OpenRail Designer CONNECT Edition

Civil Cell Overview

A civil cell is a collection of civil elements - geometry, templates, and terrain models - which can be placed repeatedly in a design. The collection of civil elements will have been created relative to one or more reference elements. When you place the civil cell, you choose the new reference elements, and a new collection of civil elements is then created relative to them. A civil cell can therefore be thought of as a copy of the original collection of civil elements, relative to the geometry of the new reference elements. Civil cells can be 2D or 3D. They can consist of 2D (plan) elements only, or 3D elements (2D elements with profiles), and can include terrains, linear templates, area templates, and simple corrdiors.

When the new civil elements are created, all of the rules associated to them are also created. This means that the new civil elements retain their relationships, both with each other and with the reference elements, and therefore know how to react when these relationships change. In addition, the Civil and MicroStation toolsets can still be used on the new civil elements, to adjust and further refine the design as required, because there is no difference between a civil element created by a civil tool, and one created by placing a civil cell.

Civil cells can save a lot of time and effort, because they replicate the complete series of steps needed to create the civil elements. They also help to ensure compliance with design standards, by making a civil cell available to the design team.

Examples of Use

A civil cell can be used to recreate any well defined collection of civil elements. Common examples of where civil cells could be used include:

  • Traffic islands and pedestrian refuges

  • Driveways and accesses

  • Traffic calming features

  • Lay-bys

  • Intersections

  • Turning heads / court bowls

  • Merging and diverging ramps

  • Building pads

  • Roundabouts

Sharing Civil Cells

While civil cells can be created and placed in the current DGN, it is likely that you will want to use them in different DGNs, which could represent different parts of the current design, or a different design entirely. For ultimate flexibility, create your civil cells in a library file (DGNLib).


This configuration variable defines either a folder structure or single file.

CIVIL_CIVILCELLDGNLIBLIST > $(_USTN_PROJECTDATA)/dgnlib/Civil Cell Examples/*.dgnlib

CIVIL_CIVILCELLDGNLIBLIST > $(_USTN_PROJECTDATA)/dgnlib/Civil Cell Examples /example civil cell.dgnlib

DGN's containing civil cells can be referenced in and the cells from those reference files placed on new references to create new instances in the current design model. Once placed in a DGN, the current civil cell instance can be reused immediately and edited locally.

Civil Cells Using SELECTseries 2 and SELECTseries 3

If a DGN file with a civil cell is created in MicroStation V8i (SELECTseries 3) and the DGN file is then opened in MicroStation V8i (SELECTseries 2), the elements created by the civil cell will be visible, but not editable. The exception to this is if the civil cell contains a terrain model, because the Terrain element type was not recognized prior to MicroStation V8i (SELECTseries 3). Although the terrain model is not visible, there is no data loss and the DGN file can be reopened in MicroStation V8i (SELECTseries 3), where the terrain model will again be visible.