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Engineering Drawing Blog: Thoughts on the evolution of Drafting to CAD to Engineering-as-a-Service.

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Feedback from readers of "Teach Yourself MicroStation/J" (TYMSJ) began coming in soon after the book was published in January 1999. A select collection of reader feedback from across the world-wide user-base of Bentley's MicroStation provides information on whether the book's content resonated with them, and when it did, what it was that resonated. That feedback is chronicled in this blog and is followed by a reprint of the book's Preface and a listing of the book's Table of Contents. Should you be interested in acquiring a reprint of any chapter from the book "TYMSJ" for a $10USD fee, leave us a note on our Contact Us page. 

MicroStation/J is no longer available, it has been superseded by several new versions of the professional CAD software from Bentley Systems, Inc. Additionally, MicroStation is not the only profitable CAD software on the market, there are many more.

Though much of the content in TYMSJ is now obsolete, the spirit merely indicated in that book has been thriving as engineering drawings. For this reason, I have chosen to focus my next book on the topic of engineering drawings. It is my hope that by capturing the language of engineering drawing, its content will have an opportunity to thrive for the following reasons:

The engineering industry produces drawings as its deliverable, so the material benefits them in producing their deliverable. The technology industry produces drawing environments as its deliverable, so the material benefits them in producing their deliverable.

Both industries are transitioning as we march from the Knowledge Age to the Cognitive Age. Though that transition, which I refer to as Engineering-as-a-Service (EaaS), is not as difficult to project as was the change of the drawing environment from paper to electronic, there is an opportunity to influence the creators of engineering drawings: the engineering entity and the technology entity.

After all, if the Language of Engineering Drawing is not the tool that enables the transmission of knowledge from Drafting to CAD to EaaS, then what is?

The upcoming book is titled, "Teach Yourself CAD with the Language of Engineering Drawing." The spirit of engineering drawings was referred to as "The Object Revolution" in TYMSJ; and the method of transfer of what both producers of drawings and the producers of drawing environments value is referred to as the Language of Engineering Drawing.

This book will deliver a standardized instruction set for exercises, both 2D (think today's CAD environment) and 3D (think of the coming virtual-reality environment from your CAD vendor. MicroStation CONNECT that Bentley released in January 2016 will be basis of their EaaS solution. A combination of the current AutoCAD Design and AutoCAD 360 will be the basis of Autodesk's EaaS solution).

With the upcoming book you will be able to follow through exercises, using any CAD software, whether it is AutoCAD, MicroStation, or another. Exercises will focus on not the mechanics of the software as much as on timeless concepts that are relevant to your professional work and the deliverables customers hire you for. Though the upcoming book will not be as hefty as the 800+ page tome released in January 1999 (cover image below), it will still be several-hundred pages in length. Step-by step exercises will still be spread throughout the book and the steps will be in a standardized software agnostic language you will be able to follow using any professional CAD software. You will also be able to buy solution sets for only the CAD software you use so, if you need help figuring out an exercise on your own but prefer the terminology your specific software uses, though you don't have to, you will have one available for purchase.

Why are terms like raster, vector, point-cloud, virtual-reality important, you might ask. The short answer is that an awareness of what these terms mean, specifically in the use of CAD and EaaS software, will have a significant impact on your ability to develop drawings faster and cheaper for your customers. I explain that below.

To be able to serve customers better, you will need to grasp why you even need to learn about tools like parametric cells and why would an engineer even want to wear a virtual-reality headset on his head while at work.

Does seeing a 50-year old engineer, or even a 20-year old one for that matter, at work, wearing a virtual-reality headset on his head make any sense? Why is he goofing off at work you might ask.

It is only when you get up close and watch the look of concentration on his face, you will realize he is actually at work and paying full attention to his work like never before!

Yes, a movement of his arm will adjust a complex 3D model, he labored over for weeks, in no time!

Though creating the engineering design will still require the engineering knowledge you have labored so hard to win, who said being an engineer is an easy job, that's the power of efficiency and cost savings you will be able to deliver to customers who always want to explore more and more options and that virtual-reality headsets will make so easy and quick to do.

When you are aware that virtual-reality headsets like Microsoft's HoloLens let engineers model the existing site conditions, like overhead wires and underground pipes that make it easier to detect conflicts with your traffic signal design that is superimposed on it with your virtually-real signal design in 3D, and when you move the mast arm with your hand to swing it away 10-feet from the high-voltage wire, your design that you labored so hard over in your CAD software using 3D design tools, the movement in the model you caused with the headset on your head will adjust the CAD design as well. Isn't that cool!

And to create 3D cells, the only way you'll receive the flexibility to adjust their size in 3D will be through parametric cells.

I'll be releasing a blog to synopsize a chapter in the book every month, so be on the lookout each month if this is of interest.

The release of the book is slated for the end of this year. I have begun to release snippets, such as this, from the book. This blog series will continue to grow throughout this year, a month at a time. You can track "Days to RELEASE" above.

With my very best wishes in your journey as an engineer,
Ranjit S. Sahai, P.E., F.ASCE
February 9, 2016

Teach yourself MicroStation -  Book Cover
Book Cover

Reader Feedback

"I had my 15 year old son read the Introduction to Teach Yourself MicroStation/J to give him an idea of what I lived through, also to inspire him with your documentary of the Bentley brothers. He is looking to follow an engineering career in the future, but had no idea what an engineering degree could do for him. You provided him with valuable insight into possibilities he had no idea existed. Thank you."

Steven R. Couture, Principal, Technology Enhancement Services, Camus, WA

"As we all prepare to make the transition from Computer Aided Drafting to Engineering Enterprise Modeling, we are truly fortunate to have an author and engineer of Ranjit's caliber to help lead the way."

Ray Bentley, Executive Vice President, Bentley Systems, Inc., Exton, Pennsylvania

"Every MicroStation user, administrator, and programmer should read this outstanding book."

Morteza Tadayon, Team Leader, Engineering Support Team, Maryland SHA

"After finishing the chapter (Chapter 15: Fixing Corrupt Files), I wrote a couple of command files from the instructions and ran them on ten design files. The results? Outstanding!"

Garett Tunison, CAD Operator, PEPCO (Potomac Electric Power Co.)

"Ranjit Sahai is an excellent author. His publications are very well written and I am looking forward to reading Teach Yourself MicroStation/J."

Greg Cooley, Manager, Highway Mapping Team, Maryland SHA

 "In Teach Yourself MicroStation, Ranjit expertly communicates all facets of MicroStation, that can overwhelm the novice and expert alike, in a truly engaging manner. Being a programmer, I am particularly envious of those who will start their programming journey with this book. It will take months off their learning curve."

Michael Colynuck, AScT, Software Developer, Pacific International Mapping, BC, Canada

"Teach Yourself MicroStation/J is clean, clear, succinct, and comprehensive. I've completed my first reading of the book. There is no question, it is the single most comprehensive text on MicroStation, let alone MicroStation/J."

Lewis Dickens III, Architect, Albert Kahn Associates, Inc., Detroit, Michigan

"I just received my autographed copy of Teach Yourself MicroStation/J. Thanks a million Ranjit for a wonderful book. I now call it my MicroStation Bible."

Andrew Blair, Drafter, GEI Consultants, Inc., Winchester, Massachussettes

"It is a very comprehensive edition well worth having for any MicroStation user. The CD offers several exciting features as I prepare lessons for senior classes. I am very thrilled to be ahead of the pack so to speak."

John Hardy, Teacher of Architecture, Timmins High and Vocational School, Ontario, Canada

"I am thoroughly enjoying Teach Yourself MicroStation/J. Thanks for working so hard to produce quality educational books for the MicroStation community!"

 Susan Caldwell, Principal, SVC Consulting Services, Smyrna, Georgia

"Great book! Ranjit's very clear explanations of the concepts and tools of MicroStation/J make this book a valuable resource for every MicroStation professional."

Steve Knipmeyer, Senior Vice President, Foundation Products, Bentley Systems, Exton, Pennsylvania

"Though Teach Yourself MicroStation/J is mainly aimed at the beginner, it has enough to offer the experienced user. It provides an excellent introduction to programming MicroStation. For most MicroStation users it will fulfil all their documentation needs, and it contains more knowledge than most power users will ever gain."

Rene Dalmeijer, CAD Consultant , CAD Center IT, Bergambacht , The Netherlands

"I really enjoy Teach Yourself MicroStation/J. I've learned a lot from it."

Jim Grupe, Drafter, MAC Equipment, Inc., Sabetha, Kansas

"I use Teach Yourself MicroStation/J constantly. I rely on it heavily and use it daily."

Michael Oakley, Engineering Technologist, Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc., Oak Ridge, Tennessee

"I've read several chapters from Teach Yourself MicroStation/J, and I must say Ranjit, you're an expert!"

Geert Van De Velde, CAD Manager, Danilith Delmulle NV, Belgium

"In the past, I've never acutally had a good grasp of MDL programming. After reading your articles I was able to make some sense of the process and can now edit and recompile existing code. Thank you!"

Gregg Miller, Engineering Technician III, Travis County Transportation and Natural Resources, Austin, Texas

"Ranjit, you have written a lot of very good articles over the years. I've learned a lot from you - thanks."

Bud Thomas, CAD Manager, Operations Associates, Greenville, South Carolina

"I have been using MicroStation for nearly as long as you but recently purchased a copy of your Teach Yourself MicroStation/J and have since learned much more. Thank you for a great book."

Anthony Bowden, CAD Developer, Intensify Pty. Ltd., Leichhardt, Australia

"Ever since we began carrying Teach Yourself MicroStation/J for the UK market, its sales have far exceeded our expectations overtaking those of other MicroStation books by a wide margin."

William Bagley, General Manager, PC BookShops Ltd, London, UK

"Teach Yourself MicroStation/J is a comprehensive and straightforward manual perfect for anyone using Bentley's home use license. The home use license program allows users to develop new techniques, this manual provides good information to utilize them."

Charles Wood, Project Technology Specialist, Jacobs Facilities, Inc., Arlington, VA

Preface to Teach Yourself MicroStation by Ray Bentley

Over the last dozen years, MicroStation has evolved from a relatively simple drafting program to become a mission-critical platform for the creation of design information for large engineering projects throughout the world. The introductory chapter of Teach Yourself MicroStation/J does an outstanding job of chronicling this evolution. With the release of MicroStation/J, and the impending delivery of ProjectBank and Engineering Component Modeling, we are poised to make a more revolutionary step with benefits that far exceed those realized when computers first replaced the tee-squares and drafting boards.

I have reviewed the manuscript of Teach Yourself MicroStation/J and am truly impressed with the attention to detail, and the breadth of coverage it provides. It takes new users by the hand and teaches them basic concepts through step-by-step exercises. It addresses the needs of CAD administrators with detailed information on everything from translation to standards implementation. Teach Yourself MicroStation/J can also serve as a corporate programmer?s introduction to all the programming interfaces in MicroStation, including JMDL.

The author, Ranjit S. Sahai, a professional engineer, has been authoring MicroStation texts since 1992. His knowledge of MicroStation, versatility as a writer, and experience as a workshop leader and trainer at Bentley FORUMs is clearly evident throughout the book. As we all prepare to make the transition from Computer Aided Drafting to Engineering Enterprise Modeling, we are truly fortunate to have an author and engineer of Ranjit's caliber to help lead the way.

Raymond B. Bentley Executive Vice President Bentley Systems, Inc. Exton, Pennsylvania December 11, 1998

Table of Contents

 Introduction: The Object Revolution

 Ch. 1: Getting to Know MicroStation

Ch. 2: Your First Drawing Session

Ch. 3: The MicroStation Environment

Ch. 4: Mastering View Control

Ch. 5: Drawing and Editing Elements

Ch. 6: Referencing External Files

Ch. 7: Generating Output

Ch. 8: Mastering AccuDraw

Ch. 9: Dimension Driven Design

Ch. 10: Linking Nongraphic Data to Elements

Ch. 11: 3D Modeling and Rendering

Ch. 12: Using Web Links and Tools

Ch. 13: The Engineering Configurations

Ch. 14: Setting Drafting Standards

Ch. 15: Fixing Corrupt Files

Ch. 16: Exchanging Drawings with Archive

Ch. 17: Understanding Workspaces

Ch. 18: Translating Drawings

Ch. 19: Setting User Preferences

Ch. 20: Creating Custom Resource Data

Ch. 21: Creating Cells

Ch. 22: Using the Clipboard, OLE, and DDE

Ch. 23: The User Command Language

Ch. 24: Creating Macros In MicroStation BASIC

Ch. 25: Developing MDL Applications

Ch. 26: Programming In JMDL

Index

The Bonus CD accompanying the book includes:

  • Exercise files and cell libraries
  • Source code for many programs
  • Demos of source code editors: Multi-Edit by American Cybernetics, Inc. and Visual SlickEdit by MicroEdge, Inc.
  • RS Tools LE, an MDL toolbox for 2-click operation of common drafting tasks

The book, "Teach Yourself CAD with the Language of Engineering Drawing," by Ranjit S. Sahai, P.E., F.ASCE was registered with the US Copyright office on February 9, 2016.