General Information About Data Exchange
It is possible to send and receive data to and from other programs via the Import and Export interfaces of ProStructures. In most cases, these are 3D-constructions of other CAD-programs or the static analysis systems of programs for static analysis calculations.
The exchange takes place via a special file format defined by independent standard committees like e.g. Deutscher Stahlbauverband DSTV (German Association of Steel Construction) or even by the program manufacturers themselves. The data to be exchanged are mostly saved as ASCII-text file; therefore they are independent of the used operating systems. In case of possible transfer problems they can be adapted with any text editor you like.
Additionally to the "acknowledged" formats, ProStructures also has its own exchange format based on a clear text file. This format exactly describes the positioning and detailing of component parts, group structure and parts list or part information.
Data Exchange in Practice
In practice, data are often exchanged between CAD and static programs. This exchange is limited to the exchange of systems. A static system is created for the rough analysis of costs (determination of the expected cross-sections). Then the system is transferred to the CAD-program to create overviews or visualizations for the offer.
At the following construction, a more detailed model of the system is created and could be re-transmitted to the static analysis program to carry out more detailed calculations. After construction, however, it occurs quite often that special NC-production data for DCC machines are transmitted which contain already all shape detailing processes. In addition, the parts list data are transferred to the corresponding PPS systems for storing and for the placing of orders.
Data Exchange Problems
ProStructures has a great number of interfaces to allow for a universal use. There should always be a common denominator to be found for the data exchange. The volume of exchangeable information always depends on the complexity of interface definition and the corresponding implementation degree of transmitter and receiver.
It might be that ProStructures could interpret the complete 3D-model including all connections as file of a certain interface, the writing program, however, can only write the position of standard shapes. In this case, important data will of course be lost during transfer and would have to be re-modelled – if necessary.
Another problem is that the designations for material and cross-sections of the concerned programs partly differ from each other. The data are imported correctly, but the reading program doesn’t recognize e.g. the shapes because in most cases the name is compared without error tolerance. To minimize this problem, ProStructures offers so-called exchange lists where a translation of the designations can be controlled exactly.