Considering Migrating to MicroStation CONNECT Edition?

There is a lot to consider. MicroStation CONNECT Edition is a little different than any previous version of MicroStation. There is a lot more functionality for the CAD Manager to take advantage of in this new version.

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 CONNECT Edition. 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 CONNECT Edition. 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 CONNECT Edition. 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 CONNECT Edition. Using this functionality may change a few things.

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

You need to sit down and figure out how CONNECT Edition is going to be used. It might sound simple (we are just going to use it like we do now). You now have a new directory structure, so it is now up to the CAD manager on how this data is accessed. Are you leaving old existing projects as is, is this going to just be for new projects, etc...?

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

Here are some questions that will need to be addressed

What configuration files do you use ?

Where are they located ?

How do you load them ?

What does your current directory structure look like ? This includes everything – all company standards, client standards, projects, etc…

Do you currently use the Interface option ?

Do you currently use the Projects option ?

Do you currently use the Users option ?

How are Users and Projects used in relation to one another ?

Are you using command line switches ?

Are there environment variables being used ?

Are you familiar with running a DEBUG ?

Can you read a DEBUG ?

Where are my design files?

Are my users going to work with CONNECT Edition only? Are my users going to be working in Pre-CONNECT Edition (V8i)?

This might be the time for consolidating and standardizing (cell libraries, text styles, dimension styles, levels, etc...)?

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 CONNECT Edition are going to be a lot easier than someone who has customized MicroStation. 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 CONNECT Edition, BUT CONNECT Edition 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 CONNECT Edition, however, the list of considerations below may help:

Convert all existing projects to the CONNECT Edition?

Any new project will be done in CONNECT Edition?

Any files received from clients, vendors, contractors, etc... will be done using CONNECT Edition?

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 CONNECT Edition?

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 and interface in the CONNECT Edition?

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!!!! 

The old SYSTEM folder:

In V8i, there was a lot of "system" data delivered in the WorkSpace\System directory.

Some of this differed between versions of MicroStation.

Made it difficult to make a Configuration that worked reliably with multiple versions of MicroStation.

That data has been moved to the "Default" subdirectory of MicroStation.

Things a CAD Manager will need to investigate:

Directory Structure – Managers will need to determine how to use this

Additional levels of configurations – Managers will need to investigate and find out if these are needed

System folder has been moved – Managers no longer need to have this in their workspace structure

There is no interface option – This is now controlled from a DGNLIB

There is no user option – user is truly user – while configuration variables can be set in this from the Configuration dialog, the user no longer has a choice of more than one user configuration.

Things a CAD Manager should be able to do:

Troubleshooting – it is your customization, you should be able to troubleshoot it

Know your workspace – you have set this up, no one else will understand it better

Understand a DEBUG – you need to be able to read these in order to troubleshoot any issues you will encounter

Get it working before any changes are made – it needs to be working out of the box

Make small changes – if you dump a lot of changes at once, it makes it harder to determine where the problem is, if an issue occurs

Be able to run out of the box (unmodified) – this will make troubleshooting easier

Be aware of network issues (it’s not always the product with the issue)

 For more information you may want to check out the following article:

http://communities.bentley.com/products/microstation/w/microstation__wiki/24186.what-the-configuration-is-in-connect-edition

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