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MicroStation offers a variety of methods to merge files together - whether they are referenced or not. With thanks to Phil Frank from Northeastern Log Homes for contributing to this article!
When merging files that are attached as references, only the displayed levels of the reference file that are visible in the view that you data point in are merged into the active drawing. This can be extremely powerful as Phil Frank describes:
"Let's say that we have a drawing of a porch that was done a few months ago. If we are drawing another similar porch and need just the roof framing members, we'll just attach the old drawing and turn on just the roof levels. Then it's just a matter of merging the reference file into the active to get just what we need."
Another neat trick with merging reference files, is to take advantage of saved views. Phil explains this quite nicely.
"Let's say that you have a detail that has three or four variations, for example different wall sheathings or framing sizes. If you level separate the graphical elements, you can easily create a variety of saved views with the appropriate levels turned on and off. When the time comes that you need the graphical content of one of the detail-variations, just attach the appropriate saved view as a reference. Then when you merge the reference file into the active drawing, you'll get the appropriate graphics for the detail drawing you need. Using this method will eliminate having four different drawings each with only minor variations.
Lastly, if you attach a reference file with a saved view and then proceed to merge the saved view, only the viewable area that was in the saved view will be merged in. This is yet another way to control what gets merged into the active file!"
References: Merge During Save:
In MicroStation V8, you can squish attached references into the active file when doing a File > Save As....
Refer to V8 - Merging References during Save As...
References: Merge Into Master:
From the Reference dialog, select Tools > Merge Into Master, or simply right click a reference attachment and select the option from the pick-list. At this point, MicroStation will ask you to select the view at which time you would enter a datapoint.
It's important to understand that the view you select determines which reference levels to merge into your active file. That's to say...if the level is off, it won't be merged; and if it's on, it will be merged. Now, for pre-V8 users this isn't that much of an issue, however for MicroStation V8, you'll need to pay attention to Workspace > Preferences > Reference > Copy Levels During Copy
What's really snazzy about this method is that it auto-detaches the reference(s) once merged and that it's un-doable! Of course, the undo capability in MicroStation pre-V8 is limited to the size of the undo-buffer.
References: Using RefMerge:
MicroStation pre-V8 has long been delivered with a utility called RefMerge.ma which facilitates the merging of attached references.
To merge the active design file and all attached reference design files simply keyin mdl load refmerge, that's it, that's all. The last view in which a data point was entered will be the view that is processed. So again, only the displayed levels of that view are copied to the output file. The output file will have the same name as the active design file, but it's extension will be .rcd which stands for record drawing.
Non-Referenced Files: Merging via the MicroStation Manager:
Both pre-V8 and V8 versions of MicroStation support the merging of files via the MicroStation Manager. In this case the files do not need to be attached as references first. Simply pop out to the MicroStation Manager, and select File > Merge. The resulting dialogs are easy enough to understand...basically you select the source files, then the destination file and go.
Special Note for V8 Users: The above method will only merge the default model of the source files.
Non-Referenced Files: Merging with MSBatch:
For Pre-V8 MicroStation you can also use the utility called MSBatch which merges files from the system prompt. For more information please refer to: Using MSBatch and loving it.
Non-Referenced Files: Merge via a keyin:
MicroStation is delivered with a beast called merge.ma which can be used to merge elements from one design file into another. Actually, this is the MDL that is being used when you merge via the MicroStation Manager as described above. Anyway, all you do here is use this keyin: merge source_file
Well, I think that about covers it. If I've missed anything, drop me a line and I'll be happy to add it. Of course, whenever you're trying a new workflow such as what's described in this article, it's always a good idea to thoroughly test first using disposable files rather than production files.
AskInga Article #191