A DGN with Dreams

Roop Saini
Published in
4 min readDec 14, 2022

This is a story about a DGN file.

A DGN file that wanted to be so much more than just a file. It would spend its days quietly sitting inside the folder of a computer. Hours, days, weeks would go by. The endless hours of silence were broken by occasional chit-chats with the neighboring files.

DGN File: Anything new with you guys?

Text file: I haven’t been opened for months!

SQLite file: Me neither! How about you DGN?

DGN File: Well, somebody opened me up in MicroStation the other day…and then they viewed my data.

DGN File: That’s as exciting as it got.

The other files shook their heads in disappointment.

This is how desktop life was for most of these files. It was filled with bottomless monotony…and very little action.

Occasionally, a new file would appear in the mysterious Downloads folder of the computer. Now the Downloads folder was where the fun stuff happened. It was rumored to be connected to the cloud.

Word had come that the cloud was the place to be!

All the files referred to the cloud as file heaven. A recently downloaded PNG file was sharing its experience.

PNG file: Guys, you won’t believe what I saw in the cloud! All the data that goes into the cloud becomes part of a world of abundance. You get to connect with other data sources, file formats, and cloud applications!

DGN file: Seriously?!

PNG file: Yes!

PNG file: For example…I’m carrying a brand new Picasso painting inside me that was generated using a machine learning algorithm.

All the other files gasped in awe.

This was it.

The DGN file knew that in order to experience more, become more — and truly fulfill its potential — it needed to go to file heaven. It wanted to experience an abundance of data sources, connections, and relationships.

The cloud was where the party was at.

All the files began dreaming of going to file heaven and finally being connected. Especially this DGN file…it wanted to feel ALIVE, and share its data with others.

So it began confessing these dreams to its Revit buddy.

DGN file: I wish we could go to file heaven!

DGN file: I am tired of feeling disconnected from the rest of the world. This desktop life sucks. If only design files like us could go to the cloud…

Revit file: Wait.

Revit file: Have you not heard about the Synchronization API?

DGN file: The what now?

Revit file: The iTwin Platform Synchronization API!…It’s our ticket to heaven.

Brand new class | Also available on YouTube

Now let’s apply these ideas to our work lives — just as the files above were living in a disconnected way — there has been a disconnect in the infrastructure industry…and the emerging (cloud) technology of digital twins. So many companies have their heads down in the old ways of desktop computing, that they haven’t looked up to see the possibilities of the cloud world.

How do digital twins (iTwins) make life easier for engineers? What happens to design files in file heaven? How do iTwins bring together different design formats, technologies, and companies to create an environment of nurture and collaboration?

In an attempt to answer these questions — my colleague and I recently connected with industry veterans…and shared glimpses of the iTwin (cloud) world.

From “Pace of Possible” webinar.

In this connected new world — data from the same design files (like DGN or Revit) can now have relationships with IoT systems, machine learning algorithms, AR / VR systems, and much much more.

In our work lives — relationships like these can move us from our disconnected old ways…into a place of connectivity and fresh innovation. And who knows? Maybe we can even come together to build an infrastructure heaven on Earth.

As for our little DGN file — its disconnected days are now over!

It began sharing its data with others…and finally discovered its true potential.

DGN file: All these years we have been right next to each other, but never got a chance to truly connect…or work together.

Revit file: I know! I love what the iTwin Platform has done for us.

DGN file: Me too!

Revit file: I think this is the beginning of a deeper friendship :)

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