Item Types - Using Item Types and Text Fields in Title Blocks - Part 1

The following example shows how these two features can be used to provide some degree of automation without resorting to programming.

  • Text Fields have been a feature of MicroStation for many years, they can dynamically display a wide variety of data.
  • Item Types replace V8i Tag Sets with a more flexible and extensible system.

The objective of this example is to show how tile block content can be populated either automatically or from pre-set lists.

The first step is to create an Item Type that will contain appropriate property definitions to populate a Title Block.

This should be done in a DGNLIB that will be included as an active DGNLIB by configuration at Organization, WorkSpace or WorkSet level, in this case including at the Organization level will promote consistency of organizational standards.

Create an Item Types Library 'Title Block Content', then add an Item Type 'Title Block Fields':

From the Utilities menu select 'Edit Pick Lists':

Add a new Pick List:

Add the new Pick Lists, adding values as appropriate in the right-hand panel, press TAB to move to the next field:

Entering long series of values is obviously tedious so let Excel be your friend, Export the incomplete Pick Lists:

then finish off in Excel. The format is simple. The first column is used for all lists, use Excel Series Fill to create as many entries as are needed for the longest Pick List. The other columns simply have the Pick List name at the top followed by the list entries, just add a new column to create a new list using appropriate Excel tools and pasting in from other formats to compile lists. The lists are text only so do not include formulas (although formulas can be used in a separate file when required to create some sequences; Excel cannot list the alphabet without using a formula!)

Also see Item Types - Pick Lists and Lookups for more detail on working with Pick Lists.

Once the Excel lists are complete import to the Pick List Manager with the adjoining button:

Return to the Item Types dialog to add an New Property Definition for each Pick List, choosing the corresponding Pick List from the drop down list as shown below:

The values of these properties can be displayed in a title block by using text fields. To be exposed for use in a DGN file the Title Block Fields Item Type must be attached to an element in the active file. New fields can then be created (via the Place Text tool) that use these properties to display the selected list or other value.

In this example the element is the highlighted block enclosing the title block area:

Open the Text Editor, right-click on the text area and pick Insert Field, select Field Type > Element Properties > OK:

Then select the block (shown above), scroll down the properties list to Title Block Fields (note that this picks up from the Item Type name) and select the appropriate property. Text properties simply show the text value and no formatting options. The Date property offers a range of date/time formats that can be chosen:

Place the text field in the tile block like any other text element. Here is the finished arrangement.
The Client is from a pick list, this can ensure that client names are always consistent across drawings. Note that the Drawing Title is just plain text, this may more convenient than a pick list in many situations.
Items 1 to 3 use other Text Field properties.

  • 1 uses a custom WorkSet Property, labelled Division to insert the clients organisational division. Custom properties can be added to a WorkSet to store and make available additional text strings that may ne useful to a project.
  • 2 uses the WorkSet description rather than relying upon an Item type.

    Note that the WorkSet name does not contain a space (spaces are best avoided) but the WorkSet description does and can contain more user friendly text.
  • 3 uses the filename, an ISO 19650 compliant names in this case, this field is automatically populated when placed.

The fields that show a string of hash symbols do not have a value assigned yet. To assign or change the values select the enclosing block element and open the properties dialog, each property will be shown with the available pick lists as pop-down menus:

This example is not intended to be a complete solution to title block management, but hopefully offers some insight into how Item Types and Text Fields can be used to harvest data from your projects and files to offer consistency and eliminate some repetitive and error prone manual input.