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Title: MicroStation  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Computer-aided design, AutoTURN, Navisworks, CodeBook, Rhinoceros 3D
Collection: Computer-Aided Design Software, Computer-Aided Design Software for Windows
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Developer(s) Bentley Systems
Initial release 1980s
Stable release V8i 8.11.x
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Platform NT/2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7
Type CAD
License Proprietary software

MicroStation is a CAD software product for two and three dimensional design and drafting, developed and sold by Bentley Systems. The latest versions of the software are released solely for Microsoft Windows operating systems, but historically MicroStation was available for Macintosh platforms and a number of Unix-like operating systems. MicroStation is the platform architectural and engineering software package developed by Bentley Systems, Incorporated. Among a number of things, it generates 2D/3D vector graphics objects and elements. Current version is MicroStation V8i.


  • History 1
  • File format support 2
  • Extensions 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6
    • Free Viewer 6.1


MicroStation was initially developed by Bentley Systems and sold and supported by Intergraph in the 1980s. From its inception MicroStation was designed as an IGDS (Interactive Graphics Design System) file editor for the PC. Its initial development was a result of Bentley Systems's experience developing PseudoStation released in 1984, a program designed to replace the use of proprietary Intergraph graphic workstations to edit DGN files by substituting the much less expensive Tektronix compatible graphics terminals.[1] PseudoStation as well as Intergraph's IGDS program ran on a modified version of Digital Equipment Corporation's VAX super-mini computer.

In 1985, MicroStation 1.0 was released as a DGN file read-only and plot program designed to run exclusively on the IBM PC-AT personal computer.

In 1987, MicroStation 2.0 was released, and was the first version of MicroStation to read and write DGN files.

Almost two years later, MicroStation 3.0 was released, which took advantage of the increasing processing power of the PC, particularly with respect to dynamics.

Intergraph MicroStation 4.0 was released in late 1990 and added many features: reference file clipping and masking, a DWG translator, fence modes, the ability to name levels, as well as GUI enhancements. The 1992 release of version 4 introduced the ability to write applications using the MicroStation Development Language (MDL).[2]

In 1993, MicroStation 5.0 was released. New capabilities included binary raster support, custom line styles, settings manager, and dimension driven design. The "V5 for Power Macintosh provided a comprehensive tool set for both 2-D and 3-D CAD ... with added several truly useful features ... the high-end PowerPC- native CAD package runs on steroids."[3] This was the last version to be supported in Linux. This version was branded both Intergraph (on CLIX) and Bentley MicroStation (on PC). Later versions were all branded Bentley. This was the last version to run on Intergraph CLIX. All platforms other than the PC used 32-bit processors.

In 1995, Windows 95 was released. Bentley soon followed with a release of MicroStation for that operating system. Aside from being the first version of MicroStation to not include the version number in its name (MicroStation 95 was actually MicroStation v5.5), MicroStation 95 was a groundbreaking release that included the ability to be mostly graphic button icon driven. This version introduced a host of new features: Accudraw, dockable dialogs, Smartline, revised view controls, movie generation, and the ability to use two application windows (similar to previous Linux driven Intergraph terminals that were dubbed the "Double-Headed Monster"). Many of these features are among the most popular used today. MicroStation 95 was the first version of MicroStation for a PC platform to use 32-bit hardware.

The last multi-platform release, MicroStation SE (SE standing for special edition, but it was actually MicroStation 5.7) was released late in 1997, and was the first MicroStation release to include button icons that were in color. These icons could also be made borderless, just like in Office 97. This version of MicroStation also included several features to enable more work over the internet. This version also introduced enhanced precision and a very commonly used tool in MicroStation - PowerSelector.

MicroStation/J (aka MicroStation 7.0, aka MicroStation V7) was released almost a year after SE. The J in the software title stood for Java, as this version introduced a Java-enhanced version of MDL, called JMDL.[4] Other features included QuickvisionGL and a revised help system. MicroStation J was the last version to be based upon the IGDS file format; since MicroStation J was actually Version 7, the file format became known as "V7 DGN". That file format had been used for about 20 years.

However, with the advent of MicroStation V8 in 2001 came a new IEEE-754 based 64-bit file format, referred to as V8 DGN. MicroStation V8 is noted by most users as the most groundbreaking release in Bentley's history. Along with the new file format came many new enhancements, including unlimited levels, a nearly limitless design plane and no limits on filesize. Other features that were added were: Accusnap, Design History, models, unlimited undo, VBA programming, .Net interoperability,[5] True Scale, and standard definitions for working units (as the new file format stored everything internally in meters, but can recognize rational unit conversions so that it can know the size of geometry)(some of these features were also available in Microstation 95 to Microstation J). But the most anticipated feature was the ability to work natively with DWG files, an ability perhaps lauded more than any other.

MicroStation V8 2004 Edition (V8.5) followed nearly three years later with support for newer DWG releases, Multi-snaps, PDF creation, the Standards Checker and Feature modeling. MicroStation V8 XM Edition (V8.9) was released in May 2006.[6] It builds upon the changes made by V8. The XM edition includes a completely revised Direct3d-based graphics subsystem, PDF References, task navigation, element templates, color books, support for PANTONE and RAL color systems and keyboard mapping. According to Bentley, "XM" does not stand for anything.

The newest version of MicroStation is V8i (V8.11). The task navigation was overhauled and the newest DWG format is supported. MicroStation now contains a module for GPS data.

Structure designed in Microstation.

File format support

Its native format is the DGN format, though it can also read and write a variety of standard CAD formats including DWG and DXF and produce media output in such forms as rendered images (JPEG and BMP), animations (AVI), 3D web pages in Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), and Adobe Systems PDF.

At its inception, MicroStation was used in the engineering and architecture fields primarily for creating construction drawings; however, it has evolved through its various versions to include advanced modeling and rendering features, including boolean solids, raytracing, and keyframe animation. It can provide specialized environments for architecture, civil engineering, mapping, or plant design, among others.

In 2000, Bentley made revisions to the DGN file format in V8 to add additional features like Digital Rights and Design History - a revision control ability that allows to reinstate previous revisions either globally or by selection, and to better support import/export of Autodesk's DWG format.[7] Additionally, the V8 file format removed many data restrictions from earlier releases such as limited design levels and drawing area.

A Microstation Example.


Extensions can be used with MicroStation to add to its functionality. Example extensions include the following:

  • Provide accurate materials lists for every item included in the design
  • Sequenced schedule for construction
  • Check for interferences between objects
  • Publish all drawings automatically on a public website
  • Provide a client/owner a detailed model of their entire plant including its virtual operation for training and testing.

Bentley Systems also provide several extensions for the MicroStation to add certain functionalities related to specific sectors:

  • Bentley Architecture: extension enabling MicroStation to generate smart 3D BIM models, where parameters can be specified for each architectural element.
  • Bentley Building Mechanical Systems: extension for MicroStation for the modelling of mechanical components within a BIM design.
  • Bentley Building Electrical Systems: extension for MicroStation facilitating the creation of automated electrical design within AEC electrical projects - which also can be used in conjunction with Bentley Architecture or Bentley Mechanical Systems.
  • Bentley InRoads: digital terrain and road design extension for MicroStation, with integrated tools for super-elevation, bridges, drainage and storm and sanitary networks.
  • Bentley Map: geospatial extension for MicroStation giving the CAD tools GIS-like capabilities like querrying for information within a database within a certain geographical area, or creating and publishing maps.
  • Bentley MXROAD is an extension giving MicroStation an advanced, string-based modeling tool for new design of all road type.

Extensions can be created using:

  • The MicroStation Development Language (MDL) that is a 'C' like programming language. (Note: MDL must use the same MicroStation version on SE, J and V8 - unless re-compiled for that version.) These have become unpopular since MicroStation J
  • User Command Macros (UCMs). Once very popular, support for these is no longer guaranteed in V8.
  • Visual Basic for Applications (VBA).
  • C/C++.
  • .NET.
  • Macro for Basic Applications (BAS)

See also


  1. ^ Conforti, Frank; Grabowski, Ralph (1998). MicroStation For AutoCAD Users. Delmar Cengage Learning. p. 9.  
  2. ^ "MDL Development Environment". LA Solutions. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  3. ^ "MicroStation V5 for Power Macintosh". MacUser 11: 60. 1995. 
  4. ^ Sumbera, Stanislav (January 2001). "Java/JMDL communication with MDL applications". MicroStation Manager 11 (12): 30–34. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  5. ^ Sumbera, Stanislav (July 2002). ".NET and VBA interoperability in MicroStation". ControlAltDelete: 36–40. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 
  6. ^ "Bentley Announces Commercial Release of MicroStation V8 XM Edition" (Press release). 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2012-02-16. 
  7. ^ Newton, Randall S. (2004-07-01). "Microstation V8 2004 Review". cadalyst. Retrieved 2012-02-15. 

External links

  • MicroStation home page at Bentley
  • MicroStation Forums at BE Communities by Bentley
  • Publications & Technical Articles

Free Viewer

  • Bentley View by Bentley, 58.2 Mb
  • Bentley View Alternative Download Page in Portuguese at ProEng Tecnologia
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