BE Conference 2006: All About Infrastructure

Available now, Singh said, is the Project Explorer which allows you to create your own structural format in the way you want it with transparency applied to references.

Service Packs will be delivered to V8 XM. For those who are SELECT subscribers attending the BE Conference, XM was available right away at Get V8 XM Now

Keith Bentley, CTO

“This is an all gain, no pain release,” declared Bentley CTO Keith Bentley, as he launched into a discussion of V8 XM, ProjectWise and the disconnected enterprise and its needs.

Because people are working in multiple locations, multiple time zones, languages, cultures, etc., a disconnected enterprise is the result and requires better connections between the companies involved.

The concerns of a distributed enterprise include:
- the larger the project, the more distributed the enterprise and the bigger the scale of the problem.
- scalability is a problem for enterprise

MicroStation V8 XM can help distributed enterprises work as one entity to -
- find
- applications
- formats and standards
- workflow
- collaboration
- content management

Find
In dealing with multiple formats, multiple versions, and multiple machines, Bentley comes to the rescue with ProjectWise. In a ProjectWise demo, the City of Toronto finds all documents from the survey contractor. The integration server organizes what's inside and can switch to a spatial view of the city. Using ProjectWise Explorer, the user can select a pipe, check out its properties, can navigate to the design file it's from. The user can then search and find documents and know what components the documents can be found in.

Applications, Formats and Standards

“At Bentley, we take on the burden of integration and interoperability with our EC framework,” said Bentley. Bentley will continue to offer industry formats and standards and has PDF support including 3D PDF for their platform products.

Workflow and Collaboration
One of the most difficult areas to change in an organization is workflow. Quality, consistency, performance are necessary to make this happen.

Linksets help to navigate design files in MicroStation. The new linkset mode can be expanded (as a file tree) in ProjectWise Explorer, and all the links remain in spite of changes. Users can check out the linkset and colleagues can view it as read-only.

Content Management
Key issues of content management (files and data defined) are location, structure, security, and performance

ProjectWise is Bentley's vehicle for delivering content management.

Distributed data--ProjectWise Caching Server
Security and control - ProjectWise Access Control
Security - MicroStation Digital Rights
Authenticate - MicroStation Digital Signatures

StartPoint

Bhupinder Singh pointed out that collaboration can occur between people and software, people and people, and software to software. There is also synchronous collaboration - instant messaging, software systems and automation services like the ProjectWise service.

Sharepoint is Microsoft's server platform and the fastest selling server product for them. It is the platform for Microsoft Office for which there are 400+ million customers. The new MicroStation product, ProjectWise StartPoint, is an entry level collaboration tool that will retrieve x-refs and is integrated into MicroStation and AutoCAD. There is also direct access from PowerDraft and MicroStation to StartPoint.

StartPoint organizes services into collections of servers: plot server, integration server, publishing server, web server, and caching server. StartPoint is good for smaller project teams. It works directly with Sharepoint, and the client ships with the MicroStation V8 XM Edition, plus a downloadable AutoCAD add-in.
.
The licensing requires a ProjectWise named user license.

Sean Sewall, vice president Platform Development, said that users and developers have different needs. The platform provides frameworks, interoperability and leverage.

Bentley looks at developing features from both viewpoints. From the user's perspective, they get the feature. The developers create the framework that makes subsequent features easier, plus gets the default implementation at the same time. From the developer's and user's point of view, having similar tools used similar ways reduces training costs.

What frameworks provide is the ability to create features to scale, expand functionality, and provide design history. Building on a framework provides for interoperability

The EC Framework was created to address interoperability issues. It is built on Microsoft's .NET. The EC Framework provides a standard repository, key technology for ProjectWise and StartPoint, and is a part of the Bentley acquisition strategy.

Some very exciting possibilities for Bentley in their relationship with Microsoft and the release of Microsoft Office 2007 include:
- ProjectWise components + Excel services
- Bentley Navigator + Project Server
- MicroStation + Office open XML format, where high level conversion data plus text can be exchanged
- ProjectWise + Windows workflow foundation - can improve scenarios such as project transmittals.

Keith Bentley discussed why data formats need to be native, open and accessible, so that others outside the organization might be able to read and view them. The Google phenomenon has demonstrated that information can be accessed by everyone. Also, Microsoft Office 2007 will undergo a file format change and is now to be compressed XML. Bentley suggests that XML is the way to go, as there is no guarantee that the tool that created today's information is going to be available in the future.

He spoke about government/user pressure to make file formats retroactively compatible, and as a result, Microsoft and MicroStation V8 XM will make it possible for users to install previous versions that will be able to read 2007.

With regard to the new V8 XM release, the hardware you own is “probably sufficient” to run it, however, recommendations include a modern CPU with a minimum of 512 Mb RAM. The release is heavily dependent upon a powerful graphics card. A lot of memory on a graphics card will also help. Shader Model 3 support will be in the release.

Customers can look forward to many API releases in V8 XM, and between major releases there will be frequent SELECT updates-
        - distributed DGNS (used to be ProjectBank) - geo-coordinated references
        - 3D geometry creation, editing/API, fields, text, title block improvements
        - geometry relationship and constraints, GenerativeComponents, DDDesign
        - Windows Vista support, AutoCAD 2007 DWG support

A demo displayed how you can add content from Google's 3D Warehouse, and bring it directly from SketchUp to your 3D model. You can automatically bring objects such as trees, houses, etc. and drape them on your 3D model. You can also georeference a DGN to another DGN.


Press Conference

In a press conference following the morning keynote, Keith Bentley, Tom Anderson and Joe Croser answered questions regarding hosted services for firms, how acquisition products are integrated into the product line.

Hosted services are available for firms who don't want to run servers in their offices. A server manager is run out of Bentley's data center in Exton. Customers can buy access to ProjectWise online on a subscription basis.

SELECT Server is licensed for Bentley applications and has been completely rewritten on a services oriented architecture (SOA) and Microsoft.

Bentley used the example of civil where three separate companies have been acquired. They needed to re-implement each of the products to become one product. Now, building on the EC Framework, it will take two to three release cycles because they become one product, i.e., five to six years. Data in the EC Framework will already be in XML format.


The Four Verticals

The four Bentley verticals: Building, Civil, Plant, Geospatial, operate independently of one another as they have their own initiatives, according to Joe Croser.

The conference is arranged so that executive keynotes take place on the first day and Tuesday is “Vertical Day,” offering all four vertical keynotes at the same time. This presents a problem in terms of covering all four of them at once. Because of this, I'm going to cover some material separately. Below are Building and Civil. You'll be able to read my report on Geospatial in GISWeekly, and I'll catch you up on Plant in a future issue of AECWeekly.

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