MicroStation Cell Copy VBA

by Mark Stefanchuk, cadmanage.com

I’ve had several requests to update the cell copy MDL example I wrote for MicroStation SE. Thanks to Amos from Jacobs Engineering for the push earlier this year.

I had updated the MDL shortly after the first V8 release and it continued to work through V8 2004. More recent versions of MicroStation however, have introduced several changes that break this old command. Instead of just updating the MDL code, I decided to take a different approach.

The new version is written in VBA, which really simplifies the code and approach. Using the VBA IDE (integrated development environment), creating user forms (dialog boxes) is faster and easier than in MDL. And if you don’t know how to do something in VBA a quick web search will tell you how. So, for CAD managers who are pressed for time this is definitely the way to go.

The new program operates essentially like the old one. Load the source library into the left listbox. Load the destination library into the right listbox. Highlight the cells from the source library you want to add to the destination library and click the arrow button that points to the destination listbox. Click the Add button located at the bottom of the destination library listbox.

You can find a download link to the new version on our cadgurus page. The code is not locked – something I’m likely going to get grief for – “why are you giving away the store…” – “… because I like these cad manager types…”. And, as always these are examples that come with limited validation and error checking, so use at your own risk. Create backups of your libraries before modifying them with CellCopy, and be careful with the delete option. It will remove all cells from the library and you won’t be able to get them back if you haven’t first backed up the original.*

This is a MicroStation VBA. So you can load it using the “VBA Load (path + vba name)” key-in, for example “VBA LOAD C:\temp\cellcopy.mvba”. I usually use the VBA Project Manager so I can browse for the program and then set the Auto-Load option. (from the pull down menu, Utilities > Macro > Project Manager).

There are a couple of key coding points to make.

1) To copy the cells I use the information provided in the dialog box – the source and destination locations. The cell names are gathered by indexing the  destination listbox and grabbing the highlighted cell names. If the cell name is already in the library then the program will skip it.

2) Delete Cells (advanced) – I didn’t find a method in VBA to delete the cells, but I did find one in the MDL reference. This MDL function requires that you pass a pointer for the cell name string. How do you do that?!

This MicroStation V8i Bentley Community page refers to the undocumented VBA function VarPtr. It says that you should use this to pass a pointer of your char* or void*. The MDL function I used was mdlCell_deleteInLibrary and the MDL Funtion Reference says to pass a type of MSWChar const*. So, when I used VarPtr, the function didn’t work – it returned a cell not found error. Ok.

The same VarPtr discussion on the Bentley Community says to look at http://msdn.microsoft.com/library for more information. Here you will find several other undocumented pointer functions including StrPtr. This one works. Yay. The indexing logic for delete is the same as it is for copy and deleting cells requires these four lines.

One more thing about the example – the Windows Open File Dialog (browse for cell library) helper code (unmodified) can be found on la-solutions web site. Bookmark this site, especially if you are developing programs for MicroStation – there are plenty of great programming examples here.

* If you want to share cell copy with others on your team, but you don’t want them to be able to delete cells then just hide the delete button. You can turn off it’s visible property and/or you can just set the enabled property to false.

About Mark Stefanchuk: Mark is a senior consultant with CAD Management Resources, Inc. He divides his time between developing innovative custom software solutions and helping clients navigate complex design automation environments. If you would like to find out how he can assist you with your design technology he can be reached by contacting us at info@cadmanage.com.

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