It's all what you get used to.
Craig Co., VA
Civil 3D, Mechanical 2012
Ultimately, the question comes down to which is best.....
The answer: Both. Because whichever is client required to win the job that you will (hopefully) make money at is the right tool for the job.
We had some discussion at my office a while back about this topic and I gave the same answer.
As an End User and sometimes manager of both of these products I try to learn as much as I can about each. It helps with my job security and ability to obtain new employment should the need arise. Some folks get stuck in a rut and argue until their fired or dead about which software to use. I say learn and use what the market needs/wants and you'll never run out of market.
FWIW, The Bentley brothers actually created MicroStation as an emulator to Intergraph's IGDS (Interactive Graphics Design System), which was on a VAX since 1974. As PC's got cheaper, Intergraph sold MicroStation on behalf of Bentley, and then Bentley sued for the rights to market and sell their own product.
Civil 3D runs like a cow if you only use one dwg file. I have a client that requires a single file as deliverable and with 2 miles of pipe and 28 sheets, it creates a 1+GB temp file in saving my 10 MB file. I have a machine with 2GB of RAM and got a rare fatal error, corrupted files, etc. I took the sheets out and now it makes a 40 MB file on save. The order of magnitude temp file difference is insane. C3D 2009 also has a memory leak. The more intelligent objects you have in your file (corridors), the worse it gets. I've had a file that normally runs using 500 MB RAM creep up to >1 GB RAM in a morning when I wasn't watching my system performance.
C3D is just not meant to keep all its objects in one file. If you manage your files with Data Shortcuts you can keep your machine running like a dream. Keep surfaces in one file, create a new file for alignments, another for profiles and another for corridors. Data Shortcuts are surprisingly efficient. I had a 2,000 acre surface referenced in by Data Shortcuts and my new design file was about 50 KB. Locking surfaces makes a big difference, too.
I feel your pain. I've used InRoads (a little bit) i was very impressed with how smooth it ran and how easy it is to learn. If were hired as strictly the highway design consultant, InRoads would be the software to go with. Unfortunately, we are usually doing the road, grading, storm/water/sanitary design, as well as the hydrology and more. So C3D makes it easier for our firm's practices to work together.
As far as file management, this is a big one. I highly recommend reading the C3D Best Practices. You really have to utilize data shortcuts to be productive. FYI - I'd stay away from the plan productions tools, I can make them work exactly how they are supposed to but they use data shortcuts to an unnecessary extreme and make your production sheets too slow to open and plot.
Hi, All: My rant:
I started out in 1987 with Intergraph (Bentley) and did not get my first taste of AutoCAD until R11 back in 95. It was horrible. A 20 mb data set (approx 20 dgn files 1 mb big) of Vancouver int. airport ran fine on Microstation V5.0. It ground AutoCAD R11 into a complete halt. Back then a 2mb DGN contour file was at least a 12mb DWG contour file, until lightweight contours where introduced. They also claimed XREF functionality that back then but was nothing more than a renamed block command. I have had to be fluent (?) with both platforms for over 23 years and to this day I can not understand how Autodesk competes with Bentley in Civil Engineering.
I am now using both Civil 3D2008 and inroads and frankly nothing still has changed. Autodesk has some great stuff but still spent half an hour with and experienced C3D user trying to get a 3d polyline closed to use as an exterior boundary. She tells me they used to have do it in in 2D, and that was the only way that LDD understood it. She was amazed that 2008 could just import it in 3D now. True, as until 2000 came along you couldn’t close a 3D polyline. How do you model without that?? Believe it or not, I would load the DWG in Microstation AutoCAD mode, chain it closed in 30 secs, save and continue on in inroads using AutoCAD. It would accept the element type but would not let you create one on your own in AutoCAD! You got the feeling that they already had all these abilities coded in the software, but locked away in a fault somewhere so that they had something new to release next year for upgrade $$$. Examples: 2010 alignment offset commands require the same offset values throughout the alignment. (*** PLS CORRECT ME HERE IF I'M WRONG!***) There goes half the modeling functionality right there. Why go through all that trouble and then stop short like that? I’ll bet 2011 has it though. ($$$) A funky workaround for a 3D arc and/or fillet command that I’ve been waiting 20 years for. Was it that hard to make an arc that can be in 3D??? I find it surreal to this day that they still haven't found a way to merge the functionality of 2d-and 3d polylines together into a single element. I can have 3D centerlines of roads in either 2D with dashed, or 3D but it has to be solid. I can do both in C3D, but guess what happens when structural or piping references my models? Maybe next release.
I have been using C3D2008 to work with file sizes that my 5yr old version of inroads V8 runs like a dream on the same 4 yr old machine. I get about 3 FATAL ERRORS a day with 2008. My fault perhaps but C3D2010 is so far error-proof, looks wonderful, and yes I do love their ribbons. The dynamic stuff is just plain fun. But I might as well have gone home as to wait for it to do anything. We are just getting out of a recession and I think I’d need to run a machine that could launch nuclear missiles to get it to run fast enough to do anything with. Are we the only ones without $5,000.00 every 2 years to upgrade to a machine that will run fast enough with their bloat-ware? I spent 90 minutes processing a point file that took 170 seconds with inroads. A Dell Precision 390’s 2.66 gigahertz. And 4 gigs of ram. S.E.T.I. would have died for a machine like that 10 years ago but and I have to sit there and wait 5 minutes just to load a blank screen. 2.6 billion instructions per second, how may instructions would that be in total?? Who could model a refinery grading plan in 200 hours with this stuff?? I will export the 60 mb existing surface to R14 mode to run on V8 inroads using Microstation and I’m back to work again, losing all that wonderful dynamic stuff I could learn to love. (Interestingly, even this old version of inroads will retain the XML smarts of the original 2010 C3D format.)
I would love nothing more than to have C3D be the better product as its 10x more popular (like Windows is to Apple) but it’s always IT managers of our big Oil sands companies that Autodesk marketing goes after. They will wine and dine them half to death. Nothing better than being an IT manager on a Autodesk "seminar". I was mistaken for one 2 years ago spent the whole weekend drunk, partying, listing to them sell me software that looked beautiful but ran like on a hog back home.
As a Windows 7 / CADD user there are 2 things I've noticed in my career:
1. Nobody who fully knows Apple and MS Windows that would ever choose windows, and
2. I don’t care what DTM modeling software you use; if you like modelling in 3D give me one year with you and you will be an inroads/Microstation user forever. 4 converts in 10 years can’t be wrong.
Autodesk is tops for 2D drafting but gad their modeling software could challenge the patience of Buddha.
A few points:
*We tested some $5k super computurers with civil 3d and saw no significant performance increase.
*I have been using C3D 2008, it is now just 2010 and i am lightyears behind in autodesk technology yet when i had the 2000 suite, I used it unit 2005 without complaint and then the same for 2004 suite until 2008.
*I taught myself the InRoads in a week, the next week i was customizing set ups.
*We are moving to C3D 2009 soon but we have been told to go to 2010 if we want to be efficient. (I'm thinking why give them another chance?)
If you can't tell, I had a really bad day today with C3D.
Autodesk keeps on buying any 3D modeling software that comes in to the market (Navisworks, Dynamite VSP, Maya, etc.) in order to avoid competition in the future.
Innovation only happens with stiff competition. We need many more than 2 players (Bentley & Autodesk).