Easily import Excel spreadsheets and Word documents into design files with perfect formatting.

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Now with ProjectWise support

By Eiren Smith

Want to bring Excel spreadsheet or Word document information into MicroStation with perfect formatting and a link to the original Excel spreadsheet or Word document in case information in the spreadsheet or Word document changes in the future? Do you already use Microsoft Office Importer but were frustrated because you couldn’t use it on ProjectWise projects?

Now ProjectWise users, just like the rest of the world, can use Microsoft Office Importer to easily paste spreadsheets (such as bills of material) into design files with links back to the spreadsheet. The pasted data has perfect formatting and can be set to automatically update whenever changes are made to the source spreadsheet.

The latest version of Microsoft Office Importer brings an end to that frustration by integrating with ProjectWise. For the first time ever, you can now use Microsoft Office Importer on Excel spreadsheets and Word documents that reside in ProjectWise. The “Great Wall of ProjectWise” limited previous versions of Microsoft Office Importer. Microsoft Office Importer didn’t speak ProjectWise until now so it couldn’t perform its linking and automatic (or interactive) updating magic on Excel spreadsheets and Word documents stored in ProjectWise. (Microsoft Office Importer could always handle design files checked out from ProjectWise because it doesn’t matter to Microsoft Office Importer where the design file is stored. But Microsoft Office Importer needed to specifically support ProjectWise in order to be able to be used with Excel spreadsheets and Word documents stored inside ProjectWise.)

In this article, I will show you how to use Microsoft Office Importer with ProjectWise. You will learn how to paste Excel data into your design file and then you will see how Microsoft Office Importer updates that paste automatically the next time you open the design file after editing the Excel spreadsheet, even after the spreadsheet has been checked back into ProjectWise. Making a Microsoft Office Importer paste from a file that came from ProjectWise is just as easy as if that file was not saved in ProjectWise. Note that I’m not giving you instructions on how to use ProjectWise Explorer to check out the Excel spreadsheet, Word document or design file in the first place. You do that the same way you usually would, using ProjectWise Explorer.

After you create the initial paste in a design file with Microsoft Office Importer, I’ll have you edit the Excel spreadsheet and check it back into ProjectWise. This will show you how easy it is to update it in your design file with Microsoft Office Importer, even though the modified spreadsheet resides in ProjectWise.

Even if someone else has the Excel spreadsheet or Word document checked out when you need Microsoft Office Importer to update your design file, Microsoft Office Importer will still update it with the latest data from that Excel or Word file that has been checked into ProjectWise. This is because Microsoft Office Importer doesn’t need to check the spreadsheet or document out of ProjectWise in order to update its information in the design file. Microsoft Office Importer simply temporarily “copies out” the spreadsheet or document (invisibly) in order to update the design file.

Below are the steps to make Microsoft Office Importer paste data from a spreadsheet you checked out from ProjectWise into a MicroStation design file, modify the spreadsheet data, check the spreadsheet back into ProjectWise and then update the design file with the modified spreadsheet information, even though the spreadsheet is no longer checked out to you. These steps work the same for Word documents, too, not just Excel spreadsheets.

  1. Check out a spreadsheet from ProjectWise Explorer. (One way to do this is to open ProjectWise Explorer and simply double-click on the file you want to check out.)
  2. Select some cells in that spreadsheet.
  3. Copy those selected cells to the clipboard.
  4. Open any design file in MicroStation V8.5, XM or V8i. It doesn’t matter if the design file is from ProjectWise or not.
  5. If Microsoft Office Importer is not already running, run it from your Axiom menu in MicroStation. Its toolbar will appear.
  6. Push the (Paste clipboard data into MicroStation) button — the first button on the left on Microsoft Office Importer’s toolbar.
  7. Microsoft Office Importer can paste data from an Excel spreadsheet or Word document into your design file with a link back to the source file. It doesn’t matter if the spreadsheet or document resides in ProjectWise or not.

  8. Choose where you want to place the Excel data in your design file and place a data point to define the upper-left corner of your paste. For this exercise, it’s not very important where you place the Excel data in your design file.Now the data from your Excel spreadsheet is in your design file with a link back to the ProjectWise location of the source spreadsheet. If that spreadsheet ever changes, Microsoft Office Importer can get it from ProjectWise and update the design file from that changed spreadsheet. This linking from the design file to the source document in ProjectWise is one of the most important aspects of Microsoft Office Importer, though most of it is handled behind the scenes.
  9. Go back to Excel and change some text in one of the cells you selected in step two earlier. I recommend you simply add some text to a previously empty cell. That way it’ll be easy to restore the spreadsheet after we’re done with this exercise. We’re going to change this file and check it back into ProjectWise. Then we’re going to update its data in the design file with Microsoft Office Importer.
  10. Save the modified spreadsheet and exit Excel.
  11. When prompted by ProjectWise Explorer, check the file back into ProjectWise. The Excel spreadsheet will be checked back into ProjectWise and will no longer be available in your ProjectWise working directory.
  12. Now close and then reopen your current design file. When you reopen your design file, Microsoft Office Importer will notice that your spreadsheet has been modified and it will automatically update your design file so it contains the latest data from the spreadsheet. Microsoft Office Importer gets the latest version of the Excel spreadsheet from ProjectWise in the background totally automatically. If you watch carefully, you may see a progress bar flash by as Microsoft Office Importer performs its update.
  13. Look in your design file for the text you changed or added in step eight. As you can see, Microsoft Office Importer got your Excel spreadsheet from ProjectWise and used it to update your design file.
  14. Now it’s time to undo the modification we made in step eight. To do this, press the button on the Microsoft Office Importer toolbar, click on an element in the Excel data pasted into the DGN file in step 7 and place a data point to accept. The “Manage Import Link” box will appear. Now push the button in the “Manage Import Link” box. Microsoft Office Importer will check the spreadsheet out of ProjectWise and open it in Excel so you can modify it as you please. When you’re done, just save the Excel spreadsheet, exit Excel as usual and choose to check the file back into ProjectWise when prompted automatically by ProjectWise Explorer.

If all that seemed too easy, it’s only because we worked very hard to make it that way. Now, ProjectWise users can get their Excel and Word data into MicroStation with perfect formatting and a link to the source spreadsheet or document file that can be easily updated — interactively or automatically — when that source spreadsheet or document changes in the future, even if the user doesn’t have the spreadsheet or document checked out anymore.

Microsoft Office Importer’s ProjectWise support is designed to be unintrusive. Microsoft Office Importer doesn’t bother the user with unnecessary questions and it doesn’t make users log into ProjectWise if they’re already logged in. It’s smart enough to do the ProjectWise communication work automatically so it can stay out of the user’s way. This keeps Microsoft Office Importer as easy as possible to use and reduces training requirements. If your users already know how to use Microsoft Office Importer, which is already really simple to use, they don’t need any retraining to start using it on ProjectWise spreadsheets and documents. It is just as easy to use Microsoft Office Importer with Excel spreadsheets and Word documents that reside inside ProjectWise as it is to use when those files are not in ProjectWise.

Microsoft Office Importer supports ProjectWise V8.5, ProjectWise XM and ProjectWise V8i. Give it a try today!

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