Reference AutoCAD to MicroStation and coordinates do not match

AutoCAD and MicroStation training

Written by Bob Mecham.

We have taken this support call twice in the last month so I thought I would share a solution with everyone in case you have the same problem.  The problem is the user is attaching an AutoCAD DWG file to a MicroStation DGN design file. The coordinates in each of the files are correct but when the file is attached the coordinates do not match.

When referencing an AutoCAD file to MicroStation by default the Setting for True Scale is turned ON.  True Scale if on, will take the units in the active design file and those in the referenced model are used to calculate an appropriate scaling factor so that the reference scale reflects a true real-world scale.  This will cause a problem because AutoCAD is deemed unitless by MicroStation it assumes Intl Feet even if you set it to Survey Feet in AutoCAD.


1.  Reference the AutoCAD file as you usually do.

2.  Turn OFF True Scale in the Reference dialog box.

AutoCAD and MicroStation Training

3.  Set the Scale Factor/Ratio back to 1:1

AutoCAD and MicroStation Training
4.  The AutoCAD file will automatically synch to the correct coordinates.

Every dataset is different so pay attention to your coordinates when working with files that are using Feet, or Survey Feet.  Another solution that would work would be to use the transeed file and DWS options to help configure the attachment prior to attaching the file.

Bob Mecham

Bob Mecham

Bob joined the training and consulting firm EnvisionCAD in 2000 and became a partner in June of 2002. He has specialized in the software MicroStation & InRoads from Bentley Systems, Inc. Mr. Mecham is an industry expert in the implementation, configuration, development, and customization of the two software applications MicroStation and InRoads. Bob instructs MicroStation classes ranging from fundamentals to advanced productivity. He has extensive experience using, implementing, and instructing both InRoads Survey and InRoads Site Design. Bob received his degree in Civil Engineering Technology from the Madison Area Technical College in 1992 and has over a decade of experience in the use, implementation, and management of software and CADD systems. He has worked for a wide range of organizations providing services from general survey and engineering services to specific applications such as landfills and site design.

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One comment on “Reference AutoCAD to MicroStation and coordinates do not match

  1. Chuck Rheault Reply

    In the options area of the select reference file dialog box, when you have highlighted a dwg file, is a location where you can tell MicroStation that your AutoCAD file is in US Survey feet. when you do this, they attach correctly.
    Also a similar problem can occur if you use a DGN file as an underlay in AutoCAD, or import it into a dwg.

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