Composing Drawings Blog Series: Building Design – Blog 1 of 4

Composing Drawings Blog Series - Introduction

Let’s start with the basics

Before going into details of dynamic views, lets understand its components.

Design Model

A design model is a collection of elements that are drawn for creation of desired model. The design model is drawn to actual size.

A design model can be a 2D or a 3D model. You can create it by clicking the Create Model icon in the Models dialog and selecting the Type setting as Design or Design from Seed. In the design model, you can create the design of your project such as a building, bridge, road etc.

Saved Views

A saved view is a capture of the current state of the view and is stored in the DGN file with a name. It stores information such as the view window size, level display, clip volume, and other view attributes.

A saved view can be of different types, namely, saved view, section view, elevation view, detail view, and plan view. The last four view types are usually associated to the respective callout tool. The first type, that is a normal saved view is created from the Create Saved View tool accessible from the Saved Views dialog.

Once created, you can apply the saved view from the Apply Saved View tool in same Saved Views dialog. While applying the saved view, you can toggle the status of various settings stored in the saved view.

You can also attach a saved view as a reference on a drawing or sheet model. In further blogs, you will learn how the saved views can be automatically referenced in the drawing or sheet models.

Drawing Model

A drawing model is an optional intermediate stage between the 3D design and sheet model. The drawing model is a 2D model in which you reference a design at full scale to add annotations, dimensions, callouts and other embellishments.

The drawing model can be manually created by clicking the Create Model icon in the Models dialog and selecting the Type setting as Drawing or Drawing from Seed.

You can manually reference a saved view created in the design model into the drawing model using the following steps:

  1. Open the drawing model.
  2. From the Models dialog, drag the desired design model into view window.
  3. In the Attach Source Files window that pops up, change the Attachment method to Interactive and click OK.
  4. In the Attach Reference dialog that opens, select the desired saved view in the Orientation section, select Live Nesting (required only if you have references in the source design file), and click OK.
  5. Enter a data point to place the reference.

Sheet Model

A sheet model contains design model references that are scaled and positioned to create a printable drawing. It can be considered as an electronic drawing sheet. A typical sheet model looks something like this:

It contains a sheet boundary with a title block and is typically referenced from the sheet boundary seed. The title block contains text fields that display various properties ranging from the model name and annotation scale, to properties of the sheet index and WorkSet.

The design model is referenced into the sheet model directly or via the drawing model. In a project, multiple sheet models are created depicting section, plan, elevation, and details of the design.

The steps for referencing a design model manually in a sheet are the same as that we saw in the drawing model section above. However, the recommended workflow is to automatically create the sheet model and place the reference in it using the automated dynamic views process. We will learn more about this in the upcoming blogs.


Callouts are detailing symbols that contain fields and links that update automatically and make models more interactive and intuitive. The different callout types are section, elevation, plan, and detail. If a callout has an associated saved view, it’s marker is displayed in the model.

Callouts can be placed in 3D design models as well as in 2D drawing or sheet models. Following are the steps to place a simple section callout:

  1. Start the Place Section Callout tool (Drawing > Annotate > Detailing > Place Section Callout).
  2. Enter a data point to define the start point of the callout.
  3. Enter second data point to define the ending point.
  4. Enter third data point to define the depth of the callout. A section callout is placed

The Create Drawing check box in each of the callout’s tool settings window opens the Create Drawing dialog, from which you can automate the dynamic views.

Sheet Index

A sheet index is a centralized collection of sheets in your WorkSet. It contains all the sheets created in your project with appropriate numbering.

The sheet index is accessible from the Sheet Index tab of the Explorer.

There are different ways in which you can add a sheet to the sheet index:

  • Manually, by dragging the sheet from the Models dialog into the Explorer’s Sheet Index tab.
  • While creating a sheet model from the Create Model dialog, you have the option to add the sheet to the sheet index.
  • While creating sheet model from the Create Drawing dialog, you can add the sheet to the sheet index. 

The sheet index has advanced options such as changing the numbering style, adding custom properties, creating folder structure for segregating sheets by types, and also placing the index sheet as a table and generating a report definition out of it.


In MicroStation CONNECT Edition, you can now place tables directly into your models. You can also place a table from other sources:

  • using the data in an Excel workbook or a .csv file
  • report definition
  • sheet index

The Place Table tool is accessible from the Tables ribbon group in the Annotate tab of the Drawing workflow.
To place an empty table:

  1. Start the Place Table tool.
  2. In the Place Table tool settings window, enter the desired number of rows and columns in the Row Count and Column Count fields respectively.
  3. Enter a data point in the view window. The table is placed.

Double-clicking a cell in the table opens the Text Editor window in which you can enter the text to be displayed in the cell.


A report definition is a way to extract and present data from a DGN file in a tabular format. The result of the evaluation of a report definition is a report. The report can be placed as table. The report definition is created in the Reports dialog (Drawing > Analyze > Reports).

When you place the sheet index as a table, a report definition of the sheet index is automatically created in the Reports dialog.

Now that you are aware of models and other components, in Composing Drawings Blog Series: Building Design – Blog 2 of 4 we will learn about seeds and their use in dynamic views automation.