I'm curious if there is a side-by-side comparison of Bentley's Microstation v8i (Select series 3) with ESRI's ArcMap 10.1 showing capabilities and filetype acceptance.

I have heard some conversations lately where a Bentley user stated unequivocally that Microstation could do more and open more filetypes natively than ArcMap could.

I'm not a fan of either over the other, but I viewed Microstation as a CAD system with some GIS capabilities whereas ArcMap was a GIS system that could do CAD work. And that compared side-by-side Microstation would be the lower ranking application as ArcMap just had more capabilities. But now I'm wondering if there is something I am unaware of or whether someone else is just quite clueless.

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    What versions of each product are you wanting to compare? We use Microstation 2004 v8i XV, E$RI is out (cost), now use QGIS, AutoCAD, MapInfo & FME – Mapperz Feb 20 '14 at 17:13
  • I updated my post. Good point. – randomblink Feb 20 '14 at 17:26

I use both and I'll explain why. I should note I use Select Series 2. These are the two pieces of software we use almost exclusively at my workplace to conduct lidar data processing. I have over five years experience using both and I think of them, at least in our particular product and work, to be complimentary to each other. However, the role of Microstation is not as a GIS but a tool in processing data e.g. LAS files. University of California-Santa Barbara lists the most critical six functions of a GIS as follows: data capture, storage, management, retrieval, analysis, and display. ArcGIS performs all these tasks well and I cannot say the same for MicroStation. There is a lot that can be said about usability and user experience too.


Microstation File format support: http://www.bentley.com/en-US/Products/MicroStation+Product+Line/Comprehensive+Breadth+and+Depth.htm

ESRI file format support: http://resources.arcgis.com/en/help/main/10.1/index.html#//018m00000002000000


I use both also & have many years experience with them, but find that ArcMap is better for land areas (mapping, databases. etc) & Microstation is better for building structures. For the most part they work well together, however I wish they were more complimentary.


"Microstation as a CAD system with some GIS capabilities whereas ArcMap was a GIS system that could do CAD work." <<< about this part, I cant agree any more.

Regarding the comparison between both of it, the purpose and operation is also slightly difference. Arc product is more likely aimed for thematic analyze and more emphasize on the Geo-referencing and visualization; but CAD product is focusing on generated computation from the visualization of geometric-shape and more require the accuracy.

Although both of them provided the function of Geo-coding of location, arc product is more user-friendly for common users since it transforms the result among the coordinate system more globally and easily, especially execute on the image resources. However, the CAD product seems not support it functionally and simply , it is more like a local system and mainly concentrate the details Objects instead. Plus, the location setting starting just like a surface-dimension.

About this Topic, it is seemed more and more people concerns about the different usage among these drafting-processing softwares. After think it seriously, it is quite interesting to give a briefly general analyze on them. (user experience)

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