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MicroStation Maxine: Questions & Answers

5 Sep, 2017 By: Cadalyst Staff

MicroStation Maxine responds to reader questions about switching from AutoCAD to Bentley Systems' MicroStation

Here, Bentley’s MicroStation Maxine responds to reader questions. Have a question of your own? MicroStation Maxine is standing by to help! Click here to submit. And visit the Switching Center on to access a growing collection of information and advice for AutoCAD users considering a move to MicroStation.

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Q: We are a land survey company. Does MicroStation offer options for acquiring point data in the field and converting that into datasets that can be employed for creating topographic models, GIS-applicable entities like shapefiles, etc.? Many thanks!

A: Although MicroStation doesn’t contain the data acquisition and reduction capabilities you ask about, Bentley’s civil design applications do. Bentley has a complete line of civil design and surveying applications which are built on the same comprehensive platform as MicroStation that will meet your needs.  Click here for more information.

Q: What is the cost of a single license of MicroStation for architecture?

A: The list price for a perpetual license for MicroStation is similar to what a full license of AutoCAD used to be, though prices vary in different countries around the world. A variety of subscription licensing options are also available, depending on your needs. Also check out Bentley’s architectural BIM application called AECOsim Building Designer, which is built on the same comprehensive modeling platform as MicroStation, and its price is very similar.

Q: Does MicroStation work with Steel Engine™ (an add-on for AutoCAD Architecture) for designing metal stud walls?

A: MicroStation is certainly capable of modeling steel, timber, and concrete structures, but if you are looking for a highly productive structural modeling or detailing solution, Bentley’s ProSteel, built on the MicroStation platform, handles structural steel very well. We’re not aware of any metal stud wall add-on for MicroStation.

Q: What learning tools are available for MicroStation, and is there a cost? What is the cost of the system with the AutoCAD perpetual license promo?

A: The vast majority of MicroStation users are also Bentley SELECT subscribers (our comprehensive program for the support of MicroStation — which has a whole range of benefits).

As a SELECT subscriber, you can use an in-application learning tool called CONNECT Advisor, which provides you with full access to thousands of learning videos, quick start guides, help and wiki materials, schedules of upcoming virtual learning opportunities, and even contextual advice for tools and workflows based on how you are using the software. All of this content has been created by Bentley experts and is used by hundreds of thousands of users worldwide.

The list price of a perpetual license of MicroStation is just slightly more than the AutoCAD perpetual license before any discounts — but Bentley also offers annual and quarterly subscription options. A Bentley sales colleague could certainly share the specifics with you and let you know which perpetual discount level you would be eligible for under the AutoCAD perpetual license promo, so you can compare your options.

Q: What is the cost for a single license of MicroStation for architecture?

A: The list price for a perpetual license for MicroStation is similar to what a full license of AutoCAD used to be, though prices vary in different countries. There are also a variety of subscription licensing options available, depending on your needs. Bentley also offers an architectural BIM application called AECOsim Building Designer that is built on the same comprehensive modeling platform as MicroStation that you may wish to investigate; its price is very similar.

Q: Please provide purchasing and licensing information.

A: To get more information on pricing and licensing, you can contact Bentley directly by phone at 1-800-BENTLEY or online.  MicroStation’s perpetual license price and annual subscription licensing are comparably priced to AutoCAD, though prices vary by country.  If you are instead looking for a drafting solution, MicroStation PowerDraft may be a more cost-effective and robust alternative (comparable to AutoCAD but without the ability to create 3D models).

Q: What’s required to migrate to MicroStation? What is the cost to the company?

A: A variety of available resources, including a step-by-step approach to ensuring a smooth AutoCAD-to-MicroStation migration, are presented in the “CAD Manager’s Guide to the AutoCAD–MicroStation Transition.” Bentley consultants, after learning more about your unique use of AutoCAD, can provide insights and recommendations about making the change. In advance of purchasing the software, you can watch some of the MicroStation videos to become familiar with the software. And once you’ve decided to make the move, online learning materials as well as live virtual classes are available to help users get up to speed quickly.

Pricing various by country, but is similar to the former perpetual license prices for AutoCAD.  Several cost-effective subscription licensing and pricing options are available, depending on your needs.  You can contact a Bentley expert to help you sort through and choose the best option.

Q: Our workflows depend on numerous custom AutoLISP programs that automate our work, and we routinely access both new and old CAD files (back to AutoCAD R12). Although we are licensed through AutoCAD 2016, we have not needed to save files newer than the AutoCAD 2004 format. Recent AutoCAD releases have complicated matters greatly and are interfering with productivity. Can MicroStation help?

A: While MicroStation does not support the use of AutoLISP programs, it has plenty of flexibility for building your own custom macros or even creating full-fledged applications using VBA, .NET, C++, or C#. And depending on what your AutoLISP programs do, MicroStation may offer out-of-the-box tools that offer similar functionality, limiting your need to maintain your own customizations.

DWG compatibility is something Bentley has worked hard at for a long time, and MicroStation has native support for current versions of RealDWG using Autodesk’s own libraries — and it even provides support for files as far back as AutoCAD R14 DWG format. And MicroStation’s own DGN file format has only changed once in its 30-year history, and Bentley has no plans to change it again, so you won’t have to worry about disruptive file format changes once you make the switch.

We’d be happy to give you a tour if you’d like to learn more about what making the switch to MicroStation can offer.

And Some Advice from Maxine ...
  • Are you looking to explore CAD software licensing options? Watch this short video to see why Bentley’s licensing options are so unique.

  • Wondering where to begin learning more about MicroStation? You can dive into the basics and even download a MicroStation 14-day trial at


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