As Axiom’s founder and CEO, I have seen Axiom release a lot of products in the quarter century that we’ve been processing DGN files. But not since 1988’s introduction of FileFixer have I been this excited about a new product.
CadExplorer does so much that has never before been possible, that I’ll probably leave you with the wrong idea of what it does if I don’t get you to read the whole article. (As just ONE example, what if you wanted to be able to instantly generate a list of every cell at your site named “High-Voltage Transformer” that doesn’t have a cell named “Warning Sign” within three feet of it?) So please humor me and read the entirety of this article. The most important part of this article (by far) is near the end, where I talk about YOU. It’s only after you read down to there that the uniqueness of CadExplorer will become apparent.
How would you like to be able to interactively find, analyze, explore, report on and take advantage of your MicroStation data in ways never before possible? Just a few of the many things you can do with CadExplorer include:
- Instantly find, using any combination of common MicroStation element characteristics, any MicroStation element (or elements) in any design file in a project or at an entire site.
You can instantly find elements using any combination of color, level, weight, text content, cell name, tag data, element size and many other element attributes. (This feature is sometimes called “Google for MicroStation”.) Like Google, you can interactively refine your search and again get instant results. Additionally, at the click of a button, CadExplorer will open the design file containing the found element or elements, zoom in on them and await your further instructions.
- Instantly and interactively search all the design files in any project or at your entire site for elements that violate CAD standards.
When you find something that seems non-standard — say a few design files with the wrong working units — you can interactively drill down and perform more detailed analysis on these files to determine what they have in common. Were they all last modified around the same time? Do they all contain a model named “Plumbing”? Do they all contain a level named “Subcontractor X’s Level”? Do they all reside in the same folder? You’ll be able to interactively explore, investigate and drill down into anything you find in your design files that “doesn’t make sense”.
- Find all kinds of oddball errors.
For example, you could instantly get a report of every level name at your site that appears in only one design file. (How much do you want to bet that it’s spelled wrong in that one file?) If there is anything else you can imagine that there should never be exactly one of, you can look for that too. Why not ask CadExplorer to show all the cells that appear anywhere in your design files only once? Quickly scan through the list of these used-only-once cells. How many of them are misspelled or non-standard versions of the cell that should have been used instead? Not sure what one of those cells is? Just click a button and CadExplorer will instantly open up the design file or cell library containing the odd cell and zoom right in on it so you can see for yourself exactly what is going on.
- Find all kinds of oddball duplicates.
Got a series of maps where all the text on level “Legal” is the legal description of a parcel of land? No two parcels of land can have the same legal description; right? Ask CadExplorer to display all duplicate text strings in all the design files of your project and you’ll instantly see a list of all the parcels where your designer copied a parcel number intending to change the last couple of digits, but then forgot to make the change.
- See how your reference files are being used. Instantly see a list of all your design files and which reference files they use.
Or see a list of each reference file followed by a list of all the design files that include it. The data you get is similar to a RefManager report only the data is available instantly and interactively, without having to wait for RefManager to scan all your design files to accumulate the data.
- Get an instant report of how many times each cell is included in a certain set of design files.
Interactively filter (and refilter) the data to your heart’s content. For example, you might want to count only the instances of the cells that appear on certain levels, or in certain models.
- Find out stuff that you can think of and we can’t.
The above are just a tiny few, not-terribly-creative examples of the ways you can explore, investigate and report on your MicroStation data. You’re the guy on the CAD battlefield fighting the daily fight. You’re the guy who knows what kind of information you need. The questions you want to ask tomorrow are probably totally different than the questions you’ll want to ask today. That’s why we designed CadExplorer to make it easy for you to interactively ask it almost any question you can imagine about your MicroStation elements, models and files. The examples we gave above pale in comparison to the creative, brilliant and urgent tasks you and your staff will useCadExplorer for.
All of the above are things you can do with CadExplorer right out of the box (but wait, I still haven’t come to the good part).
How is it possible to do all these things instantly and interactively?
CadExplorer has a lot in common with Google. Just as Google constantly scans the Internet, building a database of every webpage it finds, CadExplorer constantly scans all of your design files to maintain a database of all your MicroStation elements and models. CadExplorer’sdatabase is a live, up-to-date mirror (cache) of your actual MicroStation data (which still resides in your design files, exactly where you left it). Your actual MicroStation files are not moved or modified in any way. CadExplorer constantly gathers all the data it needs invisibly. Once you’ve set it up, it does its job totally automatically.
Okay, here comes the good part I’ve been promising you. Once CadExplorer has made all of your MicroStation data instantly accessible, there is practically no limit to what you can do with this data. Axiom can quickly and inexpensively create custom applets to do almost anything your specific site wants to do with this brand-new, never-before-available tool. For example, we could create web applets that let your users instantly query anything you can imagine about your MicroStation data, analyze and massage the results any way you want and display it in a web browser formatted any way you want.
What if your procurement manager wants to receive an automated e-mail the minute your architectural project requires more than 144 “Anti-glare XYZ” windows?
What if, for whatever reason, you wanted every model in your project to have a unique model name? Designer Joe creates a model with a model name that already exists in your project. Joe closes the design file with the illegal model name. A custom CadExplorer application written for you by Axiom automatically sends a text message to your cellphone. And the next thing Joe knows, you’re tapping him on the back.
What if you want your users to be able to click on a custom MicroStation tool button that instantly shows them a list of all the cells in any cell library anywhere at your site, which contains a piece of text containing the substring “Door Detail” on level “Annotation”?
What if you wanted to be able to instantly generate a list of every cell at your site named “High-Voltage Transformer” that doesn’t have a cell named “Warning Sign” within three feet of it?
These may be awful, unrealistic examples. If they are, the reason is simply this: We are not YOU! You are the ultimate world authority on what your site needs. There is no one on Earth more qualified than you to figure out how to create ways of taking advantage of this brand-new technology. The only thing we are trying to accomplish with these admittedly oversimplified examples is to provide a little food for your creative imagination. You tell us what you want — and we’ll create the custom application that does it.
The most exciting product since FileFixer
In the nearly quarter of a century that Axiom has been serving the MicroStation community, no product has ever excited me as much as CadExplorer. Even FileFixer, the best-selling MicroStation add-on since 1988, pales in comparison to the spectacular, time-saving, productivity-boosting benefits I expect CadExplorer to bring to the MicroStation community.