At a joint press conference, Autodesk, Inc., and Bentley Systems, Inc., two of the leading providers of design and infrastructure software, announced an agreement to expand interoperability between their portfolios of architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) software. Autodesk and Bentley will exchange software libraries, including Autodesk RealDWG, to improve the ability to read and write the companies’ respective DWG and DGN formats in mixed environments with greater fidelity. In addition, the two companies will facilitate work process interoperability between their AEC applications through supporting the reciprocal use of available Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). With this agreement, the companies aim to improve AEC workflows by enabling broader reuse of information generated during the design, construction, and operation of buildings and infrastructure, and by enhancing the ability of project teams to choose among multiple software sources.
Interoperability has emerged as a critical issue for users of design and engineering software. A 2004 study by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology found that users bear direct costs of almost $16 billion annually from time wasted due to inadequate AEC software interoperability. By virtue of this agreement, and the interoperable offerings that it will enable, AEC firms will be free to employ software tools of choice from either Autodesk or Bentley to accept or submit either DWG or DGN files. By improving fidelity of work shared between the two file formats, users will be able to focus on being creative and getting work done, rather than being constrained by file-compatibility considerations.
Through supporting the reciprocal use of their available APIs, Autodesk and Bentley will enable AEC project teams to combine products from both providers within integrated workflows. For instance, a design team could use a mixture of Autodesk and Bentley software, such as Autodesk’s Revit platform and Bentley’s STAAD and RAM structural products, and simulate and analyze their designs or manage project information using Autodesk NavisWorks software or Bentley’s ProjectWise.
Norbert Young, FAIA, president of McGraw-Hill Construction and former chairman of the International Alliance for Interoperability in North America, said, "This groundbreaking agreement directly addresses many of the critical issues detailed in the October 2007 McGraw-Hill Construction study on interoperability in the construction industry (http://construction.ecnext.com/mcgraw_hill/includes/SMRI.pdf). I applaud both companies for their foresight and leadership."
Added Patrick MacLeamy, FAIA, CEO of global architectural firm HOK and a founder and current chairman of the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI), "As a longtime advocate of interoperability, I welcome this agreement as an important step toward enabling AEC information to be more broadly shared, increasing the value of BIM to our clients."
"Autodesk recognizes that many customers use our products in mixed environments, and this agreement will help to better support these firms," said Jay Bhatt, senior vice president, Autodesk AEC Solutions. "As part of our commitment to provide technology that improves productivity and efficiency across the AEC industry, we’re pleased to enter into this agreement with Bentley Systems—Autodesk’s largest development partner—and together help customers design, build, operate, and maintain the world’s infrastructure."
"Bentley and Autodesk share a goal of enabling the creation and operations of better-performing infrastructure," said Greg Bentley, CEO of Bentley Systems. "Realizing that our mutual users bear unnecessary costs resulting from lack of interoperability, we came together to finally make information reuse the norm. By raising its sights beyond file format issues, the resource-constrained AEC community can better serve us all."