Unlocking IDesktop Integration [CS]


This Client Server article is republished in its entirety from 2002 for reference purposes. It was written for iDesktop is and ProjectWise Explorer and may not apply to any other version.

Original Author: Bentley Technical Support Group

Most ProjectWise users will be familiar with iDesktop, the integration tool between applications and ProjectWise. Users of ProjectWise who are involved in a project in which Microsoft Office and AutoCAD documents are stored in ProjectWise will have iDesktop installed on their workstations. It provides integration between ProjectWise Explorer, AutoCAD and Microsoft Office. 
iDesktop software provides integration with several products including MicroStation V8 and some earlier versions, Bentley Redline, AutoCAD (14.01, 2000, 2000i and 2002), Microsoft Office 2000 and XP. The latest version of iDesktop is and is installed on ProjectWise Explorer This article will discuss the product's new functionality, what has changed and what you can do with MicroStation integration.

Before covering this new functionality, let me discuss the potential integration problems between iDesktop and some of the products you may be using:

  1. iDesktop is not certified or supported on Microsoft Windows 3.1X, Microsoft Windows NT 3.5x, Microsoft Windows 95 retail and Microsoft Windows ME
  2. Microsoft Office 97 is no longer certified or supported
  3. Bentley View should not be used as the quick viewing application
  4. iDesktop should only be installed with ProjectWise

New Functionality

Integrating More Than One Version of MicroStation

Figure 1: iDesktop's install wizard.

Previous versions of iDesktop did not allow you to integrate both MicroStation/J and MicroStation V8. The latest version of iDesktop allows you to do this, when you install iDesktop select both versions of MicroStation. See Figure 1.

The list of products shown by the installer is taken from the registry. If a particular product is not installed, it will not be listed.

The files that are installed by iDesktop are very different to the previous versions. The mcm_examp.cfg file is no longer delivered. If you choose to integrate both MicroStation/J and MicroStation V8, MDLs for both products will be installed. When you open a design file from ProjectWise Explorer, a configuration file determines the version of MicroStation being used and the correct MDL is loaded. This configuration file is called mcm.cfg and is installed in the \PWExplorer\bin directory. The MDLs are installed in sub directories of the bin directory called v7 and v8 for MicroStation/J and MicroStation V8 respectively. Likewise, from MicroStation SE the directory would be called V5.

The mcm.cfg File

In the mcm.cfg configuration the variable MS_INITAPPS is locked, which stops the variable being overridden by other configuration files. The section from the file is shown below:

MS_INITAPPS < mcm.ma 
# MS_INITAPPS < pwwrkspc.ma 

To load other MDL applications that are needed by MicroStation, you have several choices:

You can modify mcm.cfg to include the application MS_INITAPPS < mcm.ma, backup.ma 
You can use the variable PW_INITAPPS to define your application in another configuration file, such as a user configuration file or application configuration files.PW_INITAPPS = backup.ma

Workspace Tool

The workspace tool in ProjectWise is delivered with iDesktop. You can enable it by uncommenting the following line in mcm.cfg: # MS_INITAPPS

Opening a File in ProjectWise Without Using ProjectWise Explorer

Figure 2: ProjectWise login dialog.
After integrating ProjectWise and MicroStation V8 and starting MicroStation V8, you will be prompted to login to a ProjectWise datasource (Figure 2). This has been added so that users can open MicroStation design files stored in ProjectWise by starting MicroStation from the desktop. It eliminates the need to start ProjectWise Explorer first. This is achieved by the configuration file pw.cfg. The file is installed by iDesktop and is located in the \config\appl directory of your MicroStation V8 installation.

To disable this functionality you uncomment the entry PW_DISABLE_INTEGRATION=1 in the file pw.cfg. Note that this functionality is only available for MicroStation V8 and not for MicroStation/J or MicroStation SE.

View Columns in ProjectWise Explorer and MicroStation Dialogs

Figure 3: View columns in ProjectWise Explorer.
In ProjectWise Explorer you can define what attribute columns you want to see in the view. For example, you can define the view to see document name, creator and some user attributes (Figure 3).

Any ProjectWise dialogs within MicroStation inherit the display of attribute columns from ProjectWise Explorer. Figure 4 and figure 5 show the MicroStation file open dialog and MicroStation reference file dialog. The figures show that the same columns as ProjectWise Explorer are shown. Also, the size and position of the dialog boxes are retained.

This functionality is available in Bentley Redline, MicroStation V8, MicroStation/J and MicroStation SE.

Figure 4: ProjectWise MicroStation file open dialog.

Figure 5: ProjectWise MicroStation reference file attach dialog.

ProjectWise Captive Environment

When you are working in a MicroStation design file in MicroStation V8 or MicroStation/J, you have the ability to open files on your local workstation by canceling the ProjectWise MicroStation file open dialog. Then you will be given the standard MicroStation open dialog. There is a configuration variable called PW_CAPTIVEENVIRONMENT that you can define at the system or user level, preventing users from doing this. The variable value can be anything, so it is best to set it to 1. Once it is set and you cancel the file open dialog showing ProjectWise vaults, no further file open dialog is shown. Also the "save as" option only saves files to a ProjectWise vault.

The Check In Dialog

If your users forget to check in documents or find the check-in dialog box irritating, you have the option to automatically check in your MicroStation documents after closing. It is also possible to force users to manually check in the document as well. There is a configuration variable called PW_CHECKINOPT which can be defined at the user or system level.

PW_CHECKINOPT = 0: No check-in dialog is shown and the file will not be checked in.

PW_CHECKINOPT = 1: No check-in dialog is shown and the file will be checked in.

If the configuration variable is not defined, the check-in dialog will be shown. Note that this is only available for MicroStation V8, not for MicroStation/J or MicroStation SE.

Bentley Redline

Bentley Redline is the replacement for MicroStation PowerScope. Bentley Redline should be used for quick viewing and redlining MicroStation V8, MicroStation/J and AutoCAD files. Bentley Redline will create the redline files in the same format as the base file. This version of iDesktop does not integrate MicroStation PowerScope.

When you install iDesktop, a license file is placed into the Bentley Redline licensing directory.

Figure 6: ProjectWise program associations dialog. 
Viewing of redline files from the original file can be done by redlining tools in MicroStation. The redlining tools are loaded from the Tools pull down menu. MicroStation V8 will work with AutoCAD redline files too.

A Few More Pointers

Bentley View should not be used as the quick viewing application. Bentley View does not support MDL applications so it will not work. Always use Bentley Redline.

If you are using the variable PW_CHECKINOPT to automatically check in your documents, be aware that you are not able to prevent this check in and that the file stored in ProjectWise will always be updated.

You can still produce msdebug reports from MicroStation. In ProjectWise Explorer under Program Associations you can add the -debug parameter to the MicroStation open association. (Figure 6). This will produce an msdebug.txt report in \Program Files\Bentley\PWExplorer\bin.

See Also

Client Server Archive

ProjectWise TechNotes And FAQs

Comments or Corrections?

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