Usability of Annotation Scale

Annotation Scale is a tool to scale your annotations like text and dimensions in order to display them at correct size on sheets. It is a special scale that affects only annotations, a powerful tool that provides you the capability of changing annotation sizes as necessary. Annotation scale can be used to ensure readability of annotations on sheets of any scale. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as sheet scale.

                In drawings, for annotations we always need to think about the scale at which is going to be printed. In earlier days (when Annotation Scale was not available), while placing annotations you had to think about the annotation sizes and had to scale them manually. But once they were placed, modifying them became tedious job, as you had to repeat the entire process. Now annotation scale makes it very simply. Annotation Scale allows you to change display sizes of all annotations with one click.

What is an Annotation ?
                An annotation is an element that uses annotation scale. A dimension that uses annotation scale is an annotation. If it doesn't use annotation scale, it is not an annotation. The annotation status of an element can be set when the element is placed and can be changed thereafter, if necessary. While placing those elements, Annotation Scale lock in the Tool Settings dialog should be turned ON. This lock can be set from Settings>Locks>Annotation Scale.

Annotation-able Element Types

  • Text
  • Dimensions
  • Text Nodes
  • Notes
  • Multi-leader Notes
  • Annotation Cells
  • Callouts (Sections, etc.)
  • Drawing Titles
  • Tags
  • Line styles (A Line style should be marked as Non-Physical (cosmetic) and Line style Scale should be set to use annotation scale in Model Properties)
  • All of the above inside a Cell
  • All of the above inside a Shared Cell

Setting Up Annotation Scale 
               Annotation Scale is a property of the model. All annotations placed in that model will follow the model's annotation scale (Although possible, we don't recommend individual annotations to have different annotation scales).

              Annotation Scale can be set through Model Properties dialog or Drawing Scale dialog.

Annotation Scale Uses

Annotation Scale basically does two things for you.

Scaling annotations, Scaling sheet boundary, Scaling border attachment.

  1. Now I will explain how it works for scaling annotations. Annotation Scale controls the display of your annotations like text and dimensions. For example, a text element of height 3mm placed with annotation scale 1:10 makes it 30mm height text. When you need to make a common change to all annotations, you just need to change the sheet's annotation scale. The change is automatically propagated to all annotations in the sheet.
  2. In sheet model, annotation scale also scales the sheet size (boundary) apart from scaling annotations. This allows you to insert larger drawings within the sheet boundary. All drawings on that sheet automatically reflect their new detail scale. Note that if the sheet boundary is associated with a border attachment, then the new scale automatically affects the border attachment also.

List of Annotation Scales

                The list of scale you see in the drop-down is accessed from Scales.def file stored in "..\WorkSpace\System\Data" directory. You can define new scales or can remove existing scales in that file. If a model uses a pre-existing annotation scale that no longer exists in Scales.def file, that scale will be displayed as CUSTOM scale.

Annotation Scale Keyins

  • LOCK USEANNOTATIONSCALE : Toggles annotation scale lock ON / OFF.
  • ANNOTATIONSCALE ADD : Allows you to add annotation scale property to those text, and dimensions which aren't currently using annotation scale.
  • ANNOTATIONSCALE REMOVE : This is exactly the opposite of the ANNOTATIONSACLE ADD. It removes annotation scale property from those annotations and makes them non-annotations.
  • MODEL SET ANNOTATIONSCALE : It changes the current annotation scale of the model to the new value.
  • ANNOTATIONSCALE CHANGE : It allows you to assign a special annotation scale (other than model annotation scale) to annotations. I don't recommend assigning special annotation scale to individual annotations. This keyin is left only to support legacy data.

Annotations in References

               Prior to MicroStation V8i, you couldn't apply the active model's annotation scale to annotations in references. You had to activate the reference, scale the annotations manually and again deactivate. This long process is no longer needed. References now have a new property called Use Active Annotation Scale, which can make annotations in reference use active model's annotation scale. Thus all annotations of a sheet will be displayed at the same size, irrespective of whether they are on the sheet or in a reference model.



More blogs coming up, so be there...

  • After 8 Years this is quite useful in a dgn environment but the competitor autodesk is going further with annotation scaling with a lot more possibilities and the worse Microstation still does not support that enhanced technology based on DWG-files. So DWG-files with dwg annotation scaling can not be edited by Microstation in all circumstances.

  • Thanks for the effort in showing methods of detailing and annotating drawings.  We definitely want to know if there is a more effective method.  We have “tons” of detail drawings in our project history and future.

    I know our current method has lots of benefits and is fairly easy to accomplish.   I do wander about the possibility that the multi annotation scale functionality may be removed, because it is such a standard applicable function.  That would have bad consequences, just as the first release of v8i did where the multi scale support function had to be added back for SS1 due to several request.  Even if there is a way to confine a drawing to one annotation scale and still achieve the effect of multiple annotation scale the workflow does not seem to be as straight forward or as simply setting and using the active scale and supporting multiple scales per model.  

    Actually there are cases were we have one detail dimensioned in two different plot scales.  In this case we use dimensions on different levels for the different scales.  Even if the one set of dimensions could be scaled effectively for multiple scale plots the fact is the dimensions and annotations shown at one scale would not be same dimensions or annotations shown at the second scale.  We would be calling out and detailing different aspects of the details for each of the different plots of the drawing.

    We also have standards to adhere to.  One is we do not support multiple Design Models per DGN.  This is due to a standard file naming convention that identifies the content of a drawing by the file name.  We navigate through our file management system base on file names and all data is drawn in the default design model.  We do use sheet models but they are according to the standard never to contain design data, only sheet information such as sheet numbers title block labels etc.

    We also have drafting standards to adhere to that dictate dimension text size, dimension line spacing, annotation justification and spacing standards and other general drafting rules adopted for internal Quality Assurance Standards.

    We realize Bentley is making great strides in developing MicroStation and other Engineering Design Software.  I would hope the intension is to add and improve functionality.  On the road to improving functionally please keep in mind that MicroStation is a tool used in many different aspects.  The ability to apply scale factors to Annotation in a drawing Model is a great functionality.  Limiting or potentially limiting the scale factor function to one factor per model is actually backward functionality.  Why would this functionality not allow user to factor annotation as needed and change it as needed and support annotation of different scales in one drawing model. It does not and hopfully will in the future.

    I realize there is a vision to somehow transform drawings into some sort of engineering drawing data warehouse.  Then have some ability to browse details and drawings through an explorer interface were each drawing is self defined and interoperable with different viewing methods.  This is all fine but the process of drawing and engineering projects should not be separated into a data management buckets that fragment the Design, Engineering and Drafting of each project.

    The concept of one model one annotation scale is valid for some design process but not all.

    Thanks for your time hope to here more on the subject.   I welcome seeing and participating in possible improvements to drafting process in MicroStation.