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Testing Bentley Map: Interoperability with ESRI

Some time ago we saw how to do with Microstation Geographics V8, and the alternative of importing files of .shp type.

clip_image002Let’s see how the world changed with version 8.9 known as Bentley Map XM. The way to handle it is very robust in the sense that now Microstation can read, edit, call by reference … not only a shape but also an mxd and more.

1.  Open a .shp file

This is done simply with “file / open” and choosing the shp format. This is opened with read-only attributes, but as if it can be a dwg to dgn.

Bentley did very well this alternative to open files directly, because in addition to the .dgn, .dxf and .dwg already made, you can open cells (.cel), libraries (.dgnlib), redline (.rdl), 3D Studio files (.3ds), SketchUp (.skp), MapInfo (.mif and .tab native format), among others.

Once opened the shape, you can touch objects as if it were a common map.


Viewing the properties table, it can be read the associated .dbf database …wow!

Also by using the “review attributes” command, it is displayed an xfm features table, equivalent to the .dbf data.

clip_image007 clip_image008

2. Calling the reference

Using as reference “file / map manager” it can be called in different ways:

  • As image:

clip_image010Here it can be called ESRI files, such as .mxd, .lyr and .shp. The advantage of calling it from here is that it supports theming that has associated the mxd while simple shp is going with a plain color. Also as it is called as image it can easily handle the transparency control.

  • As attributes:

This is a special panel, with which it can be chosen feature classes separately for display in different views, or stockpiled fences.

  • clip_image012 As a reference map:

Called as reference, it can be controlled the snap option, although an interesting aspect is that as a reference also supports MapInfo files (.tab and .mif).

So once it has been brought through the map manager panel can be switched on or off features, groups of features, layers or feature classes.

3. Save the .shp file

clip_image014The file can be saved in various formats, dgn, dwg, dxf, dgnlib (dgn library) or rdl (redline dgn).

The data is stored in XML format within the dgn, in other words the dgn contains data … the wonder of the implementation known as xfm features.

4. Importing via Interoperability:

clip_image016The option called interoperability is an alternative that allows connecting to data served via data source: ODBC, OLEDB and Oracle as it would be an ArcSDE service or ArcServer.

One of the advantages of doing this by this via is that you can choose a feature class separately, assigning the attribute type that will be imported as type of line, fill, transparency etc. also if you have a project it can be chosen destination attributes.

This is done via “file / import / gis data”

Similarly it can be exported a service… what means it should be seen by an ESRI user… I have not tried this but I’ll do it one of these days when I have time.


It is not bad, considering the holds of CAD editing and interoperability with ESRI formats.

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