How to Automatically Update Spreadsheet Links Every Time MicroStation Files are Opened

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One of the problems that MicroStation users face is that MicroStation’s LiveLinks software often does not automatically update spreadsheet or word processing data when a MicroStation file [in which this data is linked] is opened. The data is not automatically updated even though the spreadsheet or word processing file has been modified and saved after the import. In addition, the links created with LiveLinks, if later unlinked, tend to create unselectable elements in a design file. Also, without advanced configuration settings, LiveLinks imports the data as a single cell. If the need to edit the imported text in MicroStation arises, and the cell is therefore dropped to its components, each text character in the data is represented by a single text element. Axiom did away with the above problems with the release of Microsoft Office Importer 3.0.

Microsoft Office Importer creates links from spreadsheets or word processing files to MicroStation files that can be automatically updated every time that the MicroStation file is opened. For example, if a spreadsheet that has been linked with Microsoft Office Importer is modified and saved after it was originally imported in the MicroStation file, the next time the MicroStation file is opened, the spreadsheet will be automatically updated with the latest information every time — with no reliability problems! Links created with Microsoft Office Importer can also be updated any time after the MicroStation file is already opened. In addition, the links created with Microsoft Office Importer do not create file corruption when unlinked, and the data Microsoft Office Importer imports can be easily edited since it’s pasted as easy-to-edit text and text node elements. The following steps demonstrate how simple it is to set up the automatic update feature in Microsoft Office Importer.

In order for Microsoft Office Importer to update pasted data automatically each time a MicroStation file is started, it must be added as one of the applications that starts every time a MicroStation file is opened. To do this, select the MicroStation “Workspace” menu and select “Configuration”.

The “Configuration” dialog box pops up. In the “View/modify all configuration variables” section, scroll down and select the configuration variable called “MS_DGNAPPS”. Configuration variables hold information [which can be modified according to the needs of a MicroStation department] that is used to customize the MicroStation environment of a user or a site. In this case, by modifying the MS_DGNAPPS configuration variable, you will tell MicroStation to start Microsoft Office Importer every time a MicroStation file is opened.

Click on the button. In the “New Value” field, move the cursor to the end of the existing value. Type a semicolon (;) and then the following line: “$(AXI)”. The “$(AXI)” value tells MicroStation where Axiom products are installed. “” is where the Microsoft Office Importer application file is relative to the Axiom root directory.

Click , and click again. Then, click when asked to save the changes to your configuration file. Then, restart MicroStation.

Once MicroStation restarts, you’ll notice that Microsoft Office Importer toolbar is loaded.

You’re now ready to paste linked data into MicroStation. Open the Excel spreadsheet or Word document and copy the contents you want to link. Go back to MicroStation and click on Microsoft Office Importer’s “Paste” button.

You’ll see the “Paste” dialog box pop up. To enable the automatic update of links, check the “Import with link to original document” checkbox and the “Update automatically when design file opens” checkbox.

Now enter a data point, and your data is immediately pasted and linked! To see the link information, click on the “Link Info” button. The link information is displayed right above the linked data as in the example below.

From this moment on, every time the design file is opened, Microsoft Office Importer checks the linked data against the data in the source file, and updates it in the MicroStation file when it has changed — no user intervention required!

Updating linked data while working on the MicroStation file
If the source document is modified (and the changes are saved) after having been linked in the MicroStation file, and the MicroStation file is opened, the linked data can still easily be updated without reopening the MicroStation file. To do this, simply:

Click on the “Manage Import Link” button.

Then, double-click on any of the elements inside the linked data area. In the “Manage Import Links” dialog box that opens, click on the button. Microsoft Office Importer immediately updates the linked data with the latest modifications in the source file.

To find out more about this utility, go to Microsoft Office Importer.

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