V8i: Bentley's $1 billion infrastructure gambit

August 11, 2010

Software vendor Bentley Systems, Exton, Pa., has just released the new version of its entire suite of infrastructure analysis and design programs, collectively known as V8i, for “version 8, infrastructure.” For CEO Greg Bentley, V8i is the $1 billion culmination of 15 years of acquisitions, integration, and development.

According to Bentley, V8i—code-named “Athens” through the decade and a half of planning—represents a billion-dollar internally financed investment that is designed to position the company to take advantage of what the firm's CEO says will be a surge in public and public/private infrastructure development and rehabilitation—one of the few potential bright spots of today's troubled economy.

V8i includes all of Bentley's AEC applications—including MicroStation, PowerDraft, ProjectWise, and GenerativeComponents—collected in one software suite. One of the best new features of V8i is 3D concept modeling, which should speed the shift from 2D to 3D modeling for any AEC firms that need it. MicroStation has incorporated a Parasolid-driven 3D solid modeling toolset since 1998, and recently added SketchUp-like manipulation tools. This 3D toolset has been further enhanced with additional 3D Primitives, surfacing tools, and—finally!—Mesh creation and manipulation tools.

Another new feature is “dynamic views,” which provide interactive plan and section cutting. This feature also underlies an improved production drawing composition process. Drawing symbols—such as sections cut through a 3D model—are interactively linked to their resulting output sections. Drag section lines to new positions on plans, and the sections that display immediately update in all 2D or 3D views. The resulting 2D plans and sections are standard DGN files that can be worked on in the conventional manner.

Display sets allow you to change the display view of your 3D model to show the necessary 2D and 3D design information to different audiences.

The GenerativeComponents and push-pull modeling tools enable Building Teams to create innovative designs and transition from conception to completion in the same software environment. The parametric and associative modeling tools let you create design alternatives and answer questions earlier in the design process. Through the flexibility that this toolset provides, design professionals can explore innovations to improve the performance of their projects.

The Luxology rendering engine incorporated in MicroStation provides near real-time rendering. The quality of MicroStation-rendered images has been improved significantly, to the extent that they can readily be used for presentation to clients without the usual post-processing. Features like this give the model a more real-world look, in which many tasks previously carried out in other applications, such as Photoshop, can now be completed in MicroStation.

MicroStation's visualization tools will benefit from the integration of the Luxology engine. Luxology, licensed by Bentley for V8i, brings new levels of speed and extended feature sets to MicroStation. The goal is to make producing high-quality images from MicroStation as easy as using a digital camera. And because Luxology is multi-threaded, it can use all of your computer's processor cores.

At the release of V8i, in Philadelphia, CEO Bentley pointed to its interoperability gains. For the first time V8i will be able to edit DWG 2009 files. The program also has the ability to open files from SketchUp 6 and Rhino.

An interoperability agreement finalized this summer between Bentley and Autodesk included a full exchange of application programming interfaces. Although Bentley SVP Bhupinder Singh cautioned that it was still early to expect any changes that might result from the Bentley/Autodesk agreement, the accord gives Bentley much fuller access to AutoCAD. As a result, V8i's half-year update will be fully compatible with DWG files and the upcoming DWG 2010 format.


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