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Bentley Map, could it be more difficult?

MicroStation Geographics step to Bentley Map suppose an improvement on features the first one tool did, and naturally try to make an effort on gaining users from other solutions such as ArcView, MapInfo and now a whole list of programs low price and open source.

Just now that I am working with a regular-sized municipality which wants to implement a GIS solution, I was asked to propose a brand. I explained that this does not work in this way, that they are the ones who will decide, so we sat down sizing expectations between what they want to do, how much money they have and sustainable alternatives available to the inevitable routine of changing every four years people by political issues.

After seeing different solutions, we conclude that they don’t want little-known software or open source. As users coming from ArcView 3x and Microstation J, they were interested in knowing how easy it is to implement a spatial database, I showed them how the ESRI ArcCatalog worked, and they ask basic questions about why it was necessary ArcSDE and what the difference between ArcIMS and GIS Server was. When I started explaining the Bentley Map Geospatial Administrator they heard me by respect, but in the end, fall their eyelids until the half height of their eyes (Spanish Idiom: “trasrocar los ojos a media asta”) like Garfield and said in their hearts what others had said me before:

“Couldn’t it be more complicated?”

By now, Geographics users have problems to migrate to Bentley Map not only for what it implies in the change of data or in custom tools reconstruction, but also because the Readme is insufficient and there are no guided tutorials that explain the order it must be followed. For example:

Understand what must be done in the Geospatial Administrator, in which user, how to conform domains, how to create forms to feed dgn’s xml, is not so intuitive. Just understand the relationship between terms-Operation Criteria-Method-UI is half difficult at 3 am.

What not to tell about the runtime from the side of the map with Command Manager and Map Manager.

What happens is that Geographics user expects to find buttons as it was before –that certainly were not many -.

The Map Manager took what Display Manager was, Topological Analysis is now called Overlay, and for this same place the buffer and thematic mapping are gone. If this is not search very closely, anyone can think that Bentley Map has no such functions.

Then the Feature Manager stayed in the right side panel, known as Command Manager, where you can not turn off or on features but only create ones. There is no way to apply or remove attributes and nothing more … in conclusion, difficult even for the more experienced.

I must admit that this feeling of uncertainty has not changed in several years since it was showed to me for the first time before being named like this.

It was in the 2004 user conference, when it was released the Xml Feature Markup (XFM) potential, which already ran on Geographics 8.5. Later it was called Bentley Map, from XM 8.9, and they called legacy all the preceding. At this point, we were interested in its potential, but the impression it was still a crude tool, decided us to rebuild routines that were made in Geographics.

The videos shown below were produced in 2005 from a development on .NET that an eager boy did; while Bentley integrated this functionality into XM, topic of which I spoke a few days ago.

From Geographics to xfm. Taking a created schema, it was scheduled to make a layers transfer from the Geographics project on Oracle, it was defined what features were wanted and built them bringing the data to xml on the same dgn. The intention was that the municipality had data in dgn, without complicating their life with a database where there was hardly connectivity.
Export the cadastral layer. As in the previous case, it could be exported the municipality maps, basic data that interests the xfm layer went as xml to dgn, including cadastral key based on sectorization. With this, it was hoped they would do maintenance and then in a centrally way do a reconciliation of differing data that could became in maintenance transactions.
Attach maps of a municipality. What this tool did was to load from a fence, all the maps that geographically coincided with this geometry, everything from the two layers created in the previous step. Similar to what was done before by Map Manager with what it was recorded in the Vicinity.
Switching on and off layers. Map Manager brings this functionality, but by that time there was no other method for doing this as the way Geographics did with the Display Manager, but in this case with XFM layers.
Topological analysis. With this, what was done was to rebuild the capabilities of creating topologies and analysis that had Geographics. It could create layers of dots, lines, polygons, and then make crosses between them generating a html report. Lately it joined in the Map Manager, but I think, never with such ease.
Theming. This now comes in the Map Manager, if it’s created feature classes, but before Geographics brought it loose and as such was developed.
Custom Theming. This was from the Oracle base attributes, although they were not embedded in the data XFM. As in Geographics it was allowed to be created as dgn.
Search by attributes. With this it was done a search of some criteria, and it was colored when chosen. It also allowed sending a report to HTML.
Socio-economic survey. It happens that several municipalities had in addition to the cadastral tab a socio-economic survey, what we did was that from the Oracle database, a button would transfer data to the xfm layer. Based on the criterion of theming it could place a different cell taking advantage of what is called “criteria” in the project.
Transfer to the centroid. Also, as the municipality based on certain criteria, was putting a different symbol to the centroid, it was scheduled that it could be transferred to this centroid the data from the socio-economic survey. Of course, as the sheet that represented the survey was too big, it should be left an adjustable dialog box at both ends, for the video it was crazy because of the screen size.
Avoid Geospatial Administrator. Understand the operation is extremely complex, I told the developer to take off the horrendous, so from the map’s side it was possible to create a new attribute, assign it the type, symbolic properties and even dialog box with properties. Also we gave the option to edit an already created feature even applying changes to objects created previously.

Big smoke (Spanish Idiom: “fumada”, a very ingenious idea), this Bentley should implement because it’s literally a toothache to do so from there.

Load data from Visual Fox. There was a system in the

Municipality called SIIM, which had the cadastral tab data under a massive assessment methodology and a nomenclature of cadastral key quadrants-based. Therefore, what we did was to create a form that read data from the dbf, but from the xfm map in MicroStation.

Web publishing. It was added publication functionalities using Geoweb Publisher, raising data at the flight from the layers available in xfm.

All of this was done with C #.NET with an installer that kept everything running, the project XFM and even Geo Web Publisher.

Why this don’t make me happy:

First, because there was no opportunity to systematize the process and just make the videos. With pleasure we would take it to the BE Awards 2007, sure we got a nomination because it was the first development on XFM.

Then, as far as my knowledge remembers, only a couple of counties implemented this because the government projects become sad after 4 years term.

Finally, because Bentley needs to improve its ease of Bentley Map operation, because even for being a GIS tool – in my opinion -, it is not ready for a person to buy the package, take the manual, look for help in the forums and finally implement a system.

In conclusion, these friends went by ESRI, despite its costs.

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