Bentley connects MicroStation to Google Earth.

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EXTON, PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Bentley recently announced that it has developed software to import MicroStation design file data into Google Earth, a free program that combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world’s geographic information at a user’s fingertips. For the first time, users can view 2D and 3D models in the exact geographic environment where they will be constructed.

Google Earth allows a user to type an address into a search bar. The program then zooms in on that location, showing a satellite image of the area. It can also superimpose a road map over the satellite image. The new MicroStation functionality allows users to import design file data into Google Earth, giving MicroStation users the unprecedented ability to quickly see projects in the geographical context they will be in.

Google Earth showing the Bentley headquarters in Exton, Pennsylvania.

“The Google Earth connection is fantastic for our users, who work on major assets placed on or in the earth,” stated Ray Bentley, lead developer. “The feedback regarding the connection has been great — beta users around the world are inspired by their new ability to view this work inside the Google Earth environment.”

MicroStation users can export their DGN and DWG models of infrastructure assets being designed, approved or maintained directly to the Google Earth environment. Here, the models can be viewed in the context of the rich geographic and demographic data available in Google Earth, including near-by buildings, highways, roads, geographic boundaries, bodies of water and census information.

Essentially, a user exports a design file into the Google Earth file format (KLM file), including all level, reference and saved view information. Then, from within Google Earth, users can manipulate any of these just like they can in MicroStation. For example:

  • All included levels available to the MicroStation user are carried over into the KML file (KML, or Keyhole Markup Language, is an XML-based language for managing three-dimensional geospatial data in Google Earth) so the Google Earth user can easily turn levels on and off.
  • Saved views in MicroStation are transferred to the KML file, so the Google Earth user can easily move through pre-configured perspectives in the model.
  • Embedded links within a MicroStation file will be automatically exported as Google Earth Placemarks, which allow the Google Earth user to quickly navigate to supporting project data.
  • MicroStation GeoGraphics coordinate systems are automatically exported to the real geographic locations in Google Earth.
  • MicroStation raster imagery can be exported to Google Earth to replace or augment the Google Earth imagery.

Moreover, the MicroStation files imported into Google Earth will maintain any links to Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PDF documents, URLs and additional DGNs and DWG files – enabling diverse project information to be viewable in the Google Earth interface.

Joe Croser, Global Marketing Director for Bentley’s platform products added, “The most exciting thing about [MicroStation’s] Google Earth [functionality] is that it facilitates richer visualization for everyone involved in a project — from designers on through to the public. I like to think of it as ‘grounding design’ by placing the project [in its natural position].”

Bentley SELECT subscribers can download the new connection software now for use with MicroStation V8 2004 Edition. The capability is delivered with MicroStation V8 XM Edition.

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