Creating and Configuring Projects in AutoPLANT V8i


Designate an area on the network where the AutoPLANT Project root will be created. Ensure that the user has read/write access. If possible, user should have full access to those directories. If it is necessary to have restricted security to the documents and project information, Projectwise Explorer is recommended.
The path to the AutoPLANT project should not be overly long. Overall count of characters to the project should be 120 or less do to certain limitations. As a rule, it is better to avoid using punctuation (periods, commas or slashes) in the folder names.
The folder where the AutoPLANT Documents and/or projects are stored should be a mapped drive. All users should have the same mapped drive letter. The point is to be consistent in how projects and documents are accessed. If users access projects and documents by either a different drive letter or by UNC pathing (example: \\server name\folder path\folder path\); or if users switch back and forth in how the documents are accessed they will most definitely receive database errors and cause the drawings to be inaccessible.

WARNING: UNC pathing (example: \\server name\folder1\folder2\folder3\) may only be used when projects are stored at one site. If there are multiple locations where the AutoPLANT project will be accessed, then consistent mapped drive letters must be used.
Most of the instructions below will be in reference to the AutoPLANT Project Administrator. To access this application, go to the desktop menu: Start > All Programs > Bentley > Plant V8i > Project Tools > Project Administrator.

Adding the Project Root Path

The installation program creates 3 sample projects in the C:\Bentley Plant V8i Projects\ folder. These are provided as examples only and should not be considered for production. In order for projects to be accessible to all users, they should be created on the network from a mapped drive.

The first step in setting up a project is to create the project root directory. The root folder is the top level directory under which individual projects related to the root will reside. You can have more than one root directory with multiple projects defined under each.

A new project root folder may be created using one of the following methods:

  • Select File > Add Root from the menu.
  • Right-click on any folder in the navigation tree, then select Add Root from the context menu displayed.

HINT: If the "add root" button is grayed out, select the Standard Configurations folder. Then go to File > Add Root...
In either instance, the dialog shown below is displayed.

You can navigate to the drive where you want to create the directory and press "Make New Folder". This will create a New Folder directory below the currently selected drive and will enable you to overwrite New Folder with the desired folder name.

Once you have created the folder, select it in the navigation tree, then press "OK" to assign the root. The new root will appear as a top level folder level in the Project Administrator's navigation tree.

Creating a new project root will create three new files (AT_PRODSV8i.DBF; AT_PROJ.DBF; ACCESS.MDB) in this project root directory. The AT_PROJ.DBF will contain a record for each project created under this project root. The file can be opened by creating an access database and linking to the DBF file. DO NOT MODIFY the DBF files in Microsoft Excel.

Once the project root is created, all other users should add the project root the same way. Rather than having to press the "Make New Folder" button, they will only have to select the Root folder created and then select OK.

Database Creation

The most typical database types used are MS Access and SQL Server. When creating a project using MS Access, the database (PROJDATA.MDB) will be created automatically with no additional configuring required on the part of the user. For SQL projects, the database and user privileges must first be configured. Follow the steps below to do this.

Hint: MS Access databases are recommended if only one or two users will be accessing the project at a time. If you have more users who will be accessing the project at the same time, it is strongly recommended to move toward a central database (either SQL or Oracle) due to MS Access limitations.

Hint: AutoPLANT projects also allow for the Oracle database type. However, it is recommended that a DBA (Database Administrator) who is properly trained configure and maintain the Oracle database. Contact Bentley Technical Support for a Quick Reference Guide to creating and connecting to an Oracle database.

How do I create a new SQL database and user in SQL Server 2005 for an AutoPLANT project?


First off, you need to have Microsoft SQL Server 2005 installed and SQL Server Management Studio available to create databases.

  1. Go to the desktop menu: Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2005 > SQL Server Management Studio.
  2. Right click on the DATABASES node and pick NEW DATABASE
  3. Name the Database.
  4. Then create a new user by right clicking on "Logins".
  5. After creating the new user, go into the Login Properties. This dialog is available either when creating a new user or by right clicking on an existing user and going to "properties".
  6. In the Login Properties, go to "user mapping".
  7. Check the database that the user needs access to.
  8. Then check "db_owner" in the section "Database role membership"
  9. Select OK to exit the dialog.

You now have a new user and database in SQL Server 2005 for use with AutoPLANT.

Project Creation

The Project Administrator provides a wizard driven interface to create new projects. The New Project Wizard will display a series of dialogs that walk you step-by-step through the process of creating a new project.
The dialogs presented will depend on the method used to create the project. For example, if you are creating a new project from an existing one, then you will be required to specify if the data and documents from the source are copied into the new project. If you are creating a new empty project, you will not be prompted for this information, as there is no data and/or documents to copy. Please note the difference in the dialogs below. You will not be able to select the database type, schema location, Base schematic template or units if you are copying a project.

Note: It should also be noted that a new feature as of AutoPLANT XM and continued in V8i is to allow the data from the file ..\project name\projdata\SCHEMA.MDB to be stored in the central project database if Oracle or SQL Server are chosen as the database type. Since the schema data is accessed whenever a user opens the project, this would allow for further stability by avoiding MS Access connection limitations.

In the Base Template and 3D Settings dialog, you will have the option to select "central project mode" if you are creating a SQL database project. This ensures that all information for that project is stored in a central database (as opposed to individual local MDB files stored at the drawing locations). We recommend "Central Model", if you choose the SQL database for your project. After selecting "Next", you can then specify document paths and finally, the project name as well as other details.

Tip: To create a custom Base Schematic Template....
The Standard Base Project selection will use the database schema and Bentley P&IW standards from the NETWORK_ROOT\Base directory to create your new project. To create a custom Base Schematic Template, simply go to the directory: C:\Program Files\Bentley\Plant V8i\Base\Options\ and either copy or create a new template. In this case, KKS is copied. However, the "Project" and "Standards" sub folders from NETWORK_ROOT\Base could also be copied into a new folder to create a custom base schematic template.

As shown in the example below, when creating a new project (not a copy,) then the custom Base Schematic Template will be available from the pull down menu.

After selecting "Finish", the project will be created. If using a SQL database, you will be prompted to connect to the database . MS Access projects will not be prompted with this dialog. The connection screen for SQL looks as follows. In this example, the server name is OWL.

Don't forget the "Allow Saving Password" check. Once all the information is filled out, press the "Test Connection" button to confirm a proper link to the database. If there are any errors when testing the connection, it is typically due to incorrect privileges or rights in the SQL database. Have the Database Administrator go over the steps again to ensure the database is properly created and the user has DB_OWNER privileges. 

Configuring the project

There are several "typical" customizations to the project.
First, the location for the specs should be specified in a network location so all users will be using the same set of specs. As shown below, the Master Specs Folder can be set to a network location. This should be set before creating documents. You will also want to double check that the specs are in the location you specify.

Note: If a project is copied, be sure to double check pathing. If certain paths were changed to a location outside the project root folder, they may not be updated properly during the copy process (example: ..\project name\Isogen\Input)
Relationships (Line number, Unit, Area and Service) should also be created since they are required for component placement. You will want to specify a default value as well. When creating documents in AutoPLANT Piping, errors will occur if Line Number Area, Unit or Service are not specified via the Component Preferences toolbar.

Document paths can be setup at project creation. They can also be added via Project Administrator ..\project name\Database\Paths\ as shown below.
Note: The path information is stored in the file ..\project name\PROJECT.INI and can be opened in Notepad if required.

Please note the many options for Isogen which are all configurable. Many solutions are already available either through the Bentley Select Services Knowledge base or through the BE Communties Wiki page. If you need further help on one, you may contact Bentley Technical Support for other documentation. The following is an example of one of those.


How to create a custom symbol in Isogen

  1. Start the Project Administrator. 
  2. Browse to the Current Project > Isogen > Input Options. 
  3. Select the Edit button next to the Custom Symbols and the Symbol Editor will open with a newly created custom symbols file (*.ASC). 
  4. In the menu, go to View > Standard Library. 
  5. In the pull down menu on the top left of the screen, go to "Redefining Instruments".
  6. In the pull down menu on the top center of the screen, go to "Old SKEY: II - Instrument"

  7. Go to the menu: Symbol > New - Create a New Symbol in the Current Set.
  8. In the top right section of the dialog, uncheck the option "Copy Symbol From". 
  9. Enter a new SKEY. As an example, this SKEY will be called LVLG.
  10. Select the button Create Symbol.

  11. Now draw the new symbol.

    Note: The first point selected will also insert the "Start Point" node (green). This should be on the left center of the symbol . The component must have an End point (red). After creating all the lines in the symbol, then select the END icon from the toolbar and insert the END node. Three tap port nodes should be inserted for the instrument gauge (yellow) (located in the top center, center and bottom center of the component).
  12. After creating all the necessary parts of the symbol, select DONE from the toolbar.
  13. Go to Files > Save As...
  14. Save the file to its default location with the default name (FINAL.ASC).
  15. Exit the Symbols Editor.
  16. Now open the following file in Notepad ..\PLANT V8i\MODULES\INSTRMNT\PCF.INI.
  17. Search for the section MAP_CLASS2SKEY.
  18. Add a new line at the end of this section:

  19. Save and close the file.

  20. Now restart AutoPLANT and open a model in this project.
  21. Run the model through Isogens.

Error Placing Components

 You may have also run into this one when inserting AutoPLANT Piping components.

Current elevation 

at_CADCurrObjectSet_addToDrawing: Execution error.

This was a defect in AutoPLANT XM but was fixed in AutoPLANT V8i. But in addition to the fix, ensure that the Draw Mode in the Equipment Preferences is set to 3D. Setting the Draw Mode to a different value may cause AutoPLANT Piping model to show errors when inserting components.

Note: While Security features are accessible via ..\project name\Project\Main\, they are not fully utilized unless Projectwise is integrated with the AutoPLANT project. For true project security, Projectwise Explorer is recommended.
Documents then should be created through a manager application (Document Manager, Vision, or Projectwise Explorer).

Briefcase Mode in AutoPLANT 3D

The term "briefcase mode" found in the AutoPLANT Help files has been coined to reference opening a model independent of the project similar to functionality found in AutoPLANT version 2.01.

Note: Process and Instrumentation documents require the use of a project. AutoPLANT 3D applications provide an additional briefcase mode option.

Briefcase mode replaces the former Standalone mode supported in AutoPLANT 3D Plant Design 2004 Edition. Briefcase drawings are associated with configurations instead of projects. This mode consolidates all of the data in the drawing file. It does not require a project, knowledge of a database, or any other extraneous information. Drawings created in a project may be saved as briefcase drawings, and briefcase drawings may be added to a project. This mode limits the functionality in AutoPLANT by not allowing multiple drawing selection.

Configurations can also be setup and configured similar to a project via the Project Administrator with some limitations as mentioned above. Please be aware of the following defect found in the V8i version that is currently being addressed by the development team.

Copying Project with SQL Schema to Configuration doesn't copy correctly

Cannot create a configuration when using a Project that has a SQL based schema. The resulting configuration will display "Not accessible!" or "Unknown" under most of it's values. The resulting configuration can't be used for drawings and also can't be deleted through Project Administrator. Sometimes the following error is given, but only when the Schema is part of the Project database. 
Configuration Creation Error
The following error occurred creating the project:
Authentication failed. [Provider]

Steps to Repeat

          Schema within the Project database

  1. Create a SQL project with the Schema set within the Project Database
  2. Copy the project over to the Configuration folder
  3. Notice the Error during project copying
  4. Once past the error, notice that the Configuration doesn't function and is missing values
  5. Also notice that the delete option is grayed out

          Schema with it's own SQL database

  1. Create a SQL project, leave the Schema as Access
  2. Once completed, Upgrade the project's schema to have a SQL database of it's own
  3. Copy the project over to the Configuration folder
  4. Notice that this time the copy procedure finishes with no errors, but the results are the same (missing values and doesn't work, with the grayed out options such as delete)

TR Number 13739
Product: AutoPLANT Piping V8i
Area: General, Problem ID#: 38843, TROUBLEREPORT

Look for future articles "Project Completion" and "Maintenance/Misc" where project upgrades, import/export and Relationship Manager will be discussed.