Bentley's best known product is Microstation, and its vertical versions for different branches of geo-engineering with an emphasis on design for civil, industrial, architectural and transport engineering. ProjectWise is Bentley's second product that integrates information management and work team integration; and recently AssetWise has been launched that is for the historical management of infrastructures as I explained it in an article of what is BIM from Bentley Optics.
ProjectWise is little known in the Hispanic medium, so much so that I would dare to think that this is the first article in Spanish of this tool. But there is from 1995, and in large companies it has been adopted for several years as a solution for information management in workflows that include Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Infrastructure Operation (AECO). So here's some quick reference of the chronology of this tool.
The Beginnings of ProjectWise
The product was initially called TeamMate, built by Opti Inter-Consult, a Finnish company in which Bentley invested and participated as a strategic ally thanks to the proximity through the offices they had in the Netherlands. Remember that before going to Ireland, the headquarters and the biggest smokers of Bentley were in Holland.
It was the year 95, under an agreement in which Bentley would be the exclusive distributor of TeamMate and the Opti guys would work in the development of a collaborative environment that was initially called Microstation OfficeMate, which was running on Windows 3.1 and NT. Then the 96 launched an 2 version called Microstation TeamMate that on the cover included the basic flow to which the product arrived but which in essence is what the tool currently does:
- Controlled flow
- Multiuser access
- Project management
- Document management
- File Versioning
- Information system
Bentley realizes the potential he has in his hands and after negotiations acquired Opti in that same year 1996. The team is integrated as a department of Bentley Systems and create an investment capital called WorkPlace Systems Inc. in conjunction with Primavera (the software that was purchased By Oracle in 2008). Finally Bentley acquires all the capital and works on two products: ActiveAsset Planner and ActiveAsset Inquirer that are renamed ProjectWise whose first version (2.01) was released in December of 1998.
ProjectWise in V7 Times
- 2000 launches ProjectWise 3.01 that was just a document manager with access based on users and roles: basically the first premise of the cycle: Security.
- In 2001 appears ProjectWise 3.02 with capabilities to do redline on dgn and dwg files, wizards for the creation of documents and could visualize the files in Internet Explorer in a called functionality WEL (Web Explorer Lite)
So far, Bentley maintained the format dgn V7 that had the great limit of being still of 16 bits; In times of Microstation 95, SE and J.
ProjectWise in V8 Times
I remember knowing this 8.01 version in 2003, in a project of Cadastre that took advantage of the process as follows:
- The cadastral maps were worked in Microstation using topological cleaning tools and attribute mapping Through Geographics.
- Then the dgn were registered and linked with applications developed on VBA, linking them via node / boundary to an Oracle base.
- The dgn files then entered a repository controlled with ProjectWise, which identified the date that had been registered and controlled versioning -Although some of that was handmade because of the poor of the version; I remember that some of the uses that we were giving were well seen in a demo made in Czechoslovakia, who said that we were using the platform for what was not ... but it was nice–
- Then, to make maintenance parcel, a request was created on the web management system, which identified the parcel based on its cadastral key and from the map could be done the management that checked out the file dgn, raising the specific property With the geolocate, to do maintenance; Meanwhile the file could not be touched by being downloaded by a user.
- After maintenance, the dgn checked in and released the version.
Additionally, a script every 20 minutes went through all the files that had been modified, copied the new version and replaced it in the GeoWeb Publisher server because at that time it could not read ProjectWise directories, so it had to be replaced in this way so that the Publisher could continue calling the same discrete file registered in the index. Go way, but it is what there was. After Bentley fought with Java for the Publisher web viewer, they built the ActiveX viewer: VPR (View Print Redline) which was a very bad patch because it only ran with Internet Explorer and the installation the first time the user loaded it was a disaster; but it was the only thing that allowed to request graphic maintenance on a viewer, which created a nested file with a redline extension (.rdl) to the transaction.
I must admit that the energy of the boys who were in the area of development was extreme, because although now they seem humble achievements, at the time they required a good joint of marijuana to achieve it with the technology of those days. The limitations of backup servers and web services forced a routine at midnight to raise a mirror server so that the other would do a backup on magnetic tape until the 6 of the morning that the application server was getting up again.
Also, ProjectWise allowed tabs to carry flow control to the map before registration; Who outlined it, with what method, on what date, who digitized it ... etc. In short, old-fashioned metadata.
This was done thanks to the features that this version had in 2003: Audit Trail, Workspace Profiles and Distribution System. Additionally with the improvements of the Web Explorer Lite, documents were associated to the registered geomería, like pdf files or other maps with the Preview Pane.
In 2004 came the 8.05 version, with the potential of indexing dgn, Thumbnails and textual search enhancement. A pity that this was not so simple to implement, because the space cartridge that promoted Bentley was not so simple and it was already difficult to go against the current standards promoted with the databases of space support and WMS / WFS services; what Bentley insisted on doing with ProjectWise and not with GeoWeb Publisher that only made it accessible with the ProjectServer and the arrival of the idpr file.
I have it as fresh as it had been yesterday, although it was frustrating to want to explain it to a doctor who came to replace me with political change ... although his specialty was dentistry and he had a master's degree in dental surgery.
Maybe this disappointment is the reason why in years of writing is the first time I talk about ProjectWise. Surely only Freud knows.
Two years passed before ProjectWise released something new, what happened in 2006 when XM 8.09 appeared. In this, Microstation had been totally re-developed with the face that we see so far; while ProjectWise integrated project management instead of repositories, it was integrated into SharePoint and then the controlled Workspaces could be managed via the structure of XFM, thus forgetting the old Geographics project structure. It was valuable that from now on the dwg and dxf could be read natively.
Recall that XM was a Bentley experiment to the next step; But that allowed them to reconstruct to the taste almost the total of applications that until then were developed in Clipper; Robust but with a user interface limited to the reaches of C ++, C # and the .NET environment.
With the smoke V8i Bentley establishes his next perspective, thinking of BIM, in intelligent infrastructures. With this comes the idea of I-Model, where ProjectWise takes a very important role with the management of data contained in the dgn files, which in xml nodes they had stored for a long time but were not enhanced as data containers. This is how the following steps are evident after the integration of AEC + Operation visualized in the medium term in AssetWise:
- ProjectWise V8i (8.11). This is launched in 2008, and here the transfer of data via web services starts at the visualization level, also the data viewer instead of showing a rendered view shows objects with the Web View Server and Spatial Navigation. The search becomes efficient because it operates only in the xml data and the access is no longer with the old login window that stored properties in a client .dll but can be accessed with particularized applications that were hidden in a hyperlink. Of course, at this point the i-model can be contained in a pdf, dgn, dwg or a file that is accessed from Microsoft Excel or Outlook mail.
- Select Series 1 is launched in 2009, recognizing dwg of the latest version of AutoCAD 2010 and structuring properties of xml nodes are standardized with the i-model data composer. Also the old Redline happens to be enhanced in Navigator markups.
- Select Series 2 is launched in 2011, with support for interacting with AutoCAD and Revit files for both 32 and 64 bits. In this version the transfer of discrete files goes down in history and everything is via web services, using the properties that this 8.11.07 version (Navigator WebPart, Granular Administration) brings with it, which becomes a wonder even in slow connections.
- The latest version, Select Series 3 released in May of 2012 has native support for servers to 64 bits, and that's when they start showing applications for Android, iPad and Windows tablets. The transfer via streaming includes point clouds, dynamic composition from the server and support for Citrix.
And then, what is ProjectWise for?
In the end, Bentley managed to convince large customers who use their products, and others who attracted buying applications that solved similar problems but had strategic customers, to build a system in which collaborative work is achieved in the cycle of Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operations (AECO). Unlike other document management systems, it is specialized in the design and construction of infrastructure projects that are integrated as you work in an almost traditional way:
- A project is designed, using a software that stores the data in the i-Model even though only sketches and georeferenced simulation are done,
- Topography is worked and geotechnical analysis is included
- Everything, the structural design, electro-mechanical ... everything goes through a flow in which many people interact.
- There are no table plans or files by mail or Dropbox, only collaborative work on apparent dgn files. But the magic is in the standardized XML in the i-Model.
And ProjectWise does the job of integrating teams into their roles and relevant information. With the same concept of when we did it archaically, in the conformation of files that did not finish in the bidding of the work, but later execution and now operation; with division of work by specialties, reuse of content and dynamic feedback.
That is why ProjectWise is not as well known to the common user, because large companies are interested in this type of applications: It is considered that the 40% of an engineer's work day can be spent searching and validating specific information, files for use and you still have the doubt if you did not make a mistake with the original data. For engineering works where a valve costs 25,000 dollars and its damage represents millionaire losses ... or a building where finding an aquifer means changing the design of insulated footings by foundation slab with curtain wall ... then ProjectWise represents a valuable investment.
Who uses ProjectWise
I could see how this tool was integrated into a national cadastre project, in a country where programmers with their nails managed to get more out of what they had in their time; then I did not know about another project. However, when you leave local borders, it is surprising to see that ProjectWise is used in 92 countries by:
- 72 of the main 100 engineering companies identified in the Engineering News Record Top 100.
- 234 of the 500 global companies with greater infrastructure operation, including public and private.
- 25 of the 50 transport departments of the United States.
So ... who knows if over time we'll talk more about ProjectWise.