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Converting MicroStation Alignments

This page will explain the process of creating and converting a MicroStation alignment to a MX model.


  1. Spiral curves do not transfer from MicroStation to MX.
  2. 2D MicroStation is highly recommended for creating MicroStation alignments. First and foremost, elevations do not transfer to MX. Second, it's far more difficult to maintain/insure tangency between MicroStation elements.

Generating MicroStation Alignments

In MicroStation, use Element Tasks to set the standard drawing attributes for the alignment type.

Use Smartline to place more than one element in succession, MicroStation automatically assembles the resulting graphics into a Complex Chain. Only Complex Chains transfer to MX alignments fully intact. Otherwise each MicroStation element will transfer to an individual MX alignment string, in other words, resulting in a segmented alignment.

In MicroStation, attach/import the ALI.csv level Library to the alignment drawing, then update the levels. Verify that your alignment data is on the standard levels then exit MicroStation.

The most important consideration when building the MicroStation Complex Chain alignment with the Smartline tool is to maintain tangency between elements. Complex Chains with angle points do not transfer to MX.

Alignments with spiral curves do not transfer from MicroStation to MX and, therefore, must be created with MX alignment tools.

Preparing MX

In MX using MicroStation commands, reference the MicroStation alignment drawing. Create an MX model called MicroStation Alignment to store the new information.

create model: microstation alignment dialog box

The Style and Feature sets must be set to mxroad (or mxroad Twenty for 20 scale) as shown below.

create model: defaults dialog box

Use the MicroStation Copy command to copy all the elements of interest from the MicroStation drawing to the MX active display. Skilled use of AccuSnap is recommended for this operation. Detach or turn off the display of the MicroStation reference file.

Converting the Elements to MX

  • In MX, open the MX Conversion toolbar (View > Toolbars > MX Conversion).
  • From the MX Conversion toolbar, specify the MicroStation Alignment MX model (just created) that will receive the new alignment strings.
  • Use the Element Selection tool to select the element you plan to convert. Only select one feature at a time to ensure that proper stationing is stored with the correct alignment. Do not select any text elements.
  • From the MX Conversion toolbar, select the appropriate feature from the toolbox list located to the right of model name box.

    mx conversion toolbar
  • If all goes well, then a prompt panel will ask if you wish to convert the selected elements to the specified feature. Click Yes to advance to the Chainage Details panel shown below. If you do not see the Chainage Details panel, then there is a problem with the element you are attempting to transfer. Review the element to look for angle points or zero-length line segments.

    chainage details dialog box

    This panel reports the assigned MX master alignment string name. It also allows the setting of the Alignment Start chainage (station) and the chainage (station) Interval. Select OK to complete the conversion. An accompanying geometry string is generated with each master alignment string generated. Since the assigned string name does not fit our naming convention it will not yet display properly, hang tight.
  • Report on the alignment model (MicroStation Alignment) to confirm that the process was successful.
  • Use the RenameM MX Add-in to rename the master and geometry strings to the proper MX Design String Naming Convention. Refer to the MX Add-In Index for details on MX Add-Ins.
  • Repeat this process for other alignments.
  • To refresh the display use Plan with Style Set on the new alignment model (MicroStation Alignment), or use the NHAlign v8i Add-In if MicroStation is the ultimate destination.


New Hampshire Department of Transportation
PO Box 483  |  7 Hazen Drive  |  
Concord, NH  |  03302-0483
Tel: 603.271.3734  |  Fax: 603.271.3914