MicroStation Tutorial

Are you looking to use computer-aided design and visualisation tools in 2D and 3D for any infrastructure type's engineering, construction, and operation?  This tutorial is an easy guide that will help to learn Microstation quickly. Here, we have packed the basics of Microstation, and many more.

CAD software Bentley MicroStation, commonly referred to as MicroStation, provides design, 2D drafting, and 3D modelling. It was created and is offered for sale by Bentley Systems, Inc. Infrastructure specialists from the building, civil engineering, architectural, planning, energy,, transportation, higher education and other sectors can deliver and coordinate on projects thanks to their features, capabilities, and tools. Additionally, it has a wide range of BIM (Building Information Modeling) features.

Having a market share of roughly 0.53% in the engineering and computer-aided design sectors. MicroStation may not have as many users as Autodesk's SolidWorks or AutoCAD. A software called Enlyft searches for and understands firms all across the world using machine learning and artificial intelligence.

This is the reason we wrote this article to teach you the fundamentals of Bentley MicroStation in just one hour. We will examine its orientation and user interface, as well as the available file types, editing and drawing tools, and more.

Microstation Tutorial - Table of Contents

Basics of MicroStation: Orientation

You must have experience with one or more CAD applications if you work in the building or design industry. And as you may have noticed, they have very different user interfaces and functionalities.

Therefore, everyone understands the need of taking a few minutes to get accustomed to an application's user interface. In fact, it significantly aids in later workflow improvement. This article will start by giving a general overview of the interface. By the way, this is the first step towards learning the fundamentals of Bentley MicroStation.

User Interface of MicroStation

Ribbons and Tabs

The graphical icons used by MicroStation are separated into tabs and kept in menus that you can toggle off or on, just like all other apps created in the graphical user interface (GUI) period. The user interface appears straightforward at first look. File, View, Home, Analyze, Annotate, Attach, Utilities,Curves, Constraints, Content, Drawing Aids, Collaborate, and Help are some of the tabs that are present.

Ribbon-based groups of tools are located under each of these tabs. For instance, Placements, the Primary, Attributes, Selection, Modify, Manipulate, and Groups ribbon groups are available on the home tab. The Manipulate ribbon group, for instance, has capabilities like Copy, Rotate,  Move and more.

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Windows, Toolbars, and Panels

The user interface also has a quick access toolbar that is customisable and contains often used features like Save, Redo, Save View Settings, more and undo.  A workflow menu  and a search bar are also included. You can select from a variety of workflows, such as Learning Connect, Task Navigation, and Drawing using the workflow menu. The tabs that appear on the user interface are determined by your choice.

The working space known as the view is located beneath the tab section. The drawing's title appears in the view along with icons along the top border. Depending on your settings, Several panels are displayed in a separate window that can be dragged to the right or left of the work area. Notably, the window can be completely shut off.

When you pick a particular part or selection within a drawing, the Properties panel in this window, which is present by default, displays the properties of that part or selection. To name a few, you can edit it to incorporate extra panels like View Attributes, Explorer, and Change View Display Style.

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On the bottom portion of MicroStation, there is a status bar and an additional toolbar. Several components of the toolbar are divided up, and they vary based on the chosen display mode. Nevertheless, some of the components, such the display mode selector, are unchanged. You can alter the display mode using the selector (we'll go into more detail about what the display mode does later).

Additionally, the status bar displays the active function together with instructions for the upcoming action (on the very right end as well as in the part below). The display mode can also be locked and unlocked using this bar.


You can select between a light-themed interface and a dark-themed interface in Bentley MicroStation. Click the File tab to modify these parameters to suit your preferences. Select Preferences after choosing Settings > User settings. Pop-up windows will appear as a result. Uncheck or check  the Apply Dark Themed UI box under the Look and feel section. After that, click OK.

Popup Menu

The popup menu is displayed on Bentley MicroStation when the Space bar is tapped. The menu is divided into three rows, and the third and first rows each contain icons that, when clicked, open a new dialogue box where you can choose additional tools. Discrete tools like Element Selection, Move, Copy, and others are found in the second row.

Drawing Tools

The Placement ribbon group on the Home tab of Bentley MicroStation contains the majority of the drawing tools. The software utilises the word "place" in place of the word "draw." To draw a line, just use the Place Line function. Place SmartLine, Arc, Circle, Block, Ellipse, and many more more tools are available.

When you click one of the drawing tools, you can utilise the directions that are shown on the status bar to help you know what to do next. Each tool has its own Tool Settings window, which you can use to adjust the settings according to what you are sketching. For instance, you can change the border, fill type, fill colour, and drawing technique.


With Bentley MicroStation, you may alter a number of settings. Choose Preferences by clicking File > Settings. This will cause a popup window to appear where you may make the necessary adjustments.


Default units can be set and preserved under Design File Settings if you or your business routinely uses that unit for all of your designs.
Notably, you can select either the subunits and master or simply one of them while using Bentley MicroStation. Use feet as the master unit and inches as the subunit, for instance, if you're using the imperial system.

After going through some of the software's fundamental components, it's time to learn about Bentley MicroStation's capabilities.

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Basics of Bentley MicroStation: Capabilities

Bentley MicroStation is promoted as "The CAD leader for infrastructure design" and offers a variety of features, including 2D drafting, solid (3D) modelling, rendering, editing, visualisation, documentation, annotation, collaboration, assembly sequencing, and file import and export.

The software can also create property-driven reports and 2D graphics from 3D models.

We will examine these features, beginning with visualisation, to assist you in learning Bentley Microstation.


Visualization, commonly referred to as simulation, is the process of creating photorealistic 3D models and visuals that clearly depict concept or a 2D design. It makes it much easier for project owners and clients to observe and comprehend the details of their project. While other CAD products offer visualisation assistance as well, MicroStation features an integrated engine that raises the bar.

With the use of iTwin, a Bentley Systems trademarked brand that powers MicroStation, users can offline and in real-time build 2D, 3D, and 4D visual representations of actual construction information. In order to depict the current conditions for inspections and reporting, the platform combines diverse data into a single ecosystem. It also forecasts future settings and states.

Users can access the graphical data at any time, anywhere thanks to iTwin's reliable cloud infrastructure. It is interesting that the iTwin visualisation engine produces insights driven by ML and AI in addition to enabling immersive visualisation. Together, these unique capabilities help and enhance decision-making throughout the project's construction, design, and operation phases.

Design Analysis

Bentley MicroStation allows you to conduct accurate analysis in addition to design visualisation.
For projects planned for construction in a built urban setting, for example, you can use the software to analyse the solar exposure. At any time of day or year, you can instantly assess the effect of shadows created by neighbouring structures.

Capabilities for Standards Checking

Standard-checking tools are also abundant in Bentley MicroStation and run checks as necessary. The reviews compare a drawing's or model's characteristics to those outlined by accepted standards. The software can detect irregularities and, in some situations, correct the issues thanks to these comparisons.

Capabilities for Data-Handling

Additionally, MicroStation can manage the small- and large-scale data requirements associated with infrastructure projects. Because of this, this CAD programme can produce effective 3D models and 2D drawings regardless of the volume of the survey data. Data from surveys can be imported, processed, and plotted using Bentley MicroStation.

However, Bentley MicroStation does more than only use geospatial or survey data, which is significant. This is due to the fact that it enables you to use photo-textured reality models made from common images as well as visuals in your design. As a result, you do not have to start from beginning. With the use of this skill, you may accurately and precisely describe the context of your projects while also effectively communicating the design objective.

Different display modes are supported by the programme, taking it a step further.
Among the modes are smooth, translucent, monochrome, and illustrative. By switching to the translucent mode, for example, you can see subsurface objects like canals, pipelines, and ducts that are normally obscured in other display modes.


Varying businesses and professionals with different preferences for their ideal CAD software may be involved in a design project. If you use Bentley MicroStation and the other participants favour different CAD applications, you should be concerned.

Interoperability is supported by Bentley MicroStation. Other proprietary file types include Autodesk's.dwg, SketchUp's.skp, 3Ds Max's.3ds, the Industrial Foundation Classes (IFC) format, shapefiles, common raster formats, openNURBS'.3dm, and others are all open with ease.

Additionally, Bentley Systems has a direct licence from Autodesk for the authentic DWG libraries. As a result, DWG files can be used and created by Bentley MicroStation users.
Even versions from 1997 are supported by the software today.

The software's interoperability allows you to import designs stored in various file formats without losing crucial BIM and geographical data or accurate geometrical features. As a result, MicroStation encourages the lossless exchange of design data and information. By doing this, time that would otherwise be spent incorrectly reproducing already-existing data is saved.

Automatic Saving

Bentley MicroStation automatically writes the edits into the file, unlike other programmes like Excel, Microsoft Word, and AutoCAD that demand the user to save the changes.
Without the user selecting the Save icon or pressing the Ctrl+S keyboard shortcut, the changes are automatically written into the file.


MicroStation can be used by designers, engineers, architects, and draftspeople. Leading project teams, from independent consultants to global design organisations, depend on MicroStation to successfully complete projects of any size and complexity.

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Last updated: 04 Apr 2023
About Author

Keerthi Sai is a Senior Writer at Mindmajix with tons of content creation experience in the areas of cloud computing, BI, Perl Scripting. She also creates content on Salesforce, Microstrategy, and Cobit.

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