Productivity Corner: Bentley WaterGEMS Plays Well with Others

6 Aug, 2006 By: Andres Gutierrez

MicroStation, ArcGIS and AutoCAD users work together with a single modeling dataset.

Water utilities engaged in building and maintaining water distribution models for decision support face fundamental challenges when dealing with multidisciplinary teams, diverse sources of data and platform restrictions that compromise their return on technology investment.

Bentley WaterGEMS V8 XM Edition is a water distribution modeling solution that allows ArcGIS, MicroStation, AutoCAD and stand-alone users to work together around a single modeling project. Water utilities can leverage their investment in GIS, CAD and AEC technology without sacrificing interoperability.


Because the WaterGEMS data stores an open database format, multiple application clients can open, view and edit a WaterGEMS project simultaneously. This means that a single project can be edited using different platforms at the same time.

How does it work?
Bentley WaterGEMS V8 XM Edition includes a stand-alone Windows interface that runs with full functionality, plus three additional integration clients so users can work within the ArcMap, AutoCAD and MicroStation environments. Regardless of the selected platform, a single WaterGEMS data store is seamlessly maintained guaranteeing data integrity.

This unique interoperability implementation allows WaterGEMS users to collaborate more efficiently without platform restrictions. ArcGIS users can directly leverage their skills to allocate node demands using water consumption data from an SDE data source, while MicroStation users can edit the same model with engineering precision using the environment they are already comfortable with.

Working in a Stand-Alone Environment
The stand-alone WaterGEMS interface is an easy-to-use environment that engineers can quickly learn. WaterGEMS V8 XM Edition introduces a stand-alone implementation leveraging Microsoft's .NET technology to deliver a modeless and customizable environment.


The stand-alone interface uses dockable windows and toolbars, so users can manually adjust the position of the various interface elements to suit their preferences.

Geospatial model building modules for allocating water demands and node elevations, previously only available for ArcGIS users, are now available for stand-alone, as well as MicroStation and AutoCAD users.

Working with MicroStation
WaterGEMS' new MicroStation client enables detailed and accurate mapping of model features and provides the full array of output and presentation features available in MicroStation, including PDF composing and the new Google Earth integration tools.

Additionally, native MicroStation commands such as Move, Scale, Rotate, Mirror And Array can be used as with any design project.

The MicroStation environment is enhanced for water modeling using the MDL (MicroStation Development Language) client layer allowing users to create, view and edit WaterGEMS network models using native MicroStation tools.


The primary WaterGEMS element entities -- pipes, junctions, tanks, reservoirs, valves, hydrants and pumps -- are all implemented using native MicroStation elements with feature linkages to define them as WaterGEMS objects.

This means users can perform standard MicroStation commands as they normally would, while the WaterGEMS database updates automatically to reflect these changes.

It also means that the model enforces the integrity of the network topological state. For example, if a user deletes a junction element, its connecting pipes are also deleted because their connecting nodes topologically define model pipes.

Some of the advantages of working in MicroStation mode include:

  • Layout network links and structures in fully scaled mode in the same environment that is used to develop engineering plans.
  • Use native MicroStation insertion snaps to precisely position WaterGEMS elements with respect to other entities in the MicroStation drawing.
  • Use native MicroStation commands on WaterGEMS model entities with automatic update and synchronization with the model database.
  • Control destination levels for model elements and associated label text and annotation, with full control over styles, line types and visibility of model elements.

Working with ArcGIS
WaterGEMS V8 XM Edition also features integration with ESRI's ArcGIS software allowing users to leverage every GIS feature from within ArcGIS without the need for data import, export and transformation.

Benefits include minimizing data replication, the ability to perform GIS custom queries, building models from scratch using practically any existing data source, managing multiple modeling scenarios in the same geodatabase and using the powerful reporting and presentation capabilities of GIS.

Developed using ESRI ArcObjects technology, this integration works with all flavors of ArcGIS (ArcView, ArcEditor and ArcInfo), allowing WaterGEMS users to directly use the data editing, mapping and spatial analysis features available with each package.

ArcMap is the interface for WaterGEMS' integration with ArcGIS.


WaterGEMS uses a geodatabase to seamlessly integrate modeling and GIS data. The geodatabase represents the WaterGEMS project, feature datasets represent modeling scenarios and point, line and polygon feature classes represent the different WaterGEMS elements, including reservoirs, junctions, tanks, pumps, valves, meters, pipes, service areas and Thiessen polygons.

The GeoTable concept is also introduced with WaterGEMS V8 XM Edition, which provides a dynamic view on the data right from the ArcMap environment.

The underlying data in an active GeoTable represents data for the current scenario, the current time step and the unit definition of the GeoTable. By using GeoTables, WaterGEMS provides ultimate flexibility for using the visualization and rendering tools provided by ArcMap.

Working with AutoCAD
As is also the case for MicroStation and ArcGIS, the AutoCAD functionality in WaterGEMS V8 XM Edition was implemented to be exactly the same as in WaterGEMS stand-alone. Users that are familiar with the stand-alone interface will not have any difficulty using the product within AutoCAD.

The AutoCAD interface provides access to every AutoCAD drafting tool, enabling users to perform WaterGEMS modeling tasks like editing, solving and data management within the AutoCAD environment.

Some of the benefits of working in AutoCAD mode include:

  • Layout network links and structures in fully scaled mode in the same design and drafting environment used to develop engineering plans.
  • Users have access to other third-party applications and custom LISP, ARX and VBA applications.
  • Use native AutoCAD commands such as Erase, Move and Rotate on WaterGEMS model entities with automatic update and synchronization with the model database.
  • Control destination layers for model elements and associated label text and annotation, with full control over styles, line types and visibility of model elements.

The standard AutoCAD environment is extended and enhanced by an AutoCAD ObjectARX client layer that allows users to create, view and edit the native WaterGEMS network model while in AutoCAD.

For more information about Bentley WaterGEMS V8 XM Edition please visit the company's Web site.

About the Author: Andres Gutierrez