Bentley’s MicroStation gets Google Earth support

As alluded to yesterday by Martyn Day, Bentley Systems have now announced support for Google Earth in the latest release of their flagship CAD authoring application, MicroStation V8 XM Edition.

Read the press release. All the information concerning Google Earth and Bentley is reachable from this start page on their site.

Bentley System’s products are used in the design of infrastructure, pretty much everywhere — roads, bridges and facilities, ports… (US) governmental agencies are big users, and not surprisingly MicroStation provides industrial strength CAD: The list price for the new V8 XM is $4,795.00 with an annual maintenance of $725.

So it’s not likely to end up on my desktop anytime soon. But what we can hope for is that the huge inventory of existing virtual infrastructure made with MicroStation will now begin populating Google Earth. The path has definitely been cleared. Imagine if Google were to make some of it available in a base layer…

Bentley highlights some of the nicer touches that the conversion tool manages to pull off:

  • Views inside MicroStation can become saved views inside Google Earth
  • Linked documents linked from inside MicroStation (PDF floorplans, say) can be converted to placemarks in Google Earth with links to the files.
  • MicroStation objects that already have coordinates can be placed automatically in Google Earth.
  • Layers in MicroStation become layers in Google Earth, and if the Microstation file contains hi-res imagery of the surrounding area (as it apparently often does), you can see this as an overlay as well.


You can download a KMZ file of Bentley’s campus in Exton, Penssylvania, if you want to see these features in action. There is also a “making of” screencast, but to see either you will need to register.

[Update 21:18 UTC: Okay, it’s time for me to learn a new acronym. CAD (computer-aided design) doesn’t quite define what MicroStation does, apparently. It’s more specifically AEC-related, as in “architectural, engineering, and construction”. You wouldn’t use MicroStation to design a blender, for example, not even big ones.)