This Client Server article is republished in its entirety from 2004 for reference purposes.
By Reginald Wallace, Technical Support Analyst, Bentley Atlanta, Georgia 21 June 2004
MicroStation V8 takes a different approach to automatically saving your work than MicroStation/J and earlier versions. Understanding why there is a difference between MicroStation/J and MicroStation V8 can be very helpful in your workflow.
In MicroStation/J, every change to your design was immediately written to the design file. The problem with this technique is that it does not allow file compression, and it is more prone to file corruption. Both compression and file integrity were important design goals in MicroStation V8, so a different technique, autosave, was needed.
In MicroStation V8, autosave writes your design changes to the file periodically. The V8 file format was specifically designed to permit incremental changes to be written to the design, so the autosave time period can be made quite short. By default, MicroStation saves your changes after about two seconds of inactivity (mouse not moving or clicking, not entering keystrokes), and this closely emulates the old "immediate save" mode.
When editing v7 and DWG files, however, incremental saves are not possible. In MicroStation V8.0 and V8.1, autosave did not apply while editing those file types, but in MicroStation V8 2004 Edition, a variant of autosave for v7 and DWG files has been introduced.
In the MicroStation V8 2004 Edition, autosave can be set up either using configuration files, or user preferences. The configuration file technique has the advantage that it can be set up by an administrator for an entire site or workgroup, and it allows more control over how autosave works. For sites where the autosave policy is left up to the user, the user preference method can be used. If the autosave configuration variables are set, they take precedence over the user preference settings.
Under the Workspace Configuration settings, a new category has been added called File Saving. Here users can set autosave parameters (or review the settings that an administrator has made in site configuration files).
Setting MS_DGNAUTOSAVE to 0 will turn off autosave and prompt the user to save changes when exiting a file. Any other value allows users to set the number of seconds between autosaves when editing V8 design files. The other configuration variables determine how autosave works when editing v7 and DWG format files.
If none of the configuration variables have been set, the autosave user preference determines the behavior. To review or change these settings, you will need to go to the Workspace>Preference pull-down menu and then go to the "Operation" category.
Check the Automatically Save Design Changes box (which replaces the Immediately Save Design Changes toggle from previous versions). It is on by default. If any of the File Saving configuration variables are set, the preference is grayed out. If you hover over the preference, MicroStation will tell you that automatic saves are turned on by the MS_DGNAUTOSAVE configuration variable or "Automatic save is turned off because MS_DGNAUTOSAVE is set to 0".
When working in V8 DGN, autosave is quite fast and is transparent to the user and no prompt is displayed. The time interval is controlled by MS_DGNAUTOSAVE. If it is defined to a number less than or equal to 0, autosave is completely turned off. If it is defined to a positive integer, then that value is the time, in seconds, of inactivity that is needed for MicroStation to autosave changes. For example, if it is set to the default of two seconds, changes are written whenever the user pauses activity for two seconds or more.
In V7 orkmode, (MS_OPENV7=3, editing a V7 format file) there is no way to incrementally save changes, so saving the file can be time consuming. The autosave behavior is dictated by the MS_V7AUTOSAVE configuration variable. The default value for MS_V7AUTOSAVE is 300 seconds (five minutes). The minimum is 30 seconds. The time period starts when the first change is made to the design. When it elapses, MicroStation prompts for saving as soon as it detects a pause in user activity. Then, MicroStation prompts you with a dialog box with the text "You have unsaved changes. Would you like to save them now?" with another line that says "Automatically saving in <15> seconds", with the 15 counting down.
If you don't respond within 15 seconds, MicroStation assumes that you aren't paying attention, and will automatically perform the save
Autosave when editing DWG or DXF files works exactly the same as for v7 files, except that it is controlled by the MS_DWGAUTOSAVE configuration variable. You will get the same alerts and the same results based on how long you set the frequency in the variable.
Keep in mind that if MS_DGNAUTOSAVE, MS_V7AUTOSAVE and MS_DWGAUTOSAVE are not set, the user preference for "Automatically Save Design Changes" determines whether autosave happens or not, and the default timeout values for the different file formats are used.
For those who do not want the dialog box to appear every time a v7 or a DWG/DXF file is automatically saved, the configuration variables MS_V7AUTOSAVE_NODIALOG and MS_DWGAUTOSAVE_NODIALOG can be set to skip the dialog and immediately save changes.
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