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Bentley Architecture vs Revit vs Archicad


I am a long time MicroStation user currently reviewing a number of the leading BIM platforms out there - namely Bentley Architecture, Revit, & Archicad.

Now I am not a 'die-hard' Bentley fan and so my remit is to simply try and evaluate each package on its own merits in order to get a fair comparison and to help inform our decision about which to use.

So far I have a good understanding of the pro's and con's of each but with regards to Bentley Architecture my initial experience is that it is incredibly complex and has unbelievably poor 'help' documentation (especially when compared to Bentley's competitors) making it very difficult to learn the software. To me this sounds like shear arrogance on Bentley's part or market share suicide - not sure which at the moment. Even once the software has been mastered it is my impression from reading the forum that Bentley are still way behind the likes of Revit and Archicad in terms of meeting user suggestions / feature requests?

Is this is a fair opinion of Bentley Architecture and if not why?

Also does anyone have experience of trialling / reviewing both Revit and Archicad?

Thanks in advance...

41 Replies (Most Recent Reply)

  • Yes, over the years.... looked at both. All have their relative merits and drawbacks.

    If you are going to change, then Revit is seen as the safer bet at the moment.

    A lot of offices have multiple platforms.

    I would stay with Bentley.....  it's much more fun :-)

  • PBrooks:

    Since I am a Bentley colleague I will refrain from telling you which is the best BIM platform (I think you could guess what my answer would be), but I will try to address a couple of your concerns and share some things to consider in your BIM evaluation for your firm.  Obviously there is no software package in the world that is perfect, and Bentley does not claim to be exempt from that claim.  We recognize we have deficiencies and work hard to erase those and also respond to user feedback in a timely manner.  I would find it difficult to believe that you would hear claims from Revit users that they have the direct communication with Product Managers and developers like that occurs every day between Bentley and our clients.  While at times some of the comments and posts that occur in BE Communities forums seem critical of some tools or applications, I firmly believe that the users in these forums feel comfortable posting their opinions (good or bad), because they are heard by Bentley product managers, developers, support and even the Bentley executives.  Often times this result in a quick turn-around on a bug fix or additional features added to builds to meet a particular clients need.  On the other hand, I have been told by several dual-platform clients that Revit's feature list is frozen for the 2014 release already (and closing in on feature freeze for 2015), therefore any feature requests or complaints on an Autodesk forum would be done so in vain.  I really only mentioned that because I don't think that I have ever come across a person who confused Bentley with being arrogant, and I hope the users in this forum will reinforce this sentiment.

    Regarding your concerns about Bentley, I would encourage you to take a look at AECOsim Building Designer rather than Bentley Architecture.  Building Designer will be the next release (1-2 months away) of Bentley Architecture.  However, for me to say that Building Designer is just the next version of Bentley Architecture is a gross understatement.  Building Designer is a complete BIM solution in a single application that in addition to added architectural features includes full functionality for Structural, Mechanical, Plumbing, and Electrical design/documentation, a robust and intuitive clash detection engine, hyper-modeling, Dynamic Views, and additional feature enhancements.  This is what you should be using as your benchmark against other BIM vendors.

    If only looking at Bentley Architecture, I believe that your concern with poor 'help' documentation is valid, and as I stated above, Bentley has identified this as a shortcoming and invested in a thorough update to both the content and delivery methods of help/informational documentation that will ship with AECOsim Building Designer.  In addition to this, an even bigger effort was initiated to overhaul the Bentley delivered datasets to make Building Designer production-ready with little-to-no customization required by the end user.  This effort was guided by several of our BIM consultants with experience working everyday with our users from all over the world to capture the functional requirements of a vast user base and reflect the collective knowledge gained from this user collaboration into a workspace that everyone can leverage.  The dataset overhaul was in direct response to user comments that the applications were complex (as you observed) and aimed to set out to show users that the solutions and workflows can be simple, while still affording the ability to customize the applications, workspaces, and processes to support even the most complex organizations, which in my opinion has always been one of Bentley's greatest strengths.  

    In my architecture days before Bentley I was faced with the same choice, which BIM solution is best for me and my organization.  Given that I am now working for Bentley it is apparent which I chose, but I at time I was an more of an Autodesk user than Bentley if that indicates that I haven't been biased my entire BIM career.  In fact, still to this day I have nearly as much experience on Autodesk applications as on Bentley applications.  Full disclosure out of the way...  Below I will include a couple points that you should consider in your evaluation as they are often overlooked items.  At firms that I have worked for or consulted with, I have seen the workflow/staffing impact that oversight of these items has yielded and more importantly to a business the resultant hidden project and organizational costs, which are often substantial.  

    Interoperability - Bentley BIM solutions are all built on top of the DGN file format and thus there is no file export process required to move between 3D data-rich models and static 2D construction drawings that can be opened by clients, contractors, or reviewers that do not have Revit or Archicad.  Additionally, since BIM is an intra-disciplinary process that requires intense collaboration by all project stakeholders (architects, engineers, contractors, owners, and more), Building Designer, as a unified BIM application, enables live referencing of models from all disciplines with full data fidelity to offer an immense project savings on avoiding data/time loss on import/export/link processes that can stall the design process.  Bentley even provides a free plug-in that allows collaborators that might be working in Revit to publish i-Models (with precise geometry and BIM data) that can be referenced directly by MicroStation, Bentley BIM solutions, and even Navigator for Clash Detection and Design Review processes.  Don't be mislead by Autodesk's claim that they allow direct linking of DGN's in Revit 2012 as an interoperable solution.  Despite Autodesk having the DGN file format as part of the interoperability agreement between Autodesk and Bentley, they only allow a Revit link to a V7 DGN, which would require a Save As or Export, which disrupts live coordination and wastes project time and money on data exchange processes for your company.  

    BIM is a Collaborative Process.... Many people falsely assume that the main point of BIM from a design perspective is to simply have better coordinated 2D Construction documents, because they are extracted from the 3D model.  While this is a benefit of BIM, anyone that identifies this as the primary reason to adopt BIM is clearly missing the point of the BIM process and is likely to not benefit much, if any, when it comes to the bottom line after additional software, training, and related overhead costs are factored in.  BIM (as a process) should be utilized in conjunction with BIM software in order to produce a better designed (thoroughly coordinated across all disciplines & being free of costly, last minute coordination changes that compromise the overall design) & constructed built asset (reduced/eliminated change orders as a result of design phase coordination, among others) for the owner.  BIM applications that nearly force you to work through a building as though it was a set of 2D drawings rather than a 3D facility (which needs to be inhabited, operated, and maintained in a 3D world) seem to be missing this critical component to the success of BIM, and the primary reason that owners are starting to more frequently require BIM.  Personally, I have never physically experienced a building through plan, section, or elevation and as such can't understand how a designer would want to design a project in this manner when a 3D simulation model is being created. This is not something to be taken lightly, because as an architect or engineer you are not contracted to create pretty drawings that state it is someone else's problem, but instead you are to produce a coordinated design that will satisfy the functional requirements of the building program, codes, and owner's requirements.  Also, if collaborating across offices, make sure to examine the process for sharing data/models as well as communicating design coordination information.  Beware of being required to align software versions with all project consultants, which may result in users having to have multiple software versions on their machine at the same time in order to work on more than one project.  

    Infrastructure... Make sure to examine the system requirements carefully to avoid an unexpected overhaul of hardware in your office.  In addition to just the computer hardware look at network bandwidth.  I have seen a dual platform firm deploy Revit after doing a small pilot project (project approx. 20% of their normal project size), and as soon as they had a project of normal size they discovered they needed all new hardware and still the software had difficulty handling the complexity and size of the project. Upon bringing a second Revit project into the office the network was nearly crippled for most of the work day, and users had to begin to save to Central 30 minutes before they wanted to leave for the day.  This resulted in the company being forced to upgrade their entire network, which combined with the hardware upgrades resulted in hidden costs that were greater than the software licenses (not even quantifying lost productivity into that amount).  This experience is not intended to cut down Revit, just to warn you of what they won't tell you until after they have your money, if they tell you at all.  Historically, Bentley's federated approach to workspaces and model organization has allowed numerous firms to save substantially by not requiring hardware or network upgrades and I would recommend that be considered in your evaluation.  

    As a BIM consultant, I work with users every day, and I think that you will see that most of the time despite the fact that I am a Bentley colleague that I will side with the user on topics related to functionality change requests, but at the same time tirelessly respond to user's inquiries with software questions and workflows that make BIM teams more profitable.  It is with this experience in mind that I challenge you to look at a project's overall BIM workflow involving not just those that touch the BIM software, but the entire project team.  I will tell you that making the transition to BIM is a challenging and potentially expensive one that involves substantial workflow/cultural changes in order to be most successful and maximize your return.  Any software vendor that tries to sell a BIM solution without recognizing the need to interoperate with not only other disciplines, but also other vendors is not painting the entire picture for you and you will discover that cumbersome workflows for collaboration along with losses in time and data due to poor interoperability workflows are exponentially more costly with BIM than they are with CAD.

    Well despite what this lengthy post might make you believe, I am a professional services consultant and not a marketing or sales guy, but I too often see the marketplace get consumed by the marketing machine of Autodesk that fails to tell the BIM story.  I apologize if any comparisons seemed limited to Revit/Bentley that is only because I have limited experience with Archicad as most clients i work with are multi-disciplinary and mandate a BIM suite that includes capabilities for all engineering disciplines.  If you would like any additional information regarding AECOsim Building Designer (or any of our products, preferably somewhat related to buildings), or if you would like more information on the BIM process, feel free to send me an email.  

    Now I will let the rest of the community chime in with their less-biased opinions. ;)



  • Hi PBROOKS81

    It approves of your opinion.

    I am a user of both Revit and Bentley Architecture.

    And tried hands-on training of ArchiCAD.

    I think that Microstation is CAD of World's No.1

    However, Bentley Building Solution (includ Building Designer BATA) of Bentley is the regrettable present condition.

    I think that Revit and ArchiCAD are easily accepted in a beginner.

    Moreover, Revit and Archicad have download of many tutorials(very impotant) and limited Free on the 30days on Website to easy access.

    The beginner who have not purchased yet supports extension of the share.

    A share is a source of progress.

    Revit and ArchiCAD are not the partner that should be opposed to each other but the partners which should learn.

    I am sure that Bentley listens to a user more.

    I love Bentley.


  • In reply to T_Wollet:

    Nice and very informative reply Travis.

    I have been a Microstation user for many years and have not found Bentley to be arrogant during that time by any means.  There is no other software that I am involved with that gives the users such direct interaction with their programmers and developers.  That said, we too are in the process of evaluating BIM systems here at my office.  Mind you we are very biased towards Bentley but to be honest there are two major factors holding us back.  The lack of parts/content in their BIM package and the lack of help/tutorials.  The content is the biggest issue to us by far but hopefully, when AecoSim is fully released, this will not be an issue at all.  We are an MEP outfit so the biggest selling point for us is the fact that AecoSim comes with multiple disciplines.  Very nice attribute.  Good luck in your decision process.

    John K.

  • In reply to jkknighton:

    I am a user of Bentley Architecture since it first release. (used to be called Triforma way back about 15 years ago).

    I have always thought Microstaion is the best Cad package around.

    I have used both ArchiCAD and ADT in previous employments along with Microstation.

    Microstation is the Number one CAD program in the world when It comes to the base package. It also has the best interoperability in the world, as its able to open anything from autocad files, to Google sketchup files inside microstation plus imports just about any type or dxf type translational cad data. IFC  etc.

    BUT! Bentley Architecture frankly is an archaic way of working that does not  help building professionals in using a 3d to 2d documentation path. The door tools or OK. but the windows and curtainwall tools are not very good when compared to Revit and ArchiCad. BA and microstaion are modelling programs. They have no intelligence. Very much the opposite of ArchiCad and Revit. IMHO Bentley Architecture is extemley lacking in development. It is stagnant and needs to be completley re-written to compete with Revit and Archicad. AECosim Building Designer does not even come close to acheiving this.

    IMHO I would persue Revit over Bentley Archiecture or AECOsim Building Designer.

    There are way too many cons in BA for anyone to actually prefer it over Revit. Revit is so much more user friendly, beter tutorials etc as others mentioned above.

  • In reply to Damon Aspden:

    For the sake of non duplication I refer you to my recent post a few weeks back.

    I am also a diehard microstation user.  I used it simultaneously with AutoCAD but eventually dropped using AutoCAD because I always felt that it was more graphically dynamic and flexible.  Besides that it used to be the case that one could get a lot more work and better pay because of the quality of projects and number of practices that used microstation.

    There is still a lot of indecision about BIM but I guess everyone has accepted that it is a change that is inevitable.  

    A lot of Architectural practices are not advocates of what is called the bottom up approach, (the opposite I have coined as being the “back to front approach” but is more commonly referred to as the Top down approach.) This is foreign ground to them  . . . “You don’t build a 3d model until you have got everything designed  . . .!!! “ you know the drill . . .plans . . .elevations . . sections . . .then model . .!!!.  The good thing about the BIM revolution is that it is forcing such decision makers gradually out of their comfort zone. Let’s not forget that a lot of  these practices still have directors and those who call the shots who started out with the T square and drawing board.  Such people are still coming to grips with CAD let alone BIM. Funny enough though , if you talk to some younger architects in the field they still have only a very vague idea of what Building information Modelling is.  The preference therefore is to stick with the tried and true.   The trend right now is to hold out for as long as possible doing things the way they have always been done, a sort of let’s wait and see approach.

    I recently heard that a couple of die hard microstation firms in the UK had  a few days ago employed Revit specialist to assist in the conversion of the practice from microstation to Revit BIM.  This should be very worrying for Bentley.  Granted Bentlley has a firm hold on the large players but this is purely because traditionally large infrastructure development was carried out on microstation as the chosen platform because of its better handling of Reference files and other reasons already mentioned by Travis above. The emanating problem however is that the majority of the medium sized contractors (and these will become the main drivres ) have never even heard of Bentley architecture let alone another Bentley release, with another fancy name, another goal post shift, more complications, another hill to climb (not that I don’t like a challenge) , and possibly help files that are purely descriptive with no examples and explained processes. I have really had to scratch and claw to build my knowledge up to its present capacity. Sorry to say Revit is fast becoming the GLOBALLY ADOPTED BIM Standard.

    I believe however Bentley have the resources to address this situation in a more aggressive manner. However having lost a lot of ground and continuing to lose it there is yet work to be done.  If not, I predict that it will become increasingly non cost effective to continue to use Bentley products for a variety of reasons.  However it is still early days.

  • In reply to Jydeda:

    As someone who fell for the marketing buzz and spent a lot adopting Revit only to dump and return to Bentley here are the main problems we found with Revit vs BA

    Design restrictions - Revit expects you to design the way it wants you to design. Revit is very much an component based application. By that I mean if you want to create a stair you only have the limited stair options. If these options aren't available in Bentley then you can use traditional modelling techniques like using tried and tested solids to get the design you want. You can then apply the information required by BIM to the object(s) after. Its a difficult concept to grasp. When people take up BA they expect the door, wall, stair, etc tools are the answer to everything. The reality is you have to be flexible and use the wide array of tools available. That's where Revit fails. This can kill a project

    Not Scalable - Because Revit uses the Single Model mentality it does have trouble with large projects with lots of people. Whilst Worksets is a nice concept, the reality it fails to deliver if the project gets beyond 4 people. Syncronisation issues, who has what, who owns what and so forth. Size is also an issue. You are looking at huge file sizes which have it's own hardware and networking issues. This can be catastrophic on a project.

    Not interoperable - The reality is architects don't use a single piece of software. Nothing talks to Revit therefore combining Revit with other design apps is difficult. We shelled out tonnes of money on Navisworks to do clash. I did not think for a second Navis couldn't read a Revit file. That was a harsh lesson. Autocad can't read a Revit file. Revit 2011 cannot read 2012 so if you expect working with a consultant on the same project using a different version of Revit would not be a problem. Think again. What I like about Bentley is they make an effort to be interoperable and it shows in the array of file formats that can be read. And going between 2D, 3D, BIM, Clash, visualisation, etc I can use a single formats and pull in files from others.

    Price - We got a good price going from Microstation to BA. Revit cost us a bomb. Not only in software but in training and hiring in a consultant to work with us on workflow. Whilst the initial interface of Revit might look friendly, when you try and get into the deep stuff, no video or tutorial can help. Like you do with BA, You need to train - simple.

    BA has its downfalls, theres no doubt about that, but we find we can always get a project, presentation, whatever it is, delivered in the Bentley stuff. We often failed miserably on Revit - perhaps it was just the way we were working. Who knows. Good luck.

  • In reply to BrianJ:

    Brian J:

    Thank you for providing a real production-level comparison between Revit and Bentley BIM.  It is refreshing to hear someone share what reality is like, after the Autodesk marketing pitch wears off, when the software has to perform in production and support a BIM process.  With any BIM application there are two critical things that are needed, proper training and a thorough understanding of the BIM process (collaboration, communication, coordination) and how it differs from CAD workflows.


  • In reply to BrianJ:

    Hi BrianJ

    I am also a Diehard Microstation user.

    However, I am a Revit user by my company's policy recently.

    Revit and Microstation will be mutually used for the time being for the cause which you showed.

    I approve of all your opinions. 

    However, the advantages of Bentley which you show is the advantages of Microstation, and is not the advantage of Bentley Building.

    Though regrettable, there is Bentley Building Solution in the middle of the pursued to Revit.

    Although AECOsimBD is pursuing Revit, a hand is full of it by improving processing of a view at most. Parametric does not reach.The system of grid which crosses a plane and section and elevation does not exist. I hope to complete a product carefully to the last.

    Revit will have a schedule with structure and MEP with Design from the next version.

    I continue waiting for Bentley's improvement eagerly.


  • In reply to Ryuichi Ishikawa:

    Interesting links about adopting to Revit....which may or may not be useful to you.

    1. Parametrics:

    There are a lot of problems with the particular brand of parametrics that Revit uses... which is very history-based. Bentley has an opportunity to leapfrog this. Even in the MCAD world, there: is recognition that the history-based techniques have their limits, and moves to accommodate more flexible modeling techniques.

    I think that the new HUD dimensions are really cool and can be a lot more powerful. Driving dimensions and local rules-based constraints would be great productivity boosters. I think even Bentley realises that they can not rely on GC adoption alone i.e. a big increase on scripting amongst the user base for productivity gains. Maybe Bentley should get LEDAS to look at this. They seemed to have bolted this onto Sketchup and Rhino fairly quickly.

    2. Solids Modeling:

    This was the big differentiator for BA in the past. Revit's parametrics was/is powerful but restrictive. But 10 years on, the old Triforma stuff is looking pretty passe and needs a big refresh.  It seems that the Feature Solids stuff does not integrate with forms or BDD's Data Group System very well. Even GC isn't very well integrated, but that is easy enough to be a firm item on the roadmap... ?

    The TriForma Forms / DGS don't even integrate very well with Mstn platform tools like fence operations. Apps like EliteCAD, which is also Parasolids-based and very similar to BBD in its approach to modeling, highlights a lot of the lack of real updates to the tools.

    A lot of things are just really small usability refinements. Also look at the way Bonzai3d's offset/booleans tools work. A shape can be used to imprint a subtractive cut in a solid. Mstn can do that as well. The flanking faces of the 'cavity' can then be moved. Mstn can do that as well, although it has trouble finding and offering up the faces to the user. But with Bonzai3d, when the face is extended past the solid's volume, the subtraction or 'hole feature' becomes an extrusion or 'boss feature'. With Mstn, the shape just disappears.... leaving the user with that 'workaround-needed-again' feeling. Why can't the tool switch between hole and boss code smoothly?  It seems like each tool has been developed isolation without any thought of handling call(back)s between tools, or composition or wider UI issues/opportunities.

    In EliteCAD, window objects or boolean operations can span automatically over multiple solids or walls. Bonzai3d can also dynamically recognise other solids that intersect the solid that is being modified. So, if a dormer is being extended past a roof plane, the boolean tool automatically pulls the roof plane into the 'working' set. With Mstn, the user has to preselect everything, and if there are any changes you'll have to select the relevant solids again.

    A lot of the stuff is scattered around the different tools... and really UI-based. Maybe the way the tools which were set up 15 years ago is obsolete because they all came about before the OO craze. Maybe we are waiting for a general overhaul of the underlying Mstn event -handling, state-machine, dependency framework plumbing model. V9?

    DDD is way overdue for an update. Maybe compatibility with DWG Dynamic Blocks and Parametric Drawing will start to drive these changes. I suppose a lot of the groundwork could be borrowed from the new-ish Civil Geometry platform? Even mid-range apps like VectorWorks have constraints... and solid modeling these days.

    There is a lot of in house tech available.  Hopefully, after ABD is released (2012), it would be stable enough for things like GC, FS/DDD can be integrated (2014?)

    3. Mstn Platform:

    Yes. Mstn is a pretty awesome platform. But, I suspect we architects have the largest herd of users that are using vanilla Mstn without a vertical. Now with the pressure to adopt BIM, and more complex assemblies of 3d models, there needs to be a lot more integration of the platform tools with BBD. The BBD dev team will need to do or delve into more heavy stuff that was previously done at platform. Things like editing-cells-in-place probably requires a lot of surgery 'deep-deep-under-cover' in platform territory that will be disruptive to all the verticals regardless if it is useful to them or not.

  • In reply to dominic Seah:

    Thanks to everyone for your responses to my original post – it’s great to hear people’s BIM experiences and views.

    Travis, seeing that you offered the longest response and the fact that you are a representative of Bentley I will direct my response to you if I may…

    Firstly, I agree with you entirely when you discuss BIM as A ‘Collaborative Process’. BIM is a collaborative method of working and not simply a debate about software. This is a very common misconception within the industry. That said, in order for BIM (as a process) to be possible it does require the BIM technology (i.e. software & hardware) to work effectively and this is why such emphasis and discussion revolves around this at the moment. This is why I am currently evaluating all the leading BIM software out there - so that we as a company can try to answer our own internal questions / doubts rather than simply sticking with our existing software provider (Bentley) or listening and falling for the marketing spiel from any of the BIM software providers.

    As far as I am concerned the key to BIM is in the letter ‘I’ – ‘Information’ and how this data is linked to entities within the model and how is this information is easily added, interrogated, extracted, and used by the different parties on a project. Every BIM program is capable of building 3D models but ultimately BIM (as a process) falls apart completely if the information contained within the model cannot be exchanged effectively and accurately between platforms. As an aside I saw a webinar slide recently that showed a test project where the same 3D model had incurred information loss and alteration when it was passed between differing platforms – a sort of ‘BIM Chinese whispers’ I suppose which clearly goes to highlight the need for all the key providers to ‘collaborate’ (funny that!) in sorting out interoperability issues. In my opinion BIM will not succeed until the fundamental issue of interoperability is addressed.

    In terms of software I accept that all the leading platforms have their relative merits and drawbacks and that there is no perfect platform out there. In fact I am just as aware of the issues with Autodesk (thanks for your feedback Brian J!) as with Bentley. However, it seems from my first-hand experience (as well as the other contributors to this discussion) that Bentley has more than its fair share of drawbacks - and this is leading many in the industry to regard Autodesk as the safer bet out there at the moment.

    I must admit I am reassured by your comment about Bentley recognising that there are deficiencies with their software and that they try hard to remedy them. On reflection maybe my comment about Bentley being ‘arrogant’ was a tad too harsh (I had just spent a morning trying to get to grips with Bentley Architecture that day with frustrating progress and rubbish help files!). I suppose what I was trying to communicate was that ever since I started using Microstation 10 years ago I have always felt that Bentley have been lagging behind other CAD software (especially in terms of features and usability) and over my 10 year horizon have come to regard Bentley as complacent and only playing catch-up in the marketplace rather than trying to lead it. I feel that this is still the same with BIM.

    Don’t get me wrong I do understand how powerful Bentley’s suite of applications are (in theory) and I do generally understand and agree with the underlying strategic approach with regards to how Bentley develop their software but my fundamental issue is that the interface and tools are so extraordinary complex and clunky (especially when compared to competing software) that it makes it virtually impossible for average users to harness the power of the application. For instance in my office I am probably one of the most technically / IT minded members of staff and even I find Bentley Architecture incredibly difficult to grasp but in comparison I am finding both Archicad and Revit a delight to use (deeper BIM issues aside). I am absolutely adamant that my less technically minded colleagues would struggle enormously with Bentley Architecture and I must stress that usability is a very important issue I will be considering when I present back to my bosses. It is also clear from the other contributions to this discussion that others share my grievances.

    With regards to your suggestion about looking at AECOsim BD I must admit I had never heard of it but I did manage to download the Beta version from your website. To be completely honest apart from a revised menu of Structural and MEP tools (which is quite neat but as architects we will never touch) I have observed no real improvement or addressing of the issues I have documented using BA (for example my compound wall problem still occurs in AECOsim BD). If you say this is what we should be using as a benchmark against other BIM vendors then I would be very worried if I was Bentley as even the help information remains incredibly poor and as do the library parts (sharing John K’s concerns). I am hoping that these issues are only because I am using the early beta of AECOsim BD and the imminent full release you mention will address all these issues and more. To be frank though, at the moment I am in complete agreement with both Damon and Dwy.seah – in other words BA and AECOsim BD are completely stagnant and need to be re-written to compete with the likes of Revit, Archicad, EliteCad etc in order to make them far more intuitive and user friendly. As Dwy.seah says these are actually relatively small usability refinements but the problem is that there is just a lot of them!

    Personally I think Bentley need to act very fast as I envisage them losing significant market share in the coming years. This is especially true in the UK market at the moment due to the UK government requirement for BIM level 2 by 2016. At the moment UK architecture firms are frantically starting to jump on the BIM bandwagon and unfortunately from Bentley’s perspective the vast majority of them see Revit as the software of choice and BIM standard. This seems to correlate with reports I have heard (and discussed here) where large architectural firms have chosen Revit and employed Autodesk consultants to assist with the transition. My perception is that Autodesk are doing a very good job marketing Revit and this is supported by the fact that BIM conferences that myself and colleagues have attended recently we have not heard or seen one Bentley representative talking about BA or AECOsim!

    In terms of size big firms may be able to afford the luxury of run dual platforms (and wait to see how the market plays out) but for smaller firms (such as the one I work for) this is simply not feasible. I have heard quoted the cost of £15k to introduce BIM per staff member (i.e. software license, training etc) and there is simply no way firms like mine could justify spending £30k per seat. Therefore, the decision of software is actually crucial for us and if Bentley’s are perceived to not respond to the issues raised here then I forecast that they will suffer quite badly in the long run.

    So, in some sort of conclusion I understand Bentley’s underlying strategy to BIM and I have a lot of confidence in it. Whilst the single model concept (Archicad & Revit) makes initial sense I can see the pitfalls with this strategy as project models grow in size and complexity and across disciplines. As such I can appreciate just how powerful the federated approach could be in theory but I am utterly frustrated by the unintuitive and clunky interface and tools which hinder this from being a reality. Therefore, what I would wish for is all your BA and AECOsim product managers actually down-tools for a week and download the free trials of Archicad and Revit just to see just how intuitive the interface and toolsets are – for this is what I observe BIM users are coming to expect as a benchmark. In tandem the help sections need to be fundamentally addressed with better content. For instance both Autodesk and Graphisoft have YouTube channels with learning videos and the only Bentley Architecture videos I have been able to find online were produced by a Lawrence Eaton – an employee who left Bentley two years ago!

    I seriously hope Bentley will take on board all the concerns I have discussed above because I if Bentley Architecture or AECOsim BD had the same level of accessibility and intuitive toolsets as competing BIM software then I am certain Bentley would be leading the field in every aspect and we would most certainly not even be thinking about switching software provider.

  • In reply to Damon Aspden:

    "£15k to introduce BIM per staff member"

    Holy cow! Isn't that about the next 15 years worth of subscriptions?

    If that's accuarate, don't be surprised if management asks you guys to lump it and learn to love those 'quirks' :-)

  • In reply to dominic Seah:

    Although I am familiar with the numerous and various technology differentiators between the various software option, I am a design architect and ultimately make decisions based on final results...the printed drawings.

    Microstation has historically been respected for its ability to deliver great looking drawings with less fuss than the competition.  Within the past decade however, Autodesk has matched many of Bentley's graphic control features that appealed to designers (lineweight control, color options, etc.)  Moreover, with the advent of BIM I find that Bentley has lost the high ground in its ability to present building models more-beautifully that the competition.  Printed graphics are "table stakes" before any other so-called feature in my book.  In a side-by-side comparison, we picked Revit.

    Prior to Revit, we were a mixed AutoCAD and Microstation shop.  I recall when Autodesk undertook several substantial revamping of their user interface.  This was a very painful process for long-time AutoCAD users to endure, but the result was that the software emerged as being much easier for new users to pickup and use with reasonable skill.  As it is now, the current Bentley UI presents new users with a numer of challenges to easy adoption.  I learned enough Revit to draw my house over a long weekend, but when I tried the same experiment with Bentley's BIM tools the results were dismal.  Not a scientific experiment, for sure, but I was struck by what I learned.

    Finally, I think it is important to pay attention to what students are doing and thinking.  Universities are not production offices, but if your firm values innovation and design there is much to be learned from how students are using (or not using) the numerous and variuos tools available to them.  Some portfolio projects today are simply stunning; none that I've seen were produced using Bentley.  Why?

    When considering Microstation v. Revit v. whomevever, it is easy to dive into all the technical details, draw up side-by-side comparision charts, and do any number of rediculous productivity analysis exercises.  Don't.  Just try to draw your house over a long weekend...put it on a title block...print it...look at the about the experience...then build the conversation out from there.  It can be a very illuminating experience, I find.

  • In reply to utarc:

    fully agree, such simple exercise is worth thousands of reviews



  • In reply to pbrooks81:


    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 AEC CAD/BIM Technician  ..... (& ex Low Carbon Consultant, ..... because they weren't that bothered!)

    AECOSim SS6, Windows 7 Pro, 64 bit, HP Z600 3Ghz, 12Gb RAM, ATI R9 290 4Gb, ect,

  • In reply to danny-cooley:


    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.  


  • In reply to T_Wollet:


    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.

  • In reply to pbrooks81:

    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 ???

  • In reply to Jydeda:


    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

  • In reply to domenico 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.

  • In reply to arkitron:

    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.

  • In reply to Damon Aspden:

    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.

  • In reply to arkitron:

    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.

  • In reply to BrianJ:

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

  • In reply to dominic Seah:

    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. :)

  • In reply to BrianJ:

    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 ?

  • In reply to arkitron:

    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?

  • In reply to dominic Seah:

    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.

  • In reply to arkitron:

    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.

  • In reply to dominic Seah:


    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 ...



  • In reply to Peter Tegza:

    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

    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 (

    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.

  • In reply to pbrooks81:

    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 ...



  • In reply to pbrooks81:

    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.

  • In reply to 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

    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 (

    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!

  • In reply to pbrooks81:


    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.  


    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.  

    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,


  • In reply to T_Wollet:

    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.



  • In reply to dshaw:

    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.

  • In reply to Jydeda:

    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.

  • In reply to dshaw:


    I fully agree with your comments.


    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 ...



  • In reply to 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.


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