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  1. #1
    Senior Member ammobake's Avatar
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    Default Question about Microstation and Alternatives

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    So I have an upcoming project. I'm doing drawings for a government facility here in Alaska that has existing drawings in DGN using Microstation. The client wants drawings done in DGN format.


    Bentley told me they had a big fire at their headquarters on the East Coast so they were behind on getting back to request for quotes from customers. Long story short, I finally have a quote from Bentley but it has taken over a month.


    It took 20-something phone calls and 3 contact requests on their website (over a 2 week period) to finally get someone to email me back on getting a quote.


    My client was getting nervous, as was I... and I still don't have a program to do the work.


    I was wondering what alternatives are available for DGN drawings. DGN is kind of like a proprietary format (like DWG for AutoCAD) but there must be alternative programs available that are cheaper with less drama.


    Does anyone have experience with those programs or know what might be available as an alternative to Microstation or Powerdraft.


    Powerdraft is like Microstation's version of AutoCAD LT. It is like a 2D version of Microstation at a cheaper cost.

    BUT - Bentley has licensing procedures for Microstation and Powerdraft similar to what you would see from a government institution. Just the quote is 19 pages long or something and most of it is legal jargon....


    And that took over a month to get.
    After I signed the quote, I heard back week later that Bentley wanted me to change some things with my address before they would move forward. SO I had to change that today and hopefully things will get rolling...


    It's now been over a month and I still don't have any software to do the work....


    It's making me look bad since my client is wanting me to handle all of this and get the software purchased for them.


    I'm open to any discussion/recommendations the community might have.


    The road to trying to get a workable program for DGN format has been ridiculous.


    I've used Microstation v8 with an "Open Access" subscription before but the rules are extremely strict on usage. At the time, it ended up costing our company as much as a 12 month subscription since they charge the customer by how much you use the software along with extra quarterly charges PLUS fees.

    -ChriS

  2. #2
    Quantum Mechanic BIGAL's Avatar
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    I appreciate you are in Fairbanks, 1 phone call to an Autodesk dealer and a credit card with remote down load now they would have my serial number within a couple of hours. I think you dealing with the wrong company look for another agent.

    Ps ex Autocad Dealer many years ago, in days of box sets we would drive to Autodesk warehouse and pick one up and deliver and install if that urgent.
    A man who never made mistakes never made anything

  3. #3
    Super Moderator SLW210's Avatar
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    AutoCAD can Export to DGN. Not sure how good it works.
    “A narrow mind and a fat head invariably come on the same person” Zig Zigler



  4. #4
    Senior Member ammobake's Avatar
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    Default

    BIGAL - Yeah there are local dealers that you can purchase cad software from in CD format. However, Bentley's subscription rules and regulations prevent them from being able to give you a CD copy unless you pay for the software completely upfront. And even in that case I'm not sure they would be willing to provide a CD copy. This isn't anything like AutoCAD....If you buy a limited time subscription or "open access" you can eventually get to use Microstation or Powerdraft but it just depends on how long it takes to process the quote and get it downloaded. I've never even heard of a CD copy of microstation.


    Last year I got an Open Access subscription for Microstation v8 at a previous employer.
    It took around 2 weeks to work with a Bentley sales agent before we had a workable program.


    Below is the sales process they use for Microstation or Powerdraft....


    1-It first takes a few days to get an unofficial emailed quote from Bentley. They never respond right away (I've never even called their main sales phone number and gotten someone on the line).
    2-It can then take a day or two to get your questions answered (which usually there are).
    3-If you agree to the dollar amount, a few days later they will send you an official quote that is around 20 pages long.
    4-You then have to fill out the quote, like you're buying a car or something, and email back to the sales agent.
    5-Your sales agent has to sign and initial alongside your signature and initials and return that to you. You get another chance to review the paperwork.
    6-As long as it looks good to you and the payment details are worked out, they send you a link where you can download the software.


    I should also say that if you buy their software you aren't even guaranteed tech support or help.
    If for some reason you opt out of that additional 400 dollar licensing fee, you are SOL for any and all software-related issues.


    Also, With "open access" subscription, if you go one day over the quarterly use period, they can charge you for another 3 months.
    They then charge you additional fees based on how much you use the software in that quarterly period. They actually monitor your usage down to the minute and can charge you extra fees based on your usage.


    SLW210 - You can import and export in DGN but because the two platforms are both proprietary, there can be conversion issues.
    Most of those conversion issues have to do with Importing a DGN into AutoCAD (not vice-versa).


    Newer versions of Bentley make it so some objects and entities will not convert.
    You can usually import the DGN's into AutoCAD but a lot of the content ends up missing because there are objects and entities in DGN that autocad doesn't recognize.


    I will say that I've worked with DGN's from this facility in the past and a lot of it does not convert when you open it in AutoCAD.
    They also usually request for you to use Microstation for their drawings so there are no issues with lost data.


    -ChriS

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    Luminous Being Dadgad's Avatar
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    Damn, how incredibly frustrating.
    Is that any way to run a huge international business?

    I use the Bentley ProSteel add-on with Autocad 2013, and there certainly are some good things about it, none of which are the things that you are describing!
    Volume and repetition do not validate opinions forged in the absence of thought.

  6. #6
    Quantum Mechanic BIGAL's Avatar
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    How has microstation survived if that is how they treat a new customer. As a test I might ring a microstation dealer and ask how quick can I have a copy like need it tomorrow to start a job.
    A man who never made mistakes never made anything

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    Quantum Mechanic BIGAL's Avatar
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    This is direct from an AUS Microstation site. It would take around 2 hours to get up and running, then into the sales pitch , but back to the real question if you want a maintenance agreement it will take longer. But no where near the days you are talking about.
    A man who never made mistakes never made anything

  8. #8
    Luminous Being Dadgad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BIGAL View Post
    This is direct from an AUS Microstation site. It would take around 2 hours to get up and running, then into the sales pitch , but back to the real question if you want a maintenance agreement it will take longer. But no where near the days you are talking about.
    Good one BIGAL, that sounds a litle more like it.
    Volume and repetition do not validate opinions forged in the absence of thought.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ammobake's Avatar
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    Default

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    Yeah one would think a program like microstation would be a lot more reasonable to purchase than AutoCAD since they have stiff competition and AutoCAD is so easy to obtain from local dealers.
    BUT from what I understand Microstation v8 is and Powerdraft require term licensing and subscriptions unless you purchase the software outright.


    The rules for term licensing are extremely strict.
    A 12 month annual subscription is perpetual. So, by the rules in the contract, if you don't cancel at some point in that 12 month period you are agreeing to pay for another 12 month subscription if you go past the dates in your paperwork.


    You also have to pay a sizable subscription fee in order to have full 24hr tech support.


    They also say you get access to all their other programs for free by paying the subscription fee- and even that isn't completely true.
    You get them free for a short period - 45 days or something.


    And let's say I get one seat and I then install microstation on a coworkers computer to show them the work I did.
    By using 2 seats at a given time they can bill you an additional subscription fee.


    If you aren't sure how long you will need the software, quarterly payments are available (called "Open Access"). But the rules are similar. Go one or two days over 3 months, you are charged another quarterly fee.


    When I was working on my first microstation job a few months ago I was absolutely terrified of even using it.
    They monitor your usage.


    So if you are already paying quarterly but use the software daily over a certain threshold, you can get charged additional fees!


    Pretty crazy right?


    -ChriS

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