Need to Use DGN Files? Don’t Insert Them, Connect to Them! Part 1


Do you have to use data from dgn files to bring into your dwg files? Have you ever had an issue with corruption coming in with those dgn files? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then you may want to look at an alternate method for working with dgn files in Civil 3D. What method am I referring to? FDO. For those not aware of what FDO is, is stands for Feature Data Objects and is part of the Map 3D technology inside of Civil 3D. For those that have seen the Map Taskpane and quickly closed it, you may want to reconsider that idea. Part 1 of this post is on how to set up the FDO provider and part 2 will be on the actual process of connecting to dgn files. Look for part 2 in the next few days. For those not familiar with FDO but are interested in a little more detail in how to use it, send me an email at ron.couillard@cadsoft-consult.comand I will send you a pdf of my AU class that goes briefly into the basics of FDO and other useful Map functionality.

Ok so let’s get into what we need to do to set it up for using FDO to connect to a dgn file. The FDO provider needed to do this does not come with Civil 3D or Map 3D right out of the box. We will need to download an FDO provider. The OSGEO website has free FDO providers available for download. Civil and Map 2010 are using FDO version 3.4 so here is a link to the OSGEO website with all of the FDO 3.4 providers available. http://fdo.osgeo.org/content/fdo-340-downloads . For this particular task, we will grab the OGR provider. This provider can provide the functionality of connecting to many different formats, but as I stated, we will just cover dgn for now. On this web page, there are 2 sections for downloads. One is basically for getting the provider code to copy into your providers.xml file and the other section is for getting the dll files to make it all work. For the dll files, be sure to go under the “Windows Binaries” section and grab the “OGR Provider” download. As far as the provider code for the xml file goes, I have provided it for you here:

  <FeatureProvider>
    <Name>OSGeo.OGR.3.4</Name>
    <DisplayName>FDO Provider for OGR</DisplayName>
    <Description>Access to OGR data sources</Description>
    <IsManaged>False</IsManaged>
    <Version>3.4.0.0</Version>
    <FeatureDataObjectsVersion>3.4.0.0</FeatureDataObjectsVersion>
    <LibraryPath>OGRProvider.dll</LibraryPath>
  </FeatureProvider>

So with all of this being said, “what do I do with this stuff to get it to work!?” Glad you asked!  Go to the following path to access the 2 areas we need to cover for setup: C:\Program Files\AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010\FDO\bin. You will place the dll files here and you will also find the “providers.xml” file as well. So, paste the dll files, then, open the xml file and paste in the OGR provider test that I provided into the xml file. Be sure to look at how it is currently set up and just match how it is when pasting the new text. *NOTE* You may want to make a copy of the original xml file before you modify it just in case you need to revert back to it. Once you have copied the dll files and pasted the provider code, thats it! You are now set up to be able to connect to dgn files. As I stated earlier, look for part 2 of this post in the next few days in which I will cover the actual process for connecting to a dgn file.

Civil Infrastructure software is my main professional interest. Civil 3D, Infraworks, and Recap are what I work with mostly. I have been with CADsoft Consulting for over 10 years now. I got my start using Softdesk and AutoCAD R12 in DOS. My wife and I have four children and I am a die hard Red Sox fan.