Section 2 - Geometry


The OpenRoads Geometry commands are selected from the Geometry tab of the OpenRoads Modeling workflow. The commands are separated into four main categories, General Tools, Horizontal, Vertical and Common Tools as shown below.


OpenRoads Geometry Tab 

» Feature Naming

As civil geometry elements are placed, each element is given a feature name. The Name field displays the seed name that has been assigned to the selected feature definition.

In the example at below, the Complex By PI command has been selected. The Centerline feature definition has a seed Name prefix of CL defined. If the name value is not changed, the software will automatically increment the name of each line placed. For example, the first line placed is named “CL”, the second is named “CL1”, etc., is it recommended to give a short descripted name as shown below.

Curser over Element - Screen Shot

The element name can be reviewed by using the Select Element tool and floating the cursor over the element as shown below (you do not need to select the element).

Curser Over Element Pop-up - Screen Shot.png

The Feature Definition and Feature Name for a selected element can be edited in the Properties dialog as shown below.

 Changing a Feature Name - Screen Shots.png  

» Feature Definition Toggle Bar

The Feature Definition Toggle Bar is accessed from the ribbon by selecting OpenRoads Modeling > Geometry > Standards > Feature Definition Toolbar.

Use Active Feature Definition - Feature Definition Toggle Bar

Toggle on the first icon to automatically assign the selected feature as the active feature as you use various OpenRoads Geometry commands.

In the example below, the Line Between Points command is selected. The Feature Definition is defined by the active feature selected in the Feature Definition Toggle Bar.

Use Active Feature Definition - Line Between two Points Tool



Horizontal Centerline Alignments should be created using the Complex By PI Method (tool).

Vertical Centerline Alignments should be created using the Profile Complex By PI Method (tool).

Selecting the Complex by PI Icon   Selecting the Profile Complex by PI Tool 

Standard centerlines will use the following Feature Definition:

  • Centerlines: Alignment/Center/Centerline
  • Driveway Centerlines: Alignment/Center/Driveway

Centerline Geometry Selecting Feature Definition - Screen Shot

Miscellaneous alignment feature definitions are available if needed for out of the ordinary circumstances.



Non Centerlines Geometry can be placed with any of the Horizontal tools.

Place Horizontal Geometry Tools


These feature definitions can be found in the liner/Roadway Geometry folder.

Linear Geometry Selecting Feature Definition - Screen Shot

Feature Definitions are further broken down into folders for:

  • Placing Right of Way lines
  • Placing Watercourses
  • Placing Structure Outlines
  • Importing Existing Warning: Currently OpenRoads Terrains and Survey Features do not have the same functionality as InRoads.  With InRoads existing linear features in a DTM could be displayed as a crossing feature on cross section sheets.  This is not available with OpenRoads, crossing features will need to be brought in as a Geometry Feature in order to be displayed on Cross Sections.  Bentley Recommends using the 3D by Plan Profile tool to recreate the needed crossing features.



For a quick overview on Importing Existing Features watch this video of a Wetland Line being placed over the Existing Survey Feature. Play Video Button

Wetlands on Cross Sections


Placing elements in a 2D model is like manual drafting — all elements appear on the same plane, the sheet of paper. 

  • In 3D, you place elements in space — horizontally (for example, a floor), vertically (for example, a wall), or at any other angle or direction (for example, a sloping roof). 
  • By default, data points in a 3D model are placed at the view's Active Depth. Where you snap a tentative point or place a data point in a blank part of a view, it will be located at the active depth. You can, however, snap a tentative point to an existing element at any depth in a view. When you accept such tentative points, the data point is placed at the level of the snap point.

Civil AccuDraw and its drawing plane let you place elements away from the active depth. Often this improves productivity, since you need not constantly change the active depth.

Civil Accudraw is activated by selecting the Civil Accudraw icon from the Geometry tab as shown below.


Civil Accudraw Toggle Icon


The first icon is used to turn Civil AccuDraw on or off.

Toggle Civil Accudraw On - Civil Accrudraw Toolbox


Civil AccuDraw performs many of the same functions as MicroStation AccuDraw but has greatly expanded capabilities for the civil designer.

Warning: Simultaneous use of Civil AccuDraw and MicroStation AccuDraw will cause errors.  Close MicroStation AccuDraw when using Civil AccuDraw.

» Civil AccuDraw Settings 

Civil AccuDraw Settings are accessed by selecting second icon as shown below.

Civil Accudraw Settings Icon   Civil AccuDraw Settings Dialog Box

Auto Load – Toggle this option ON to automatically load Civil AccuDraw.

Floating Origin - CTDOT recommends turning this option off.

ON: the origin moves to the last point placed. OFF: the origin remains fixed.

Context Sensitivity - CTDOT recommends turning this option off.

ON: the compass rotates in response to the context of various tools. 

Smart Key-Ins -

ON: Civil AccuDraw interprets a number as positive or negative, depending on the direction of the pointer from the compass.

XY ordinates only: Smart Key-ins cause Civil AccuDraw to move the focus to either the x or the y field depending on the pointer position. 


Preserve Method Locks -

ON: the locked values remain locked after switching the ordinate methods.  For example, using station-offset ordinates and a lock station of 1+00, switch to distance-direction ordinates.  Station 1+00 will remain locked while inputting distance-direction.  The resulting effect will be a distance-direction-stationlock. 


Sticky Z Lock -

ON: inputs to Z ordinates remain locked (sticky) until they are changed.  This is useful in a 3D DGN to control the Z ordinate.  For example, input 100.00 for the Z ordinate and the value remains constant until changed. 

OFF: The Z ordinate follows the cursor dynamics. 

This also controls whether the origin for delta Z measurements follows the XY origin or is independent of XY. 

ON: the origin for delta Z is completely independent of the XY origin.  For example, the user can set the origin for dXdY measurements from point A and set dZ to be measured from a second point B.  The Z origin does not change until reset by the user.  The effect will be apparent when drawing a linestring.  When drawing a linestring, the dynamic orientation of the compass will adjust to align with the most recent line segment.  The Z origin will remain fixed wherever the user placed it at in the beginning. 

Note: When Accudraw ordinates are set to X,Y the sticky Z toggle does not apply.  This is because, by definition, XY mode is always assumed to be absolute. 

Always Show Compass -

ON: the compass is always visible. 

OFF: the compass is only visible when the appropriate input is required.


» Civil AccuDraw Tools

Hold down the second icon to reveal the shortcut menu shown below.

Civil AccuDraw Tools 

XY Tool

When the XY mode is selected and a civil command is active, the coordinates of the current cursor position are displayed in a floating dialog as shown below.

 Civil AccuDraw XY Icon   Enter XY Coordinate - Screen Shot  

The Tab key is used to move through the key-in fields in the dialog.

Values entered in the floating dialog are locked when the Enter key is pushed.

To unlock a value, tab to the field and push the End key.


Civil AccuDraw Compass and Curser Input

When the Always Show Compass setting is toggled on, a compass is displayed at AccuDraw’s origin point when Civil AccuDraw is active.

The compass is always circular and is marked by a number of tics.  The default is 4 compass points which can be changed in the settings.

Civil AccuDraw Compass - Screen Shot


The north arrow on the compass will always point to north as defined by selecting File > Settings > File > Design File Settings > Angle Readout.

If the Civil AccuDraw Settings dialog (shown above) has the Context Sensitive option turned on (default), then the compass auto-rotates in a similar fashion to MicroStation AccuDraw:

Civil AccuDraw Compass Rotated- Screen Shot

The Distance-Direction ordinate is used to enter points in polar coordinates as shown above.

The input for angle and direction fields follows the File > Settings File > Design File Settings > Angle Readout settings.

Note that rather than direction being shown, the label and value are now an Angle.  This is because the context is based on the direction of the preceding line segment rather than an absolute direction.

The compass can be rotated with the V, B, T, RQ, RE shortcuts. 

V rotates the drawing plane to align with the view axes.

T rotates the drawing plane to align with the axes in a standard Top view.

RQ is used to quickly and temporarily rotate the drawing plane.

RE rotates the drawing plane to match the orientation of a selected element.

Use the T (Top) shortcut or the corresponding drop-down to return to a pure direction.


Station Off-set

The Station-Offset ordinate is used with a reference element to enter information as a station and offset relative to a selected element.

 AccuDraw Station Offset Input - Screen Shot

The reference element can be a MicroStation element or an ORD Geometry element. If a MicroStation element is selected, the beginning of the element is assumed to be station 0+00. If a civil element is selected with stationing defined, the station value of the selected element is used.

Take the following steps to select the reference element with the Station-Offset ordinate active:

  • Tab to activate the Offset field that is floating on the cursor
  • Enter the letter “O” shortcut to set the origin. You are prompted to select the reference element.

Once selected, data can be entered using station and offset values relative to the reference element as shown above.


Civil Geometry elements drawn using the OpenRoads tools are “ruled” graphics that behave according to the geometric rules that define how the element was placed.

Geometry Rules Enter Line Distance - Screen Shot

For example, a line drawn using the Line Between Points command has the following rules: Distance and Line Direction as shown below.

These parameters can be entered in the Tool Settings dialog, shown at right above, or by using the parameters floating on the cursor.

If you use the input field that floats on the cursor, the left and right arrow keys are used to switch between multiple parameters.

When a parameter value is entered, it is locked as shown below. The parameter can be unlocked by unchecking the item in the Tool Settings dialog, or by pressing the End key on the keyboard while the parameter value on the cursor has the keyboard focus.

 Geometry Rules Enter Line Distance Locked - Screen Shot

After a parameter value has been keyed in, use the left and right arrow keys, or the Tool Settings dialog to enter values for the remaining parameters. 

Issue a data point (left-click) to place the element.

The rules can be reviewed and edited by using the MicroStation Element Selection tool to select the element. In the example below, the rules for the selected line are displayed.

 Line Showing Direction and Distance Label - Screen Shot

The rules can be edited by left-clicking on one of the parameters as shown below.

Line Showing Direction and Edting Distance Label - Screen Shot


The rules for the selected element can also be reviewed and edited in the Properties dialog as shown below.

 Editing Line Length - Properties Dialog Box

MicroStation’s Manipulate commands (Copy, Scale, Rotate, etc.) cannot be used on ruled geometry. The rule must be removed to use these commands.

To remove a rule, select the element and let the cursor rest on the selected element until the pop-up menu appears. Choose the Rules menu as shown below.

The following options are provided:

  • Lock - Deactivate Rules
  • Remove Rule
  • Unlock - Activate Referencing Rules
  • Lock - Deactivate Reference Rules
  • Remove Rule

Deactivating Rules - Screen Shot

» Element Manipulators

OpenRoads Geometry elements have Manipulators that are displayed in MicroStation when an element is selected. These manipulators can be used to edit the selected element graphically or by entering a value.

Clicking on one of the key-point manipulators will display direction arrows to edit the line, as shown on the example below.

Element Manipulators - Screen Shot

Tip: The size and color of the Manipulator Text can be adjusted in the User Preferences. From the MicroStation menu, select File > Settings > User  > Preferences and then choose the View Options – Civil item on the left side of the dialog. The Manipulator Size or the Manipulator Font Scale parameters can be used to adjust the text size.

» Design Intent

As geometric elements are drawn in MicroStation using the OpenRoads Horizontal Geometry tools, the software retains information about not only what element was drawn, but how it was drawn. This is referred to as the Design Intent.

In the example below, the horizontal line was drawn first. The second line was drawn using the Perpendicular snap to draw the line at a perpendicular form the horizontal line to a specific ending point.

Design Intent Perpendicular - Screen Shot

If the horizontal line is modified by changing the direction of the line, the design intent for the perpendicular line is preserved. The Perpendicular rule, and the ending location are preserved as shown below. 

Design Intent Perpendicular Rule - Screen Shot 

» Snaps

As geometry elements are placed in the design, the elements are “ruled” to one another using snaps.

The most common snap is the Key Point snap. In the example below, the second line was placed using a Key Point snap. When the line is selected, the icon for the snap mode that was used is displayed.

If the first line is modified, the second line will maintain its relationship to the first line according to the Key Point snap rule. 

Design Intent Snaps - Screen Shot

Occasionally you may wish to create civil geometry elements that are not “ruled” to other elements. Turn off the Persist Snaps icon on the Feature Definition Toggle Bar to place civil geometry elements by snapping to other geometry without creating a rule.

Design Intent Persist Snaps - Icon

» Editing Dynamic Text

When a civil geometry element is selected, and the various rules are displayed, some rules are shown in grey and cannot be edited by left-clicking on the text. To edit these rules, you must select the underlying geometry directly.

Design Intent Editing Dynamic Locked Text - Screen Shot


Take the following steps to select the underlying element.

Use the MicroStation Element Selection tool to select the geometry element • Right-click on the element that you wish to edit.

The underlying element is selected, and the associated rules can be edited as shown below.

Design Intent Editing Dynamic Text - Screen Shot

» Deactivating Rules

Geometry elements that have active rules can be selected, edited, and deleted at any time. Deactivating the rules will lock the element in place so that it cannot be edited or deleted unless the rules are reactivated. This is useful to lock an alignment in place once the design has been completed.

Design Intent Lock and Deactivating Rules - Screen Shot

To deactivate the rules on a given element, select the element and let the cursor rest on the element until the pop-up menu appears. Choose the Lock – Deactivate Rule option as shown below.