MicroStation CONNECT Edition Help

Using GIS Files

MicroStation's File > Open > Browse, File > Import > Common File Types > Shapefile (*.shp), and Attach Reference dialogs allow for the reading of graphical data and associated non-graphical database information of a variety of GIS file formats.

  • Shapefiles (*.shp) require at least three files in the same directory, with the same name and with the following extensions: .SHP (shape format; describe the feature geometry such as points, polylines, and polygons), .SHX (shape index format; a positional index of the feature geometry to allow seeking forwards and backwards quickly), and .DBF (attribute format; columnar attributes for each shape, in dBase III format).

    In addition to the three mandatory files listed above, you can include the following optional files.

    File Extension Description
    .prj Project format; contains the coordinate system and projection information, a plain text file describing the projection using well-known text format.
    .sbn and .sbx A spatial index of the features.
    .fbn and .fbx A spatial index of the features for shapefiles that are read-only.
    .ain and .aih An attribute index of the active fields in a table or a theme's attribute table.
    .ixs A geocoding index for read-write shapefiles.
    .mxs A geocoding index for read-write shapefiles (ODB format).
    .atx An attribute index for the .dbf file in the form of shapefile.columnname.atx (ArcGIS 8 and later).
    .shp.xml Metadata in XML format.
    .cpg Used to specify the code page (only for .dbf) for identifying the character encoding that will be used.

  • MIF/MID Files require at least two files in the same directory, with the same name and following extensions: .MIF (stores geometry) and .MID (stores database attributes for the geometric data).
  • TAB Files require a number of files to be present in the same folder. These files make up a standard MapInfo project.

If any of the above GIS file formats have a geographic coordinate system associated with them, the References Attachment Properties dialog will display Geographic- AEC Transform and Geographic- Reprojected along with Coincident and Coincident- World.

Note: When one of the above GIS format files are opened in MicroStation, they are opened for "read-only" access, meaning you cannot save updates back to those formats. However, you can "Save As DGN" and save the data to a DGN file. Also, the configuration variable MS_ELEVPROP_AS_Z applies to all of the GIS format files.

You can assign a template to an SHP reference attachment. The Element Template setting is available in the list box of the References dialog. The template settings for color, weight, style, and level are applied to the reference file. Also, if a cell is defined in the template, it replaces the point elements in SHP files.