Original Article Date: March 2004
Updated: December 2010
The term Engineering Links, or simply E-Links, refers to the ability to attach and follow electronic links that have been placed on elements.
Prior to MicroStation V8i, this was the only available method to link external documents and webpages to elements in a design file. In MicroStation V8i, element links have evolved to be utilized by the Project Explorer. For this reason, e-Links are not typically used in the modern version of MicroStation.
For MicroStation V8i Users: To link a webpage to an element, navigate to the Organize task and choose Add Link to Element. In the tool settings, set the type to URL and select http:// from the drop down menu as shown:
Type or paste the URL of the webpage you want to link in the field provided and immediatly identify and accept the element. Hovering over the element will reveal a blue link symbol and the information balloon will indicate what the link is. In this case the element has a link to a ficticious web page: www.bentleyville.com/permits
To follow the link, hover your cursor over the element with the link and choose Follow Link from the popup menu.
MicroStation pre-V8i Users: For you folks, use engineering links (e-Links) to achieve the same result. To do that, follow the instructions below.
Background Stuff:When you select Utilities > Connect Web BrowserMicroStation makes a call to webbrows.ma which loads webbrows.dll. This DLL establishes a dynamic link between MicroStation and the browser and enables it to recognize commands that get passed down from the graphics in the open design file. You'll also notice that two other things occur. First of all the E-Links tool box opens. This tool box contains special tools for linking to and managing remote data. And secondly, your default browser opens on your screen and will navigate to your default home page.Note that how your browser opens is controlled with the variable MS_BROWSERMAKECHILDWINDOW which is undefinedby default. If you set this to 1, your browser will be re-parented inside of MicroStation's application window. This basically means that your browser will be "inside" of MicroStation rather than "outside" of it and therefore will always be seen by the user.
Attaching Web Pages to Elements:To attach a web page to an element use the Attach Engineering Link tool. When this tool is chosen, you'll be presented with a dialog containing a URL and Description field. You can easily fill in the URL field by copying a desired URL directly from your web browser. Note that you must also fill in the description for all of this to work. Once you've filled in both fields, simply select the element or selection set and accept.
Viewing Elements with Links:In order to see which elements have URL's attached to them, select the Show Engineering Links tool. This will refresh your screen and display those elements with a dashed blue line.
Following a Link:Once elements have a URL attached, you can navigate to the specified address by using the Follow Engineering Linktool. If the browser isn't open when you use this tool, MicroStation will automatically launch it for you.
Reviewing and Editing E-Links:E-Links are established through standard tag entities and can therefore also be created, edited and manipulated using the normal MicroStation tag tools.
AskInga Article #185