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Bentley wants its dgn to be most popular

TRANSLATION NOTES: Please read some comments at the end of this post.

Last year I was talking about what I believed it could be perceived from Bentley with its I-model criteria. This year, the smoke is more clarified, and indeed it is, after it has been seen the recent acquisitions integration results like eB, Exor and xml further exploitation potential.

clip_image001For many years dgn has been a Bentley’s very exclusive and unique format, despite the V7 with the OpenDGN alliance could released to other applications; the version 8 is still exclusive to big enterprises that have high level strategic alliances, such as AutoDesk, Oracle and ESRI. Although this format type is, even now, only used to read or import it. But it’s not for editing files. Small companies and open source initiatives have remained outside and in the case of xml features embedded in the xfm, this has been so far a very Bentley’s theme.

But such is seen in last year’s trend, Bentley no longer wants to have a proprietary format and does not want to drop whatever it took to get the V8, which after more than 10 years appears to have been conceived at a time. When you view the I-model conceptual’s replica, it is shown clearly that Bentley wants to transcend in the interoperability technologies that now allow without losing what they have always presumed: a precision (Accurate), not just want to be seen by engineers, but for other users (self-aware) if its format has basic useful information . Strong challenge if it can ride on the big’s boat and can open doors to small which come resentful days ago because the apparent double standard of opendgn.

The basic smoke: Bentley wants its own pdf

It’s the preliminary conclusion that I can understand. It wants to popularize a format like Acrobat’s PDF, AutoDesk’s dxf, like the png, or as the txt! However, the great thought (*) is not in making a new dgn version but do that many programs can read from the dgn what can be useful for them.

egeomate: Are you planning to build a new dgn version with I-model or in 64-bit era?

Bentley: Definitely not, the dgn V8 is wonderful.

(Be Inspired 2010, ProjectWise round table)

For this reason, Bentley is looking the dgn I-model has characteristics of widespread use. Dgn can now be viewed and can be done basic routines of zoom, pan, select, rotate, markup and data review. This from thin clients:

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web Navigator
  • Microsoft Sharepoint
  • Windows Explorer (Windows 7)

Of course, it is understood that CAD / GIS / CAM programs and spatial databases will see not dgn, but the geometry and attributes of the xml in the way they are accustomed to see it.

The half smoke, Bentley is going on the fifth dimension

This is not a new theme; already some time ago it has been searching how to integrate the automated control (SCADA) to spatial data. To do this, all Bentley programs will have capacity to generate I-models, which will include this level of integration to flows of time, productivity and life cycle.

Bentley is also launching its ProjectWise Navigator. Until now it’s free for users with active license through SELECT, I think it will continue or will have a symbolic value for users, not Bentley’s, can see the power behind the I-model. Navigator is the successor of the original Bentley View which mutated to Bentley Redline, but now with capabilities far beyond than view, markup and print:

  • It can read dgn, dwg, dxf formats; and I assume that it may be more. At this level PW Navigator stays at a basic level (3D) of what it made even though it can also view tabular data associated with the objects and maybe basic rendering.
  • • Where the potential is, is in the other two levels, because if dgn was generated with I-model composer, it will be visible characteristics of specific disciplines at a transactional level (4D), being able to interact with comments and storing data within a controlled process during implementation or operation (5D).

The astral smoke: Bentley wants to go to the fifth dimension.

  • If it is a common dgn, it will be only be seen the basic properties of elements such as color, thickness, level, priority, fill, coordinates, etc. How it will be seen a dwg, dxf and geopdf. With this we understand options to view, render, turn off / turn on layers, zoom, rotate, print, etc.
  • But if it was treated for Revit or Staad, it may be seen characteristic of that discipline. Just as if it was treated with Inroads, Bentley Map, Architecture, etc. so that on the same dgn can be done multidisciplinary processes.
  • clip_image002
  • With this Bentley is integrating a fourth dimension, as the features to redline, approve, review, digitally sign and store transactional history with multiple disciplines adds the fourth dimension called Time.
  • But Bentley is not lagging here and is adding a fifth dimension, which may resemble to what is the economic value, productivity or life cycle within Control Board. An object can have three dimensions and in time mutate (grow) or conserve natural age, but the fact of being productive (multiply), be part of a workflow or retain a history of economic value is what is being considered fifth dimension. In a basic sense, it refers to a process of integrating the operation and maintenance through intelligent infrastructure.
  • clip_image003
  • A basic example of this is the budget of a project, dynamically integrated with the quantities calculation from the digital model. And then the execution control, materials procurement, management of forward estimates and subsequent control of operations. Just the same as what is made by NeoDATa but with integration to objects (not to basic calculations on 2D).
  • For this Bentley introduces Aset Wise, which is added with the two multidisciplinary products we had been known up to now (MicroStation and Project Wise). Bentley has announced an interaction with Microsoft Project so that we could assume there will be a link with budget and project tracking solutions. Also it is reinforced with the generation of dynamic printing, (dynamic interplot) that allows a map which was sent to the printer can interact with a conventional pen that has an integrated camera so that it automatically comes redline, observations or approvals.

What we can assume that it comes

I do not expect less from Bentley, whose smokes are very astral, so much that it seems at some point its designers have had the motto that “the complexity is cool, after all we are engineers

But I perceive in this smoke, a very useful landing in the sense that Bentley does not want to remain as software which uses strange formats. It wants its dgn to be known as popular formats do. I hope so and that it maintains the simplicity exchange standards require.

Then I feel great the idea of not to promote a new format. This was already assumed, (we barely remember the V7 when all were 16 bits, and V8 when it was already 32 bits) and it is good to know that we will continue seeing the V8 for a long time. And in this, it remains to acknowledge the Bentley’s proposal, in its I-model, which is no more (and we really want to) that the xml getting out from the dgn the features that other programs have all seen, under the BIM’s concept and standard.

This is the best of what is being proposed; it’s because the documentation and SDK for I-model creation from other applications will be available to third parties. This should open the door to popularize the topic, pursuant to standards such as CIS / 2, IFC, and ISO 15926. But perhaps this will finally let us see a cost and budget software compatible with Microstation, an issue that we have not seen much.

Finally I feel fine that Bentley does not take out much multidisciplinary product. In my view, mapping applications, structures, waters, plants, geology and other disciplines will continue to meet their specific role on commodities that now reach to three:

  • Microstation for the three basic dimensions at customer level.
  • ProjectWise for transaction processing and integration inside a server level.
  • AssetWise for transaction processing outwards, online or offline.


(*) craneada: This is the conjugation of a jargon verb (‘cranear’) created to express something that has been widely thought.

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