How to Convert MapInfo TAB to Microstation DGN (GIS to CAD)

Liz Sanderson
Liz Sanderson
  • Updated

FME Version

  • FME 2016.x




Feel free to download and unzip the data ( file) attached to this article if you'd like to perform these steps yourself as we go along!


This tutorial will show you how to convert a MapInfo TAB (MITAB) (*.tab) file to Bentley Microstation DGN (*.dgn) format using FME. We’ll see how symbology can be modified with the DGNStyler transformer, and split the output data into Microstation levels based on a category for each zone. We’ll also look at setting Microstation tags and changing the seed file from 3D to 2D.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To complete the process described in the video, you will need to carry out the following steps.

1) Start FME Workbench

In Windows this is found under Start > All Programs > FME Desktop > FME Workbench

2) Select Generate Workspace

This is found on the Create Workspace section of the FME Workbench interface. Alternatively, use Ctrl+G as a shortcut.

3) Browse to and select the source (Reader) dataset

Select MapInfo TAB (MITAB) for the reader; do this by typing the name into the field until it appears within the dropdown list. Navigate to the file and select it.

4) Set the output (Writer) format to Bentley Microstation Design (V8) DGN

Select Microstation DGN for the format for the writer; do this by typing the name into the field until it appears within the dropdown list.

5) Set the output dataset location

In the video, it is set to C:\FMEData2018\Output. However, you can set your output location to whatever best suits your directory structure.

6) Modify the output (Writer) Parameters

For the writer parameters, I can set various parameters to do with how the DGN data is created by clicking the Parameters button.

  • First, we will change the seed file from being 3D to 2D. Using the box next to Seed File (V8 only), navigate to the new seed file. In the video, it is set to ‘C:\apps\FME\design\seed2d_ft_v8.dgn’
  • Next, we will tell FME to write tags for the features. Use the drop-down list from Write Tags and select ‘yes’. Click OK to create the workspace.

7) Modify Symbology using the DGNStyler (optional)

If I wanted to change the symbology, I would use the DGNStyler transformer. In this case we will keep the original symbology.

8) Modify the output (Writer) Properties

When I open the ouptput properties dialog box, I can see that the output is all being written to a single level called 'zones'. I will change this to take the 'ZoneCategory' of each feature as the level it should be written to. Now I will get a separate level for each category of zone.

  • Open the destination feature type properties, click on the drop-down list next to the level name parameter, click on attribute value, then select 'ZoneCategory'. Click OK.
  • Finally, because we are defining the zone category by level name, we no longer need to add that information as a tag. So we click on the User Attributes tab, click on Zone Category and delete it.

9) Click the Run button on the toolbar

Run the workspace by clicking on the green play button. This carries out the translation.

10) View the DGN file in a MicroStation Viewer

Once complete, use a file browser to locate the output dataset. If we use a 3rd party CAD viewer such as MicroStation Viewer to inspect the data, we will see that the data in the DGN file has been written as a separate level for each category of zone.

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