How to use DWG Block Libraries directly in MicroStation and PowerDraft

Blocks in AutoCAD are analogous to Shared Cells in MicroStation/PowerDraft. These are a group of geometry or entities that act as one object and can be inserted and manipulated in a design. Blocks or Cells are made of reusable content and can include symbols, repetitive components like plumbing fixtures, doors, windows, equipment, etc. Blocks can have their own properties, can inherit properties from various layers and can also include business information like manufacturer, numbers, cost, etc. Blocks, can be collected into libraries so they can be used in multiple drawings. Use of Blocks saves time, ensures consistency and reduces file size. It will be an understatement to say that Blocks are highly used in the AutoCAD design world.

AutoCAD users who want to further their design process using MicroStation/PowerDraft (due to a client mandate or simply to migrate to a better software) and are concerned about design information stored in Blocks, here is information on how MicroStation/PowerDraft handles DWG block information.

You can open DWG files directly in MicroStation and work in DWG Workmode. Blocks in a DWG file behave as Shared Cells in MicroStation/PowerDraft. A Shared Cell is a cell or block that is defined only once but can have multiple instances in a design thus not increasing the file size.

View and Place DWG Blocks in MicroStation

Blocks in a DWG file when opened in MicroStation can be accessed from the Cell Library and can be inserted in a design. AutoCAD has a small library of some standard blocks which you can use in your drawings, this library of blocks can be accessed from the design center palette in AutoCAD and the Cell Library in MicroStation, then be inserted or placed on the drawings.

To view DWG Blocks in AutoCAD

  1. In AutoCAD, open a DWG file.
  2. To view blocks, enter “ADCENTER” in command line, the DESIGNCENTER dialog opens.

Go to the tab “Open Drawings”, click “Blocks”, it will extract and display all blocks in the file (see image below):

To view DWG Blocks in MicroStation

  1. Open the DWG file in MicroStation. (File > Open > Browse, navigate to the DWG file location and

Invoke Cell Library Dialog (Drawing > Annotate > Cells dialog launcher), it will show all DWG Blocks (Shared Cells), the same as in AutoCAD (see image below):

To place DWG Blocks in MicroStation

  1. In Cell Library Dialog, select an active cell (for example: select the cell “BLOCK”).
  2. Right-click on the cell to open Place Active Cell (see image below):

  3. Set the angle by which the cell is to be rotated.
  4. Set the scale factors for the cell’s x, y, z-axis.
  5. Set the remaining options as desired.

Enter cell origin to complete the placement.

DWG Blocks from separate files and external locations

In order to create a detail library of commonly used assemblies, you may export a group of objects to a separate drawing file and save them in different locations. AutoCAD command “WBLOCK” will work, which can be inserted or places into other drawings as a block.

To attach an external DWG Block file in MicroStation/PowerDraft

  1. In MicroStation, invoke the Cell Library Dialog.
  2. Open the Attach Cell Library dialog (File > Attach File ) (see image below):

  3. Set the file location.
  4. Set the type of the file = (*.dwg).

Select the block file and click [Open], this file as a block including the blocks contained in this file will be attached.

To attach a folder containing a set of DWG Blocks in MicroStation/PowerDraft

  1. In MicroStation, invoke the Cell Library Dialog.
  2. Open the Attach Cell Library dialog (File > Attach Folder) (see image below):

  3. Set the folder location.

Select the folder and click [Select Folder], all DWG blocks under this folder will be attached.

We hope this article helps answer any questions you have regarding the ability to work with AutoCAD drawings that contain blocks when opened in MicroStation or PowerDraft. MicroStation and PowerDraft fully support DWG Blocks, and it is easy for you to bring your DWG projects into MicroStation/PowerDraft and make a smooth transition.