTNAME)/electrical_seed.dgn
_USTN_PROJECTNAME holds the currently selected project in the ucf. In this example, this ensures that when the user is set to 'electrical' and project to 'clientA' the path to the seed file is t:/CAD/Seeds/ClientA/electrical_seed.dgn and if the project 'ClientB' is selected, the path becomes t:/CAD/Seeds/ClientB/electrical_seed.dgn.
This allows the developer to move from a slightly unhelpful choice of setting the variables in either the user or the project component to a more flexible and robust approach.