Thoughts on Software – CAD MicroStation V8i

Part 1 – Introductions

Background

I had the thought that it is best to be able to immediately do something the first time a software is run.  Unfortunately, not this time, where I felt that overall, it wants to change the conventions that we are already familiar with in most software.  For example, with say a spreadsheet, when you run it, you’ll immediately start with a ready-to-use blank file.  With this software, before you see a file, you’ve to go through “Seed, User, Project and Interface”, etc…  I have to admit I found that annoying but was also also challenged on understanding the unique approach and hopes to be able to simplify and share them.  For one, instead of starting work by running the software, this one suggests that you start from File Explorer and load your file.  Sure is an advantage when continuing work but definitely now when you’re starting fresh.

Oh BTW, as to how many parts this blog will have, not really sure as of this writing.  I guess it’d just have parts as I go through the course and I find something unique worth sharing.

Installation

I normally just run a single file and entire software installation is done.  Not so bad with this, just needed two installs, a pre-requisite and the software itself.  Still I expected a single file and gone ahead with the main file.  Good thing it got warning messages advising pre-requisite installation, which I’ve done and installation goes smoothly from there.  I remember when I developed software before, there was install file packager where you can put all the necessary pre-requisites to a single file for a one time installation process.  Two files are not not bad for an installation but a single file is way better.

First Run

As I don’t want to mess with the existing settings lest I break them, I decided to create my own User, Project and Interface.  For now I’ll skip the “Seed” which I find in my previous session with school setup, yet not with my just installed and run software on my laptop.  Hopefully after exit and re-run, all will be there.  Oh for those wondering what’s “Seed”, it’s equivalent to a template, thanks to the “have-to-have-own-term” approach.  That’s just to give an early preview of the many more such differences.  Whether it’s for the better or worse, it’s up to you.  I’d say if this is the only software you’re using, you sure have advantage.  But if you’re familiar with other software, you might have to be lot more patient in getting used to this “have-to-have-own-term”.  In fairness though, I haven’t evaluated other CAD software product yet, which I guess will have their own software “terms” as well to come up with same difference.

Back to the creation of own environment, I’d say it’s not for the faint of heart.  Couple hiccups there plus few tweaks before it run seemingly well.  Then arrggghhh, was reminded I’m in “Open” mode and not in “New file” which is a mini button up there and not the [Open] button which I thought would open an empty file.  Haven’t even completely documented yet the seeming bug in creating new environment and yet here I am trying to test another portion in Open/New.  Then again arrrgghhhh… instead of what I thought is creating an empty file, I’m on a dialog to create a file, save it before I can get back to it and open from previous dialog box :(

Have to take a break.  Have to take a fresh approach in documenting this software.  Have to “unlearn” all that I’ve been used to in software interfaces and think that this is the only software in the universe.  I guess that way, I’d be more fair in documenting my user experience with this CAD software.  But hey, maybe we can also find some innovative new way of doing the same thing.  Pardon my rather emotional documentation.  From here forward, I’ll try to be more professional – promise :)

First Design Zoom

After further tweaks, was able to find an empty environment where I can start new design, albeit with straight line grids.  Knowing from previous week’s sessions, I had idea how to show the main and sub grids.  I was able to show the main and sub grids correctly after figuring out the Zoom In that as expected, worked its own way and not what I’m used to.  I expected it to simply zoom in or out by clicking respective icons.  Or did I immediately see the main/sub grids, forgot already.  As for the zoom in/out, only the zoom in works bit differently, the zoom out works as normal one click.  With zoom in, it only activates a box and you’ve to click again in the canvas to make it work.  Just another example of doing things differently, which I promise would be lot more as we go on.



Part 2 – Tentative Snap and Multi-Select

Started the day having dreamed about the advantages of utilizing tentative snap and the multi-select.  I find them very efficient and innovative approach.

image“Tentative Snap” means that you need not click to use what’s currently highlighted, you can go ahead use it.  An example is on resetting the origin – where say the end-point of an object is highlighted as snap point, pressing [O] would set the origin to said tentative snap-point.  I still have to really get to know how to correctly use this feature.  Right now, suffice it to say that the transparent square with green and red lines, moves to where your pointer is when you click [O].

image“Multi-Select” means that as you select an object by mere mouse-over, the highlighted snap is also set at the same time when you click.  This is very efficient if for example, the object needs to be moved from its end into another position.  Simply mouse-over said object such that required snap-point is also highlighted, then click.  Pointing exactly to the required point is not even needed, just click as soon as the snap indicator shows on desired location.  This selects the object and its snap-point at the same time.  Mouse-over to its destination and click to move it there.  This is much better than the usual 3 clicks to do the job: object, snap-point and destination.  We’re more efficient here by selecting the object and its highlighted snap-point at the same in one click.

These are related features where both tentative points are used, one as the destination and the other as the source.  The former example uses its tentative snap point as the destination of the [O] (origin) command without even clicking, while the latter in a single click selects both the object and its snap-point as the source.

Not really sure if other CAD software doesn’t have these features.  Just finished the course on competing software, didn’t find it but didn’t also looked for it being then yet unaware.  Will surely look for equivalence on next encounter.  For now, just happy to have found out tentative snaps and multi-purpose select.


Part 3D – Primitives

Quite enjoyed this portion, was just corrected by instructor to start at perspective and all went well, was able to figure out the rest of the views: Top, Side, Front.  MicroStation seemed to be easier to use than AutoCAD on this portion, so far after finishing easily the 3 exercises in the book.

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