Does anyone use Microstation?

Oct 9 '12 21 Last Comment
Oct 9, 12 11:01 pm

Bentley systems makes a BIM software called Microstation which is frequently used by contractors and engineers but rarely architects.


Anyone used it much? Any comparison to other software like Revit? Is it completely different or a lot of similarities. I assume the two and other BIM softwares are different in a lot of important ways.


I ask because there might be a position available for a user but I don't know if I can pass as at least having familiarity with it.


Oct 10, 12 2:54 am

I've seen it in a few firms in the Southeast. Bentley makes another software  or it is in beta perhaps, that is similar to Revit (had a friend in school test it). I've talked to more engineers about it, who liked it more than AutoCAD. I think it may just be a different interface you have to get used to. You may want to watch some youtube videos on it to see what the UI is like. 

Oct 10, 12 3:41 am

I used to work with  2D MicroStation V8. It's similar to AutoCAD though I always liked MS more because it's more straightforward and less unnecessarily complicated like AutoCAD. The BIM software you're talking about is called Bentley Architecture V8  and  I think there is  a demo available.

Maria M
Oct 10, 12 5:58 am

Microstation is used in most practices in London, its much simpler then AutoCAD - "intuitive", as I was told - I like it because its easy to use but it does not have keyboard shortcuts which for me makes it slower then AutoCAD. We use in in our office, but we are not using Bentley BIM software. We are using Revit instead as its more common and more compatible with other types of software. In general, if you know AutoCAD and Revit you will pick Microstation quick enough. Took me less then a month.

Also, I always thought Bentley was more architect -friendly then AutoCAD.

i r giv up
Oct 10, 12 8:57 am

government work.

if you ever end up doing any facilities work (equipment replacement, room rehabs, etc), government clients often request microstation files.

wurdan freo
Oct 10, 12 10:26 am


Oct 10, 12 12:37 pm

Microstation Triforma is billed as BIM, but it's not a true BIM platform. It's more of a parametricized 3D CAD than a true BIM platform.

I still see it used in legacy applications, but it's slowly dying out. My current company used to be a Microstation shop almost exclusively, but now hardly anybody uses it.

On government work, GSA and state entities typically used to require DWG deliverables, not DGN (this is a major reason why AutoDesk was able to dominate the CAD space). So I'm not sure where irgivup is getting that from. The requirements are now in more flux, but IFC for BIM deliverables seems pretty standard. I've never, ever had a public client demand or even request DGN files as deliverables.

i r giv up
Oct 10, 12 1:14 pm

gw: you're right: for architectural deliverables,  that has been the case. dwgs is what they request if they want record copies or copies of what we drew out, but every time we've gone into a facilities contract where we are running only coordination and not actually producing much in the way of drawings (because MEPs/Struct/Civ/Elec are producing the bulk of the deliverable), DGNs have been the requirement.

Oct 10, 12 2:02 pm

European autocad.

Oct 10, 12 8:42 pm

Morphosis uses almost exclusively Microstation, for what its worth.

Oct 10, 12 10:26 pm

I didn't expect that Thom Mayne would use something like Microstation given the intricate detailing in his projects. Then again maybe it's perfectly suited for him. In all my years of school no one ever brought the software up though just about everything else was mentioned.

The feedback is helpful and the listing is for a contractor firm.

More specifically the software they want is Micro Station SS2-3 and I couldn't find too much on that, I suppose it is a build of Microstation.

The also want someone who knows Riscan Pro and experience in the scanning of buildings and such. I doubt I can pass that off. A lot of the skills they wanted would be only relevant for civil engineers so I don't know where they are going to find these guys. I am curious if they will hire people with related experience and train them. A pipe dream perhaps but worth a shot.                           

Oct 10, 12 10:31 pm

i use to use microstation, then the divorce.

Isaac GaetzIsaac Gaetz
Oct 10, 12 10:39 pm

Microstation is used extensively on civil engineering projects in the US, including roads, airport runways, etc.

It is popular in the power industry for 3D modelling of power plants as well.

Oct 11, 12 5:18 am

It's a cheaper alternative to AutoCAD - it's the main reason why architecture companies consider using them. It's a compelling reason, seeing Autodesk has a growing monopoly on softwares and are charging an increasing licensing fee to use them.

In my experience and my ex-colleagues' experience, the user interface isn't intuitive... Once you are used to AutoCAD, Microstation actually slows your workflow down big time. In the words of my ex-colleague: "You have to use a different part of your brain to use it."

It has one VERY BIG ADVANTAGE. It's great for massive megastructures and ultra large projects. The file doesn't take forever to load/save. Also, the features available to overlay CAD drawings from another file is great - you don't have to copy and paste.

The file transfer between AutoCAD and Microstation is glitchy. So try avoiding transferring it back and forth, unless you want to mess your file up.

Oct 11, 12 9:41 am

Yes, MS is less complicated than AutoCAD. Most companies in my contact use it.

Oct 11, 12 1:49 pm

I interviewed at two firs in London recently, one of which used Microstation primarily (in tandem with AutoCad, Adobe, etc.), and the other one that seemed to use it secondary to Rhino/Grasshopper. I'll echo someone above, it seems much more prevalent in the UK, but not so much in North America.

Oct 11, 12 1:55 pm

I'm getting feed back that it's on the one hand more intuitive than Autocad and on the other requires a different approach to using the software altogether. Would it makes sense for a CAD user to learn MS in a matter of weeks? I saw some tutorials and it looks straight-forward enough compared to what I have worked with before.

As for the rest of the Bentley suite like inroads and topo dot, are those about as easy to get the hang of if anyone knows?

Oct 11, 12 10:57 pm

@ thakopian

I'd say you can pick it up in 3 days. 1 day is even possible (my ex-office gave us that long to adapt before they threw us into the deep end of the pool)

The concepts are the same. The problem is finding the tool to do what you want it to do.

You press "3-1" to draw a line. Icons are not as fast because you need to get into a sub-menu in the icon to draw a line. (Also, instead of pressing Esc to default "selection" mode, you press "1")

You have to memorize the number combinations.

Try not to use it by typing a command. It's not made that way, although you certainly can - it's just tedious. You have to hit enter to enter into "prompt mode" then enter your command, which disrupts your workflow. Number combinations are the way to go.

I speak only for Microstation. I never used the BIM offering by Bentley.


IMPORTANT: One VERY IMPORTANT thing to note when using Microstation. When you first get the software installed and running. IMMEDIATELY go to the options setting to turn off the "autosave". Because Microstation saves your progress for each line/change you make to the drawing.

This is DEFAULT and you should turn it off, or your file is always saved. Autocad does this every 5 minutes or so. Microstation does it REAL-TIME.

Yevgen KoretskyyYevgen Koretskyy
Oct 16, 13 3:01 am

I have been using MicroStation and Bentley 8i/AECOsim as a architect for a long time and this software is great. If you or someone needs to learn anything about how to use some functions please contact me. My E-mail:

Feb 8, 14 7:07 pm

Microstation by itself is not BIM. However, Bentley markets AECOsim (in the past it was called Bentley Architecture or Tirforma). It was one of the earliest BIM packages. It still is a great one. There are four main BIM packages Today: Revit, AECOsim, ArchiCAD, and VectorWorks. If you any of these software systems to their fullest, then you quickly learn that these are complex pieces of software. None of them are simple. I hear folks say, I like blah, blah cause it is sooooo easy to learn and I don't like bah, blah because it is too complex. Turn a blind ear on them because they are just talking to hear themselves. If they say. "it's not a true BIM platform. It's more of a parametricized 3D CAD than a true BIM platform." then they are talking trash. All of the BIM packages are "parametricized 3D CAD" with a high level of information (database).

I've used them all except for ArchiCAD. I can say, that I personally prefer Bentley AECOsim to all of the others. Not that it is perfect, but I design and produce construction documents. AECOsim by far the easiest to do either. It is simply the easiest of the three that I've worked for modeling (not easy to learn, but once you have mastered the software, it is simply the easiest to use hands down). It is very flexible from a database perspective. Just a power house. Economical too. If you compare it to Revit, it would be like getting AutoCAD, Revit, 3D Studio/Maya, and Grasshopper all in one package for the same price. Simply a stellar deal! Again, not perfect, none of them are, but I have over thirty years using various CAD and BIM software and for me, at this time, AECOsim is it.
Feb 16, 16 12:55 am

setting to turn off the "autosave"......

sounds like you are turning off redo logging in the Oracle DB backend? 

Could the advantage of Ms over AutoCad, be its ability to handle point cloud data

and Oracle AutoView? 

Feb 20, 16 11:10 am

"Does anyone use Microstation?"

here is a tool which gives you an idea about, say Revit vs Autocad vs Microstation vs AECOsim jobs:

also a relative scale, which indicates that Revit jobs are shooting through the ceiling, while Autocad and Microstation are fairly stable

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