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Bentley Architecture vs Revit vs Archicad

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Bentley Architecture vs Revit vs Archicad

  • fully agree, such simple exercise is worth thousands of reviews



  • Hello

    Well stated .... your comments reflect much of my feeling about the situation. (I'm also based in the UK, ... for the record)

    I got so fed up with BA I dropped it about a year ago and will wait and see just how 'usable' in real world production the new ABD really is when it comes out. My 'trials' (like mentioned in a couple of the other posts) kept leading me to the conclusion that what additional features/benefits I might have been getting out of BA where outweighed by the overhead in time and effort trying to get it to work. I wasn't seeing any real-world productivity benefits at all. As mentioned, BIM is not just about 3D modelling software, ...... there's a whole lot of other 'non CAD app' issues to deal with. For the time being I'm sticking with Microstation (which can still be used for BIM!) and am putting my time and effort in to other aspects of the AEC process rather than wasting time/banging my head with the clunkiness/glitches/poor dataset/scatter gun approach of BA

    I can only suggest in relation to your evaluation of BIM software that you could put to your bosses/powers that be that in fact they would probably be better of not being 'panicked' in to buying ANY so called BIM software (BA or Revit) for the time being as they all have drawbacks and in real-world use often don't offer the so called productivity increases that the software companies hype would like to suggest. Tell them the market is not 'mature enough' right now and they shouldn't be wasting there time/money on products that aren't quite frankly 'doing what it says on the tin'. I must stress again, ..... BIM, .... there's much to be done in ways that have nothing to do with getting some new 'top of the range' BIM modelling package: Drawing Registers, updating your import/export procedures, linking Microstation to SketchUP/Viz processes, .... how developed is your Batch Printing? Compiling Spec documents, Schedules (Tags anyone?), plenty of very usable clash detection can be done in 2D (yes most definitely) and a 'regular' 3D model (just plain solids), ..... it's called using your own 2 eyes and thinking about it (software vendors please take note) ...... beats any of these so called Clash Detection software things any time ..... no extra software costing thousands required!, ..... I could go on.

    Anyway ..... good luck with it


    Danny Cooley

    Freelance CAD/Architectural Technician & Low Carbon Consultant

    Microstation SS2, BA SS1 (+update), Windows 7 Pro, 64 bit, quad core 3Ghz, 8Gb RAM, ATI 6870 1Gb, ect,

  • PBrooks:

    I didn't forget about this post, I have just been on the road the last three weeks and won't be back in the office until Monday.  Please do not think that I am dodging the thread.  I do think the conversation is great and I do want to respond to some of comments/concerns with some of my observations working with numerous firms of various sizes and complexities over the last couple years....  I hope to be able to have time to respond on Monday...  this was just to keep the conversation fresh.  


  • Travis

    No worries at all. I look forward to hearing your views / feedback on what has been discussed here since your last post in addition to what Bentley are looking to do about it.



    Thanks for the great feedback and I totally agree with you. At the moment I am advising my bosses to sit tight with Microstation and not fall for the ‘BIM panic’ out there because, as you say, the market is just not mature enough. Our research / this debate have clearly revealed that there is still a shed-load more work for the BIM software providers to resolve before any of them can truly state their product ‘does what it says on the tin’ and interoperability is also absolutely key in this regard.

    That said, out of all of the providers I do believe Bentley has a greater strategic understanding and approach when it comes to BIM but in my honest opinion they will never get there if they don’t respond to users’ comments and drastically improve the UI, tools, datasets etc.



    Thanks for your comments. Your views and experiences seem to match my own – especially in that Bentley over the past decade seem to have lost ground when it comes to the user interface and the ability to produce decent 2D drawings and graphics. For me the same is true with the 3D modelling, visualisation, and animation side of things – the tools are complex and unintuitive, the process slow, and the outputs not worth the effort. As such I still use 3ds Max or SketchUp/VRay if I need to get a fast and consistent good looking visual (or lighting analysis) done with minimal effort and within budget.

    With regards to your point about looking towards the universities and seeing what students are doing I think this is an important point within reason. In all my years of university study not one of my fellow architecture students used Microstation for their work. I did know some that had tried but they had given up in favour of Autocad, Archicad and Vectorworks – the reasons being due to MS’s clunky interface and poor quality learning support available. However, whilst much student work is very impressive to look at, and university is a great place to push boundaries and test ideas, I personally disagree with you and don’t think we should pay that much attention to what students are doing. In my opinion (and this is based on my first hand experience) many students these days are absolutely brilliant at producing beautiful and seductive ethereal projects but they lack the basic knowledge and understanding of how buildings go together in reality or how to work collaboratively with other disciplines. Much of architectural education seems to be in a bubble where seductive imagery and Photoshop skills are placed on a far higher pedestal than the knowledge and skills required to produce attractive, contextual, and commercially viable buildings and I think these revered award winning examples prove my point. For me architectural education needs to be completely overhauled to reflect the real-world landscape that is the construction industry – and I feel the collaborative process of the BIM methodology should be at the heart of this.

    As for your final point about comparing BIM software I think you are missing the point. Firstly, the real issue is not just about how easy it is to model in each software and get a decent drawn output (don’t get me wrong this is important) but the real issue is how do these different platforms perform in a truly collaborative way when working across disciplines. Secondly, I’m afraid there’s also no way my practice would just rely on my personal experiences of trying to draw my house in each software. My current understanding has been informed by undertaking just such an exercise in each software but unfortunately my company is going to require a lot more rigorous comparison and performance / market data when they come to make this important investment decision about which BIM software to go with.

  • How much more marketing data do you need ? There are today in the UK 49  listings for Firms Requiring Revit users in Greater London alone and 1 for Bentley Architecture,  . . . . . .Am I doing myself in by not converting to Revit I wonder ???

  • Salve

    uso con molto profitto e soddisfazione BA. Ho avuto in studio chi usa Archicad: bel software. Ho utilizzato Revit: software carino ma inutilizzabile. A questo punto vorrei conoscere: come viene utilizzato BA da parte delgli utilizzatori che scrivono, per che scopo. per quale tipo di outpup?  Qual'è il flusso delle informazioni, come vengono inserite ed utilizzate dallo sketch al dettaglio esecutivo?


    nico schiesari

  • Every month or so we have the same debate on Bentley forums when it should be held over at Autodesk.

    When it comes to Archicad and copycat Revit you don't need to be a brain surgeon to realize the three words - Manipulation, Data Crunch and Innovation - lets forget about clamoring bureaucracy for a moment and look how restrictive this software is , if the debate was about Rhino BIM or Grasshopper I would look at the pros and cons and say that they have more to do with the future than their ability to grind it out , these  programs occupy an area of 50 sq. meters for 200MB in one unmovable file whilst Bentley software could encompass the world and recreate every single building on it on one computer.

    Bentley bashing is one thing , forgetting what it can do compared to other software is another.

  • This is a valid point you make arkitron - But I am starting to think that these shortcomings can be overlooked when confronted with the hard and un-user friendly tools we have in BA. It is just something you will need to "workaround" if you adopt Archicad/Revit.

    BA and the coined term "workaround" is something that BA seems to be embedded with.

    I find I use this term alot when I am teaching users how to create models and drawings in BA with just about every tool I use in BA.

    Intresting that you bring up Rhino. We have an architect who recently joined our ranks a few months ago and he says Rhino is the bees knees and we should be investing in this rather than PW+BA.

    Maybe this is someone Bentley should be lookiing into if you think there are obvious good features in this package.

  • BA Forms Tool is the quickest way of thrashing any building out ,something no other program has , the Mesh Tools are a bit lacking although one thing you might not know is that lofting in Rhino is limited to 2 rails whilst Mstn. can use an unlimited amount of profiles and rails just by pressing the ctrl button.

    I was at school with Zaha and Rem and I know how they think - the only thing they touch is either a pencil or microphone , they have Rhino Grasshopper guys to configure the sketches but we have Generative Components.

    Even the BA solid feature modelling is workable- there is a problem with thicken solids on some meshes but  you can offset them just as Rhino does - it might be hard to emulate T-Splines in BA and that is why Autodesk bought it and cut off the link to Solid Works - something Bentley would never do.

    Dgn and 3dm get along quite nicely but Rhino is just an A5 piece of paper compared to BA's huge canvas.

  • Well done Arkitron. Some real perspective. What amazes me when this topic rears it’s ugly head every few months are the Rhino, Revit, Archicad experts who profess to know everything and I just spend a lot of time shaking my head. Your point “whilst Bentley software could encompass the world and recreate every single building on it on one computer.” best sums up where we are right now.

    Damon. Perhaps you should move over to Rhino. It’s a surface modeller and who needs solids anymore any way. The work-arounds one needs to adopt in Revit to get a project out are criminal so the odd work-around in BA is acceptable in my book. Just pop over to the Autodesk forums - every second thread is marked with the word “workaround”. I often forget about the BA interface you so vividly attack - probably because I moved all the tools around years ago to where I thought they were best suited. oh that’ right I can customize my interface. How wonderful is that? Yeah sure the developers should have designed to better and I’m an architect so why would I want to customize an interface and all that but really, do you want to be told how to have your screen layout? Not in my book. AECOsim is coming and that issue seems to be addressed - I don’ think I will need to move any buttons around now. I remember 10 years ago when the Bentley interface smashed anything that Autodesk could throw up. Then Autodesk put in a mammoth effort to clean up its act. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was next on Bentley’ hit list. If you look at any software out there, they typically stick with the same interface for 5, 6, 7 years. I remember being engrossed in Revit about the time the ribbon bar interface started to evolve. I was appalled and so were most other users. To be honest I’m still appalled that a CAD/BIM/Graphics/etc software would use a ribbon bar. It may look pretty but it’s terrible to use day in day out. And whilst I’m on it so many things in Revit upset me off no end. The move tool. It’s an extra button click to get started and once you finish the tool defaults back to neutral - so I go and select the tool again. Just plain awful. And 3D navigation - please - just atrocious.

    Someone mentioned earlier that Bentley was hard to model in. Please. If it was any easier it would be called sketch up. Accudraw - use it - there is nothing you can’t model using Accudraw.

    Now for the finale - The best one of all. Model your house over a weekend. Now I’ve heard it all as I pick myself up off the floor. Please spare me. How can a commercial architect judge the competency of a software by modelling their house. Where are the deadlines, where are the other members of staff who participate in the design, where is the network that hits the wall at 4pm when the backup kicks in, where is backup system, restoring your 500Mb revit file after it corrupted for the 5th time this week because worksharing decided not to play ball, where are the designer designed components going through design options. So many questions throw itself up here and really at the money end of the business it’s not about what you can knock up, with a beer in hand, at home on the weekend.

  • OK.... BrianJ .... what would you improve? Or is BA in your eyes perfect?

  • Far from it, but what software is. For starters the interface. One example is the Modification tools - they really don't need a place on screen. If I want to modify one thing, or a collection of things, I go to that object(s) and the relevant tools appear of which many of the exsiting tools could be bundled into a single tool. They kind of already do with building objects, but not with Microstation based objects which I use a lot. I really don't need to be flicking my wrist back and forth between objects and menus. That would be my number 1 for now. :)

  • If you don't have too many beers Skype is a very handy way to work at home and save petrol.

    Rhino actually is a very good solids program because it is a specialist nurbs surfacing package that can turn things into solids - the addition of T-Splines makes it more the cat's pyjamas and the bee's knees- it is quite similar to Mstn. in many ways.

    Rhino 5 is a revolutionary step up and can be downloaded free with all its add-ons  till its rather belated release this summer.

    Particularly like the Paneling Tools because it is a very quick way of getting your surface panels out  to be fabricated

    I even find Grasshopper easy to use because it is so quick.

    Rhino BIM Structure is a very simple program with enormous potential - only it clogs up data  quite easily but has Structural Analysis on par with the big boys.

    Geometry Gym even has IFC BIM Structure import that allows Grasshopper to do the donkey work and can tie in with BA very well.

    Why is  this relevant to the topic - because ADesk has taken over T-Splines to connect it to Inventor as Alias was a failure - does that mean McNeel is next ?

  • 1. Modeling:

    Yea, Rhino 5 looks impressive.Lots of verticals as you mention. It seems to have a much more modern API, that has attracted T-Splines, RhinoParametrics and LEDAS/RhinoWorks. Combined with Grasshopper, there is plenty to choose from, from a modeling standpoint.

    WIsh I could say the same for Mstn, at the moment. But, strategically.... it should be easier for Bentley to coordinate things because it is more of a closed shop. I would have thought that this is the only way it can keep up with the likes of AD who can sell 10x more licenses for the same number of lines of code? It's probably more like 50x for BA. Rhino, Nemetchek etc all have the same problem. I wonder what their strategy is.

    Hopefully, Bentley will ensure tools developed for one app can be re-used in other markets without too much ado. Larger cross app teams brought to bear on critical common technologies. Bentley used to do multiple OS', and has hopefully learnt a few tricks trying to amalgamate Inroads, MX and Geopak.  V9?

    Be Together May 15th BR2LC1  New Efficiencies in Bridge Modeling Using PowerBridge Modeler

    "This presentation will preview the PowerPlatform based, 3D parametric bridge modeling software called PowerBridge Modeler (PBM). The heart of Bentley bridge information modeling, PBM offers custom bridge definition tools as well as direct connections to GEOPAK, InRoads, and MXROAD for importing roadway information including horizontal alignment, vertical profile, and ground contours. Modeling can be done by assembling bridge objects in a free form way for signature bridges or using guided sequences and user created libraries of bridge components and assemblies. Parametric relationships among the various elements streamline the revision and update process. Utilities, ground, and existing structures can be referenced to provide the holistic view of the project for planning, clash detection, and coordination. The physical model of the bridge created with PBM can be interactively exchanged with LEAP Bridge Enterprise and RM Bridge for performing analysis and design"

    Civil Geometry's geometric constraints solving, parametric relationships between objects... coming to BBD? Hey, already paid for, right? :-)

    Also, I like the way Bentley's new Raceway + Cable Management app allows the user to add raceways to existing runs that 'stick'. It even has some routing code (rules based?) that could be adapted to intelligently join those TF forms. I can see this being a good way to handle multi layer walls or slabs.

    2. GUI versus 'under the hood' engine-type advantages:

    Yes, Mstn probably has a world beating engine... that has a huge palette of elements. It's part and parcel of its great cross-sector history that covers GIS/mapping, civils, plant, as well as building on one platform. But, I don't think this is really an excuse to put up with, or the reason behind, BA's really clunky and fragmented UX.

    I suspect its really a computer science problem. Event-based CAD (not just dialog box-based) programming is pretty complex. Looking at the continuing debates on OO programming, dotNET, generics, async, UML and the latest C++ 11 changes, I can well understand why BA's tools are so simplistic and un-inspiring... since they are still dependent on a event programming framework put together 15+ years ago.

    Sometimes Mstn's UX reminds me of 'Unix philosophy' and it's 'worse is better' approach... favoured by geeks-in-the-know and administrator-types. The problem is that it is too easy to argue that 'bad' UI is offset by all that extra 'under the hood' benefits with users. Worse, users just don't care and will inevitably vote with their feet in response. Admin types just find themselves arguing with themselves and having to learn R***t anyway....worse case. BA doesn't even follow the 'MIT Approach' contrasted in the link above, which still falls far below the more modern whizz-bang graphic, game-like or 'multi-touch' or 'Augmented Reality' type UX's we see these days.

    Bentley has a great history of using pretty cutting edge tech. I am sure they will sort things out for the UI 'under the hood'. WIndows 8's WinRT?

  • Just tried out RhinoWorks and RhinoParametrics - absolute genial stuff , so simple along with all the other mouth watering verticals - if only they lived in much lighter, faster Mstn. along with all that Nurbs functionality - it's almost worth setting up a startup company to do just that.