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Building DGN Libraries

A DGN library is a DGN file used to store:

A DGN library, sometimes referred to as a DGNLib, contains data that is shared throughout files and among users. These shared resources consist of things that you define and name, which are used as standards by members of a workgroup.

Each cell, level, and so on defined in a DGN library has a unique name that identifies it. When you use a cell, level, line style, multi-line style, text style, dimension style, or template from a DGN library, it is copied to your open DGN file and is given the same name. This allows you to compare the local resource to the DGN library resource with the same name, to see if the contents of the DGN library have changed, to see if the local resource is out of sync with the DGN library resource, and to selectively apply updates to the local resource.

In addition to promoting the sharing of data and standards, DGN libraries provide other advantages:

Digital rights and digital signatures can be applied to DGN libraries to protect their content and to sign approved shared resources. Design history can be used to track revisions of your standard shared resources.

If you are part of a small organization, you may want to store all of your resources in one DGN library, which is simpler and requires less administration. If you are part of a larger company with resources for different disciplines and different projects, it makes sense to place them in multiple DGN libraries according to discipline or project.

Multiple DGN libraries can be arranged in a hierarchy. You can make DGN libraries containing company´s shared resources available to all users at all times. DGN libraries containing discipline-related resources can be made available only when you are working in that discipline. DGN libraries containing project-related resources can be made available only when you are working on that project.

If you want to create resources that will be available only to you, save them in a “personal” DGN library. A personal DGN library can contain only user interface modifications: customizations of tools, toolboxes, tasks, and menus. A personal DGN library is created when you create an interface component.

The shared resources in a DGN library are created using Bentley PowerMap tools, the same way they are created in a DGN file.

A DGN library has the same file format as a DGN file, except that it has a different file extension. The recommended file extension is *.dgnlib. The procedure for creating a DGN library, either by creating a new file from the beginning or by copying an existing file and saving it with a new name, is the same as for any DGN file.

When they are ready to be shared among users, DGN libraries should be moved to a central location to which everyone has at least read-only access.

The configuration variable MS_DGNLIBLIST specifies the list of DGN libraries that are available for use, for example, "s:\standards\*.dgnlib". After DGN libraries are created, you need to set the configuration variable MS_DGNLIBLIST to point to the libraries in order to use them. Once this has been done, the shared resources stored in the DGN libraries will be available to you when you open a DGN file. For example, when you open the Text Styles dialog, all text styles in the configured DGN libraries appear in the list of text styles.

If the contents of a DGN library change, elements placed in DGN files prior to the change are not updated automatically in the open DGN file. You can synchronize your local resources with shared resources. This is done by using the Update from Library icon or menu item in each “style” dialog, or by using the following key-ins.

Type of Library

Update Key-in



Multi-line styles


Text styles


Dimension styles


Element templates


All type of libraries listed in this table


Cells in DGN Libraries
Levels in DGN Libraries
Display Styles
Line Styles in DGN Libraries
Multi-line Styles in DGN Libraries
Text Styles in DGN Libraries
Dimension Styles in DGN Libraries
Detailing Symbol Styles in DGN Libraries
Element Templates in DGN Libraries