User’s Guide – FileFixer for V8

Chapter 18 — Glossary

Specialized terms used in this guide

Note: If you don’t find a term here, please check MicroStation V8 on-line help. If that fails, contact us.

Attribute Linkage Any element may optionally contain attribute data or attribute linkage data. This data may consist of a link to an associated database or any other information that pertains to the element.

Attribute data that is not associated with a

MicroStation supported database is referred to as a user data linkage. A user data linkage may coexist with a database linkage or other user linkages. MicroStation makes no attempt to interpret user linkages; these linkages are maintained when MicroStation modifies an element.

Attribute Offset The V8 version of Index to Attributes (ITA).

In V8 the attribute offset defines the offset from the beginning of the element to the first word of the attribute linkage data. If the attribute offset = elementSize, there is no attribute linkage.

Abbreviated “attrOffset”.

Bit Stands for binary digit (0 or 1), the smallest unit of information on a computer. Eight bits make up a byte (or one character).

CAD Acronym for Computer-Aided Design. A CAD system is a combination of hardware and software that enables engineers and architects to design everything from furniture to airplanes.

CAD systems allow an engineer to view a design from any angle with the push of a button and to zoom in or out for close-ups and long-distance views. In addition, the computer keeps track of design dependencies so that when the engineer changes one value, all other values that depend on it are automatically changed accordingly.

Class Number identifying the class of the element.

0 – Primary

1 – Pattern component

2 – Construction element

3 – Dimensioning element

4 – Primary rule element

5 – Linear patterned element

6 – Construction rule element

Class Map Cell component classes are stored in the cell’s class map. In the following examples, bits are counted right to left beginning with 0:

0000 0000 0000 0000 EMPTY (or NULL)
— no graphical cell components.*
0000 0000 0000 0001 class 0 — cell
contains a primary class element.
0000 0000 0000 0100 class 2 — cell
contains a construction class element.
0000 0000 0000 0101 classes 0 and 2

(primary and construction) — cell contains primary and construction class elements.

*A cell’s class map can be EMPTY when the cell is composed of nested cells or other non-graphic elements. An element’s class is stored in its display header, which only exists in graphical elements (only graphical elements have a class).

Complex Bit When this bit is cleared (Clearing a variable means to remove whatever data is currently stored in the variable so that is it set to zero.), this indicates that the element is a simple (non-complex) element. When this bit is set (turned on with a value of 1) the element is considered a component of a complex element.

Complex Element A “Complex Element” is a set of elements that are, logically, formed from single component elements (entities), such as lines, arcs and other elements that are ‘linked’ together to form a single complex element. A “complex element” is a group of two or more elements that are manipulated as a single entity.

Complex Header A “Complex Header Element” is a single element

Element and is the first element of a “Complex Element”. This is an element that serves to “introduce” or group a collection of elements. For example, a cell begins with a cell header, followed by the graphical component elements of that cell. Complex headers are not displayable elements.

Compound Document See “Structured Storage”.

Display Header Each graphical V8 element has a display header, which includes its range, properties, symbology and other information only needed by graphical elements.

Element Header Each V8 element begins with an element header containing its type, size, level, ID and other information.

ElementSize In V8 elements, “elementSize” contains the total number of words in the element.

You must add 2 to V7’s words-to-follow (WTF) value to determine the total words in a V7 element — so ElementSize eliminates the necessity to add 2 all the time (easier for programmers).

Element Types The latest V8 element numbers and types are documented in:



This file is delivered with MicroStation V8.

Enter-Data-Fields These fields allow a MicroStation user to break up

(EDF) a text string into smaller pieces that are then easily modified. Specifically, an Enter Data Field is a one-or-more-character placeholder for future text input. You can insert empty “enter data fields” in a text element and fill in the actual text later. Enter Data Field’s are particularly useful for variable text such as part numbers or detail numbers.

Floating-Point A number which can contain a fractional part. The

Number term “floating point” is derived from the fact that, in calculating, there is no fixed number of digits before or after the decimal point and the decimal point can float. Examples: 123.5, 12.35, 1.235.

Graphical Element A visible element, such as a line or text.

Graphic Group A grouping of elements which are associated by a common graphic group number.

Graphic Group The Graphic Group Number is used to locate all

Number the elements of a graphic group when performing graphic group manipulations. If this value is zero, the element has no graphic group affiliation. If the value is not zero, the element is included in a graphic group with all other elements having the same graphic group number.

H-bit Stands for the “Hole” bit and is used for closed element types such as shape (6), complex shape (14), ellipse (15), cone (23), b-spline surface header (24) and closed b-spline curve header (27). The Hole-bit indicates whether the element is a solid or a hole depending upon how it is set.

0 = solid, 1 = hole.

The H-bit has different meanings in other element types.

For a cell header (type 2) the Hole-bit indicates:

0 = regular cell

1 = orphan cell (created by “group selection” or application)

For a line (type 3), the Hole-bit indicates:

0 = regular line segment

1 = infinite-length line

For a point string (type 22), the Hole-bit indicates:

0 = continuous

1 = disjointed

Header “Header” is commonly used in several contexts to refer to the beginning or top portion of something.

The first element in a V8 design file is the design file header.

Each element has an element header.

Graphical elements have a display header.

Index-to-attribute The Index-to-attribute (ITA) linkage is a strictly

linkage V7 term which defines the number of words between word 16 in an element and the first word of the attribute linkage data or the next element if no linkage data exists. Word 16 contains the number of words of element data following word 16.

The V7 index to attributes (ITA) is replaced by attribute offset in V8.

Mask A filter that selectively includes or excludes certain values. For example, when defining a database field, it is possible to assign a mask that indicates what sort of value the field should hold. Values that do not conform to the mask cannot be entered.

In MicroStation, it is an area of a reference file that is not displayed.

Nesting and Nesting A single component element that is part of a

Level complex element is considered to be nested in that complex element. Complex elements can be nested within other complex elements. Each time a component element is nested within a complex header its nesting level would increase by 1.

For example, cell ‘GASKET’ is part of cell ‘FITTING’ which is part of cell ‘FAUCET’. The component elements that make up the cell ‘GASKET’ are also nested in other cells, so therefore its nesting level is 3.

OLE Stands for Object Linking and Embedding, which enables you to create objects with one application and then link or embed them in a different application. Embedded objects retain their original format and links to the application that created them.

For more information on this please search for OLE in MicroStation help system.

Phantom Element These are elements that are displayed, but cannot be selected or manipulated in any way. This problem comes about when an element that is not part of complex element (such as a cell or a text node) has its complex bit incorrectly set.

Quaternion In 3D design files, the orientation of an element is composed of 9 numbers. This information can be compressed mathematically and represented by only 4 numbers, called quaternions. Quaternions are used in some elements to save space. For more, see Transformation Matrix.

Range Block The range of each graphical element is stored in its display header. See Header entry for more information.

Structured Storage Beginning with MicroStation V8, design files contain multiple internal folders and file, similar to Microsoft Excel or Word documents. This internal organization is called “structured storage”. Documents structured this way are called “compound documents”.

Sub-folders within a compound document are called “storages”.

Sub-files within a compound document are called “streams”.

Text Node This element is a complex header element for groups of text elements.

Text Height & Width These multipliers (which are floating point

Multipliers values/numbers) are used to scale a text element against the normal character size to determine the true size of the text element.

Transformation A matrix is an arrangement of numbers, analogous

Matrix to a table. For example:

1 0 0

0 1 0

0 0 1

A matrix is used to represent the orientation of an element—are we viewing it from the top, front, right? Let’s say the above example represents the top view of an element. If we change the element’s matrix, the element will be displayed differently. For example, to turn the element upside down and display the bottom view of an element, the matrix might be:


0 1 0

0 0 1

Or, we can change the matrix to increase the size (scale) of an element. The following matrix would double the displayed size of the element in the first example:

2 0 0

0 2 0

0 0 2

A change in size or rotation is called a transformation. The matrix used to define such changes is called a transformation matrix.

A 3D transformation matrix is composed of 9 numbers, as in the above examples. This information can be compressed mathematically and represented by only 4 numbers, called quaternions. Quaternions are used in some elements to save space.

Words Words are special units of data storage for element information and contain 16 bits or 2 bytes each.