Linetypes Linestyles and DGN in Civil 3D

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If you employ any AutoCAD 2015+ product, you’re ability to view and import DGN is greatly improved. Both Autodesk and Bentley share large State DOT and Federal customers who’ve demanded that the conversion methods between the two CAD platforms work better behind the scenes. In front of the camera, we all potentially benefit.

You do know that you can create AutoCAD Civil 3D Features from externally referenced DGN primitives just like AutoCAD ones? Ok. That’s something else completely different, but maybe it’s what you really need.
Will we see similar functionality from the new PDF vector capabilities in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2017?

Linestyles in AutoCAD

Did you know you can actually employ Microstation linestyles inside AutoCAD? Here’s a quick video from the Civil Immersion blog and Jeff Bartels that demonstrates the classic method for setting up the .RSC resources.

How to Use RSC Files as a Resource in AutoCAD

Managed Resource Location for Linestyles

Simple enough. Please note in the video that the use of a common shared location outside of the install locations of both softwares for shared resources. It’s good to reduce the hair-pulling. One of my personal DWG to DGN confusion favorites is the very different use of the .dws file extension in Microstation. Think drawing conversion settings not Standards.

Yes. There are some other gotcha’s here due to the inherit complexities and native differences between linetype and linestyle.

Linetype and Linestyle

Linestyles don’t really employ text as referenced fonts quite like AutoCAD linetypes do. AutoCAD people do not expect this.

  • The letters in Microstation linestyle definitions become separate symbols and still ignore modern font properties like italic.
  • Hence the State DOTs tend to employ upper and lower case conventions to differentiate existing and proposed utilities for example.

Linetypes are always relative but linestyles can employ real world distances.

  • Any conversion is a compromise or a specifically mapped change of definition specifics
  • For the most common stuff compromise works
  • The built-in and numbered 0-7 Linestyles don’t convert and must be mapped and exchanged

Agreed on common references and locations of resource SHX files can be important.

  • Here’s we are not talking about SHX fonts, we’re talking about shape definitions.
  • The State DOTs using AutoCAD Civil 3D often provide generalized SHX AutoCAD versions of common AutoCAD and Civil shapes produced by Autodesk.
    Remember you need to update your linetype definitions to refer to the new file.

Font Matters and Textstyles

Speaking of fonts – The DOTs mostly still depend on their own versions of old school Microstation SHX fonts for historical reasons. For some things this is no big deal. For text with special characters this can be really problematic. Natively both applications have their own special macro ways to do special characters. Oh, yucky poo.

  • The use of SHX replacement Windows True Type fonts with full Unicode support for special characters in both applications will simplify text conversions. Arial =  Simplex = Romans.
    This is why the NCS and ISO employ specific Windows True Type Unicode font standards.
  • If you don’t use this common Window font approach and use text that employs application specific special characters, you get stuck with detailed special character conversion issues.
  • See the link - All Windows True Type Unicode fonts are not created equal.

The core concept and .RSC capability can be useful in a pinch. I suggest you search the Autodesk Help files for DGN Data and study up. If you employ .RSC references, recognize that AutoCAD employs special data containers for them. There is a special checkbox in Purge that removes them when things get out of hand.

The Production Solution product’s linetype resources include a host of built-in linetype resources for these kinds of things – even common StateDOT ones too. Yes. Classic DGN conversion linetype styles for the numbered Microstation ones are in there.

As I said here, linetype and linestyle are still lost in the ‘80’s. Do you think modern CAD needs to lose the big hair graphics? You are not alone. Whine with me.

Did you forget? Maybe you really want DGN the mission critical civil engineering data behind in a bidirectional way. There is a Civil 3D to Bentley and vice versa Data translator for Bentley GEOPAK and InRoads that runs in the Autodesk 360 cloud. Autodesk released this during the 2015 release in Oct 2014. I haven’t used it lately, but I doubt the service is going anywhere. The CEDT is also built into Civil 3D 2016 Productivity Pack 1 for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2016. See the Toolbox.

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