I saw a question on the Bentley Forum the other day where someone was asking how a complex Component / Template worked. Their post went something like this:

Just when I got InRoads SS3 under control I'm looking at OpenRoads Designer... Wow. My question is that we're using the delivered template library. The curb template components are a puzzle to me. Smart as I think I was with SS3, it seems the designers of the delivered template assume everyone is now able to understand and apply techniques that exist, but I’ve never touched. Is this where things are going? Is there a white paper or video available to help understand the mechanisms at work here? I realize I could modify a copy of the template and constrain it in SS3 "Classic Style", but I would like to know how this particular control works, plus I'll be just that much more smarter in the end!

Here’s my reaction to situations like this.

First, there is no “Classic Style”, and this isn’t necessary “where things are going”. This is just an illustration of using higher level functionality that has always been in the software.

I looked at the Component / Template that you are referring to. Right off the bat, anyone building templates like this and expecting someone else to figure them out should hand off a Documentation Link along with it. That’s why the Documentation Link functionality exists within the template construction. Note to anyone not already doing this – provide documentation.

Next, in order to dissect and understand Components / Templates like that you have to at least know (1) all of the Constraints Types, not just the basic ones, (2) all of the Component Types, (3) Display Rules and how to build the Rules and apply them with Conditional Expressions, and (4) Parent – Child components. If you don’t have those skills, good luck to you. … or go find someone who does, and hope that they’ll be willing to spend the time to educate you.

The main problem that everyone runs into with ‘delivered’ Components and Templates is that they might be over-designed and over-complex for your needs. You might like the basic layout, but don’t really need all the ‘bells and whistles’, and they may not even directly apply to your project. And sometimes it’s harder to deconstruct a mysteriously complex Template so you can use it, rather than just building one of your own that fits your needs.

Lastly, it’s great to learn new software and higher level functionality on the job if someone is going to pay you for it, but hacking at templates like this that are over one’s head is just a drain on the project dollar and schedule. Learning ‘on-the-job’ is a much slower process and done at the expense of one’s sanity (added frustration) and project budget. InRoads / OpenRoads is not like Word or Outlook where someone is more likely to easily ‘figure it out’. It’s good quality training, effective documentation, and developed workflow processes that make people smarter and better equipped to use the software. Learning new software by trial-and-error, on a live project with a project schedule and budget isn’t a wise thing to do. If you want to hear some horror stories, give me a call.

Just my 2 cents.


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