Managing cell libraries quickly and effortlessly

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What do you do if your cell libraries do not comply with your client’s CAD submission standards? What do you do when your cell libraries become so bloated that it’s hard to find the cells you need? Instead of investing your time and resources in recreating or modifying cell libraries manually, why not save yourself hours of wasted production time by using CellManager to easily manage cell attributes in bulk?

In this article, I will illustrate how to use CellManager to review existing cell libraries, to export needed cells to a new cell library based on cell attributes and to modify cell attributes in bulk, without much effort.

Reviewing bloated cell libraries

One of two things may be the case: 1) by the end of a project, you have probably created lots of cells (and so have the other designers on your team), or 2) you have amassed a voluminous collection of cells over a couple of years. More than likely, in both cases, these cells are scattered throughout different cell libraries.

The problem begins when you realize that the levels and symbology of your cell libraries need to be changed to adhere to a client’s CAD standards.

The first order of business is to use CellManager to create cell library documentation to “see what you’ve got”. CellManager’s Draw Pages command can create notebook-like documentation of as many cell libraries and cells as you want, in the time it takes to get a cup of coffee.

By using the templates included with CellManager, you can generate professional-looking cell documentation in just minutes. CellManager’s documentation includes cell graphics, text descriptions, cell origin marker and any other cell attributes. CellManager also generates an alphabetized table of contents of the cells in the library.

Below are the steps for generating CellManager’s cell library documentation:

CellManager for V8’s Draw Pages command is simple to use: 1) Click on <Draw Pages>, 2) select the layout template you wish to use (Axiom provides these, or you can create your own) and 3) click on the <Draw Pages> button in the Draw Pages dialog box.

The Draw Pages output is stored in your cell library as a sheet model.

Exporting cells you need
Now that you have reviewed the cells available, it is time to export the cells you need into a project library. With the cell library selected, click on CellManager’s <Manage> button. From here, you can review and tag the cells you want to export.

In the Manage dialog box, you can tag cells for processing by clicking on <Tag>. To open the View window (to preview a cell without opening it), click on the <View> button.

Cells can be filtered by level, description (using wildcards), element types or any combination of these. If efficiency is what you crave, then there is an even faster way to select cells for processing. For example, if you wanted to select all the cells whose name starts with “ex”, all you would do is click on the <Select Cells> button on CellManager’s main dialog box and enter “ex*” in the Cell Name field of the Select Wildcards & Ranges section of the Select Cells dialog box.

The “ex*” tells CellManager to select all cells whose name starts with “ex”. The “*” is a wildcard character. Notice that at the top of the dialog box you can see how many cells were selected. When you return to the Manage dialog box, only the 31 cells selected with this filter will display.

Once you choose your cells, it is time to export them to a new library. You do this by clicking on the <Export> button in the Manage dialog box.

The Export command allows you to copy or move tagged cells to a new cell library or append them to an existing library.

Modifying cells in bulk
Now that you have reviewed and exported your cells, you are ready to modify the cells. Without CellManager, this process can be a tedious and monumental task. However, CellManager’s Modify command (similar to the “search and replace” function in a word processor) makes this very easy to do.

With the Modify command, you can change cell levels and symbology (color, line style and line weight) in your cells, in bulk. For this example, we are moving all the cells (which were scattered throughout different levels) to another level called “Doors”.

Using the Modify command to move all selected cells to one level.

When you are done selecting the criteria for your modification, click on <Process>. But don’t go anywhere, because it will be done in minutes, not the hours it would take to do it manually.

ByLevel symbology
If you are using ByLevel symbology in V8, modification tasks are even simpler. ByLevel symbology can be defined for each level in the V8 design file’s assigned level library (which can be modified using MicroStation’s Level Manager). When using ByLevel symbology, whenever you place an element on any particular level, the placed element will automatically adopt the ByLevel settings set in the level library, instead of having to define a color, weight and style for each element (or cell) in your design file.

One example of where this can be very helpful ¾ and save a lot of time ¾ is when migrating design files from MicroStation J (or other earlier versions) to V8, in cases where a different set of CAD standards will be used in V8. By setting all your cells’ symbology to ByLevel, your V7-to-V8 migration can be made simpler, due to not having to manually re-set symbology for each cell after the migration. You can use CellManager to set ByLevel symbology for weight, color and style, in batch, for all your cell libraries.

The values in the Element Selection Criteria are telling CellManager to change all possible symbology attributes to ByLevel symbology (as specified in the Element Modification Specifications).

Take control of your cell libraries!
Now you are equipped with this time-saving knowledge. These are just a few of the dozens of things you can do with CellManager. CellManager can save you time when managing any aspect of your cell libraries. Nobody wants bloated and disorganized cell libraries (especially your client). Make sure your cells are kept up to standard.

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