Comparing SmartSketch to MicroStation
Making the choice to buy to SmartSketch® over
MicroStation® for 2D CAD is a smart decision. SmartSketch offers the advantages
of simplicity combined with powerful, advanced features that save time and money
over MicroStation. By looking at three areas critical to users: user interface,
ease of use, and functionality, the choice is clear: SmartSketch
always comes out the winner.
Simplicity of the user interface:
- Ease of use – Using Windows® and other intuitive, icon-based
commands, SmartSketch presents a simplified drawing environment mimicking the
Microsoft Office interface.
- Rapid learning – SmartSketch has eliminated the command line of
MicroStation and relies on dynamic geometric feedback for precision placement.
This reduces costly training and facilitates corporate-wide implementation.
- Saving on steps – SmartSketch can achieve in a few mouse clicks what
often requires four to seven, or more, mouse clicks in MicroStation.
MicroStation's many task-specific toolbars contain multiple commands, all geared
at making the power-user more efficient. SmartSketch's interface is
uncluttered and facilitates rapid proficiency for all users.
- Accuracy is a snap – SmartSketch was designed for a myriad of users,
including non-CAD users, engineers, managers, and support staff. As a result,
SmartSketch is designed for accurate graphical input and visual
feedback, unlike MicroStation.
Functionality without sacrificing productivity
- One click away – SmartSketch and MicroStation are designed to look
like Microsoft Windows applications. Most users will feel comfortable in this
familiar environment. However, the sheer number of tools found in MicroStation
make learning it a lengthy proposition. SmartSketch is by far the easier of the
applications to use. SmartSketch has a reduced number of commands and tools
because commonly used functionalities are integrated into logical combinations
in icon-based toolbars.
- Discovery onscreen and up front – SmartSketch is designed to provide
a much simpler approach to drawing for engineers and other non-CAD users. Users
can easily key in an exact length, radius, or geometric orientation in
SmartSketch's dynamic ribbon bar, or simply draw it using the mouse. SmartSketch
also works in a 'mouse down' mode, performing specified commands, such as Trim
or Extend, on several geometric elements at one time. MicroStation has little,
or at best, an awkward ability to perform commands on multiple elements
simultaneously. Trim or Extend operations are multi-step actions, not a simple
event as in SmartSketch.
- Visual cues suggest the next step – SmartSketch's relationship and
alignment indicators, displayed at the end of the cursor, lead or guide the next
placement point relative to other geometry. MicroStation's equivalent function
called AccuDraw does not have comparable functionality.
- Constraints reduce edits – SmartSketch creates connectivity among
elements as they are drawn (relationships). These relationships, such as
end-point connectivity, perpendicularity, tangency, and so on, serve as
constraints and maintain relative orientations between elements. Thus the user
can modify geometry without breaking connecting elements. This parametric
capability lets users quickly modify designs without having to redraw or
Three general areas could be analyzed for feature comparisons: design,
drafting, and diagramming.
- Freedom to design – From conceptual design to final approval,
SmartSketch features intuitive commands that allow any user to quickly sketch a
design idea and then refine it. SmartSketch's FreeForm and FreeSketch powerfully
transform a user's freehand mouse motions or sketched lines into precision
geometry. MicroStation sketch ability is limited to placing splines that users
must then manipulate.
- A dimension ahead – SmartSketch's SmartDimension feature accomplishes
in six tools what requires close to 100 commands and settings in MicroStation.
The SmartSketch user can quickly annotate the design by selecting geometry and
placing the dimension. Since SmartSketch uses relationships and constraints (see
above), the user can then modify a dimension and immediately see the change
reflected in the geometry. This ability to modify designs significantly reduces
overall design time.
- Simplicity for a complex world – Powerful enough for production
drafting, SmartSketch was designed for the range of users from non-CAD to
power-CAD. MicroStation was designed for production drafting, with a wide
draft-specific range of commands and yet, has a cluttered interface requiring
extensive training before users are production ready.
- Interoperability and the power to produce – SmartSketch users can
quickly create details, as-builts, bills of materials, HVAC and electrical
plans, and other project/construction/field documentation. SmartSketch's
dimensioning functionality includes various types of dimensioning capabilities.
In addition to creating native geometry, SmartSketch can reference existing
MicroStation (or AutoCAD) drawings to create compound documents and save those
SmartSketch drawings in MicroStation's file formats. SmartSketch also includes
image manipulation functionality, allowing users to combine raster data with
vector data for hybrid documents through the Image Integrator module.
- Working smarter – SmartSketch delivers diagramming capability,
applying the same intelligence found in its design and drafting functionality.
Integral to this desktop solution, SmartSketch provides SmartConnectors and an
extensive set of SmartSymbols that make diagramming an easy task for either the
technical or office user. MicroStation's diagramming capabilities are very
limited, since it is designed for drafting.
- Insightful features – SmartSketch offers a powerful diagramming
solution. Dragging SmartSymbols that automatically align, rotate, and snap to
other objects provides unparalleled ease of placement. SmartSymbols also display
multiple representations of a symbol, accessible by a simple right mouse click.
MicroStation symbols or cells are static and have limited placement options, but
cannot automatically align and snap to the objects. Once SmartSymbols are
placed, users can connect them using SmartConnectors, which maintain their
connectivity and clearance around symbols, even if a symbol is moved after it is
placed. SmartSketch's SmartLabels display attribute information for symbols and
geometric objects, dynamically updating when attribute information is modified.
- Detail View – This ability is similar to MicroStation Reference
Files, except SmartSketch allows you the ability to place these detail views on
- Interoperability with CAD Translators – SmartSketch translates and
references data from other CAD products, such as MicroStation and AutoCAD,
maintaining full visual and data integrity. This allows you to view, edit, or
redline CAD data without the expense of a traditional CAD package.
- OLE Integration – SmartSketch provides cut, copy, paste, and link
capabilities among Windows® applications. This allows users to create compound
project documentation with graphics, text, and spreadsheets in a single file.
Further, OLE integration enables you to customize and integrate SmartSketch
through VB programming, with any product that is also OLE enabled.
- Industry Solutions – SmartSketch offers enormous content through
industry standard symbols. SmartSketch provides task and application-specific
templates that set up appropriate units, drawing scales, borders, title blocks,
and toolbars. Included are 7500 CAD symbols in industry templates for AEC,
Electrical, Mechanical, and Diagramming with symbol libraries for AEC (HVAC,
landscape, site plans, structural, etc.), Diagramming (org charts, office
layouts, networks, etc.), Electrical Schematics (control loops, logic gates,
switches, transformers, semiconductors, etc.), Process Design (preliminary
P&IDs etc.), Mechanical, and more.
Market surveys indicate that 67 percent of CAD work is 2D. SmartSketch is an
advanced, yet cost-effective solution for all variety of 2D CAD. Using
associative graphics, symbols, and dimensions, users can improve their legacy
and new drafting workflows with fewer steps and better tools than MicroStation
at a fraction of the cost.
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