Original Article Date: March 2004
Updated: December 2010
MicroStation V8i: To link to external documents such as spreadsheets, PDFs, and images, select Add Link to Element from the Organize task and choose From File as the Type.
Select the browse button and choose the file to link from the Create Links dialog. Note that this dialog allows you to select from a wide variety of file format in addition to selecting multiple files as shown:
When the files have been selected, click Open and the Link Target dialog will open showing the selected files. At this point drill into the files and choose the individual components to link to. For example, a sheet from a spreadsheet, a title in a document, or a specific model in a design file.
Click OK and immediately identify the element to attach the links to. You can confirm the attachment by simply hovering your cursor over the element and reading the content in the pop-up balloon.
To open the linked document (ie: follow the link) simply do a right-click on the element while using the Element Selection tool and choosing Follow Link from the pop-up menu. The selected document will then open in its own application. While note shown, you can also link to Google Earths KML or KMZ files in which case, Google Earth would open and fly to when followed from MicroStation. Way cool stuff!
MicroStation pre-V8i: If you're using an older version of MicroStation, you can link to external documents using one of the methods described below.
Method #1 - Linking to External Documents via Internet Explorer:To quickly link an external document to a graphical element, you can attach an E-Link that contains a local URL to the document. When the link is followed, MicroStation will launch Internet Explorer which will either display the contents of the file or offer it for downloading. This technique can be used on nearly all file formats including the ever-popular DGN, XLS, TXT, DOC, PDF, GIF, and JPGFor example, to link to a PDF file - follow these easy steps:Go to Tools > Engineering Links open the E-Links tool box.Select Attach Engineering LinkKeyin the local URL of the desired file as well as a description.
Select and accept either a single element or an entire selection set.
NOTE: If file://filename.ext doesn't work, try file:///filename.ext
As mentioned above, following this link will kick off Internet Explorer and the linked document will be displayed for your viewing pleasure. (To reduce clutter, I have removed the standard toolbars that typically display when viewing a PDF file through Internet Explorer.)
Method #2 - Linking to External Documents Directly (without using Internet Explorer):If you prefer to link to external documents directly and not use Internet Explorer as a go-between, you'll have to utilize the MDL application called NTBang in conjunction with the ustnkeyin protocol.Before proceeding, please aquaint yourself with both NtBang and the ustnkeyin protocol by reviewing the following articles:Understanding and Using NTBangEngineering Links #3 - UstnKeyin protocol Once NtBang is installed and configured, you can create compound keyins using the ustnkeyin protocol in conjunction with specialized NTBang keyins to execute the appropriate application to open the target file. For example, in older versions of MicroStation, your E-Link tag may look like this: ustnkeyin://!start excel d:\data\NiceData.xls
While in newer MicroStation, the E-Link tag would be:ustnkeyin://%d:/data/NiceData.xlsNote: For files with spaces in the name, you may need to put the file name in quotations.ustnkeyin://%"d:/data/Nice Data.xls"
Notice that in each case the E-Link tag command starts with ustnkeyin and is followed by a system command of sorts. Using this technique you'll be able to start and open external documents by simply poking on an element with the Follow Engineering Links tool.
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