Slinger's Thoughts

February 29, 2008

Bentley’s Microstation, Autodesk’s AutoCAD and Microsoft’s SharePoint

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 1:45 pm

Well, I’m still doing research into this issue and what can de done to resolve it.  But there is some good news for those of you out there wondering if it would be better to use Bentley Software’s Microstation for CAD design or Autodesk’s AutoCAD if you use SharePoint at all. (Or any web based collaboration tool, for that matter.)  We recently had a situation where one of our clients has asked us to produce all of our work using Bentley’s Microstation software.  I thought “Great, here we go again.”  Fortunately this was not the case.  I downloaded Bentley’s *.dgn viewer software, and uploaded a test file into my MOSS playground.  I clicked on it and was expecting to see the useless empty internet explorer screen.  Nope.  Much to my surprise it popped right up without a hitch.  No problems at all.  I haven’t had a chance to test out referenced files yet, but so far this looks like it will not be the nightmare that AutoCAD has proven to be.  Well, Bentley’s software claims that it can also view *.dwg files, so I figured I would give it a shot and see if the Bentley viewer could open the AutoCAD file out of SharePoint.  Nope.  It gives some error message about the file and then gives you a prompt to browse to a file to open.  Oh well, at least it works correctly for their own format of file.  That was a very pleasant surprise.  Now for the part that sucks for me.  It turns out that our users need to have the DWG True View installed as it is a required component for Autodesk’s Design Center software.  Our users use Design Center for various things. (I can’t rightly explain what or why. I’m not a CAD user.  But they do.)  Apparently in Autodesk’s infinite wisdom, Design Center cannot open a *.dwg file but can open a *.dwf file.  AutoCAD can’t store a file as a *.dwf file as far as I know.  So DWG True View is needed by Design Center to convert the *.dwg files to *.dwf files.  Makes perfect sense, right?  In any case, none of this would be a problem, if the ActiveX control that is loaded by DWG True View would work the way it is supposed to and wouldn’t try to render any file *.dwg or *.dwf through Internet Explorer.  I’ve checked back at Autodesk’s forums for any more insight into this issue.  Apparently they really don’t care.  I also checked, just to be sure.  If you have DWG True View installed, it doesn’t matter where on the web your *dwg file is stored.  It could even be stored on Autodesk’s overpriced online solution called “Buzzsaw,” and it wouldn’t work.  You get the exact same result.  If anyone wants to throw rocks at them, here are the two error messages that appear in the lower left corner, where the warning appears.  “Error loading webpage.”  Gee, ya think?  I double clicked on the warning icon just to see. “Problems with this Web page might prevent it from being displayed properly or functioning properly.  In the future yadda, yadda, yadda.It’s Microsoft’s standard message that something went wrong.  Here’s where it went wrong.  There are 2 errors for any *.dwg file that you try to load.  Error 1; “Line:2 Char: 1 Error: Invalid Character Code: 0 URL: http://where you uploaded the file.” Error 2; “Line 1: Char 1: Error: Object expected Code:0 URL: http://where you uploaded the file.”  If any Autodesk developer’s are out there, or anyone wants to defend them, they better get this fixed.  And here’s my answer to why.  We spent more on licensing SharePoint than we did on licensing AutoCAD.  Guess which one it will hurt less to get rid of?  Especially since we are already starting to work with a viable alternative, that doesn’t produce the same usability issues.  So there it is in a nutshell.  Now, I would really like to see Autodesk fix their software.  I have tested it outside of a SharePoint environment and I still get the same results.  At least Bentley’s Microstation doesn’t give off the same results.  Their viewer works, without issue.  I haven’t needed to access Bentley’s support system yet, so I don’t know if it is any good or not.  Hopefully I won’t need to.  My official recommendation?  Use Microstation.  Especially if you have paid for a license for MOSS.  I would much rather replace a $2,000 license than a $158,000 one.  I would imagine other companies would likely have the same view. 



  1. Hello slinger,

    Just happened upon your site here and noticed you are using MOSS with CAD files. You will find that neither MOSS nor MicroStation know about the references , though you may want to check out a product Bentley offers called StartPoint which makes Sharepoint reference aware. StartPoint can even make AutoCAD work with MOSS better.


    Comment by John Frampton — March 4, 2008 @ 7:05 am

  2. Slinger,

    Let me tell you that your efforts are appreciated in trying to find the link between Sharepoint and AutoCAD. My company is using Architectural Desktop, Trueview, and will be using Revit soon and we are looking very heavily into a doc mgmt solution. So far Sharepoint is it except for the problem of saving dwgs back to Sharepoint and the issues of XREF’s which you have been chipping away at. I check your blog frequently and we’re hanging on your words so that we don’t have to use Sharepoint AND something else to organize our data/dwgs. Thanks Slinger!


    Comment by Lucchej — March 4, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

  3. John, I looked into StartPoint and unfortunately, all of the propaganda for it feels more political than factual. I would like to see what the solution does. I would like a trial version of it. I don’t care that Bentley has been in bed with Microsoft for 15 years. That means nothing if the product doesn’t do what I need, or doesn’t work as advertised. Give me information I can use. I don’t like politicians, and software vendors shouldn’t act like them. (I get the feeling that the company that provides StartPoint is running for office somewhere.)

    Comment by slinger — March 5, 2008 @ 7:44 am

  4. Got some old Rebis drawings saved as AutoCAD *.dwg.
    The proxy 3D graphics sucks; no piping, just rectangles for fittings.
    Is there a way to convert the *.dwg or the original Rebis file to *.dwg w/ the proper piping fittings? Perhaps saving as a *.dxf file?
    The 3D piping is quite extensive & we hate to lose the 3D piping for future expansion.
    Any thoughts on this?
    Is there a way to have the Rebis file opened in Bentley (who bought Rebis out) & have it converted to AutoCAD *.dwg w/ associated fittings?
    Appreciate your interest in this.

    Comment by Kenai, Alaska — September 9, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

  5. Kenai, not sure quite what that has to do with SharePoint. That would be something that you would have to take up with Bentley. And since Bentley and Autodesk are competitors, I wouldn’t expect them to cooperate with each other too much. That’s just the nature of the beast with software though.

    Comment by slinger — September 9, 2008 @ 3:37 pm

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