InRoads Tip: Importing Shapefiles using Bentley Map

V3N5 June, 2011

MicroStation V8i has the ability to reference shapefiles (.SHP) and review feature attribute data via the Item Browser. However, you can’t edit any of the feature attribute data. With Bentley Map, you have the capability of importing and exporting shapefiles, which gives you more control of the GIS data for labeling, annotating and editing the non-graphical data. You can even create new features with attribute data attached and export to a shapefile. In this workflow, we’ll import a shapefile containing parcels with the associated GIS data.

Start Bentley Map

Bentley Map is delivered free with InRoads, so you must first start InRoads before activating Bentley Map.

  • Start MicroStation and InRoads and open the design file containing your existing site graphics.

  • Select Applications > Map > Activate Map to start Bentley Map.
  • From the MicroStation menu, select File > Map Manager to open the Map Manager.

Note:  If this is the first time you’ve opened the Map Manager, it requires that you create and work in a new model. This model can be created in either the active file or a new file.






The Map Manager is your interface for working with GIS map features. Each type of feature is shown as a separate layer in the Map Manager.

Import a shapefile

  • From the MicroStation menu, select File > Import > GIS Data Types…
  • Right-click on the Imports folder in the Interoperability box and select New Import.

  • Right-click on the Import1 and select Add File…

  • In the Open File dialog box, navigate to the location of your shapefile.

  • Select Open.
  • From the Imports list, highlight the feature from the shapefile that you wish to import (in this case Parcels).

  • Set the import criteria for the symbology of the imported graphics.

Important! You can create new features (e.g. new parcels) by drawing them with MicroStation on the import level and then assign them feature attribute data (map no., parcel ID, etc.). However, you must have the ability to create new levels in your workspace. If Bentley Map can’t create the feature level at the time of import and you assign the features to an existing level, you lose the capability to create new features.

  • From the Imports folder list, right-click on the feature name and select Import.

The status bar indicates the number of features that were imported.

  • Close the Interoperability box.
  • In the Map Manager, note that you now have a layer name that matches your feature name (and your MicroStation level name if you have the ability to create levels).

You can now manipulate the feature layer (Fit, Search, Browse, Label, etc.) using a right-click.

  • In the Map Manager, right-click on the new layer and select Fit.

The features are fit in the view with the symbology specified in the import criteria.

  • Right-click on the new feature layer and select Browse.

This opens the Data Browser showing all attribute data associated with this feature.

  • Right click on the new feature layer to see options for working with this GIS data.

From here you can annotate or label features, create custom sorts or search for features based on attribute criteria, create spatial buffers and intersection overlays with other features, etc.

If you add features with MicroStation, you can export this data back to a shapefile using the File > Export > GIS Data Types… command. Similarly, you can export any MicroStation graphics to a shapefile.

Interested in learning more about Bentley Map? Contact CAD Productivity for information on our Training Services.

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