Bentley and Autodesk Announce Historic Interoperability Agreement
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Bentley and Autodesk Announce Historic Interoperability Agreement

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Industry News
Bentley and Autodesk Announce Historic Interoperability Agreement

By Susan Smith

Recently Bentley and Autodesk announced an agreement to expand interoperability between their portfolios of architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) software. The agreement stated that Autodesk and Bentley will exchange software libraries, including Autodesk RealDWG, which Autodesk uses to read and write in their own products, “to improve the ability to read and write the companies' respective DWG and DGN formats in mixed environments with better accuracy.” As a result, Bentley will be able to work directly with the Autodesk code to read and write DWGs. In the other direction, Bentley has exchanged comparable DGN libraries with Autodesk.

Bentley BE Award Winner Arup, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
Bentley BE Award Winner Arup, Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
According to Chris Barron, vice president, Corporate Marketing, Bentley, “It’s been acknowledged that Autodesk’s handling of DGN files hasn’t been quite as smooth as our ability with DWG, so I think this will improve the fidelity of Autodesk users’ ability to access DGN files.”

The two companies will also facilitate the work process interoperability between their applications by supporting the reciprocal use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This should improve AEC workflows so that information can be reused by more stakeholders in the AEC process, and project teams will be able to access more software possibilities.

In response to this news, many users in both camps say “it’s about time.”

“Bentley and Autodesk got to the point that we felt it was the best thing for our users,” stated Barron. “The reality is it’s a shared world and you can say 90% or higher of our users are also using Autodesk products. Interoperability has always been a core value for Bentley and the fact is Autodesk acknowledges this in the press release by saying, we are Autodesk’s largest application developer. Some of our earliest acquisitions ran both on AutoCAD and MicroStation so we’ve had to deal with interoperability for a long time in our business model.”

Quoting a 2004 U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology study, almost $16 billion is wasted annually due to interoperability. This is a situation with dire consequences that cannot be ignored. As a result, various standards such as ISO 15926 have been implemented, but the bottom line is that interoperability also has to be achieved at the file and API level.

Another driver for the interoperability agreement is the emergence of BIM. “We’re focusing less on drawings and more on the information that is generated around a building design or other aspects of infrastructure design. And there are a lot of players contributing and needing access to that information. The more we can do to foster that interoperability, the more we’re committed to doing it,” said Barron.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
Chicago Spire, Calatrava - Autodesk
Although BIM was developed to address the need for interoperability on large infrastructure projects, the need for file compatibility between Autodesk and Bentley, the two primary providers of AEC design and construction software, remained. The available APIs for their products make it possible to interact directly with applications from both companies combined within integrated workflows.

Prior to this interoperability agreement, Bentley has made use of the software libraries provided by the Open Design Alliance (ODA). The ODA develops their own DGN libraries (Bentley never made their DGN libraries available to the ODA) based on Bentley documentation and technical support. Barron said nothing changes in that relationship.

Products demonstrating the new interoperability will be rolled out in different manifestations. Bentley has already demonstrated a Revit Plug-in by accessing APIs to output a DGN file from Revit. The next major release of MicroStation, which will be released at the end of 2008, will not reflect the interoperability agreement, however, Bentley will include an update to the RealDWG libraries in an update release in 2009.

The two companies will be parties to a cross-licensing agreement – for the first time in history.

In Frequently Asked Questions on Bentley’s site, here are the replies to the following question:

As a result of this agreement, what is now possible that wasn’t possible previously?

As opposed to relying on “best-guess” engineering (necessarily “after the fact”), as is presently the case, now effectively every AEC desktop with platform or application products from Autodesk or Bentley can have native code from both Autodesk and Bentley (RealDWG and the new Bentley DGN libraries) to enable interchangeably reading and writing DGN and DWG with “trusted” fidelity;

The level of information exchange with such full and trusted comprehension can now be raised above the basic DGN and DWG format to include the intelligence interpreted by available “object enabler” code (and analogous capabilities from Bentley, as applicable); At even higher levels of application intelligence, users and project teams (with software licensed from both companies), can be offered “real-time workflow” interoperability scenarios, taking advantage of available APIs. An indication of the significance of this aspect is that Bentley is already recognized by Autodesk as its largest development partner (which, to date, has occurred largely through acquisitions and can now be expanded by design);

As between Bentley and Autodesk, in addition to their respective software “toolkits,” each will now provide technical support to the other, as required, to enable each of these levels of potential interoperability to be expeditiously achieved – and more timely sustained in regard to new releases from the other party. As a result, instead of each wasting resources on redundant file-format development, the companies' efforts can be applied to making interoperability as complete and intelligent as possible, in the progression above.

Some quotes from industry leaders in the realm of interoperability (from the press release):

Norbert Young, FAIA, president of McGraw-Hill Construction and former chairman of the International Alliance for Interoperability in North America, said, "This groundbreaking agreement directly addresses many of the critical issues detailed in the October 2007 McGraw-Hill Construction study on interoperability in the construction industry. I applaud both companies for their foresight and leadership."

Added Patrick MacLeamy, FAIA, CEO of global architectural firm HOK and a founder and current chairman of the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI), "As a longtime advocate of interoperability, I welcome this agreement as an important step toward enabling AEC information to be more broadly shared, increasing the value of BIM to our clients."

Top News of the Week

Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD BIM Experience Kit won a Stevie Award for Best Professional Education software as part of the 2008 International Business Awards competition. The company’s technology was also named a finalist in the Best Training software category.

More than 2,600 entries from companies of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted for consideration in more than 40 categories. Winners of The International Stevies, considered the “Oscars” of the business world, will be honored at an international gala in Dublin, Ireland, September 8.

Synergis Software unveiled Adept 8, the newest version of the company's highly acclaimed document management and workflow software. Adept 8 delivers dozens of new features that extend its core capabilities, helping clients manage, share and control design and business documents throughout their lifecycle. Adept 8 features full text searching, bill of material automation, transmittal automation, advanced workflow capabilities, support for MicroStation® V8, and tight integration with the 2009 family of Autodesk design software. Adept 8 also incorporates productivity boosting features for email management and notification as well as advanced data importing tools that allow customers to easily add richer content into Adept for superior searching and reporting.


Autodesk, Inc. announced the winners of the Build Something Student Design Challenge, a design contest created to encourage the next generation of design professionals from around the world to showcase their skills using Autodesk digital technologies in industrial design, architecture, civil and mechanical engineering and 3D animation.

Like any good novel or play immortalized on film, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) takes a page out of Hollywood’s playbook. The AIA announces Shape of America—a series of web-based short movies starring some of the 150 structures chosen by the public for the America’s Favorite Architecture
(AFA) list created last year.

The web-based film series is designed to expand the public dialogue about architecture and how it impacts our lives, that began with the published survey results of the AFA list in February 2007. Shape of America is designed to be interactive. Visitors are encouraged to learn, discover, and share feedback and experiences online at

BASF launched its new customer focused Construction Solutions Web site enabling quick and easy access to the company's building and construction portfolio of more than 600 technologies and product offerings.

Representing the building and construction industry's broadest array of technologies, the website, is designed as a resource to customers seeking detailed information and innovative solutions on the more than 75 construction solution and product categories offered by BASF.

A survey released by 3Dconnexion, a Logitech company, found that CAD design engineers are dramatically more productive and efficient when using 3Dconnexion’s 3D mice. A majority of the survey’s 190 respondents said that using a 3D mouse significantly increased their productivity and design performance and made it easier to identify problems, improving the overall quality of designs.

Autodesk announced the launch of its new Autodesk Buzzsaw data centre in Hong Kong. Autodesk has invested several million US dollars in its newly established Hong Kong Data Centre which will provide high availability of Autodesk Buzzsaw, Collaborative Project Management Solutions, for customers across Asia Pacific. The company spent three years on a thorough selection process and site-visits before deciding upon Hong Kong as the best location.

New Products

Marking the first new Simplicity release in seven years, the all new and extremely versatile Simplicity “Sight” Survey 2009 is now available from Carlson Software. “Sight” Survey 2009 provides simplified methods for solving commonly encountered coordinate geometry and construction surveying problems.

A Windows-based coordinate geometry program, “Sight” Survey 2009 works with AutoCAD (version 2002 and newer), MicroStation (v8, XM, or PowerDraft) and IntelliCAD, which comes built-in. It is even capable of running without a CAD application, giving its users ultimate flexibility in a COGO program.

Autodesk, Inc. announced new releases of two products to help improve network design and management for the utilities industry: Autodesk Utility Design (AUD) 2009 software and Autodesk Topobase 2009 software. These products will help utilities design their networks more efficiently and integrate precision as-built information into their processes.

Eagle Point Software Corporation announced the release of its revolutionary SMI Construction 2008 field survey software. This is the latest solution in the SMI 2008 product line to be released. SMI Data Collection 2008 was released in March 2008.
Built to run on most devices running Windows Mobile and Windows CE, SMI 2008 allows land surveyors to operate it in whichever way they feel comfortable, whether it be from the device keyboard or the touch screen. Although the user interface has been overhauled and hundreds of new features have been added, the original keyboard overlays from previous SMI versions remain intact along with more than 90% of the keystrokes surveyors are accustomed to using, allowing productivity to be realized within minutes.

Reed Construction Data announces the formation of the Reed Planroom Network, a new program designed to share value with planrooms and construction associations who wish to distribute their project news, plans, and specifications information to Reed.

Expesite is delivering innovative solutions to industry markets with ExpesiteLite. The first release of ExpesiteLite targets architects and engineers and provides firms with an out-of-the-box, web-based project management solution for portfolios smaller in scale. With an entry level monthly subscription price and integrated support hours, the offering is well within reach of small to medium-sized firms. The solution enhances collaboration by giving Architects and Engineers the ability to connect and communicate directly with clients and third party providers on key projects.

“The Engineering Design Revolution:The People, Companies and Computer Systems That Changed Forever the Practice of Engineering” by David E. Weisberg has been over five years in the making and is now freely available on this website for your personal use. It can be read online or downloaded and printed for your later perusal.


Accela 2008 User Conference
Date: August 19 - 22, 2008
Place: Venetian Hotel Resort Casino
3355 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV USA
Whatever your e-government goals for your community, the Accela User Conference provides the tools to help you make it happen:

Effective strategies for planning your next product upgrade. Whether you are upgrading to a new release of the same product or considering upgrading to Accela Automation®, there is an upgrade class designed for you.


NeoCon Xpress
Date: August 20 - 21, 2008
Place: The Los Angeles Convention Center
Los Angeles, CA USA
NeoCon Xpress is the West Coast’s Xciting event for new product introductions. Designed for your busy schedule, NeoCon Xpress will Xpedite the industries newest products to the West Coast that were introduced at NeoCon in Chicago in June. Interior designers, architects, facility managers, construction and real estate professionals in the commercial buildings industry…this is a must-attend event for you.


Constructech Technology Day 2008
Date: August 21, 2008
Place: Westin Chicago Northwest
Itasca, IL USA

Changing market conditions have forced builders and contractors to approach the topic of information technology in a much different manner than ever before. These firms are focused on business process improvement and are applying technology with this new perspective.

In response to this change Constructech has assembled a series of panel discussions for Technology Day aimed at addressing some of the big picture issues that affect both the commercial and residential segments of construction. We believe to have assembled a series of sessions that will allow construction professionals in all segments of the market to work together collaboratively in order to map out the best path possible towards process improvement.


Mid Continent MicroStation Community - 2008 annual conference
Date: August 27 - 28, 2008
Place: Overland Park Conference Center
suburb of Kansas City, Overland Park, MO USA

The Mid Continent MicroStation Community is hosting its annual conference August 26 and 27 at the Overland Park Conference Center in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri.

Don’t miss out on dedicated sessions covering MicroStation, GEOPAK, InRoads, Building Information Modeling, and CAD Management. You can review the current agenda online at

The Mid Continent MicroStation Community relies on active Bentley users for support and success, so feel free to share this email with your colleagues who may also be interested in this event.

For additional conference information, visit:


For more discussions, follow this link …