Saving A DGN To DWG

 Version:V8 2004, XM, V8i, CONNECT

Document Information

Document Type: TechNote 

Legacy Document Number:  8328

Process: Design Models and Sheet Models

With the introduction of MicroStation V8, the concept of Models was introduced to aide with interoperability and to extend the capabilities of MicroStation into the future.

Models allow MicroStation users to create multiple design models and sheet (plot) models for any one DGN drawing. You can think of them similarly to tabs in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. One DGN file can contain multiple models.

In MicroStation CONNECT, the Models setup (design, drawing, or sheet) is done via the Models icon within the Drawing Workflow>Primary Ribbon Group.

Models Icon


In the Models dialog, click on the furthest left button: "Create Model"

Create Models Button


In the Create Model dialog:

Create Model Dialog
  1. From "TYPE" choose "SHEET" and then 3D
  2. Enter name of the reference e.g. Plot 1:100
  3. A description e.g. General Arrangement for Project X
  4. Reference Logical name
  5. Uncheck "Show Sheet Boundary"
  6. Cell Properties: Ability to Place "As Cell" (this allows the drawing to be placed as a cell in the future)
  7. Click OK

Alternatively (archived from MicroStation V8 2004 Edition)

  1. "DISPLAY SHEET LAYOUT" is checked
  2. Choose a size of layout from the jump box
  3. Options: Cell Properties (this allows the drawing to be placed as a cell in the future)
  4. Click OK

Now we have a design (modelspace) model and a sheet (paperspace) model.  Your new model will automatically be converted to an AutoCAD paperspace layout when you save it to DWG. 

To attach a border to this sheet model:

  1. Inside your sheet model, click on References and then on Attach Reference. Then navigate to C:\ProgramData\Bentley\MicroStation CONNECT Edition\Configuration\WorkSpaces\Example\WorkSets\MetroStation\DGN\Borders\ISO\A0-border.dgn
  2. Choose the Default model and press OK.
  3. The reference border attaches to the blank sheet model.
  4. Using References again, click Attach and navigate to your drawings. Attach either single or multiple drawings and click OK.
  5. Manipulate the drawings so that they are placed correctly inside your border file. This can be done by highlighting the reference in question and then using the icons for Move, Copy, Rotate, Scale, and Mirror from the Reference dialog.
  6. With 3D drawings, a single drawing can be placed in plan and elevation without the necessity of multiple attachments of the same file. By highlighting the reference and then selecting the Copy/Fold Reference option in the Reference dialog, a user can easily place and orientate references via horizontal or vertical copying.
Attaching border to a sheet model


Alternatively (archived from MicroStation V8 2004 Edition)

  1. Inside your new sheet model, click on the Model icon again. Highlight this new model and select Edit Model Properties. 
  2. The Model Properties dialog will open. Select the Sheet Properties section and check the Display Sheet Layout option, ON. Then click on the Size jump box and choose from one of the industry standard layouts listed (custom sizes can also be readily made).
  3. You will notice that a highlighted boundary is now represented in your sheet model.
  4. Select References and attach your border and then your drawing at the scale you require.
  5. With the persistent fence boundary in MicroStation there is no need to place around the area desired to be printed.
  6. MicroStation will only allow one persistent boundary per model.


Now that you have your design model and your sheet model set up, you can save to a different format. 

  1. Go to File and Save As.
  2. Click on the Save As Type drop-down menu and choose DWG file format.
  3. Navigate to where you wish the data to be saved and then click Save.
  4. MicroStation will now save the DGN to DWG format, and then open that new formatted file in your session of MicroStation where you can check and view it.
Save As dialog


  1. Go to File and select Export.
  2. Choose the DGN, DWG, and DXF option and then navigate to where you want the file saved.
  3. Click OK.

The Export option in MicroStation will allow you to remain in your current DGN session. It saves the file to the location given, with full compatibility with AutoCAD.


 1. Sheet configuration:

Make sure that the lower left corner of your sheet has the coordinates 0,0. Either move the sheet to this coordinates or use the command "GO=0,0" to reset the coordinates of the lower left corner of the sheet.

The best thing to do next is set 0,0 to the bottom left corner of the border. Do this by keying in "GO=0,0" and selecting the corner of the border. This resets the co-ordinates of that point to be 0,0 but doesn't affect the real world location of the model information. Save Settings at this stage to ensure the co-ordinate changes are saved.

MicroStation in a DWG World
EYC Nigel Davies, 01/01/04

2. Define a Viewport 

Clip your references in the sheet by an element. Place this element on a dedicated level for this purpose. Disable plotting for this level in level manager.

Now clip the file to suit with a shape. Draw the shape on a designated non plotting level.
The shape can be stretched with the modify tool to change the clip boundary of your reference file. It's like a window through to your model space. Moving the shape around will show different parts of your model. You can use one shape to clip multiple references if you like. (Note: this shape converts to a Viewport in AutoCAD paperspace).

When you move the reference untick Move Boundary with Reference. This means you can move the reference just like inside an AutoCAD viewport - the boundary stays stationary.

Sheet Setup for DWG Workmode
EYC Karen Fugle, 01/05/07

DWG Viewports
EYC, 17/09/07

3. Set up the DWG seedfile you will use for translation with the sheet definitions, you are using in MicroStation

The MicroStation default is "seed.dwg" in the "//workspace/system/seed" folder. Place your own version of this seed file in the "//workspace/standards/seed" folder.

MicroStation will convert the geometry of your file correctly without that, however the sheet area will not be displayed correctly until your MicroStation sheet definition will correspond to the sheet definition and and a named page setup for the DWG sheet model.  Make sure that the spelling of the sheet definitions names and the values for the definitions are identical. For an example of such files see:

Converting MicroStation Sheets to DWG Layouts


Gunnar Gantzhorn 

See also

Other language sources

 Original Author:Bentley Technical Support Group