What’s the difference between a Fixed Print Definition and a Variable Print Definition?

The current release of Print Organizer in MicroStation Select Series 3 creates Fixed Print Definitions just like it always has.  However, you now have the option to create Variable Print Definitions.  The two types of Print Definitions are defined as follows:

Fixed print definitions:

Contains detailed information about the master model and views defined within the design file. When you create a Fixed print definition from a design file, a snapshot of the models, view parameters, and various other parameters such as size, scale, and color options are stored inside the print definition. The discovery of models and print shapes happens when you create the print definition.

Variable print definitions:

Improves flexibility and performance in some workflows by deferring the discovery of models and print shapes to print time. This ensures that any newly added models to any of the design files will print automatically without altering the print set.

In order to create a Print Set using Variable Print Definitions, select the option in the Preferences Dialog in Print Organizer.

MicroStation can also be configured so that only Variable Print Definitions will be created by enabling the MS_PLT_ENABLE_VARIABLE_DEFINITION_MODE = 1 in the User Configuration File.


Creating Variable Print Definitions in a print set requires the use of a Print Style to define things such as Print Area, Paper Size, the User and Project Workspace defined for the project, the Printer, or Printer Configuration File to be used to print the drawings, and many other print attributes to be applied to electronic or paper prints of your drawing sets.

If the project is not yet complete or the project is ongoing, changes will be made to drawings and you will want any changes to your files to be printed from existing Print Organizer Print Sets.  Variable Print Definitions will print the last saved versions of the files ensuring you will always be printing the latest versions of the drawings without having to recreate the entire print set.

If the project is complete, and you will only need to reprint a set or part of a set of drawings, you could convert the Variable Print Definitions to Fixed Print Definitions, thus capturing the final, approved versions of your drawings in the print set.  To convert Variable Print Definitions to Fixed Print Definitions, simply open the Print Set and click  Tools – Convert to fixed print definitions.  Note that once this is done, Fixed Print Definitions cannot be converted back to Variable Print Definitions.