Hints and tips culled mostly from Be Communities.
MicroStation CONNECT operations are initialised by a set of configuration files. This concept will be familiar to CAD administrators accustomed to previous versions of MicroStation. However, CONNECT provides an improved organisation of configuration files.
A configuration file is a plain-text file. It contains statements of four types:
Bentley Systems have published this useful overview of configuration files: Configuration Changes in CONNECT Edition.
MicroStation CONNECT Update 4 introduces configuration options during installation …
MicroStation CONNECT is the first 64-bit version of MicroStation. The principal advantage of a 64-bit MicroStation is the enormous amount of computer memory it can use. Whereas previous (32-bit) versions of MicroStation were restricted mostly to 2GByte of memory, a 64-bit version of MicroStation can use many times than amount.
A consequence of large memory usage is the capacity to create and edit huge 3D models. For example, a 64-bit MicroStation can handle a detailed plant design where a 32-bit version struggled.
MicroStation CONNECT requires a computer having a 64-bit processor and a 64-bit version of the Windows operating system.
You view MicroStation CONNECT help in a web browser. MicroStation help is provided by a directory of HTML files.
From MicroStation CONNECT Update 5, help is also available on-line. Start at the home page for Bentley Product Documentation.
MicroStation help is typically found in folder
where N is the minor version number of MicroStation.
With MicroStation CONNECT, help is context-sensitive.
If you want a desktop shortcut to MicroStation help, then start with
where N is the minor version number of MicroStation.
For example, help for MicroStation CONNECT Update 3 is found here …
You probably have Microsoft Office installed on your computer.
Many people want to use Microsoft Excel to store data from a MicroStation DGN model, or update DGN data from an Excel worksheet. That raises the issue of bitness.
Microsoft Office is available in two versions: 32-bit and 64-bit. If you are using MicroStation CONNECT, then you have a 64-bit computer and you might think that you also have Microsoft Office 64-bit. However, that's not necessarily so: the default installation of Microsoft Office is 32-bit, whether or not you have a 64-bit computer.
Bit-ness becomes important when you want two applications to communicate. If you have a 64-bit application, then it's easy to communicate with another 64-bit application. If you have a 32-bit application, then it's easy to communicate with another 32-bit application. MicroStation CONNECT can communicate with Excel 64-bit, but not with Excel 32-bit.
If you want MicroStation CONNECT VBA to inter-operate with Excel VBA, then you must have the 64-bit version of Microsoft Excel installed. Both products have Microsoft VBA 7.1 64-bit.
If you want to create an OLE-DB data connection from MicroStation CONNECT to an Office product such as Access or Excel, then the OLE-DB data connector must be the 64-bit version and Office must be the 64-bit version.
When you install MicroStation CONNECT (or MicroStation V8i SS4) you also get the Bentley Connect client. The Bentley CONNECT client starts each time you start MicroStation, whether you want it or not. No doubt for organisations having large projects with shared data, Bentley CONNECT is very useful. However, for companies who don't share project data it's an annoyance.
How do you stop Bentley CONNECT from starting if you don't want it? One option is to uninstall it, using the Windows Control Panel. However, some people have reported problems created by uninstalling the client.
Duncan Gammie, an enthusiastic contributor to the Be Communities MicroStation Forum, found a solution.
Duncan's solution is this:
Set configuration variable
_USTN_CONNECT_PROJECTGUID = 00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000
at standards level.
This tricks MicroStation into thinking the project already has a connect project ID of nil so
skips the connected project window.
Bentley System's staffer Glenn Fernandes kindly responded to my question on the MicroStation Forum with this: Under the setting for the CONNECTION Client, make sure that the Run the CONNECTION Client on system start-up and Automatically sign me in are toggled off. These are on by default so yes, with every install of MS CONNECT Edition it will pop up when you restart or sign-in as it sets these in the CONNECTION Client.
Tag elements have been part of MicroStation since MicroStation SE. MicroStation tags continue to be part of MicroStation CONNECT, but Bentley Systems deprecates their use.
MicroStation CONNECT introduces Item Types. This unwieldy name is not self-explanatory.
Item Types let us define data schemas in a DGN file. The schema is a formal definition of data, analogous to a table schema in a relational database. There are tools to add Item Types to an element and to read Item Types from an element.
Best of all, Item Types have reporting tools that let you create a table automatically in MicroStation. The tools provide a route to export Item Types data for external consumption. For example, you can write a report that you can open using Excel to view MicroStation data.
Choose from the following possibilities for MicroStation CONNECT application development …
MicroStation CONNECT delivers MicroStation VBA as part of the product. It provides the 64-bit VBA version 7.1. That is the same VBA delivered in current versions of Microsoft Office.
Previous versions of 32-bit MicroStation deliver VBA version 6.
The MicroStationAPI contains many MDL functions from previous libraries and many more C++ classes new and old. All libraries are 64-bit.
The MicroStationAPI uses C++ namespaces extensively. You may have to hunt for MDL functions, as some may have new names.
Use the right version of Visual Studio to build your C++ application. If you're developing for MicroStation CONNECT, you need to use Visual Studio 2015 or later. Microsoft has complicated the installation procedure for Visual C++: read these notes.
The DgnPlatformNet API is new for MicroStation CONNECT. It provides a set of .NET classes that let you write, for example, C# code to interact with MicroStation.
In previous versions of 32-bit MicroStation, your C# code had to call VBA methods via an InterOp, or an MDL function via P/Invoke. With CONNECT, you are freed from that tie with the VBA language.