OpenCities Map: Future development and directions?


I am posting this question as a result of several discussions I had recently with customers. I am aware it's not a representative pattern, because I typically serve smaller companies and individuals, but in my opinion the topic is important generally.

My customers use BM (or more often BMPV because of very good price offer in the past) as drawing tool only, with spatial data support. BM was often used because INSPIRE and other data are important, and even when not well supported in V8i versions (WFS, WMTS, local formats...), it was still better than in plain MicroStation. In V8i, it works quite fine, because it's "like MicroStation", so experience and setting can be shared easily and it allows to access data in ad-hoc style and to create output on top of them.

When talking about "BM as GIS", it's much worse. Right now I have only one customer who use BM as GIS tool, all other left Bentley platform towards to competitive (better supported with more advanced functionality).

All these users are now evaluating a migration to CONNECT Edition. They are usually have mixed environments with MicroStation, PowerDraft or civil products. Sometimes competitive tools like AutoCAD or ArcGIS are also used in parallel. The question is: What is the future and directions of OpenCities Map? Does make it sense to move to CE platform, or to plain MicroStation / PowerDraft, or to some competitive platform?

I must admit, that I have had no clear answer or recommendation for them. And I realized I have no idea what OCM product line should be used for, what are development aim, targeted areas and workflows and competitive strengths. Whereas I see priorities and quite clear directions for products like MicroStation (the platform in general), OpenRoads Designer or GenerativeComponents, because there are active discussions, webinars, SIG sessions etc. available, OCM world looks more like "we gave up".

 It is a bit complicated to talk about GIS today:

  • I agree with an idea that "GIS is dead" ... it has become integrated technology, working often in a hidden way.
  • Also, the most of GIS has moved to web solutions (including editing and analysis), which is area what have been abandoned by Bentley years ago.
  • Existing GIS desktop products (ArcGIS + QGIS as ethalons) offer complex advanced functionality in a range from data capture, processing, analysis, visualization and even some cartography production).
  • GIS is spreading as technology to other disciplines and is incorporated, integrated or inspiring other areas (aggregating data, enrich them with spatial info, analyze them in cloud...).

So, what is OCM expected to be?

  • Desktop GIS product? No.
    • Complicated for users, nothing is "click and use or drag-and-drop".
    • Weird (even powerful) GSA, not flexible.
    • Very limited functionality with a lot not well connected tools.
  • Data capturing tool? Not quite.
    • To limit OpenCities Map PowerView to be spatial database read-only client, in time when spatial databases are core of spatial data world, force users to use other cheaper solutions.
    • When for basic data capturing (or editing) another technology is used, why to use full OCM, which increases operation and maintenance costs?
  • Data processing tool? No.
    • Still fragile weak support of spatial databases.
    • When there is an issue, not enough materials.
    • No migration, data cleaning, data quality etc. tools available.
  • Development platform? No.
    • Comparing to MicroStation CE API, which is consistent and well designed (and pretty well performant), it's ... well, it cannot be used.
    • Geospatial Extranet (the only source of some information) is not functional anymore.
  • Map production tool? No.
    • Map producing tools are limited, basic functionality only (well, Update 5 offer a bit better labeling).
    • Complicated styles / sings definition, limited, fragmented between MicroStation and Map-specific tools.
    • No cartography tools at all.
  • Client side of server solution (ArcGIS Pro + ArcGIS Server, QGIS + PostGIS/PostgeSQL)? No.
    • There is nothing available for main spatial DB (Oracle, SQL Server, PostGIS/PostgreSQL) that optimize the platforms for usage of OCM client.
  • Client side of web publishing solution? No.
    • GeoWebPublisher is history, weak and dysfunctional.
    • PostgreSQL + GeoServer + OpenLayers + ... can be alternative, but again painful to solve e.g. line styles, because no conversion tools or best practices availability.

So, what is unique feature of BM and what is its development priority?

Maybe it's 3D GIS, but it's something very specific, not interesting for 99% of users. Which does not mean it's wrong, because when old users will be lost, new ones can be found. But now, what users tell me, this platform cannot be trusted as stable for such expensive decision like the migration. Even when the migration to competitive platform is typically quite expensive (data conversion, users training etc.), in long term perspective it seems to be cheaper, because: directions are known, the solutions are well supported locally, there are companies available to develop local specific tools and there are best practices how to go for web, which is crucial.

So, end of whining. May I ask for some insight what is the future? When the current surviving mode will change to "we are on edge, these features are breaking news and we are able to offer bigger value than our competitors, including supporting local regulations and specifics"?

With regards,