"Bentley has done something very few software vendors are willing to do," adds Evan Yares, president of the OpenDWG Alliance. This means it is willing to "compete on the merits" of its applications, not on forcing an upgrade path, he says.

The alliance is in the process of changing its name to more broadly encompass its expanded mission. Its original name refers to the file format made popular with Bentley rival Autodesk's AutoCAD program. Autodesk has not published its proprietary DWG file format, although it "supports open standards" through its open display format DWF and its exchange format DXF, says Mark Strassman, manager of AutoCAD marketing.

Greg Bentley announced GIS initiative.

The alliance, however, has reverse-engineered the new DWG format in the recent release called AutoCAD 2004. Keith Bentley says the upcoming Microstation V8.2 will read AutoCAD 2004 DWG files and provide a free viewer to read both file formats.

Keith Bentley, co-chief technology officer, spoke at the Bentley International Users Conference in Baltimore, Md., May 20, along with CEO Greg Bentley, who announced a strategic initiative with global information system provider ESRI for direct and intelligent integration between desktop server-based products from the two companies.

"Both Bentley and ESRI are contributors to and proponents of the Open GIS Consortium standards. But going well beyond this least common denominator, we will each utilize the other's libraries in our respective desktop products for individual instances of referencing GIS data for AEC projects, and vice versa," said Greg Bentley. The integration builds an "enterprise connector" that synchronizes AEC content with the geodatabase.

he bentley brothers believe that architects, engineers and contractors own the intellectual property rights to their data and should be able to access and reuse that content whenever and wherever. Now, their software company, Bentley Systems Inc., Exton, Pa., has published the file format for the latest upgrade of its V8 DGN drawings and is providing full documentation and support to a nonprofit industry consortium that promotes open industry standard formats for the exchange of CAD data.