MicroStation - Grouping Part 1

The quick and dirty method of grouping is to select a number of elements

and press Ctrl + G:

Which is fine until you want to make a change to the group, then the group has to be dropped using Ctrl + U. Once the changes are made select and press Ctrl + G to re-group. This is also fine in a simple example like this but, if the group is complex and amongst many other elements re-grouping can be time consuming.

In terms of file structure groups created this way are ‘Orphan Cells’ that have many of the attributes of cells but none of the control or management tools. Excessive numbers of ‘Orphan Cells’ can eventually lead to file irregularities.

I strongly discourage the use of Ctrl + G as a method of grouping, whilst quick initially, the effects downstream can become very dirty.

See MicroStation - Grouping Part 2 - Unnamed (Orphan) Cells for more information.


The recommended alternative is to use Graphic Groups.

First check that Graphic Group lock is on, hover over the lock icon on the status bar:

Note that GG/Graphic Group is listed.

To turn Graphic Group on/off click on the Locks icon to pop-up a list, click Graphic Group to toggle on/off:

If you find you really like Graphic Groups consider setting unused function key F7 to ‘lock ggroup toggle’:

With the elements to be grouped selected as before (but not in an existing Orphan Cell!) pick the Add to Graphic Group tool, number 6 > 5 in the Main Toolbox:

and accept to add the elements to a Graphic Group, as prompted:

Hover over an element in the new Graphic Group to see that the group has been created and is now numbered GG{1}. This number will automatically increment (counting from the last Graphic Group that was created even if all previous groups have been dropped):

There are two tools in the Group Toolbox accessible from the Main Task or via the Tools menu. Add to and Drop from Graphic Group.

One of the key advantages of the Graphic Group is that the Graphic Group lock can be toggled on/off. With the lock off, the contents of GG{1} remain in the group but can be manipulated independently or even deleted, here three of the squares have been modified with Graphic Group lock off:

Turn on Graphic Group lock and the elements will once again behave as a group if moved or copied.


Recent updates to this tool make it smarter, there is now the option to add the elements to a Named Group. A Named Group is a Graphic Group with more management options. If Named Groups already exist elements can be added to them. Obviously adding elements to a group with a meaningful name is easier than remembering which GG{n} you want to add to:

If the appropriate Named Group does not exist it can be created using the Add to Grapic Group dialog:

Given a name and Description:

There is also the option to make the whole group selectable when one element is selected:

This can be altered later so does not have to be set initially. Whether this is best on or off will depend on the circumstances.

Named Groups are managed using the Named Groups Dialog from the Utilities menu > Named Groups, where, amongst other things, the state of the group selection toggle is displayed.

More on the Named Groups Dialog in another post.