Does anyone use Microstation?


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 9, 12 11:01 pm

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 2:54 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.

Oct 10, 12 3:41 am  · 
Maria M

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.

Oct 10, 12 5:58 am  · 
i r giv up

government work.

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

Oct 10, 12 8:57 am  · 
wurdan freo


Oct 10, 12 10:26 am  · 

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.

Oct 10, 12 12:37 pm  · 
i r giv up

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 1:14 pm  · 

European autocad.

Oct 10, 12 2:02 pm  · 

Morphosis uses almost exclusively Microstation, for what its worth.

Oct 10, 12 8:42 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 10:26 pm  · 

i use to use microstation, then the divorce.

Oct 10, 12 10:31 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 10, 12 10:39 pm  · 

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 5:18 am  · 

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

Oct 11, 12 9:41 am  · 

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 1:49 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 1:55 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.

Oct 11, 12 10:57 pm  · 

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:

Oct 16, 13 3:01 am  · 

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 8, 14 7:07 pm  · 

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 16, 16 12:55 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

Feb 20, 16 11:10 am  · 

Does AECOsim building designer tool offer full functionality of MicroStation without any glitch and can it be used as MicroStation tool leaving the other features of AECOsim due to its better pricing deal?

Jun 13, 16 9:30 am  · 
wurdan freo

Bentley is shite! Anyone choosing to pick AECOsim over Revit has serious suicidal tendencies. I don't understand how veteran microstation users put up with that bullshit suite of software called AECOsim. If Revit is not an option, you'd be much better off using rhino, draftsight, sketchup, formz, microsoft paint...

Jun 14, 16 12:16 am  · 

Due to client's requirement I need to use MicroStation tool. As an introductory offer, AECOsim is offered at a price lesser than MicroStation and the vendor says AECOsim also included MicroStation. My question is will the MicroStation part of AECOsim work the same way as a standalone MicroStation offering all functionalities with no glitch (because I have read in some forum that Promis.e is not as efficient as MicroStation when it is simply used as a MicroStation tool, it work on top of MicroStation though)?

Jun 14, 16 7:59 am  · 
archy tech

Microstation has been used by major London architectural practices for years. Foster, Rogers, Grimshaw, Hopkins, SOM, KPF, MAKE, Wilkinsn Eyre, HOK etc all use it, some since the 1990's, as well as many smaller practices, who often used Minicad / Vectorworks to start with and then 'grew up' to Microstation.   Engineers, Furniture Manufacturers and Interior designers all tend to use Autocad.  But the two are completely compatible. You can import and export Autocad files to and from Microstation without any problem. 

Bentley's AECOsim is also being used successfully in our office, and i'm not clear about why anyone would think it 'shite'. It doesn't compare with Rhino, SketchUp etc as they are simply 3d modelling programs, and while they both have their uses, they are not BIM.

Because of the wider client base, Autocad has always had a bigger market share than Bentley, and Revit will continue to have a bigger market share than AECOsim. But that doesn't necessarily mean its better...  (think Ferrari / Ford, Apple / Microsoft, Betamax / VHS!!!)

Aug 26, 16 6:05 am  · 

The Port Authority of NY and NJ for all transportation projects...

Aug 26, 16 8:18 am  · 

yeah, firm i worked for that did DoD, NASA, and other government work had to use microstation because thats how the DoD wants its projects. Its just different thats all really. 

Sep 9, 16 2:39 pm  · 
wurdan freo

"You can import and export Autocad files to and from Microstation without any problem."

Ha! Obviously you've never used dynamic blocks or sheet sets. What are you a Bentley salesman. You sound just like them, but when you ask them for the answer they have no clue. Good luck finding any training for any Bentley product that doesn't cost you $20k. Ask them for a release date of when the new update is coming with all the promised improvements and they'll tell you... "I've been told, but I can't promise...that's not my department and I don't work in tech"... blah blah blah... Shite!

AECO sim doesn't compare to Rhino... what planet do you live on. I would take Rhino 100 times over AECO sim. I would draw by hand before I would use AECO sim.  I would draw in Microstation before I would use AECO sim.

Back in the 90's dwg and dgn were very compatible and did very similar things. Problem is Autodesk evolved and bentley is about 10 years behind right now. Nothing in the Bentley arsenal can even compare to revit. The only reason anyone in the US uses Bentley is because of government mandate, i.g. DoD, NASA, State DOT's, etc. And I really hope you're not trying to say that AECOsim is the ferrari of the BIM world. Hate to disappoint you, but AECOsim is the 1971 Ford Pinto of the BIM world... and not because it is aesthetically ugly, but because the Pinto tended to unaccountably erupt into flames during low-speed rear-end collisions. Yep.. that's AECO sim.. Enjoy your BBQ. 

Sep 9, 16 3:22 pm  · 
archy tech

WOW!!!!   Mr. Angry !!!!!    No, I'm not a Bentley salesman, Wurdan, I'm just a 'user'. Since about 1992. I have some experience, which forms my opinions, which I try to express sensibly and politely. From the tone of your messages I'd guess you weren't using CAD in 1992. 

You may well be right about government mandate in the states. But there is no mandate in this country that says that most Architects will use Bentley products for their production information, but they do. Tell me Wurdan, have you worked anywhere or are you an Autodesk salesman?

Anyway, I'm unclear about your last sentence; so AECOsim bursts into flames, enabling me to have a barbeque, AND you think it aesthetically displeasing. 

Well, I'll bow to your Fire Safety and aesthetic sensibilities Wurdan, and carry on.

Now, Thakopian, to go back to your original question, most of the offices I've worked in have run Microstation. But because it doesn't have the market share and most operators in London are Autocad trained, not Microstation, we frequently employ junior Autocad operators and train them into Microstation. It takes less than a month to become a decent user. The only problem you might have is if you come across someone who is dogmatic.

Sep 21, 16 9:25 am  · 

You compare AECOsim to Rhino - I assume then, unlike the AutoDesk products, that it has NURBS capability.

I started out in MicroStation in the early 00s, liked the stability, solid modeling (dabbled a bit in the parametric side of it); now am in AutoCAD (Revit doesn't do enough for landforms to justify cost or the staff training - yet)

Sep 21, 16 9:31 am  · 

arch tech,

I have now used Aecosim, for some time and agree with many of your comment. I also have many years experience with Autocad and Revit and do get some of Wurdan's. Aecosim is frustratingly behind with many features. They definitely need to overhaul the paramtric cell creation tools. (Although i see promising things with the latest CONNECT version, but not quite there yet)

Just curious, do you, or does anyone else know how many of these companies still use Aecosim? Or have they all started to jump ship to Revit?

Mar 25, 18 1:17 am  · 

Hi, I think there are some are some good answers in here and a lot not so good. 

You say "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."

If you are not familiar with it then don't bullshit. Instead highlight your ability to learn and adapt to new software quickly. It could be great experience

Bentley's AECOsim Building Designer can be viewed as the "equivalent" of Revit. Both need to be configured to work according to the firms drawing standards and hence shortcuts and pulldowns can vary per company and to the out-of-box- settings. If you can learn shortcuts in one software you can learn them in another. 

As an ex UK CAD/BIM consultant (and editor of the first edition of "Practical Architectural Modelling with AECOsim Buidling Designer) who has used and configured both AutoCAD and MicroStation, then I have to say that both have pros and cons. Typically you like the software that you have been using the longest!

Is this an opportunity to learn a new software that might help you in your career? Are you prepared to put in the work learning it? Are you able to easily adapt and learn new tools? 

Best of luck. 


Apr 2, 18 11:38 am  · 

Aecosim is still alive and kicking. It is still the best choice for large projects, especially in infrastructure.

As much as it can be super clunky, it will get the job done for pretty much any project, including landscaping, returns etc. If you want to go with one app the this would be your choice in AEC.

Adoption: Most long time London Mstn users now also use Revit... Especially for const documentation... Unless you have a transport job where dgn deliverables are required.

I find that the main competition here is Rhino, which is really popular with students, in spite of its problems handling large files. 

The biggest advantage revit has is its display system which handles drawing views much better than aecosim, especially if you are forced to use extractions instead of Dynamic Views. 

Revits Dynamo is also a big advantage at the moment. GC is catching up.


Jul 4, 18 3:50 am  · 

Mostly large infrastructural / transportation design offices... and to my knowledge Fosters and Partners too.

Based on my experience for 2D drafting MC is better than AutoCAD and it handles big files way better. However learning curve could be quite stiff when it comes to picking up MC, especially if you come from Rhino/CAD environment.

As for the Revit vs AECOM BLG Designer battle, Revit is 10 steps ahead than AECOM BLG Designer. AutoCAD Archiectural is what is very similar to AECOM BLG Designer not Revit.

One good thing with MC is that dng files, unlike dwg, can be open and edited in any Bentley program. 

Jul 4, 18 2:52 pm  · 

Yes, and file format changes are few and far between... Unlike rvt.

Revit has a lot of advantages that derive from its one central model approach. It was groundbreaking back in 2001. Aecosim is built on Mstn using tech originally provided by BricsCAD... which isn't quite as comprehensive. Aecosim users are always a bit envious about Revits consistent UI for parametric workflows.

In contrast, Aecosim has suffered a piecemeal history dev going back almost 25 years. It has multiple tools for generating smart objects, storing info and generating drawings, none of which were fully or consistently developed and do not talk to each other.

I think this is what makes users really frustrated compared to Revit.

Jul 5, 18 2:17 am  · 

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