How to Quickly Handle CAD Standard Changes — Mid-project!

Have you ever had a situation where a project’s CAD standards changed after the project started? Did you or your users spend hours — or days — manually updating design files because of it? Does your management appreciate under budget or high-profit projects? (Don’t spend a lot of time on this last one, because I’m sure they do!)

Rick Dewitt Axiom Senior Product Manager

Rick DeWitt, Axiom Senior Product Manager, has been helping CAD users with their MicroStation problems for more than 16 years.

Let’s take one simple but typical example. You have a project that started with CAD standards you were asked to follow. After the project hits 75 percent completion, you find out that the font they now want you to use is “Arial”, instead of the “Working” font recommended at the start of the project. There are several hundred files already created for the project and every one of them needs to be fixed. What do you do?

SpecChecker is best known for its ability to perform CAD standard checks on MicroStation files based on “rules” that define your specific CAD standard. Another aspect of SpecChecker, that not everyone knows about, is that SpecChecker can also make many kinds of changes to elements. Add this to SpecChecker’s ability to run in a batch process on tens or hundreds or thousands of files at the same time and you have a powerful solution for making required changes at any point in the project’s development.

SpecChecker lets you correct many things including level, color, weight, style, text height, text width and font. For instance, SpecChecker can change the font for any text element anywhere in any number of design files you select. This includes text found inside cells and even text defined inside shared cell definitions (cell definitions that are found in the non-graphic section of a design file rather than in a cell library).

Using SpecChecker’s “Rule Wizard”, you can create a rule that finds every text element in any number of design files that does not use “Arial” for a font and change the font to “Arial”. Anyone could create the rule needed to do this in about a minute. Here’s how…

  1. Open SpecCheckerand in the “Rules File:” field type a name for your new rules file that describes what you want it to do. For example:“C:\Program Files \Axiom\v8\Checker\Sample\TextToArial.rul”
  2. Spec Checker Corrects Cad Standards Errors

    Figure 1. Not only can SpecChecker show you all the elements that do not comply with your CAD standards, it can also correct most of the errors it finds according to the rules you define — automatically!

  3. Now choose Tools | Rule Wizard… from SpecChecker’s main menu. Since this rules file does not exist yet, the Rule Wizard opens showing an empty file as in Figure 2.
  4. Spec Checker Cad Standards Rules

    Figure 2. Using SpecChecker’s Rule Wizard, you can quickly create rules to check — and correct — many common element attributes that MicroStation CAD managers want to enforce such as level, color, weight, style, font and text size.

  5. Now, we just click the {New Rule…} button to start building our rule. This opens a dialog box, which lets us select the type of rule we are building. Because we want to reject text that doesn’t have the correct font, we choose the “Reject” radio button and then click {Next}. (See Figure 3.)
  6. Spec Checker Rejects or Accepts Elements

    Figure 3. SpecChecker rules either “Reject” or “Accept” elements in design files. They can do this based on specific element criteria or they can “Reject All” or “Accept All” elements as a starting condition.

  7. The next step is to create a list of selection criteria that defines the types of elements we want to change. We do this using “keywords”. To see a full list of keywords to select from, click the {Select…} button next to the “Keyword” field.

    Spec Checker Uses Keywords

    Figure 4. Using keywords, SpecChecker’s Rule Wizard allows you to easily select the element criteria that you want to use to limit your rule. There are many keywords to choose from including those for cell name, level, file name, model, text style, line style and many others.

    For our example, we want to change text nodes (type 7) and text (type 17), so we select them from the list of element types and then click the {OK} button.

    Spec Checker Modifies Elements in Batch

    Figure 5. You can select from a list of element types MicroStation recognizes when creating rules. SpecChecker will automatically modify the elements (based on the rules) in batch.

    For this example, we set the operator to “=” (equals) and then we click the {Add to List} button to add this element criteria. We then create our next criteria statement in the same way, but this time we will select the keyword “FONT” from the keyword list, set the operator to “!=” (not equal) and add the font name “Arial” to the “Values:” field before clicking the {Add to List} button again. The dialog should now look like this (Figure 6):

  8. Spec Checker Lists Criteria to Check

    Figure 6. The listed criteria specifies which elements will be accepted or rejected by the rule we are building — in this example, text nodes and nodes (as in Figure 5) that do not use the “Arial” font. Remember that “!=” means “does not equal”.

  9. To proceed, we click the {Next} button, and now we create the message we want to put in our report file for each text nodes or text element we change. This message can say anything you want but for our example we will use “Changing this text to Arial font” and click the {Next} button again. (See Figure 7.)
  10. Spec Checker Creates Reports

    Figure 7. Every rule that rejects elements puts a message in the SpecChecker report file for each element it rejects. The message can say anything you want and can include variables that will update with things like the rejected element’s level, color or style.

  11. We are now ready for the last part of the rule, which is creating the correction we want to make to any text node or text element that does not use the “Arial” font. This dialog works like the element selection criteria except you can only select one value for each correction keyword, and the operator is always “=”, so it doesn’t show a choice. In our example, we are going to change the font of rejected elements to “Arial” so we select the “FONT” keyword and set the “Value:” to “Arial” and then click the {Add to List} button (Figure 8).
  12. Spec Checker Corrects Symbology

    Figure 8. With SpecChecker, you can optionally correct many things about an element such as level, color, weight, style and font. In this example, we are telling SpecChecker to change the rejected text element’s font to “Arial”.

  13. Since this is the only automatic correction we’re going to do for this simple example, click the {Next} button to add the finished rule to the list of rules. Rule Wizard will start you back at the beginning dialog for creating additional rules. As this is the only rule that we’ll do for this example, just click the {Cancel} button to close that dialog box and return to our list of rules (Figure 9). That’s really all there is to setting up a rule.
  14. Spec Checker Corrects Automatically

    Figure 9. The “Rules” dialog box shows you all of the rules that SpecChecker will use as it goes through — in batch — all of the files you choose and either makes the corrections automatically or (if you prefer) with user interaction.

  15. From here, you simply click the {Close} button and then the {Save} button when it asks you if you want to save the changes to your rules file. This will take you back to SpecChecker’s main dialog box.
  16. To make this modification to tens, hundreds or thousands of files automatically, simply pick all the files you want to change from SpecChecker’s main dialog box, make sure the “Search only” and “Interactive editing” checkboxes are unchecked in the main dialog and click the {Start} button to handle the whole problem fast.

    Although this article illustrates a very simple example, SpecChecker can also be used to select and modify elements in an extremely precise and sophisticated manner.

    Call Now!
    For more information on SpecChecker or to obtain a free trial version, contact an Axiom MicroStation Consultant today! Call 727-442-7774 extension 2620, We will give you full credit for the tip and your peers will look at you with reverence.

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