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.