Simple Quantities in the MicroStation CONNECT Edition

In today’s ever increasingly complex AEC work environments, drawings often contain a mixture of both graphical and business data. Graphical data is the design geometry represented in a drawing. This can be made up of simple lines, curves, and polygons or more complex solids, surfaces and meshes. This graphical data may also include text, dimensions and notes. Business data is the real-world information associated with the items represented by the graphics in the drawing.

If you consider a DGN model representing a facility, the facility can be made up of pumps, vessels, valves, pipes, and so on. These items can be represented graphically but may also have related business data defining their nongraphical properties. Examples of nongraphical properties may include a part number, manufacturer, material, identification number, pressure rating and so on.

Why is this useful? Business data can be obtained from a variety of sources, including the following:

  • MicroStation: Created in MicroStation.
  • Supplied by a vertical application such as OpenRoads Designer or AECOsim Building Designer.
  • Brought in from outside sources such as geographic shapefiles or Industry Foundation Class (IFC) files.

MicroStation works with different types of business data and defines the types of business items it will use. These different “Item Types” are organized and stored in domain-specific Libraries. When an item type such as a pump is to be created, the application can then use the “pump” Item Type to determine the different business properties available and gives you the ability to define specific property values when creating a pump.

In MicroStation, business data includes:

  • Item Types – Item types define the business properties for a specific type of item.
  • Items – Items are the individual representations of an Item type. For example, a facility might have a Centrifugal Pump Item Type defined but have multiple pumps represented in the design. Each pump would have the same properties but different values of these properties.
  • Relationship Types – Just as items are categorized by their types, relationships are also categorized by types. The relationship types generally convey some information about the nature of the relationship between the items. For example, a Pump item might have an “is annotated by” relationship with an annotation item. Similarly, it may also have an “equipment has nozzle“ relationship with a Nozzle item.
  • Libraries – Libraries hold a collection of Item Types and Relationship Types, usually related to a specific domain. You might have one library with Building Item Types and another Library with Plant Item Types.

In the MicroStation CONNECT Edition report definitions can be created to report on virtually anything. This can range from the properties of DGN files to model properties, Item data, cell names, and even simple element properties such as level or color. The resulting report may then be previewed in MicroStation, placed as a MicroStation table element, or exported to Excel or a comma-delimited file (.csv). Simple quantities may then be determined from the report results.

In the following example a report definition will be created to report on attributes associated with a geographic shapefile containing traffic signal data. The attributes for the shapefile are stored in the dBASE table file (.dbf) which is one of the three files required for a valid ESRI Shapefile. The attributes will appear in MicroStation as Item data attached to the traffic signal geometry.

Note: 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).

Let’s get started by opening the design file CountyMap.dgn. This file contains a shapefile reference storing traffic signal data. The traffic signals are points, seen here as heavy red dots. The symbology of the traffic signals is displayed by assigning an element template to the shapefile from within the References dialog. A count of the traffic signals is desired, by signal type, and can be obtained from the shapefile’s attributes by creating a report definition.

Note: The active model in this file has several attached references and a Background Map displayed (available in View Attributes).


(Traffic signals shown as the heavy red dots)

Each of these traffic signal elements (points) contains a “TrafficSignals” Item Type. The Item Type and its associated Item data can be viewed by selecting a traffic signal and reviewing the properties of the element in the Properties dialog. Each traffic signal contains the following Items:

  • CITY – Name of the city in which the signal device is located.
  • DEVICE_TYP – The type of traffic signal.
  • FID – Financial ID (used to uniquely track each traffic signal).
  • FILE_NO – A number assigned to each item in the shape file.
  • MAJOR_STRE – A street on which the device is located.
  • MINOR_STRE – A street on which the device is located.
  • X_COORD – X coordinate of the signal.
  • Y_COORD – Y coordinate of the signal.

(Item Type and Items as seen in the Properties dialog)

A report definition will now be created to report on the TrafficSignals Item Type. The Reports dialog can be opened by picking the Reports tool located in the Analyze ribbon tab of the Drawing workflow.

Note: It is typically considered a “best practice” to store report definitions in a configured design library (.DGNLib) if they are to be used for more than a single instance or by multiple Users. The Traffic Signals report definition is being created in the active DGN file for simplicity in this example.

Start by creating a new category (folder) in which to store related types of reports. Here this folder is named Simple Quantities.

Next, a new report definition titled “Reports - Traffic Signals” is added.

With the report selected, in Properties, set the following:

Search Location

  • Location Type: Model
  • Location: Active file
  • Model: Active Model
  • Include Reference Attachments: Yes
  • Include Cell Contents: No

Included Items

  • Item Types: Traffic Signals
  • Filtered By: (Unfiltered)

Now, columns will be added to the report. From the left pane of the dialog, pick Columns. In the right pane of the dialog, pick “Add columns”. This opens the Select Columns to Add window. Expand TrafficSignals, selecting the desired items, and pick OK.

And finally Sorting Rules will be applied to selected Columns. From the list of Columns, right-click over CITY, and pick Sort on this column.

Repeat this process adding sorting rules for the following:

  • FID

Sorting Options can be left using their default values. Verify that the Sorting Rules are listed in the order as shown:

The results of the report are now ready to be viewed. From the Reports dialog, pick Preview results.

The preview window is then opened, displaying the newly created report.

As can be seen, there were 1,457 traffic signals being reported on. And although we have an overall total, we still do not know how many of each type of individual signal there is. This can be easily achieved using a simple “drag-n-drop” technique to group based upon a selected column. From the report preview window, drag-n-drop the DEVICE_TYP column heading into the row above the column headings.

This will then group the results based upon device type, providing totals for each type of signal contained in the report. As seen from the results, there are 3 signals that do not have a device type designated, 2 bridge signals, and 27 fire house signals with additional rows listed for the remaining signal types.

The following files are those used in this blog post. To use these files to follow along, extract the ZIP file, placing the files it contains along with the DGN in the same folder.


The simple concepts and techniques shown here can be modified, adapted and expanded to suit your specific needs. Take a Report for a “test drive” today and see what the MicroStation CONNECT Edition can do to enhance you AEC workflows!


For more information on creating reports, as well as step-by-step instructions for creating several report definitions, visit the following LEARNing path on the Bentley LEARNserver:

Train the Trainer Master Class: MicroStation CONNECT Edition QuickStart for Existing Users

In addition to this Bentley LEARN course, there is a helpful Blog series on creating reports for CAD Administrators that includes the following:

Until next time,

Happy LEARNing!