Administrator Guide
Administrator Guide
Administrator Guide

Cell Libraries

The term “cell library” refers to a component of a DGN library that contains cells — usually one per model. Recall that cells are small drawings — usually of frequently-used or complex symbols.

Cell libraries used with previous versions of MicroStation PowerDraft are standalone files in a special format that is not directly supported by MicroStation PowerDraft V8. Pre-V8 cell libraries are automatically converted to DGN libraries when attached to a DGN file in MicroStation PowerDraft V8, but they retain their extension, typically “.cel.”

For more information about creating, defining the contents of, and disseminating cell libraries, see Cells.

Using multiple cell libraries

If you key in ACTIVE CELL <cellname> or AC=<cellname>, if the cell is not a shared cell in the design or in the attached cell library, or if there is no attached cell library, MicroStation PowerDraft searches for the cell in the cell library list specified by the Cell Library List configuration variable (MS_CELLLIST). Cell libraries are searched in their order in the list. If wildcard characters are used, cell libraries are searched in alphabetical order. For example, if MS_CELLLIST expands to:


and the files “projcel.cel,” “pipe2.cel,” “house.cel,” and “peter.cel” are in the "Bentley\Workspace\system\cell" directory.

MicroStation PowerDraft searches for a cell as follows:

  1. In the attached cell library.

  2. In "Bentley\Workspace\projects\proj1\cell\master.cel".

  3. In "Bentley\Workspace\system\cell\peter.cel".

  4. In "Bentley\Workspace\system\cell\pipe2.cel".

  5. In "Bentley\Workspace\system\cell\projcel.cel".

To make it easier to attach different cell libraries, an item for each cell library in the cell library list is appended to the File menu in the Cell Library dialog box.

Default cell library list for the sample workspace.


All files in the specified directory with the “.cel” extension are listed in the File menu in the Cell Library dialog box. Any cell in any listed cell library can be placed by keying in AC=<cell_name>, regardless of whether its cell library is attached.

To attach a cell library that is in the cell library list
  1. From the File menu in the Cell Library dialog box, choose the cell library.

Cell libraries in the cell library list must have a cell library index file. The first time a cell library is attached, MicroStation PowerDraft automatically generates the cell library index file.

Nested cells are always expanded from the same cell library as their parent.