From using multiple version in parallel to pre-loading new productivity tools, there are a handful of ‘best practices’ to work through to get MicroStation CONNECT Edition rolling.
By talking to CONNECT Edition users and reading through the many available Bentley materials, I’ve collected five transition strategies here that stand out as best practices to help smooth and speed the transition.
Among the many things we like about how Bentley does software is making sure that old and new versions of products, as well as underlying design files like DGNs, remain forward- and backward-compatible.
This means that as you get up-to-speed with CONNECT Edition you can continue running old MicroStation versions.
Similarly, if you have deliverable obligations for clients or long-running projects, you can use CONNECT Edition tools for their immediate productivity benefits and backward translate resulting files to meet those obligations.
There is no fidelity loss of data when going forward or backward between Bentley product versions.
All of the Bentley product suite has been released with at least initial CONNECT Edition releases. During the first few years of CONNECT Edition, some organizations were hesitant to implement MicroStation CONNECT Edition believing they had to wait until other important playbook components they use (i.e. OpenRoads or AECOsim Building Designer) were also released in CONNECT Edition.
This misconception kept many from benefiting from early CONNECT Edition benefits and proved a false resistance for some. Even today this myth continues. Remember, the underlying DGN format and its backward- and forward-compatibility render this issue moot.
Finally, remember that you can run different versions of MicroStation on your personal workstation—even instances of V8i and CONNECT Edition running at the same time.
While there are a few things you are going to want to do to get the most benefit from CONNECT Edition, there are only two things you must do to get your enterprise started. And even one of those is initially optional.
Bentley has made transitioning from a V8i environment to MicroStation CONNECT Edition almost completely seamless and automatic. You can essentially boot up CONNECT Edition, point it at existing projects and files and get to work.
The lone exception to this immediate startup is ‘Configuration Reorganization.’ In the past most users or enterprises set up and customized workspaces to tailor the V8i experience for anything from preferences to standards to client requirements.
CONNECT Edition offers a vast array of additional configuration tools. You will eventually tailor your CONNECT Edition the way you created and maintained workspaces in V8i.
However, because V8i workspaces are highly individualized, they don’t automatically transfer over to CONNECT Edition without a little help. Below you will find how workspaces, ‘Site Level,’ ‘Project,’ and ‘User’ have taken on new names in CONNECT Edition as ‘Configuration,’ ‘Organization Level,’ and ‘Workset, respectively. The notion of a V8i or earlier ‘User’ has gone away in CONNECT Edition.
So, to get your team up-to-speed without frustration, I recommend that you take a few hours to convert workspaces to CONNECT Edition configurations. Knowing this is the single ‘must-do’ conversion requirement, Bentley has pulled together a relatively painless Wizard to help with this conversion.
Most of the differences between V8i and CONNECT Edition are in name identification only. You do need to convert V8i workspaces to CONNECT Edition configurations.
There is a wizard to help with this conversion (stay tuned for even better news in CONNECT Edition Update 11!).
Two CONNECT Edition additions strongly empower your users to get up to speed with minimal hand-holding.
Start with Search.
Search is pervasive in MicroStation CONNECT Edition. You can search for help, files, content and more.
The new Windows/Office-style ribbon user interface keeps a search box front and center always (well upper left-hand corner, anyway). Using this ribbon search box invokes CONNECT Advisor (see strategy #4 below) for a host of support including Bentley LEARN Server content, materials from Bentley Communities and even YouTube videos to help you on your way.
Search from the Ribbon.
The CONNECT Advisor dialog box pops up when you begin keying into the Advisor search. In this case typing ‘line’ revealsa list of Bentley LEARN items, Bentley Communities results and YouTube videos. You can customize prioritization and add personalized feeds.
And most dialog and other pop-up boxes include a context sensitive search box appropriate for the task at hand.
Search within dialog boxes.
Need help? Click the ? button in the upper left-hand corner of the MicroStation ribbon and you jump to the CONNECT Advisor--which brings together resources from a whole host of places: Bentley LEARN Server, Bentley Communities, YouTube videos and more.
Right at the top of the CONNECT Advisor dialog box is a search line – enter a few keystrokes and the list below starts populating. In the example below, entering ‘line’ brings up all kinds of resources.
In addition to this list, most enterprises are loading searchable links to their personalized project or enterprise CONNECT Advisor resources, so users have, right within-MicroStation, the access they need to things like inter- and intra-net pages, RSS feeds and more.
You can even set up ‘frequently viewed’ lists and other ‘folders’ to keep track of tools you use frequently – or even tools you use infrequently so that you cut down on search links.
One of the great things about CONNECT Advisor is that it is constantly updating in real time. In the example above, training resources started populating for ‘line’ dated October 25 right in the middle of our October 25th webinar. This was unrehearsed!
If you are not familiar with the huge number of resources available free from the Bentley LEARN Server, this would be a good time to get a feel for the self-training tools you can use.
The ribbon dialog box keeps track of things like ‘Most Recent,’ ‘Search Results,’ ‘QuickStarts’ and more. When you select QuickStarts you get a full array of 2-4-hour tutorials to get up-to-speed on concepts, best practices, and recommended workflows. The more you type in the search box, the more contextually sensitive results you will get.
Highlight QuickStarts to access tutorial information.
QuickStart tutorials are 2-4-hour mini tutorials.
These three CONNECT Edition tools offer perhaps the most dynamic productivity improvements over similar V8i functions. They also have the greatest potential to entice new users and folks holding out from moving over the CONNECT Edition.
Data Types with their underlying database-driven properties open possibilities for smart designs, documentation and reports. Design libraries come alive when the properties underlying the graphics are intelligent.
The more your team uses Item Type properties, the more you can take advantage of CONNECT Edition Property Driven smart tools.
In the example above the tanks are storing more than liquids or gasses! They have size, pressure, thickness, location and much more. In fact, the ‘tank’ item in the design library can be a smart ‘parametrically-driven’ cell that creates and places itself using these underlying properties.
The more Data Type properties are built into a design file, the more you can do automatically based on these properties. In the example above the display, reporting, annotation and sheet layout have all been automatically created from the underlying data.
Using ‘smart’ property data also opens the possibilities for parametrically-driven design, automatic reporting, sheet creation and more.
I recommend that you pick one or two examples of design cells that are commonly used in your organization, set them up with Data Types and underlying properties, and use these in a few designs to demonstrate their power – first for yourself, and then for others you are trying to get on board with CONNECT Edition.
Do you have one or more strategies that have worked for you as you’ve implemented MicroStation CONNECT Edition evangelist in your organization? I want to hear from you and maybe share your story with others – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Raker has been writing about CAD and MicroStation software for over 35 years.
This article originally appeared in MicroStationConnections.com and is copyright ©2018 by ConnectPress, Ltd. Some of the material in this article originated in the live webinar “Why you should start using MicroStation CONNECT Edition” on October 25, 2017. You can watch the view on demand version of this webinar at http://microstationconnections.com/feature_full.php?cpfeatureid=118508. ConnectPress’ MicroStationConnections.com also runs a resource page for CONNECT Edition learning and migration at http://microstationconnections.com/spotlight.php?spotid=805.