Tips & Tricks — MicroStation drawing inspection made easier than ever.

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By Steve Palmer

Are you often burdened with the task of manually inspecting multiple project design files in preparation for CAD standards inspections? Is it tedious for you to open up each project file, one by one, to check how well your drafting crew (or a subcontractor) complied with your drafting standards? How much time does this typically consume for each project — hours, days, weeks?

How would you like to dramatically reduce the amount of time required to inspect and correct multiple design files? Like minutes rather than hours, days or weeks?

Axiom’s CadExplorer™ (formerly known as CadExplore Browser) technology allows you to instantly view and analyze MicroStation project data in ways never before possible. It allows you to display all elements in all files with infinitely flexible sorting and filtering so that you can easily see standards violations, errors and oddball departures which would never be spotted without CadExplorer technology.

And you can save and reuse your favorite CadExplorer filters and sorts. This feature lets you easily return to the precise view of your project data, so you can quickly confirm that all errors and oddball departures have been addressed.

You can easily do this with CadExplorer — here’s how:

First, CadExplorer automatically collects information from your project files and CadExplorer Server automatically maintains your CadExplorer database — so project information is ready for immediate access at any time using CadExplorer.

When you start CadExplorer, all project information, as shown in Figure 1, is displayed in a spreadsheet-like grid. The grid displays one row for each element (line, circle, cell, text, etc.) in your design files.

CadExplorer-Figure-1-b-Revised

Figure 1. CadExplorer allows you to view CAD project information — such as details about every graphical element in a project — in a spreadsheet-like grid.

For even a small project, CadExplorer’s grid will typically contain thousands of rows — one row for each element in the whole project. To keep all of this information under your control, CadExplorer provides tools, which make it easy to filter and sort project data exactly the way you need to see it.

For example, with just a couple mouse-clicks you can direct CadExplorer to group and summarize the level names used in all project design files.

CadExplorer-Level-Names-2RA

Figure 2. CadExplorer makes it easy to group data. For example, to group information by “Level Name”, simply click and drag the column heading “Level Name”, then drop it into the space above the column headings.

This drag and drop action groups all elements under the level name on which they reside. This grouping allows you to instantly see oddball, non-compliant level names and find out exactly where they are being used.

CadExplorer-Level-Names-3RA

Figure 3. When you drag and drop the column heading “Level Name” into the blank area below the tabs, CadExplorer collapses (groups together) all drawing elements which reside on each level. For example, Figure 3 shows four elements on the level named “temporary”. Who created that non-standard level? Click on the “+” symbol to view details about the elements residing on the oddball level “temporary” — details such as “which project files the elements on the non-standard level reside in”.

This summarized view allows you to inspect all the level names in use by all design files in your entire project — and you can see this instantly without opening any of the files with MicroStation.

From this grouped view, you can now click on the “+” sign next to a level name to display the elements which have been placed on that level.

CadExplorer-Level-Names-4RA

Figure 4. In this example, four elements were placed on the non-standard level named “temporary” in Floor2.dgn. Double-click on one of the four rows to view the illegally placed elements with MicroStation — this allows you to immediately handle elements placed on this non-standard level.

When you double-click on a specific element, CadExplorer automatically opens the design file in MicroStation and zooms in on that element. You can then easily use MicroStation commands to delete or modify the few oddball elements that were revealed by CadExplorer.

Click CadExplorer’s “Save SmartTab” tool to save this customized layout — all sorting and filtering is remembered. Your customized layout thereafter displays on the SmartTabs menu for handy reuse whenever needed!

CadExplorer-SmartTabs-1RA

Figure 5. SmartTabs are saved and reusable customized views of your project data. Your SmartTab names appear in the SmartTabs menu.

That’s just the beginning for CadExplorer.
This article illustrates just a few of the time-saving, unprecedented CadExplorer features you can use to group and summarize any important design file information you need to quickly find and view in your project files.

Recent CadExplorer releases now include the ability to search and replace the content of text elements as well as the ability to update element symbology. For a complete overview of CadExplorer, get a free on-line demonstration!

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