How to quickly find any text string (or just about anything else) in all the design files at your entire site


By Rick Sewell

Have you ever had a need to determine which of your massive set of DGN project files contained a specific text string or a particular cell or model or level? How do you handle those situations now? How much time have you lost on projects just trying to locate things? How much money do you lose on time-consuming searches?

Now you can instantly and easily locate almost any design file component in any DGN file at your entire site — and that’s just the beginning.

I routinely field calls from MicroStation users and CAD managers who are looking for ways to find a specific graphical element which they know is located somewhere in one or more of their hundreds (or thousands) of MicroStation files. Now that CadExplore Browser™ has been released, I can’t wait to tell you what can be accomplished with this powerful new technology.

Example: How to find every instance of a specific text string in all your design files (and how to modify it)
There are any number of examples I can use, but I’ve chosen this one because it represents a real-world customer request that I believe will be useful for most MicroStation users.

  1. Load CadExplore Browser.
  2. Click on the “Elements” tab.


    Figure 1. In CadExplore Browser, every column has a filter button allowing limitless display possibilities for your CAD data.

  3. Locate the column labeled “Text”.
  4. Hover your mouse over the “Text” column to display the filter icon. Click the filter icon.
  5. Choose “(Filter Editor)”. This will display the “Filter Editor” dialog box.
  6. Click on “Is not blank” and set it to “abc Contains” (shown in Figure 2).
  7. In the “<enter a value>” field, enter the text value that you are looking for. For this example, we will search for the text string “Project X” (Figure 3).
  8. Press <Apply> to activate your filter.
    Each row represents an instance of a given element in a design file. CadExplore Browser’s grid will refresh and display only those rows that match your filter. In this example, each row in Figure 4, represents a single instance of the text string we searched for (“Project X”) along with the name of the DGN file and model where the instance resides.macro

    Figure 2. With CadExplore Browser, you can choose from many different filtering options to create a filter precise enough to find a needle in a haystack.

    For this simple example, notice that CadExplore Browser found two design files (“Phase1.dgn” and “Phase2.dgn”) that contain instances of the text we searched for. (Six instances were found in “Phase1.dgn” and nine were found in “Phase2.dgn”)
    Next we will use one of my favorite CadExplore Browser features (Grouping) to create a list of the files which contain the text which matches our filter.


    Figure 3. The filter editor lets you instantly find the exact MicroStation elements you are looking for using powerful filters like the “Text Contains” filter shown here.

This results in a list that summarizes which MicroStation files contain the text you are hunting for (in this case, the text string “Project X”). No need to tediously open design files one by one to locate text! You can modify your filter to search for any other text string instantly. You can filter and group any combination of columns — so this is just a taste of the capabilities of CadExplore Browser.


Figure 4. In this example, CadExplore Browser applies the filter you defined (as shown in Figure 3) to display only those text elements which contain “Project X”, along with the name of the file and model in which each text element resides.

Now that you have your list of every design file that contains the text string “Project X”, you can do whatever you want to with it. For example, if you need to modify the selected text string, you could change every instance of it, in batch, simply by exporting the list you just created with CadExplore Browser into Microsoft Excel. By simply saving your Excel spreadsheet as a text file, you can then import it into Global File Changer™. Global File Changer can then make any change you want to every instance of your text string in those files very fast.


Figure 5. The grouping feature allows you to summarize information that is in a particular column such as the “Drive”, “Folder” or “File Name” columns. The example above shows how you would use the grouping feature to summarize the information in the “File Name” column.

There are many other things you can do too, but I’m out of space, so that will have to be the topic of another article.