Upgrading to the MicroStation V8 Format


Considering Updating to the New MicroStation Format?

There is a lot to consider. MicroStation V8 is very different than any previous version of MicroStation. It is the first time the format has been changed. Previously there had been modifications to the software, but the format had never before been changed so that it would not work with previous versions of the software.

Because the earlier versions contained limitations that could not be avoided, Bentley decided that this had to be changed. They spent a lot of time on this dilemma and came up with the V8 format. By doing this, there became the situation of getting the pre-V8 data into the V8 format. This is where the decision of the CAD Manager comes in. Do I do it myself? Do I hire an outside source ? What is involved in such a task?

The best way to look at this is, that all the data you use on a daily basis for MicroStation is what will need to be moved into the new format. If you were to take everything you needed for your CAD data and put it in a folder for a client, to backup, to move to a new server on your network somewhere, etc.... This is the same data that you want to move to the new file format for MicroStation V8. There is no checklist around for you to use. Each company is going to be different, because MicroStation is not used the same way in every company, site, or discipline.

The first thing to consider would be how you are currently using MicroStation.

  • How much data is on your network being shared, or are you a one person shop?
  • Do you have custom workspaces?
  • Are you using any third party software (Bentley or other)?
  • Where are your design files, cell libraries, custom line styles and fonts located (stored)?
  • Do you have any custom programming for MicroStation (MDL, MACROS, JAVA, etc...)?

If you have no idea on any of this data you will want to investigate a little further and find out.

The hard part about migration is that any of the following can cause failure:

  • Hardware: What are the new hardware requirements? Do we need upgrades?
  • Software: How will the new software be deployed and licensed?
  • Data: How will the existing data be backed up and upgraded?
  • People: Are users trained and ready to use the new software?
  • Customizations: How are we going to migrate company specific customizations? (Custom GUI, Workspace CFGs, Plotting scripts etc.)
  • Applications and Utilities: Do my 3rd party applications work correctly? How about custom applications we authored?

Along with migrating your data, you may want to consider using some of the new functionality in the V8 format. Using this functionality may change a few things.

Some of the new features in V8 include

  • Unlimited levels
  • A much larger cell and file size
  • Models
  • Dimension styles
  • Text styles
  • The ability to use ACAD fonts and Windows fonts
  • Live nesting for references
  • Direct editing of the DWG format

...and a lot more.

All this added functionality may affect the way you currently manage your CAD department. So just getting your data over to V8 may only be half the battle.

You need to sit down and figure out how V8 is going to be used. It might sound simple (we are just going to use it like we do now with the pre-V8 format). You now have unlimited levels, you can work on pre-V8 files (this is considered the V7 format), and you can also work on DWG files directly. So it is now up to the CAD manager on how this data is accessed. Does everything get left in the format it is currently in, OR does it get upgraded to the V8 format? Does the company deliver a final project in V7-DGN, V8-DGN, or DWG?

These are all decisions that need to be made at a company level and enforced by the CAD Manager.

If you have a lot of data and projects that you are considering upgrading, you will be best off if you do this a little at a time and not all in one big step. (IE: one project at a time, starting with the smaller ones first). By doing this you will find anything you may have missed or forgot to cover (IE: using sheet files and models as compared to your current referencing of files).

One plus on your side is that the V8 directory structure is almost identical to MicroStation/J. If you have a custom workspace in place, most likely you can use it with V8. V8 uses the existing configuration variables along with a new list variables that allow a lot more functionality and control. One of the main things that cannot be used in the new V8 workspace is the old V7 user preference file (*.upf).

Here are some questions that will need to be addressed

  • Am I currently using SelectServer for licensing? Or are my machines running local node locked licenses?
  • Where are my design files?
  • Are my users going to work on V8 files only? Are my users going to be working on V7, V8 and DWG files?
  • Do I currently use a level naming convention?
  • What kind of company wide level naming will be used? And how will this be enforced? (seed files, attached levels, OR using a DGNLIB file)
  • What fonts are currently used? Do I continue to work this way or do I allow the use of Windows and ACAD fonts? What about TextStyles?
  • Along the same lines if TextStyles, what about DimensionStyles?
  • This might be the time for consolidating and standardizing your cell libraries?
  • A new set of seed files? You may want to look into sheet files also?
  • Custom programming (MDL, MACROS, etc..) may need to be re-compiled or re-written.

So if you have been using MicroStation right out of the box, un-modified, your steps towards migrating to the V8 format are going to be a lot easier than someone who has customized MicroStation. Don't get me wrong, it is not as hard as you may think. There are a lot of things to consider though. You may get by with just upgrading your data and creating a new workspace on your server for the new V8 software, BUT V8 has a lot more to offer the CAD Manager when it comes to controlling some of the standards a company may have. These are the things that need to be investigated and put in place.

Based on company demands, there is no standard check list for a migration to V8, however, the list of considerations below may help.

Considerations when migrating

  • Convert all the design files to the new V8 format?
  • Convert ALL the cell libraries to the new V8 format?
  • Any new project will be done in the new V8 format?
  • Any files received from clients, vendors, contractors, etc... will be converted to the new V8 format?
  • There will be a standard level naming convention put in place and enforced through a DGNLIB reference?
  • There will be a standard set of TextStyles used and they will be enforced through a DGNLIB reference?
  • There will be a standard set of DimensionStyles and they will be enforced through a DGNLIB reference?
  • Can my custom programs be re-compiled (MDL) for the new V8 format?
  • Who wrote the custom MDL, MACRO, JAVA, etc...? And do I have the code?
  • New seed files need to be created?
  • Sheet files and Models will now be used?
  • Update users with the new processes for levels, textstyles, dimensionstyles, etc...?

There is always more than one way to do something - it is a matter of workflow as to which way will best suit the CAD Manager and their users. This is where all the work is. The CAD Manager needs to set up an environment where their users will be able to work efficiently. You can give them all the tools in the world, but if they are not thought out properly and laid out in a logical manner for the user, they will become cumbersome and useless for the user.

To save some time in the migration process you should consider educating your users with the new software, along with offering them a new workflow and good set of reference materials.

And the number one thing when migrating this data is BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!!!!

  • These blog posts are not the best place to ask questions, unless the post actually suggests it. You should look at the various forums. There are different forums for different versions (V8.5, XM, V8i) and under each a family of sub forums on various topics.

    User commands are something that should really be considered not available, even though some may work. MicroStation Basic aka MBE (*.bas, *.ba) are also considered obsolete. The best approach is using VBA -  Visual Basic for Applications. You can actually import a BAS file, but you will have much to change. However, many of the methodologies of the MBE language have counterparts in VBA that work in a similar fashion.

    However, some Basic Macros will run in all flavors of V8, but others will need revising to function.

  • How do I go about learning how to migrate some of our customizations from V7 to V8i? We currently have some macros in V7 that are referencing user commands and I'm wanting to recreate these same macros in V8.