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I-model, back to the talent

Technological evolution in computer’s area is complex; Moore’s law has shown with fidelity that will not be possible to use Windows 7 in two years without being seen prehistoric. AutoCAD 2013 already sounds in forums and we don’t end chewing what’s new in AutoCAD 2012 even now; almost everything today is disposable, light, it is in My documents, in the USB, in the email or even in the cloud.

Unfortunately the speed with which processes walk is not always at that rate; this presents a sustainability barrier because it is very easy to implement a new technology; but it is not as simple to change a rule or build a procedure that uses this technology uniformly in different offices unless we hit our nose with people who don’t accept changes or political resistance by good or evil intention.

Bentley is showing the issue I-model two years ago, when I remember seeing the topic as a great smoke. Last year I could see something working, and this third year I am pleased to see a positive stubbornness on the same topic that more than a cliché has a very well thought out philosophical principle, under the name “back to the talent“.

Despite Bentley Systems is characterized by an – excessive – creative genius, to the extent of losing usability for – not smoked– users, is salvageable that it is not associated with bad practices of lead users from wave to wave, constantly changing the conventional form of work. We see this for years, in the constancy of dgn format that has barely changed the requirement from 16 to 32 bits, the interface user dominates and now the I-model concept seems to confirm further that philosophy.


What happens is that the term “Back to the talent” does not seem to be consistent with our times. Almost everything is invented, –we believe-, but many of the present inventions shortly resolve our need to do things more efficiently. We have highly advanced technologies, and we can communicate with our children across the world by simply clicking on Skype, we can track a project with TeamViewer, chat with our bride from the mobile, and so on. But we have great difficulty to keep our computer free from virus, wireless connection with Windows 7 is almost an act of faith and we are absolutely sure that next year could all be more critical.

This happens because the association of consumerism with technological innovation is a marriage quite fatal. Very little of what we do now with advanced tools, we can assure will be sustainable for the next 5 years; despite that it is the same procedure of 30 years ago. We are also very critical of traditional procedures, forgetting that without existing them on paper it will ever work automatically, and in general we are forgetting the context and we question those who, placed at two UTM areas, smoke the same pipe with another type of tobacco.


The chart above shows the three principles of Bentley proposal to return to the talent. It was very hard for me to make Greg be at one side for the picture, but I finally made one that is just dirty by the monitor panel; in schematic form it displays:

  • The data, taken to the real life digital modeling.
  • The projects integration, by the confluence of multiple disciplines
  • The handling of real objects in connection with the models.

It will seem fanciful, but reflects the three products with which Bentley hopes to emphasize the next 5 years:

  • Microstation, the workbench on which operates different tools of Engineering, Architecture, Construction. Simple dgn is taken to another level (I-model) although it remains being a dgn but with enrichment embedded of tool’s users like Bentley Map, Civil Power, Open Plant, or any other that what it does is add alphanumeric attributes to the model.
  • ProjectWise as a connection tool. Whether in the USB, hard disk, on the mobile or in the cloud, is the way any discipline will interact.
  • AssetWise, as a management tool. This is more recent but is clearly conceptualized; with this rules are integrated to take back the model again to field, reminding us constantly that shape is just a liar stroke of reality and the complex chain an imitation of a floating platform 15 miles offshore.

be-inspired-2011b2It’s a pity this Bentley bet will stay in its users; unless one of the brothers aspires to be political or immersed in religious philanthropy. But for those like us who have been watching this way of thinking, we found a very valuable learning for multiple life disciplines; right now I’m thinking to summarize something of that essence with Amsterdam’s contextual breeze:

It seems to me very interesting, the cooling of what it means to return to the talent; that beyond presenting canned solutions in the Bureau challenges us to dream with new ways to take advantage of the same Aladdin lamp. And it is that talent is in what we do with conventional tools, see what was made by the “damned” of the Hoover Dam Bypass, this can make us forget that design was made with simple tools such as Microstation, same can be said of Expressway Bridge Design in the AutoCAD/Microstation hybrid of Lu Zhuojun.

Back to the talent means thinking beyond.  After 3 years I finally understand with some clarity what they meant with the I-model, not because it was an astral smoke but because it was far ahead of Charlotte’s time in 2008.  It’s curious –and unusual– the joint work they have done with AutoDesk, looking for the millions of users of dwg / dxf format.  Although the reverse gain is not proportional since I-model can only be done with Bentley software; and AutoCAD users won’t rush to Microstation only for listening to the word hypermodel.

Back to the talent means thinking about the end user. Who would have said at that time a dwg/dgn file could be seen from the Windows browser, Excel or Outlook.  But it is now a reality, it is not only possible to see the vector (even Google can), but also to zoom, pan, touch the object, see their attributes, the layouts, rotate in 3D or view it by individual (isolate). This is because as Bentley foresaw at that time, it hoped that its dgn file will no longer be an unknown to the world format, and for this thought on the end user that passes over a pedestrian bridge although does not have the slightest idea how to calculate the shear in the L/4.


Back to the talent means insist on a common goal. Though strategies may change, user must see that we are going to the same place; as it was the unsuccessful attempt of Microstation Athens, almost no one noticed it and now improved interface we have from XM is accepted by its users. Similarly, the insistence for the I-model should be kept despite the fact that BIM concept is not yet marketable; but data mobility is now opening doors to popularize the concept although it will be under another name – hopefully and not iBIM, I do not believe because Jobs already died-.

Congratulations for Bentley Systems, their recent acquisitions (Pointools, Raceway, AECOSym) only confirm that they are stubborn on keeping its users in search of sustainable innovation, for the talent. Current alliances with Microsoft, Adobe and possibly in the future with Google will help them to have a greater impact.


Just reiterating what he said two years ago Bentley through that we accept the I-model as a popular dgn pdf.  May not go to the store its software, for only out of the box, but what seems certain is that the results generated with the product may be viewed by anyone who understands the real world.

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