This article focuses on increasing your productivity by leveraging all available AutoPIPE product assistance resources. You’ll learn how you can become more self-sufficient, save yourself time, and truly become an AutoPIPE power user. We’ll take an in-depth look at the AutoPIPE ReadMe file, the Quick Start Guide, the AutoPIPE Tutorial, the product help files, Bentley Communities, the Bentley LEARN Server, and the Bentley Pipe Stress Analysis YouTube Channel. What you see below is a snapshot of the product assistance resources we’ll be diving into.
You might be asking yourself a couple of questions right off the bat. First, why is this topic important and how did we determine the areas to focus on? After consulting with our AutoPIPE team (specifically, our Support Engineers and Application Engineers), we realized that many times, the questions and issues we field concerning the product are actually answered within the product documentation, but many users aren’t aware of this fact, or they aren’t exactly sure where to look.
The second question you might be asking is who physically writes all this information? If you consider the sheer amount of information we make available (and there’s literally volumes of documentation and collateral associated with AutoPIPE), it’s a job much too large for just one person. This is truly a team effort. But, it’s not out of necessity – it’s actually by design. Our contributing authors are members from directly within our own team – Product Management, Development Managers, Quality Assurance Personnel, Support Engineers, Developers, Application Specialists, and Technical Writers. Our team is represented globally so each brings their own unique aspect and considerations to the writing efforts. Also, many of our authors and team members are licensed Engineers. By providing all this rich content, we’re empowering you to become an AutoPIPE power user, but as your time allows and at your pace. We’ll address each of these resources by the order in which they might be used by a typical user.
When you install AutoPIPE, the ReadMe file can be found in the root directory where you installed the application (i.e., C:\Program Files (x86)\Bentley\AutoPIPE CONNECT v11). Just double-click on the file to open it. You can also launch it directly from within the interface by selecting the Help ribbon, then clicking on the ReadMe button.
The AutoPIPE ReadMe file is typical of most ReadMe files you’ve probably seen. Common areas like system requirements, product activation instructions, FAQs, and contact information are documented here. But, there are a couple of key features to make you aware of that aren’t traditionally provided in a ReadMe file. The What is New & Changed in AutoPIPE page documents every new feature and enhancement associated with each release, dating all the way back to 2002 with version 6.2.9. Also, the Piping Codes page lists every piping code, code edition, and the associated AutoPIPE license edition for each of those items.
The Quick Start Guide (a PDF file) is installed in the Documents folder just inside the root directory. You can open the file directly from this location, or you can launch it from the AutoPIPE interface by pressing the Quick Start Guide icon on the Help ribbon. This document walks you through downloading AutoPIPE, installation, license configuration, license authorization, starting the application, and troubleshooting common problems. Basically, this guide walks you through every step necessary to get the product downloaded, installed, and up and running.
The AutoPIPE Tutorial (also a PDF file) is installed in the Documents directory (alongside the Quick Start Guide). You can either open the file from this location, or you can launch the tutorial from the AutoPIPE interface. Now you might think Tutorials are very basic and fundamental, and they’re only useful to novice users (which honestly, most are), but the AutoPIPE Tutorial walks you through the complete design and analysis of a fairly complex model. More importantly, many of the basic concepts that are the fundamental principles of AutoPIPE are documented here. Even if you’re an expert user, it may be worth your time to review this document, if you haven’t already. You may even want to point it out to others on your team if you need to get them up-to-speed with the product.
When you install AutoPIPE, three comprehensive help files are placed in your local root directory (or on a network drive if that’s where you installed) – the Main Program Help, Reference Information, and Modeling Approaches. The Main Program Help can be launched directly from the interface (Help > Help > Contents). Once the Main Program Help opens, you’ll notice that the Reference Information and Modelling Approaches help files are nested within the Main Program Help. This makes it easy and convenient to navigate the Table of Contents.
When you’re searching for information, all three help files are searched simultaneously. The Main Program Help documents what’s new and changed in the application, walks you through some getting started exercises and examples, provides an introduction to the interface, and documents every dialog in the program and every field within those dialogs. There’s also an FAQ area and Technical Support details in the Main Program Help.
There are three areas of the Main Program Help where we often find answers to some recurring questions. The Input Grids Reference section documents every input grid in a spreadsheet-like format. It also gives you the fine details of every field and value contained within those grids. The Result Grid Reference section presents the same type of information for the Result grid, using the same presentation style.
The Supplemental Documentation section gives you a set of supplemental How To, Tutorial, and Reference Information documents in PDF format, embedded within the Main Program Help. We generally provide a PDF for all technology preview features to help you get more familiar with them. For example, if you were to click on the Export SQLite Database Technology Preview PDF, it would display in the same window as the program help. You can read or print the PDF from within this window, or you can save a copy of the file external to the help file from here.
The second help file contains Reference Information, which covers details like the AutoPIPE libraries, program files, and all calculations and considerations used by the application. The Libraries section is an area our Support Engineers reference quite often.
The Modeling Approaches help file (also referred to as the Workbook), is nested within the Main Program Help; however, if you want to launch only that help file, you can do that from the AutoPIPE interface (Help > Help > Workbook). This file gives you a set of practical examples arranged in step-by-step, How To procedures that guide you through modeling typical piping systems. There are multiple approaches and examples documented here that cover things like anchors, bends, reducers, and rotating equipment. This file also documents modeling stress scenarios you’re likely to encounter, and the steps for modeling these elements in AutoPIPE.
So, how can you find specific information or topics in the help files quickly? You can always drill into the Contents tab and look for information within the Table of Contents hierarchy. Or you could peruse the Index to locate topics by specific keywords. But let’s face it, that can be time-consuming and maybe even frustrating. That’s time you probably don’t have when you’re looking for an answer. We recommend using the Search tab to get to the specific information you’re after. You can execute a fuzzy search by entering a value in the search field and pressing the List Topics button. You can also perform a literal search by typing the search value within quotation marks. This will help narrow-down your search results.
Context-sensitive help content means getting immediate help related specifically to the function or the dialog that you’re currently working on. For example, when inserting a run on a model, the Run Point dialog displays. If you press the Help button on the dialog, the help launches to display a topic that discusses the entire dialog, including all of the individual fields and controls. If you only want information on a specific field in the dialog, press the ? symbol in the upper right-hand corner of the dialog, then click on a field. The help is then launched, but this time, the help that is displayed is context-sensitive to only show information for that specific field.
If you don’t already, you should take advantage Bentley Communities – an invaluable and free resource. It’s Bentley’s online community that lets you interact with other users and Bentley experts who have knowledge and expertise with products, disciplines, and industries similar to your own. Bentley Communities allows you to be an active participant in product-related and industry-related conversations and solutions. It’s really your chance to be heard and to share ideas and best practices. And as you might expect, there’s a shortcut to Bentley Communties from the AutoPIPE interface (Help > Online Resources > Community). Areas are dedicated to specific topics within the AutoPIPE community. The Forum area lets you interact with other experts, ask questions, and share your best practices. The Wiki expands on subjects not typically addressed in other places - topics like unique modeling situations, or even product customization. A couple of sections in the Wiki that our Support Engineers often refer users to are Warnings and Error Messages (and what they mean), Product Customization, Troubleshooting, and Modeling Approaches (expanding upon those already documented in the help files).
While you can always use the Communities search bar, you should also be aware that all content on Bentley Communities is fully discoverable with a Google search. The Files area of the AutoPIPE Community hosts a library of files you can download that can also serve as job aids. For example, you can download a Quick Reference Card to keep next to your keyboard that you can refer to for frequently used AutoPIPE commands, icons, and shortcuts.
The Bentley LEARN Server gives you direct access to learning curriculum and materials tailored for specific products, disciplines, and skill levels. As expected, you can access the LEARN server directly from the AutoPIPE Interface (Help > Online Resources > Training). If you don’t have AutoPIPE running, you can always open a browser and type in the URL (https://www.bentley.com/en/learn), but when you access LEARN from the AutoPIPE ribbon, the LEARN server offerings are automatically filtered to show only AutoPIPE courses. This can save you time if you’re just interested in AutoPIPE materials, rather than accessing the site using the URL and defining the filter controls manually. The learning programs here are designed to meet your unique needs. You can take live instructor-led classes online, or take advantage of on-demand, self-study courses. Think of it as a virtual classroom for engineers. There’s literally thousands of hours of training materials here.
Most of you know about YouTube, but did you know Bentley has a Pipe Stress Analysis YouTube channel? Unfortunately, this is the one product assistance resource that does not have a direct link from the interface (intentionally), so you’ll have to use the URL (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMKC7w_sQHymmq_eSy7dALw). There’s hours of video content posted here on a variety of subjects like product information, industry hot topics, benefits analysis, and so on. Just recently, we’ve initiated a collaborative effort to populate our channel with fresh, new content. In fact, we just recently posted a batch of new videos that address AutoPIPE and OpenPlant Isometrics Manager. Look for more new content to be added in the coming weeks.
Let’s take a quick look at the advantages of becoming a CONNECTED user. When you’re CONNECTED, you can:
As this relates to product assistance resources, being a CONNECTED user provides you total access to the resources discussed in this article, all with a single sign-on. You can learn more about getting connected at the URL (https://www.bentley.com/en/perspectives-and-viewpoints/topics/campaign/get-connected).