MicroStation Tip: Referencing Shapefile graphics and data

V3N6 June, 2011

In the last issue, we discussed how to use Bentley Map to import (.SHP) shapefiles and work with the GIS features and feature attribute data. But what if you don’t have Bentley Map? No problem – you can still access shapefile graphics and feature data using MicroStation alone. Just reference the shapefile and use MicroStation’s Item Browser to access the GIS data. While you can’t edit the feature attribute data or create new GIS features for exporting like in Bentley Map, you can still access the data for sorting, filtering searching, etc.

Referencing a shapefile

  • From the References dialog, select Tools > Attach.

  • In the Attach Reference dialog box, set Files of Type to Shapefiles (*.shp).
  • Select your shapefile and set other reference options as necessary. In this case, we are referencing the same parcel file we imported with Bentley Map in the last issue.

  • Select Open.

The shapefile features are referenced into the active file. The .SHP file contains GIS attribute data that MicroStation can now read using the Item Browser.

Using Item Browser Tools

The Item Browser is used to display a list of the non-graphical items contained in a DGN file or reference. You can use the Item Browser to work with feature and attribute data contained in GIS shapefiles.

Note: In order to work with the feature data, you must have the shapefile’s .SHX and .DBF files in the same folder location as the .SHP file.

  • Select File > Item Browser.

  • Use the drop-down arrow to expand the Active group. The Active group contains a list of all feature layers in the shapefile.

  • Expand a feature layer from the shapefile to show all of the features on that layer (in this case we have one feature layer named Parcels).
  • On the Items toolbar, select Show Details to open the Details information box.

  • Select the layer in the Active group to review feature attribute data in the Details list.

From here, you can search and sort on feature attribute data.

This topic, along with numerous other new features, is covered more in-depth in our Upgrading to MicroStation V8i training class. For more information contact CAD Productivity — just select Contact Us at the top of this page!

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