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With thanks to John Knighton for the suggestion to do this article. A sidebar menu (SBM) is a text-based, hierarchical menu system that was introduced in the earliest versions of MicroStation. Although they can still be used in MicroStation V8, and they're not exactly the prettiest things to look at - some users find that they still serve a purpose since they allow you to stuff a ton of information into a very small amount of real estate. Let's take a closer look.
As mentioned, a sidebar menu is a text-based menu written and read from an external text file with an sbm extension. MicroStation uses the variable MS_APPMEN to locate and load the sidebar menu which points to this folder by default: ...\Workspace\System\data\. Also, since these are actually text files, they can be opened and edited with any text based editor with makes them especially easy to create, maintain and use. If you'd like to see what all the fun was about years ago, feel free to try the sidebar menus found in this zip file: 281.zip
USTN.SBM was the sidebar menu that came with MicroStation Version 3.3 ... it's actually kind of cool to re-visit this menu after so many years!
PAN.SBM is simple menu to navigate up, down, left and right in the design plane and is compliments of the John Knighton.
REF.SBM is also compliments of John. He writes: REF.SBM is extracted from my main menu and is used to manipulate reference files. Instead of going through the dialogue box all you do is data a element of the reference file to operate the command, no trying to remember what you called it, nice when you need to move them round. The Loc-Off-All knocks off Llocate On all reference files and Loc-On-One switches it on for the one you wish to copy from, it still works if Locate is Off. The rest are self explanatory (after a bit of use). The Win-Horiz sets up Windows 1 and 3 to spread horizontally above one another, useful if you wish to line thing up logically when they are one above another. I have undo and redo at the bottom of all my menus just a data and it's done.
To attach a sidebar menu:
For example: am=ustn,sb1
name is the name of the menu to be activated,
sb is the two-letter code that indicates the sidebar menu type.
n designates the position on the screen for the sidebar menu to appear. The possible postions are:
1 for the upper right of screen 1
2 for the upper left of screen 1
3 for the lower left of screen 1
4 for the lower right of screen 1
5 for the upper right of screen 2
6 for the upper left of screen 2
7 for the lower left of screen 2
8 for lower right of screen 2
save compiles the sidebar menu which ill allow it to be loaded faster. Note, that this switch is optional and is typically not needed.
Once loaded, MicroStation creates the following file: ...\Workspace\System\data\attached.men which allows the menu to auto-load the next time MicroStation is started. Lastly, to maximize your screen real estate, you can move as well as dock sidebar menus. To undock, just grab the little fellow along it's bottom edge and pull away.
To deactivate a sidebar menu:
Keyin AM=,sb[n] or AM= ,sb
For example, am= ,sb
NOTE:Although sidebar menus can be read by MicroStation V8, they are NOT supported. If you run into problems, or they hang your system, or cause you to crash...well too bad, so sad. AskInga, Bentley Systems Inc., and the contributing author assumes no liability for damages direct, indirect, or consequential, which may result from the use of this program. **Use this stuff at your own risk.**