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Bentley Architecture vs Revit vs Archicad

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Bentley Architecture vs Revit vs Archicad

  • My student builds up a few models in Rhino and passes it on to us to rationalize, thicken, add info to, and include in the main model but he always delivers surfaces.Just checked and Arkitron - you are right - it does solids and it comes into BA/MSTN beautifully. We'll have a surfaces v solids discussion on Monday.

  • @Dominic

    nice ideas, but it seems to me I read the same every few years, last time with the same hope of GUI overhaul with coming Win7. Bentley definitely has great history, I wish I could say same in about 5 years again ...

    p.

    /pt

  • For those of you interested I contacted Bentley Support on the same day I started this discussion (1st Feb) and today I finally received a response (please see extract below).

    I did this for two reasons: firstly to ascertain Bentley’s own formal position on the anticipated development and support for Bentley Architecture in the near future but secondly to ascertain just how on-the-ball Bentley Support are in terms of responding to user queries (NB I haven’t done this before because we usually go to our UK reseller for technical support).

    Anyway in my opinion I think it is absolutely shocking that it has taken 3 weeks to get a reply to a support ticket – for most other companies I use that are half the size you can expect a support reply within 48 hours and to me this speaks volumes about Bentley. In the same time period this forum discussion has grown to over 30 posts from experienced users and we’ve had just one response from a Bentley employee (thanks Travis but surely even you must admit this is pretty poor).

    Please don’t get me wrong, and I will stress again, I am not trying to bash Bentley for fun – I am an experienced user who understands how powerful Bentley’s suite of products are (especially their approach to BIM) but at times I really do think that without all the die-hard fans out there promoting / propping Bentley up (e.g. those who don’t mind spending years getting used to the tools & workflows etc) that Bentley would be dead in the market in no time.

    In addition, as you can see from the response below my nagging fears for BA and AECOSim appear to be coming true – in that there is no dedicated effort in the pipeline to try and improve the user interface or learning support for that matter. To be honest this I really do wonder if my original comment about Bentley being complacent / resting on their laurels is actually valid. However, I can’t believe for a minute that the sales of BA and AECOSim are driving this mentality?! Surely with the number of firms reportedly leaving Bentley for Autodesk there should be a lot of work going on at the moment in the basements at Bentley HQ!?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. Are there any decent learning tutorials / videos available online that I am unaware of? By this I mean comparable learning material to the likes of Revit and Archicad (e.g. PDF / videos) rather than paid training courses?

    As far as I now the only (Free material available) is the one provided in the help menu, also if you are seeking for extensive training material that will be better handled by the Bentley Institute and here is the contact information:

    Bentley Institute
    1-888-968-1000
    http://www.bentley.com/en-US/Training/

    2. Are there any major developments planned for Bentley Architecture that will improve the usability / accessibility of the software in the near future? I have heard rumours amongst other Bentley users that a new release with vast improvements is under development and scheduled for release in mid 2012. As it stands the complexity of the current user interface seems to have remained unchanged from 2009 meaning I currently agree wholeheartedly with this AECbytes review from 2009 (http://www.aecbytes.com/review/2009/BentleyArchV8i.html).

    As for now that will be AECOsim Building Designer and it is schedule to be released sometime this year. Many changes and new features have been added to AECOsim, you can take a look at the product as a ‘Beta’ available in the Select Download page. With that said, the user interface of the product remains pretty much the same as the one we have today, except as I mentioned above new added features and enhancements . As far as I can tell there are no plans to make changes to the user interface any time soon.

  • I don't think this response from the Support has any value, as Bentley is usually very strict when it comes to presenting new features or future plans. it's just another marketing answer with no meaning.

    on the other hand, if this shall be taken as a meaningful respond, well ...

    p.

    /pt

  • You are correct in that support is not really in the position to comment about general product direction and future plans... unless it's an imminent release that happens to include features already locked in.  We can certainly file change requests if it's specific enough, but something as broad as "improving the user interface" simply has no objective answer.   ABD *does* have what I would consider a more logical and streamlined interface when compared to our current products.   Others may feel differently.  But this is a very subjective topic, at least in these terms.

    IMHO, the UI topic would be much better suited for the ABD beta forum since that is where the product is headed.  Not every aspect of the interface and tools we have today in BA, BBMS, BBES and SM may be relevant, so rather than using those as the basis for discussion it should be ABD instead.     IMHO.    :)

    Regarding training, I see that response as also being somewhat on target.   The Bentley Institute is where Bentley training is centered, so it makes sense that this would be the first stop.  It doesn't mean there aren't other sources out there, but TSG typically doesn't (and often can't) keep up to speed with what others are doing.  This is assuming that the information in question isn't already here on the Be Communities or on th Bentley website.

    Lastly... if you could provide the Service Ticket # I would like to follow up on that aspect.

      

  • pbrooks81

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    1. Are there any decent learning tutorials / videos available online that I am unaware of? By this I mean comparable learning material to the likes of Revit and Archicad (e.g. PDF / videos) rather than paid training courses?

    As far as I now the only (Free material available) is the one provided in the help menu, also if you are seeking for extensive training material that will be better handled by the Bentley Institute and here is the contact information:

    Bentley Institute
    1-888-968-1000
    http://www.bentley.com/en-US/Training/

    2. Are there any major developments planned for Bentley Architecture that will improve the usability / accessibility of the software in the near future? I have heard rumours amongst other Bentley users that a new release with vast improvements is under development and scheduled for release in mid 2012. As it stands the complexity of the current user interface seems to have remained unchanged from 2009 meaning I currently agree wholeheartedly with this AECbytes review from 2009 (http://www.aecbytes.com/review/2009/BentleyArchV8i.html).

    As for now that will be AECOsim Building Designer and it is schedule to be released sometime this year. Many changes and new features have been added to AECOsim, you can take a look at the product as a ‘Beta’ available in the Select Download page. With that said, the user interface of the product remains pretty much the same as the one we have today, except as I mentioned above new added features and enhancements . As far as I can tell there are no plans to make changes to the user interface any time soon.

     

    I think that this says it all. I would also note that we are a company that has been MicroStation since '93 but has now decided to go the REvit route!

  • All:

    I said earlier that I was not ducking this conversation, and finally found some time to respond.  I am not sure that I write a lot when I respond because it has been so long, or if it is hard to find the time to respond because I write so much.  Either way, I would like to say thank you to all that pointed out that simply modeling your house on the weekend in BIM software while drinking a beer does constitute a valid assessment of a BIM application.  If you are of the opinion that such an exercise suffices as a legitimate evaluation, then you should step back and ask yourself why you are using BIM in the first place and whether or not the BIM software you chose from this process (along with the associated training & implementation costs) are really giving you a sound return on investment.  Chances are likely that you believe that BIM is just a 3D process for producing the same 2D drawing set (independent of other project consultants).  Additionally, I would also predict that your BIM investment is not warranting the ROI that you were told you would see by our competitors marketing blitzes.  Modeling your house on a weekend can not simulate the inter-disciplinary coordination/decision-making process, the constant need for design information exchange between clients, consultants and contractors, or how the product potentially enables or inhibits the design team when they are under the pressures of getting a project out the door.  Revit marketing will constantly show you how easy it is to start the project, but they are gone with your money (drinking beer on the weekend) when your design teams are stuck trying to finish the project and the software is telling you that you have to do it their way or no-way.  

    I have said it before and will most certainly say it again, BIM Is a Process that involves an entire design team collaboratively designing, analyzing, and simulating in a 3D environment to produce a better designed, constructed, and operated asset for the owner.  The evaluated benefits of BIM to a design team should not be limited to hours/drawing, but should also include an evaluation of risk-reduction on behalf of the entire design team (not just the architect), the quality of design coordination of all disciplines, the quality of the built asset, and owner satisfaction with design, construction, and operation of the facility (especially if it is a potential repeat customer).  I have had lengthy conversations with management and executives at many organizations regarding BIM process and, knowing what concerns they have expressed to me, I can assure you that evaluating BIM software purely on a technical level, without an organizational understanding of the BIM process and what your organization is looking to measurably achieve through BIM will most certainly result in less-than-expected performance by your project team, and their utilization of the BIM software (regardless of software vendor).  This narrowly focused evaluation method will also potentially lead you to selecting a BIM vendor that inhibits design freedom, tyrannically prohibits interoperable workflows, and only delivers on a small slice of what the BIM process encompasses.  

    The successful adoption of any BIM software first and foremost requires successful BIM Implementation Planning, without it any software, training, and/or BIM consultant fees are wasted.  BIM Implementation Plans should be thorough, developed collaboratively, and among many other things should include BIM goals, personnel roles & responsibilities, training plans, and technical/technological requirements.  More often than not, I see firms with training plans that entirely consists of only the BIM users and BIM Manager taking Distance Learning classes for the BIM application(s).  This only teaches the BIM users how to push the buttons in the software to do what the software wants you to do, but in no way conveys to the user why they are pushing the buttons.  Without being told any differently, the user naturally assumes that they are supposed to push the buttons in this new software program to deliver the same deliverables with the same processes as they always have in a CAD workflow.  This model consistently yields frustrated users, project managers claiming that BIM is killing the projects profitability, and everyone blaming the BIM software, all because they are trying to force a square peg through a round hole.  In my experience this is a common occurence and the main reason that I preach that BIM training needs to include process training for everyone involved in the project (designers, modelers, project managers, project reviewers, and principals in charge), not just for the BIM users.  I refuse to train users on how to use the software with out first making sure they know why they are using the software, and how BIM (as a process) differs from the CAD workflow.  This is very common in firms that have historically been a MicroStation shop which adopted Bentley BIM, not as a workflow change, but instead merely as an extension to their tried-and-true CAD workflow.  This scenario seems like a natural progression since Bentley Architecture, up to this point, has been a layered application.  Because of the layered software application many firms took the "slowly wading into the water" approach to Bentley Architecture, which I have rarely seen done so effectively. In my experience, the most successful BIM adoptions have looked more like 'jumping in to the deep end' of the pool rather than 'wading into the water'. Wading into the water is a painful situation & extremely frustrating as a user, and I can attest to this because I can from a large international design firm that took the 'wading into the water' approach to BIM.  

    PBrooks:

    I agree that 3 weeks for a response from TSG on an inquiry is unacceptable and I am sure that Steve Cocchi will look into it.  My guess is that non-technical requests for information like that can be hard to categorize/assign to an appropriate group/person in the technical support group and that may have resulted in the lengthy response time.  Inquiries such as those would probably be better suited for this forum, and as you can see from the responses I think you will get a response much quicker.  I do not believe the lengthy delay you experienced in this case to be the norm, and if you want some secondary confirmation of this, I would refer your to the BIM Evaluation Study Report commissioned by the AIA LFRT (conducted by AECbytes) that gave Bentley a 'good' (highest rating in the study) for Quality of Technical Support, while Revit received a 'fair' rating. Regarding perceived complacency, I will also refer you to the same study where, the category of Responsiveness to Feedback, Bentley was again given a 'good' rating and Revit received a 'fair' rating.  

    pbrooks81
    1. Are there any decent learning tutorials / videos available online that I am unaware of? By this I mean comparable learning material to the likes of Revit and Archicad (e.g. PDF / videos) rather than paid training courses?

     Stay alert for information that should satisfy this concern.  I wish I could say more, but I have been told to keep quiet for a couple weeks. :(

    Also, I would like to thank you for recognizing that simply because more Revit-knowledgable users might be coming out of universities, does not mean that a AE firm must alter their culture & workflows to accommodate what the market is yielding.  Any firm's success is most likely a result of solid leadership, strong organizational culture, and established workflows, not their ability to capture and adapt to the commodities available in the workforce.

    Regarding your statement from your earlier post..."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.".  Again, I would refer you to the AIA LFRT BIM Evaluation where a lot of the concealed realities of Revit's performance in production settings are reported.  The study evaluated only the performance Bentley Architecture V8i, and I think that you will see that most of the categories we scored low on in the study have been substantially enhanced in Building Designer, again a sign that Bentley is not complacent.  

    Regarding the UK BIM mandate and the Bentley marketing presence...  Unfortunately, I am not in a position within Bentley where I can impact the lack of marketing presence for the BIM products, but I will continue to try to share my Bentley BIM knowledge to empower users when I have the opportunities.  Though I am based in the US, I may be in the London sometime this month for some work and may be able to arrange some time with you, depending on where in the UK you are located. I have been working on getting relocated to the UK and if it happens I will do my best to make sure that there isn't a stream of Revit lemmings ignorantly following the Autodesk marketing buzz towards the 2016 UK BIM mandate.  I would love to be able to learn more about your organization (culture, values, personnel, work, etc.) and make some workflow suggestions that would be aptly suited to your organization's needs.  Because of the lack of quality help documentation/videos (only for the time being) I find that many firms are underutilizing the Bentley BIM offerings in their workflow, and they are not aware of many of the great benefits that Bentley BIM can offer. I, along with the other consultants in my North American group, have consulted with a number of firms like this in the US and been able to provide tailored workflow solutions, workspace customizations, or BIM process training that have added significant productivity gains for the firms production staff.  

    I think that is more than enough for now,

    Regards,
    Travis 

  • This is an interesting thread.

    Long time Microstation user here (20+ years)... currently struggling to really get into BA.

    I find the UI to be generally uninspiring and just plain old fashioned (For Microstation as well and AECOsim BD has in my opinion offered nothing new in this regard).

    Take for just a very small example the addition of a material preview to the top of the Dataset Explorer in AECosim- what does this preview achieve with a widget size no bigger than the icons in the view toolbox? why have something that is too small to see?

    Sticking with Dataset Explorer, given that part and description are nearly always listed first why do these not stay fixed when you scroll to the other end of the dialog so you can always see these names? why can't I order columns like in other Bentley dialogs? why can't I save my own layout like in other Bentley dialogs? what if there was a switch to auto hide unused columns?

    Why do the icons look as if they are from software from the early 90's? Actually I do not think that Revit is any better- both seem antediluvian.

    Just had the pleasure of downloading the latest version of Modo (from Luxology, the developers of the render engine in the V8i generation of software for those that don't know this) and the care and attention that has been lavished on the interface is a joy to behold ...and to use. Not just looking pretty.

    Moving on to the documentation and again AECOsim seems no better than the poor efforts in MS and previous BA versions.

    Where is the nicely illustrated documentation explaining in a clear conversational tone a beginning to end workflow on a modern architectural project of some complexity, with the model supplied in all its glory to work with along with tutorials and videos?

    The dismissal of Utarc's weekend modelling exercise I think shows a problem.... like it or not software will live or die by the ease with which users can achieve the right results and if it is just too difficult to even get a simple house project finished in comparison with other softwares then I think that says quite a lot.

    Everyone seems to want to use Rhino in our office... MS and BA turns people off.

    It is also difficult to imagine that even on a BIM project the need to generate a traditional set of plans, elevations and sections will be going away any time soon and the ease with which this can be achieved (and just the enjoyment of using the software) is not to be belittled.

    On any project you will still have to make the models...still have to generate drawings.

    And all software imposes working methods on the user... why have design models, drawing models, and sheet models?

    I would dearly love to see a modern BA and MS, 64 bit , deeply consolidated toolset (why have so many ways of extruding an element?) proper documentation and an appealing modern UI to go along with the traditional strengths of large scale geometry handling, reference files, combined 2d/3d and comprehensive toolset- this could really be something- AECOsim is not it from what I have seen so far.

    AECOsim - even the name is terrible :-)

    By the way Travis, if you do make it to London we would love to see you at Foster and Partners- we are one of those traditional cad practices trying to transition to BIM.

    regards

    Danny

  • lots of questions and observations Danny. I will focus on why have model files, drawing files, and sheet files? Note that I have truncated
    the terms of reference as the cross naming of these three components is sometimes the start of the confusion.

    Well it’s a bit like that coffee advert on TV where they claim to be contributing to the recycling campaign by reducing packaging . . .You know where the customers come out of the shop carrying coffee grains in their hands, in their hats and umbrellas Etc. Etc Have you seen it? Anyway it’s a similar analogy. If you went to the store to buy say pickles you wouldn't come out of the store with pickles in your bare hands. You would at least insist they were put in a Jar (Drawing files) The jar would contain "information" (there's that word again ) on the pickles: Use by date,, Chemical preservatives, Nutritional value, . . . .when not to eat them (No not really !! ) Similarly the wholesale delivery truck arriving at Sainsbury’s or Asda or wherever wouldn't attempt to off load hundreds of Jars of Pickles that would make his job a whole lot more difficult. He would have packed the Jars in Boxes (Sheet files).

    On close inspection you will find that the information on the Jars is not essentially the same information on the Boxes and no information is ever engraved on the pickles. Just for example the box would need to say which side is "UP", where as the Jar wouldn't need to have this information. The manufacturers assume that we are not complete idiots and know that a jar does not stand on its head. Similarly there is no point putting information on which side up the box should be on the Jar.

    This is very much analogues to best practice in organising the information put on drawings, where should the information be placed,  what is its relevance and also what level of information to show ensuring that information is conveyed at the right level to the appropriate recipient, (especially so in this age of BIM). You find there is a lot of irrelevant or duplicated information (sometimes on the pickles themselves). This happens a lot in the exchange of project information.

    If used properly in the prescribed manner Model files, drawing files, and sheet files therefore are a great tool for organizing these different hierarchies of information and detail. It's the best system I have come across yet.

  • PICKLEsim condiment designer...I wonder whether you can onion skin the levels? ;-)

    I wasn't in fact asking what each of these models do but just to illustrate that all software imposes some sort of restriction and way of working and these are in BA as well as Revit (and if it all sounds as if i am particularly down on Bentley from my last post I can assure I am not... But our users in general I would say want to use other tools it seems)

    As i said I would love to see something better from Bentley....if only to stem the tide of the "why dont we use Revit" or "why dont we use Digital Project" questions on the BIM side and the already widespread use (at Fosters at least) of Rhino.

  • Danny,

    I fully agree with your comments.

    Travis,

    OK, let's forget about BIM for a while and talk straight about a software for architect to create model and deliver drawings. in final stage it is ALL about drawings. I don't know about US, but here in Europe I haven't seen a worker with laptop checking some 3D but plenty of papers stitched to the workers office's walls with many remarks made by thick pen ...

    you say the weekend modeling of house is poor criterion to evaluate any software. you could be right, but for me, as freelancer working on my own, the only thing that matters is how easy I can work with software. I do not have time/money for some specialist to set me up, don't have resources to prepare datasets. I need to install thing and use it ... I understand my position is probably not typical since you are interested in big clients with 100+ seats, anyway I try to show you my little world too :-) of course I work with consultants and co-workers, most of them use Adesk products so I bless Bentley for native DWG support.  

    btw, the support of Bentley for the Central Europe is, well, none at all, when it comes to AEC software.

    what I found interesting in this thread, since most of posts are critical, most of authors are long-time MS users. I believe we do not want to banish Bentley for anything, what we want is to be able to keep Bentley software competitive ...

    p.

    /pt

  • Danny,

    dshaw
    By the way Travis, if you do make it to London we would love to see you at Foster and Partners- we are one of those traditional cad practices trying to transition to BIM.

    I was actually in your office in January, and if I am to return to London in the near future it would again be for F+P working with Stephen H..  We haven't determined dates or if it will in fact be me coming, but ask Stephen to make sure to introduce us if I end up coming over.

    -Travis