What Percentage of a Software Package Do you Use?

So I've been promoted from BMVP to Knowledge Executive! Well, here' my first Blog Post as a Knowledge Executive...

There are many “percentage” myths and maxims out there. There’s the one that claims that most of us only use 10% of our brains. And there’s the one about how 80% of the users of software use only 20% of its features. As Bentley users, we know that you are using more than 10% of your brains. So my hope is to address the 80/20 rule of software usage vs features.

My primary area of expertise is InRoads, so that is where I will start this effort. First, however, a few caveats: None of our clients have begun making any visible moves to Open Roads, so out of necessity, my InRoads topics will be limited to SELECTseries 2 or earlier. The workflows will use tools that are available in the newer versions, and also within GEOPAK. (I would be very surprised if MX does not also have similar capabilities, but my career path has never crossed an MX path.)

My career began with an 18 year stint at MD DOT’s State Highway Administration. In particular, I worked for their Highway Design Division. Workloads were very compartmentalized at that agency; all bridge design, survey, hydraulics and hydrology were performed in other departments, by others. That made me a “roads guy”. DOT’s do very little site work, so when I say I was a roads guy, that’s what I knew best. As my career progressed and I ventured out into the “real world”, I became more involved with survey and site design. In my experience, users tend to learn the features within software that helps them get their work done. Unfortunately, this can lead to a “blinders on” situation, where one doesn’t look any deeper to see if other tasks can benefit from the automation tools available.

Many of my coworkers in private industry come from an AutoCAD/Land Desktop/Civil 3D background. As the InRoads guru, I am frequently asked if InRoads can do this or that, like AutoCAD. Usually, I have already used it for that exact purpose. Or I know of the capability (or I assume the feature exists and dig into unknown territory) to be able to show the where and how to accomplish the task within InRoads.

When deciding on a topic to cover, I wanted to cover some of those areas that a “roads guy” might not have used. As luck would have it, I had to look no further than a recent assignment. I had been asked to teach an intern that already had MicroStation experience, some basic InRoads skills. As our session was winding down, I asked her to show me the task she had been working on before our session.

She had been identifying areas of steep slopes using the visual clues provided by the existing ground contours. The tracking tool within InRoads could provide some immediate feedback based upon the active DTM and even place a slope label on demand, but clearly a more efficient approach was needed. The View Color Coded Slopes tool was the solution.

Since that's a pretty full topic on its own, you will have to stay tuned for my the next installment where we will conclude with the View Color Coded Slopes tool and touch on creating and saving preferences.

  • You have no idea how many times your tips posted to forum  kept me on a right track when  I was struggling with software. Thanks for that!

    and regarding Veiw Color Coded Slopes. Did you consider using Microstation Thematic Display Styles instead?