MicroStation reference files can be time consuming and costly, especially on large jobs.
Part of the problem is that people create too many master files for a job, for example I have seen multiple separate existing utility files created that can be consolidated to one file. There is no need to have separate files for watermain, storm, sanitary, etc. but unfortunately files like these exist. It is situations like this that container files can save you time AND money. Let’s look at the scenario below.
I have a job with 50 cut sheets for proposed work. I have 3 reference files that I need to attach in each of these files, so, 50 x 3 = 150 reference files I am attaching. See image below.
Attaching these many reference files is time consuming on its own but let’s take it a step further.
Once your cut sheets are all set and the design is moving along, changes to the reference files are inevitable. The project manager takes a look at the sheets and says he doesn’t want to see level X on in reference file 2, now you have to go into 50 files and turn off level X. a couple of days later, someone from another discipline has a NEW reference file that he wants to be displayed in the cut sheets, so now you have to attach another reference file 50 more times. Another day goes by and someone else needs a level turned on or off so you start the process all over again. It never stops until the day that you submit final plans.
What is the solution to this everyday problem? Container files. Lets take a look at scenario 2.
As in scenario 1, I have the same 3 reference files needed to be attached in 50 cut sheets. Instead of referencing the files 150 times, I now only have to attach them 50 times using the container file method.
Think of a container file as bucket or drawer that you store or “contain” your files in. Now you’re dealing with one file instead of multiple files.
A container file is a BLANK file with all the appropriate reference files attached in it. Once the files are attached into the container file, you can now turn levels on/off, set display properties, set overrides, etc.
Look at the image below to get a better explanation of how the container file works.
Once the container file is set, you need to attach the container file to the cut sheet and set Nested Attachments to Live Nesting and Nesting Depth to 1 and also set Display Overrides to Never. See below.
For those who are not familiar with nesting, the following is a description from Bentley.
When a MicroStation design file used as a reference has its own attachments, they become nested references. The links between these files can be maintained through many levels (depths) of nesting, so that if you open only one file, you can view the contents of many files. The individual references can be updated, and the changes will be shown in the master (or parent) file. When you attach a parent reference to your model and turn on live nesting, you can also control how many levels of nested references are attached to the model.
What does this mean? In simple terms when I attach the container file with no nesting, I will only see a blank file. When I set the nesting depth to 1, I will see the first level reference attachments to the container file (the three files needed for my cut sheets), If I set the nesting to 2, I will then see the reference files attached to the three attached reference files and so on. So you should never set nesting to 2 or higher, you can, but unless you know what you are controlling it can get messy.
What are Display Overrides? Display Overrides control what levels are on/off in your cut sheet once you save your cut sheet and exit the file. Let’s say that if you set your display override to “Allow” and in your cut sheet someone turns on/off reference file levels in the container file then saves settings and exits the cut sheet, the next person to enter that cut sheet will see the levels that have been manipulated. If Display Overrides is set to “Never”, whatever levels are manipulated in the container file will revert back to the container file settings regardless if someone saved the files before exiting. So it’s imperative that Display Overrides be set to Never.
The real power of container files is this, once the container files are attached to the cut sheets and someone comes to you and asks you to turn on/off levels, you only need to turn them on/off in the container file and the changes will be reflected in ALL the sheets instantaneously saving you from going into 50 sheets. Also, if there are new reference files that need to be added to the cut sheets, all you need to do is attach that file into the container file and it will show up in the 50 cut sheets.
I have used container files for a few years now and it saves a lot of time during the design process. When you are working on a job with over 100 cut sheets this saves you a ton of time and budget.
There are different types of sheets that we need to display different levels so how do we use container files in this situation? I create a container file for every discipline; for example, I will have a container file for removal sheets, a container file for construction sheets, a container for drainage sheets, etc. Create the container file for the discipline that you are working with and attach that container file to the corresponding discipline cut sheets.
Try this method on a small job to get acquainted with it and I guarantee that you will start using this method for all your jobs.
A tutorial on creating container files will be beneficial
I am working with Motif/Nested files and we have a situation where we have one Motif with different scale(100 and 300) annotation files attached. what is the best way to attach the files so that we can turn one off for the 100 scale sheets while having the 300 scale displayed for the 300 scale sheets and vise versa. We have been using Allow for Display Overrides and Always for New Level Display. we have used these setting and gone in to the sheets to turn off the scale we do not need to show. the problem is we have people that like to exchange from the sheet file to the motif and it seems to mess up the 300 scale sheets and/or vise versa if they were in the 300 scale sheet.
When we have items with various scales, say a centerline that needs 100 and 300 scale stationing, sometimes we will use separate models for the various scales, then just attach the model with the correct scale. Hope this makes sense.
My sheets are set up with containers and set to never override. All files in my container are just standard attachments except for 1 (my topo). It’s actually nested at 1. Now, my sheets are nested at 2 in which I should get everything that is in my container.
The problem I have is when I get back in my sheets and go to the level manager, I expand the hierarchical tree, click on my container and drill down to the attached references, I am still able to modify level, weight, color of the referenced files. I expected the files attached to my container to be grayed out since the container attachment was set to Never Override. It think that this is creating my plotting issue in which my linestyle attributes are being overwritten from the sheet level.
Thanks Chuck for the great write up.
I set up cut sheet with Level overwrite NEVER with live nesting 1. but even though I turn off some level on the container file*** , it doesn’t reflect it.
actually, it wasn’t a true container file as it has an active elements to it. so I turn on a level but it won’t reflect in the sheet, why???
Are you turning the levels on and off for the container file in the cut sheet or the container file? All level manipulation of container file elements needs to be done in the container file and save settings on exit.
Without seeing your file I’m just guessing but the workflow would be
1. Create the container file with all references needed for the cut sheets. Save settings and exit.
2. Enter the cut sheet and attach said container file with options “Nested Attachments: Live Nesting”, Display Overrides: Never” and “Nesting Depth: 1”
3. If you then need to turn a level on or off you will need to open the container file and turn on/off the levels, save settings then re-open your cut sheet to see the changes.
I’ve just recently started using container files and set up about 80 sheets using them, but forgot to change the display overrides to NEVER. This is of course creating problems when we try to update the Container files. is there an easy fix to this? The only thing I’ve found that works is to detach and reattach with the correct setting.
Hi Melissa, you should only need to change it to never, save settings and re-open the file. There should be no need to detach and reattach the file.
Not at all. I’ve been using container files for 6-7 years and never noticed any difference in speed.
A DOT we are working with contends that container files take longer to update than just referencing them one at a time. Can this be true?
One of the clearest examples of keeping your files organized that I’ve seen in a long time. I like Mr. Kirasic’s explanation on Nesting as well. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this tutorial! A good example for anyone who wants to be more efficient.
First of all, thanks for the great write up.
I’ve one concern though. I’ve created one container file with several dozen references. If several of my cut sheets require tweaking to the container file…i.e. one cut sheet needs a level on that’s ordinarily off, or another cut sheet requires that a whole sub reference within the container needs to be off. If I go through and tweak, meanwhile my Display Overrides settings for the container is set to “Never,” those tweaks, as I understand it, will not be saved, correct?
In order to save them I would have to have them be set to “Allow?”
If so, how is “Allow” different from “Always” in this case?
Thanks in advance!
Hi Alex, it’s probably too late for this answer as I just saw your post, for some reason I am not getting comments sent to me and I don’t monitor this website that often. However you are correct in your assessment. There are times when I too have to set one or two sheets to allow but you have to be cognizant of the fact that if something changes in the container file you have to update the few sheets that you set to never. Below is a good explanation I found on the Bentley Communities site written by Tim Hickman, I hope it helps.
ALWAYS – meaning whatever was set in the MASTER file will hold. The OVERRIDES or changes to the DISPLAY of the Nested reference are ALWAYS kept. Once the REFERENCE file is attached, the display settings of the Nested file are copied into the MASTER file. So if the REFERENCE file was opened actively and changes were made to the display settings of the Nested file, these changes will not be seen in the MASTER file. Both files contain their own set of display settings for the Nested file. Also any changes made to the display of the Nested file in the MASTER file will hold. Any changes that I would like to see need to be done in the MASTER file.
ALLOW – This will function as the NEVER option does, UNTIL a change is made to the display of the Nested file in the MASTER file, at which time it will then function as the ALWAYS option. Holding any changes made in the MASTER file from that point forward. So as long as no changes are made in the MASTER file , you will see any changes made in the REFERENCE file, BUT once you make a change in the MASTER file, these changes will hold and you will no longer see the changes made in the REFERENCE file (this functionality is similar to how it worked in previous versions and why we default to this).