Easing The Pain of MicroStation/AutoCAD Translations

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Translation is almost always a painful subject for several valid reasons. AutoCAD and MicroStation do a lot of important things differently. Because of those differences, users of the two different CAD packages almost always organize projects and implement CAD standards in different ways. This means that when a project created using MicroStation and its drafting methodology has to be submitted to a customer who demands AutoCAD files that comply to AutoCAD CAD standards (for all the reasons clients and project managers can dream up), headaches are going to ensue.

Things aren't any better when the project is done in AutoCAD and has to be delivered in MicroStation format.


You may be reading this and thinking: "Come on now, it can't be that bad. MicroStation has a built-in translator." Sure it does, and it is a good one too, but I'll make you a bet. You've never used it to translate an entire project and then had to get it accepted by the client, have you?If you have, you'd be thinking more along the lines of: "I'd rather take a bullet than do another translation."

Is there any way to ease some of this translation angst (feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish)? The short answer is "yes".

Translation projects can be organized into four broad phases:

  • Phase 1: Analysis and testing
  • Phase 2: Pre-translation processing
  • Phase 3: Translation
  • Phase 4: Post-translation analysis and modification

Successful analysis requires knowledge of all the factors that can be managed by the translation software, as well as those that can't. This means you have to be familiar with both MicroStation and AutoCAD and their differences. It also demands a thorough knowledge of both the CAD standards used to create the original files and the CAD standards required in the output application. Frequently the CAD files making up a project have to be thoroughly analyzed to determine the CAD standards used or to find the CAD files that violate the expected standards so they can be fixed or prepared before translation. This is where the MicroStation Productivity Toolkit starts easing the pain.

RefManager for example can quickly report the reference file attachment information of any file, AutoCAD or MicroStation. SpecChecker can report on the level/layers, line styles, fonts and other important symbology and element property information you want to know about the files being processed. Global File Changer can find any file whose settings, like working units or global origin, do not match the expected standards.These same MicroStation Productivity Toolkit programs can also be used in the "Pre-translation processing" and "Post translation processing" phases to modify reference file attachments or element properties and symbology as well as file settings that the translator can't do directly.

Another MicroStation Productivity Toolkit product that should always be used on MicroStation files either before they are translated or after they are created is FileFixer. It will prevent many of the errors that can occur during a translation and will automatically fix a lot of the unexpected problems that are found on newly created design files imported from AutoCAD.


Post-translation evaluation can reveal unanticipated issues that will have to be resolved before project acceptance by the customer. This can be level/layer display or symbology discrepancies, text characters that are not what you expect, missing geometry and a whole lot more. Whatever the problems may be, MicroStation Productivity Toolkit contains a tool that will save you time in dealing with the problem.

Axiom has a long track record in dealing with translation and our MicroStation Productivity Toolkit customers with Axiom Maintenance Plus customers can take advantage of that experience to get real help with their translation needs.