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Bentley and ESRI Announce AEC GIS Interoperability Initiative 03.05.2003

Unprecedented strategic technology initiative will result in direct and intelligent integration between desktop and server based products from the two companies.

Bentley Systems Incorporated and ESRI announced their AEC GIS Interoperability Initiative, an unprecedented strategic technology initiative that will result in direct and intelligent integration between desktop and server based products from the two companies.

Bentley, with its solutions for Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) professionals, and ESRI, with its solutions for GIS professionals, both provide spatially oriented graphical applications. These applications are often used within organizations served by both Bentley and ESRI. Such organizations include municipalities, transportation agencies, national government agencies, utilities, communication providers, and others.

While Bentley and ESRI applications may create and maintain data in a common coordinate space, they are designed for unique purposes and therefore used by individuals with distinct organizational functions. ESRI’s GIS users typically perform enterprise data management, decision support, cartography, planning, and analysis functions. Bentley’s AEC users design, engineer, build, and operate roadways, railways, buildings, plants, networks and other constructed assets.

GIS users require a broad view of spatial information, the ability to work with large areas, and powerful analytical functions. Engineers create and work from sets of detailed drawings and models, with spatial information, and require a rich set of 2D and 3D geometry-based engineering and design functions. The needs of the GIS user are best met by a continuous multi-user database. The engineer's requirements continue to be best met by a model and drawing paradigm.

Yet, despite distinct roles, GIS professionals and engineers very much depend upon each other to conduct their work. GIS users need accurate information on as-built conditions and engineers and architects need the context of plans to create their designs. Operational staff needs access to all of this information. The work is not static but synergistic, dynamically integrated, and recursive.

Interoperability is at its best when it is implemented to support real world workflows. Each environment must extract only the specific information that it needs to support a particular workflow, and then present it in a form natural to the target user. Therefore, interoperability by definition will require connections provided by Bentley that integrate with ESRI solutions, and connections provided by ESRI that integrate with Bentley solutions.

“We believe that by definition interoperability requires focused and coordinated development by cooperating vendors”, said Carey Mann, vice president of industry and product marketing at Bentley. “Our joint initiative will result in unimpeded workflows that will liberate the free flow of information and truly enable collaboration between AEC and GIS professionals.”

The Bentley/ESRI relationship will result in AEC/GIS Interoperability that is unequaled and unprecedented. This integration will …

  • Enable MicroStation to read ArcGIS databases and enable ArcGIS clients to read DGN & DWG files;
  • Provide support for ArcGIS files (geodatabase, SHP, coverage, etc.) within Bentley’s Content Management & Publishing environment; and
  • Result in an “Enterprise Connector” with ArcSDE® that: 1) Synchronizes relevant AEC content with the ArcGIS Geodatabase; and 2) Retrieves relevant GIS information from the ArcGIS Geodatabase.

The Bentley/ESRI Interoperability paradigm leverages the best of both worlds and does not ask its users to work with lowest common denominator tools or data to accomplish their tasks.

This work began in 2002 and will be realized with commercial delivery staged throughout 2003. A white paper that provides further detail is posted at and at Further details will be provided at the Bentley International User Conference in Baltimore, May 18-22 and at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, July 7-11.

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