CAD/BIM Tips & Tricks
Ten MicroStation User Complaints and What To Do
All Aboard the MicroStation Train — Destination: Freedom!
12 January 2023
Mention trains and some guys get all nostalgic about the train sets they had as kids. Others might think of songs like Midnight Train to Georgia or Cat Stevens’ Peace Train. And some, of course, will think of movies such as Murder on the Orient Express or Snowpiercer. This train is none of those. This is a deluxe ten-car, first-class-only expedition to MicroStation® freedom. Welcome aboard.
Have you ever had a DGN file produce an error message when opened or a design file that simply wouldn’t open at all?
Can You Relate to Any of These Ten Complaints?
There appears to be a consistent cluster of issues that MicroStation users encounter. These issues slow down the creative process, result in repetitive manual tasks, cost firms time and money, and generally play havoc with one’s mood. When you’re facing a looming deadline, nobody needs the added frustration these issues represent.
- “Every time I import a spreadsheet, the formatting gets messed up and I waste valuable time trying to manually fix it.”
- “Sometimes we have DGN files that won’t open, or they turn out weird when we convert to AutoCAD®. And I’m sick of error messages when I try to open a DGN file. There’s got to be a way of fixing these issues.”
- “I need help finding my reference files and re-linking them. Plus, I need to change the settings in multiple references, and it’s literally going to take me more time than I have.”
- “Someone on this project can’t spell worth a damn, and I don’t have the time to exit out of this file and go and check every other darn file before it goes to the client. I need to spell check in batch.”
- “I just received the cell library from the client. It’s a mess. Some of these cells aren’t even relevant to this project and I don’t have the time or the manpower to wade through this mess to fix it.”
- “We don’t have the manpower to have someone spending hundreds of hours searching for CAD standards violations before we submit a project. But it has to be done.”
- “The deadline is today, and I’ve just discovered that I have several changes that need to be made in dozens of design files.”
- “The client wants all the references included in the design file instead of as separate attachments. Are they serious?”
- “I need a much faster way to compare one version of my design file against other versions of it, without spending hours stuck on this task.”
- “We’ve got duplicate elements that have completely wrecked our automatic quantity calculations. Plus, it’s making MicroStation run frustratingly slowly.”
If you’ve ever had similar thoughts or even had days when you thought to yourself, “I hate my job,” then you’re in the right place. Let’s get you back on track with every single one of these situations, so that your workday is smoother, tasks are accomplished faster, and your mood is not determined by MicroStation. How?
Welcome to MicroStation Productivity Toolkit, your first-class ticket to hassle-free MicroStation tasks.
Each railcar has something unique to offer, and you can enjoy all of them on this all-inclusive ride. Here’s a look at what you can expect from each car.
A classic suite offers peace of mind, whether aboard the Orient Express or while working on projects with MicroStation Productivity Toolkit.
This is where you’ll discover imports made easy. If you have Excel spreadsheets or Word docs to import into CAD files, you know all about the usual formatting snafus: The cells are a mess, numbers get misplaced, the formatting is a joke, row heights and column widths are a pain, and getting that header to repeat is going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We’d offer to avoid additionally mentioning the fact that your import is so big that you don’t know how you’ll fit it inside your CAD border, but the truth is that with Microsoft Office Importer, that’s no longer an issue. In fact, none of the above-mentioned issues are problems any longer.
With Microsoft Office Importer, all of it simply works, and it does so fast and virtually effortlessly.
Please step this way to railcar number two.
Have you ever had a DGN file produce an error message when opened? Or a design file that simply wouldn’t open at all? How about elements that misbehave in some way? Have you experienced elements that don’t plot the same way they appear on your monitor? Or DGN files that convert incorrectly to AutoCAD or other file types? Have you ever experienced the frustration of elements that you simply cannot select or delete?
All these issues (and more) are an indication that you are experiencing MicroStation file corruption. It delays projects, causes extra work, and is a general pain in the you know what.
FileFixer fixes those corrupt files automatically. How?
Typically, you need do nothing more than type in — or double-click on — the name of the damaged file. It’s as simple as that. Even better, you can run it on dozens or even hundreds of files at a time.
Wish you could attach reference files to hundreds of design files with a single command?
There’s a good reason that DoTs, Federal and State agencies, top engineering firms, and MicroStation users like yourself rely on RefManager. It works. What does it do?
It can locate references that have been moved, renamed, or deleted. It can clone and replace reference files in multiple project files in a single processing run. It can attach reference files to hundreds of design files with a single command, or adjust the reference file symbology equally easily.
Plus, it has three different — yet equally powerful — reports that you can run to check the status of your references anytime. This is your one-stop tool for addressing any issues you may experience with references.
Moving right along . . .
Yes, we agree, most grown adults should be aware of the fact that there are four s’s in Mississippi, but sometimes, well, sometimes stuff happens. And when the project goes to the client, let’s just say that the fewer errors there are, the better you look.
Yes, MicroStation has a built-in spell checker, but — and this is the annoying part — it only works on the file that you’re working in. SpellCheckerPlus, on the other hand, has customizable dictionaries and can process a batch of files interactively, instead of just the file you’re in.
When the journey is as important as the destination, Microsoft Productivity Toolkit will get you there in comfortable style.
SpellCheckerPlus can show each spelling error in the MicroStation view of your choice. You can also check (or not check) cells, all at your discretion. On multi-person projects, you can save a ton of time by providing a shareable project dictionary, which helps avoid a situation where each collaborator unnecessarily adds words that have already been added by a previous contributor. Saves a lot of time and futzing around. Just saying.
Someone is going to have to go through the entire cell library, get rid of the irrelevant cells, and clean up the problems you’re already seeing in some of them. And that someone might be you. Why not make it easier for yourself?
You get the cell library from your client, along with seed files and standards. When you open it, you discover — to your horror — that there are hundreds and hundreds of cells, and half of them have no relevance at all to this project. Someone is going to have to go through the entire cell library, get rid of the irrelevant cells, and clean up the problems you’re already seeing in some of them. And that someone might be you.
But you get to choose: Do you want to spend hours and hours straightening out this mess, or would you prefer to get it done in about five minutes flat?
Smart choice. Step this way to railcar six, please.
While SpecChecker and MicroStation’s Standards Checker both deal with standards, they are vastly different in what they do and how they do it. MicroStation’s Standards Checker is for making sure that the basic levels and style definitions of the design file are correct based on established definitions contained in dgnlib files. This is fine for making sure that only valid levels exist in the design file, for example.
Need more time for me time? Then you need MicroStation Productivity Toolkit.
SpecChecker, on the other hand, checks each individual element and makes sure that it does not violate any of the rules used to define the standard. Both tools can be useful but they serve different purposes and accomplish their goals in different ways. MicroStation users who want to ensure that every element in their project design files is in compliance with a CAD standard are not likely to get what they need from MicroStation’s Standards Checker alone. SpecChecker — either used alone or in conjunction with Standards Checker — can give you that kind of result.
SpecChecker can automatically discover, report, and — optionally — correct elements in your design files that do not comply with your CAD standards. It sounds deceptively simple, while it does so much.
A suite of tools that saves you time at every turn? Sounds like it’s time to celebrate!
Some key functions are identifying every design file or cell library element that doesn’t conform to your standards, ensuring that elements are on the correct levels, checking symbology, font, and types of elements to ensure they follow a drawing standard, checking the size, font and justification of text elements, checking level settings, checking the names of cells to ensure that only standard cells are used, and checking many more element and DGN file properties.
The best part is that it corrects violations automatically, saving you a boatload of time.
If there was ever a fairy godmother for making changes to multiple design files, Global File Changer would be it. Execute almost any file-related task that you can imagine, across multiple design files, in a few simple keystrokes.
Whether you’re counting cells in design files, changing file settings, moving or re-mapping elements, or a host of other typical file tasks, Global File Changer is the magic carpet ride to get you where you need to be.
If there was ever a fairy godmother for making changes to multiple design files, Global File Changer™ would be it.
Let’s head along to car number eight.
We know you can merge references in MicroStation, but — and there is a but — only one at a time. If you’re in a time crunch, RefMerge™ gives you batch capability . . .
“The client wants all the references included in the design file instead of as separate attachments. Are they serious?” We’ve heard this question often enough to know that yes, when the client is specifically asking for this, they’re serious.
We know you can merge references in MicroStation, but — and there is a but — only one at a time. If you’re in a time crunch, RefMerge gives you batch capability and you can choose to focus on either a single reference or all references.
RefMerge allows you to merge a design file and all its reference files into a single design file. Not only is this great for archiving, but it is much easier to manage and transport to clients or sub-contractors since only one design file is involved (and it looks the same as the original). You’re welcome.
If you’ve ever had the honor and privilege of having to compare multiple versions of a design file — where all the versions are actually pretty similar — and each contains a cr*p ton of elements, you know that this task can consume hours that could be better spent on more productive things.
With two different reports to choose from, you can easily see what needs to be done at a glance and let DgnCompare do the grind for you.
Let’s top up your complimentary glass of bubbly as we move on to car number ten.
Is MicroStation running slower than it should? Are screen updates taking an annoyingly long time? Do you have problems such as ugly dark elements on plots? A common cause of all of the above is hidden duplicate elements. Laid directly one on top of the other, they’re virtually impossible to spot. But how do you separate them out?
Duplicate Element Remover gives you control over exactly which files get processed. It shows you precisely which elements were duplicated so that you can address them. It cleans up the unwanted duplicates so that your automated quantity calculations are, in fact, accurate, and it removes delays and unwanted slows so that you can get on with what you do best.
This is a great time-saver and may help you get out of the office earlier.
When the project goes to the client, let’s just say that the fewer errors there are, the better you look.
And that, MicroStation travelers, brings us to the end of the train that is the MicroStation Productivity Toolkit suite.
With sweeping end-to-end views of seamless efficiency, this champagne-service suite can provide you with immense relief from the tedium and frustration of these typical MicroStation issues, while saving you a ton of time. If you have any questions, please call a Service Consultant at 727-442-7774 or visit AxiomInt.com for more information.
Thank you for traveling with us today. Axiom: CAD made easier.