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What's hot in Bentley's world?

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The annual Bentley International User Conference in Atlanta highlighted MicroStation's forthcoming release, V8.1

The 14th annual Bentley International User Conference (BIUC), was hosted for the first time in Atlantic City on 19 May. For those who strain to understand the geography of the US, Atlantic City is in New Jersey, which describes itself as 'The Garden State' and lies on the east coast, almost half way between New York to the north and Philadelphia to the south. I have to say that I saw no flowers in this corner of the garden.

Fortunately, I did not make the trip to Atlantic City for the architecture. My main aim was to find out what was hot in the world of Bentley Systems Inc, the developer of MicroStation and other engineeringdesign software tools. The BIUC has grown in popularity with Bentley users year on year, and this time welcomed almost 2,500 design professionals from around the globe.

BIUC got off to a flying start on Sunday with an academic day where 14 presentations illustrated the ingenious application of algorithms, driving some pretty complex geometry to explore and describe new design solutions. We are evidently leading the way in architectural modelling and research as more than half of the academics presenting were from the UK. The UK also did well in the Bentley Success Awards, scooping four of the nine awards available.

Winners from the UK included a lifetime achievement award for Lars Hesselgren of KPF, technology manager of the year for Liam Gallagher of Halcrow Rail, and more awards for discipline-specific works, which were collected by Peter Taylor of Oldham Borough Council and by Faber Maunsell.

The speeches focused on the events of 11 September. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke about the tools he relied on to get through the carnage, and listed five key requirements for success. Number three on his list was 'relentless preparation'. This concept of preparation turned out to be a theme that ran through the conference.

Walker Lee Evey, the man in charge of the Pentagon renovation (PENREN), explained how the 14year programme was accelerated after a plane demolished one of the five segments last September. With an enormous amount of existing legacy data that was all well organised and catalogued, the architects were able to redesign the new works before the damaged parts had even been demolished and the ground prepared for rebuilding.

The project is an astonishing example of teamwork, application and, above all, relentless preparation.

On 11 September 2002, just one year after the crash, rebuilding of the segment will be complete and people will be back to work as usual.

Keith Bentley, co-CTO of Bentley Systems, presented some of the new features to MicroStation which will be included in the next 'dot' release, V8.1, at the end of August. The features include Bentley View, Digital Signatures on CAD drawing files and digital rights for all CAD model and drawing files.

Bentley View enables the native viewing of both DGN and DWG drawings and models, without file translation. It combines viewing, measuring, and printing tools with the ability to review the design history of DGN files. Bentley View is available at no charge to Bentley Select subscribers and their invited projectteam members.

Digital Signatures will play a major role in the management of MicroStation design information.

Once a drawing has been checked and signed, it is easy to track changes to either the master file or any files referenced into it, as all changes will be highlighted graphically on screen, making it easier to re-check and again approve and sign the drawing.

Digital rights work differently, enabling the issuer of any model or drawing file to decide how the recipient of the file can work with the data.

With options to lock viewing, printing or editing, the issuer can have total confidence that what they send out will be what is used until such time as a revised copy is sent. It is also possible to time-stamp the file so that the recipient only has 15 hours to view the file before rendering it inoperable. This is very cool technology indeed.

Keith Bentley also told people that if they are just considering upgrading to MicroStation V8, they should stop and think about their current CAD standards and processes. He explained that with so much depth to V8, relentless preparation is essential to maximise the benefits on offer.

One practice that listened is GML Architects from London. Peter Case, the CAD manager for GML, said:

'Being around people who know what they are doing has alerted me to the depths of my own ignorance, so to get into the depths of MicroStation has been incredibly useful.' He continued: 'MicroStation V8 represents a huge step forwards for GML and will enable us to achieve big cost reductions across the practice.'

However, Case was not blinded by the technology, realising that using any tool properly is as important as the quality of the tool. 'V8 represents a great opportunity to reorganise our practice CAD standards, and we now need to get everyone up to a level where they are comfortable using MicroStation effectively, ' he said.

The conference came to a close.

Meeting the Bentley executives and learning about the advancements in AEC technology was alone worth the trip.

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