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Are You Motivated to Migrate to MicroStation V8?

by John D. Leavy, Leavy Consulting, Inc.

The author offers up his take on migrating to the latest version of Microstation, V8. He identifies three goups, the "Heck no, we won't go!" bunch, the "Can't wait to open the box" crowd and the "fast-followers"... which one are you?

There seem to be three opinions forming out in the MicroStation Population in regards to upgrading to MicroStation's new version, V8. There is the "Heck no, we won't go!" bunch, the "Can't wait to open the box" crowd and what I like to term the "fast-followers".

The "bunch that won't budge" say they have good reasons not to move right now; their users are trained, they know where the pit falls are on the release of MicroStation they are currently working with, the workarounds are in place and the projects are going out the door on time and on budget. You can't fault that kind of logic. Of course these "won't budge" folks realize they'll have to upgrade their CAD environments someday, but now is not the time. Besides, the software was just announced, and as long as time is on their side they'll move to MicroStation V8 at their own pace.

What about the keyed up crowd? New features always act as a catalyst to motivate users to upgrade. It doesn't really matter if it's Windows XP, Office XP, AutoCAD 2002 or MicroStation V8. New features and functionality pique interest. People hope that with new enhancements come speed, ways to shave design steps, improved communication between workgroups, less problems, ease of use, better products and opportunities for new business. MicroStation V8 like other new product releases is not lacking in new features and functionality so user excitement levels are high. Here is the short-list of new features in MicroStation V8:
  • Unlimited UNDO
  • Increased maximum vertices
  • Unlimited reference file attachments
  • Building personal toolbox improvements
  • Spelling preferences
  • Improvements to engineering links
  • Visualization enhancements
  • DGN files are without limits in precision, number of levels and file size
  • DWG reference and edit capabilities
  • Complete design history
  • Packager for archiving project data
  • Support for Oracle 8i and ACCESS 2000
  • The list goes on…

So, what's holding back that last group from upgrading to MicroStation V8? Why aren't they jumping on the band wagon? I guess their name says it all: fast-followers. Folks have learned over the years that being number one is great went it comes to winning the World Series, the Stanley Cup or the America's Cup race. Being first in the technology sector however is different, quite different. Most of last year's dotCOMs aren't even around today. So much for being on the cutting edge.

There's good reason to migrate slowly this time around. MicroStation, for its first time, has altered its file format and altered it significantly. For instance, when you open your first 95/SE or J file in V8 you will be faced with a decision: open the file for read-only in V7 format or upgrade the file to V8. Once upgraded, you can work in the file, but no one using V7 will be able to access it until the file is resaved in V7 format. MicroStation users have enjoyed moving files between software releases, without giving it a second thought, but those days are over.

Substantial changes to MicroStation's DGN format raise new management issues. How will workgroups pass design data back and forth between V7 and V8 on a project? Does it make sense to finish the existing designs on V7 and do the new ones on V8? Should the shop stay mixed or choose one MicroStation version? What about passing data to clients - do they want V7 or V8 files? Someone needs to lay the ground work. A plan needs to be drawn up. Workflows will require examination to see if any changes are warranted. Users need to be educated. Standards will undoubtedly need to be modified. Procedures will have to be edited. And if you've been around software for any length of time you know that with new software features come new bugs.

One last thought before closing. What about ROI? You know, Return On Investment. A better return on investment was the reason companies moved their drafting tables to the shipping docks when CAD came on the scene. There's not much talk these days about "improving profits" as the main reason for going to a new release of software. Shouldn't that be the over-riding motive? Isn't that why the money is being spent, the resources are being expended and time is being set aside? New features and functionality notwithstanding a better return of investment is a much better reason for upgrading any technology whether it is software or hardware. Think it over.

I hope which ever group you're in today you'll seriously consider ways the new technology can improve the bottom line before making the jump.

About the Author:
John Leavy is an industry expert in the Engineering Information arena, a popular speaker and presenter and author of several popular CAD titles. John can be reached at

John D. Leavy
96 Candle Lake Drive
Divide, CO 80814
(719) 351-8597 Article © 2001, Leavy Consulting, Inc.


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