Axiom releases RuleManager for V8.

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  • By Eiren Smith, Vice President for Technology
    CLEARWATER, FLORIDA, USA — As the Product Manager for Axiom’s quality assurance tools SpecChecker, SpecMonitor and RuleManager, customers regularly ask me what’s new. The answer is always “Plenty!”

    RuleManager for V8 can extract a set of CAD standards to be used with Axiom’s quality assurance tools from an existing design file quickly and automatically.

    The latest news about Axiom’s quality assurance tools is the release of the first version of RuleManager for the MicroStation V8 family, including MicroStation V8 2004 Edition. Why is this a momentous occasion? Now, V8 users will be able to take full advantage of the tools that ensure automatic adherence to “sometimes-not-easy-to-remember” CAD standards and decrease proofreading time to almost zero. This will make clients happy, as their files will be totally on-standard. This will make CAD managers happy, as it will increase output and production and save time. Most importantly, it will make upper management happy to see project costs decrease.

    I’m going to spend a little time describing RuleManager‘s role in Axiom’s V8 family of quality assurance tools, which includes SpecChecker, SpecMonitor and, now, RuleManager.

    Understanding RuleManager
    To understand RuleManager, a basic knowledge of SpecChecker is necessary. SpecChecker is Axiom’s wildly popular tool for automatically checking, reporting and correcting CAD standards. SpecChecker’s business is detecting violations of CAD standards. SpecChecker can be run by every user on the floor, by CAD standards specialists and by project managers. Anyone can run SpecChecker to check a design file for compliance with CAD standards.

    But before SpecChecker can enforce CAD standards, it has to know what those CAD standards are. In order to be automatically enforced, CAD standards — which could be written in any number of styles and file formats – must be reduced to a common, uniform style and file format. For SpecChecker, such files are called “rules files.” Within each rules file there are multiple “rules.” Each rule contains the element criteria for what is deemed “on-standard” for a kind of element.

    Rules and rules files are where RuleManager comes in. RuleManager’s purpose is to create and manage MicroStation quality assurance rules files. These rules files are then used by SpecChecker or SpecMonitor (which differs from SpecChecker in that it enforces CAD standards as designers place elements) to automatically enforce CAD standards.

    Creating rules with RuleManager
    RuleManager has two ways of creating rules. Users can create them interactively using RuleManager’s wizard-style interface, which provides them with context-sensitive lists of MicroStation element types, properties, levels and other element characteristics. RuleManager can also create rules automatically by analyzing one or more existing design files containing on-standard elements. This analysis, which takes only seconds on most design files, results in rules files that are ready for production, with a rule for each set of unique element criteria found in that file. RuleManager also provides the user with options regarding what element criteria to consider when automatically generating those rules. For example, if your standards allow for the use of any element type but are very strict about level usage, you might want to tell RuleManager that you want it to ignore element types but consider the level of each element in the files being analyzed.

    Rule Generation Options box

    SpecChecker and SpecMonitor do the checking. RuleManager tells them what your standards are.

    RuleManager is a separate tool for two reasons. One, it helps write rules for use with both SpecChecker and SpecMonitor. Two, it is not necessarily a tool that you want to provide to all your SpecChecker and SpecMonitor users. It serves best as an administrator-only tool.

    V8-only Features
    RuleManager for V8 includes enhancements that take advantage of technology unique to MicroStation V8. For example, it has an option to generate rules files only from the models you specify. For example, perhaps you only want RuleManager for V8 to consider the active model when analyzing design files, or perhaps you want it to ignore sheet models. It can do all that and more.

    Element Type and Level checkboxes

    RuleManager for V8 also has rich support for V8’s ByLevel symbology in its automatic design file analysis and rule generation. If an element, for example, has ByLevel color, RuleManager can either treat that element’s color as “ByLevel” or it can automatically determine what the color is for the level the element is placed on and make the rules file accordingly. Which way it treats ByLevel attributes is user definable.

    RuleManager has been helping MicroStation V7 users since 1999. It has been a valuable tool in streamlining the enforcement of CAD standards at hundreds of MicroStation shops worldwide. Now, RuleManager for V8 is here to help the V8 generation.

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