By Eiren Smith
Many of Axiom’s tools — including FileFixer, CellManager, RefManager, Global File Changer, Title Block Manager, SpecChecker, SpellCheckerPlus and others — process large batches of files. Those tools save users tons of time every day, but I’m greedy: I want to save the maximum possible time. An often-overlooked bottleneck is the time spent telling those tools which files to process. This article covers some tips that will help you shave time off of using any Axiom tools that process large batches of files, saving you the maximum time possible.
Many Axiom products share a common tool for making a list of files to process. For instance, when you press the <Select…> button in FileFixer, you’ll see a dialog box named “Choose Files to Process”. When you press the <Select…> button in Global File Changer, you’ll see the same dialog box. That’s the common tool many of Axiom’s programs use and its name is “Axiom File List Processor” or “AxiFLP” for short. You won’t see AxiFLP anywhere outside Axiom’s software because it’s a totally custom tool, built specifically for what our users need to do: make lists of files fast. AxiFLP is a product of the “do it once, do it right and reuse the heck out of it” school of thought and works the same no matter what Axiom product and what version of MicroStation you’re using. If an Axiom product uses AxiFLP, it’ll work exactly the way you expect it to, every time.
The key to building large lists quickly
The key to making large lists of files quickly is knowing what your options are. The fastest way to make a list of files depends on what files will be on the list and the number of files that will be added. That’s why AxiFLP gives you several different ways to create lists.
Drag files from Windows Explorer.
Sometimes you just need a small list of handpicked files. You don’t want every file in a folder. In that case, simply select the files you want in Windows Explorer and drag them into your AxiFLP “Choose Files to Process” list. There’s even a button to open Windows Explorer in AxiFLP’s toolbar.
Taking this a step further, you can also drag entire folders into the list.
The <Browse for Files> button
If you just want to pick a few files, you don’t even need to open Windows Explorer. Just press AxiFLP’s <Browse for Files> button or press <Ctrl-O> while AxiFLP is open. It will bring up a familiar file selection dialog box and you can choose the files you want to add to your list. This is the most vanilla way to add files to your list, but it works.
The <Search for Files> button (for big lists)
Use the <Search for Files> button when you want to make a list of files that have the same name, file type (extension) or modification dates. For example, if you want to process all “.dgn” files that were modified in the last two weeks, using the <Search for Files> button would be the best way to find and add those files to your list. Just press AxiFLP’s <Search for Files> button or press <Ctrl-F> while AxiFLP is open and enter your criteria, including where you want AxiFLP to search for those files.
Adding files the “secret” way (no mouse required)
The methods I’ve just described are terrific, but someone with ten minutes of free time could poke around and find them himself. My favorite way of making a list of files is not obvious from the user interface. It’s not really a secret, but I’m often surprised at how few people avail themselves of it. To the best of my knowledge, Axiom tools are the only graphical tools that support this style of list creation.
To select files with this method, you don’t need a mouse and you don’t even need to open the AxiFLP dialog box. (However, it’s always a good idea to review your list before processing the files.) You just type in the path and file type (“*.dgn”, for example) and AxiFLP compiles the list of files for you. No need to click here and there or browse directories. Just type in what you want in the field where you select files. Here’s an example using FileFixer:
Decide which files you want to process. For example, let’s say I want to process all the “.dgn” files in the project directory “c:project1″ and I want to include all the design files in all the subdirectories. (Substitute your own project directory in place of mine.)
- Load FileFixer (or any other Axiom product that uses AxiFLP) from your Axiom menu.
- Type c:project1*.dgn/s in FileFixer’s “Which Files?” field, overwriting what’s already there. (Substitute your own project directory, of course.) The “/s” means “include subdirectories.”
That’s it. Really, you’re done making your list. All you have to do is press <Start> and FileFixer will start processing the files you specified.
A final tip
It’s always a good idea to check that your list is correct before you press the <Start> button. To do that in FileFixer, press the top <Select…> button. This brings up the main AxiFLP dialog box, named “Choose Files to Process”. The list in the AxiFLP dialog box shows the list of files that will be processed, the size of each file, the size of the entire list and how many files are in the list.
When you’re done reviewing the list, press <OK>. Your list is now ready to process.
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