As an early adopter and self-taught user of SELECTseries 4 (SS4) and OpenRoads design technology, I’ve had several years to learn the best practices of the innovative design tool. I’ve also had the opportunity to implement SS4 on a wide variety of projects, from preliminary engineering studies to final design on everything from shared-use paths to large interchange projects. In discussions with other users and while leading training sessions, I’ve noticed continuing trends across the industry: confusion about the differences between SELECTseries 2 (SS2), SS4, and OpenRoads Designer (ORD), and a general hesitation to adopt the latest technology.
If the latter applies to you, let me ask you this: what’s holding you back? Are you waiting for the right time – when that one huge project wraps up, or maybe when you have some downtime? Are you holding off until the next new thing comes out, so you can jump straight to that instead? Are you worried that it’s going to take more time than it’s worth? Whatever the reason, if you haven’t started to adopt OpenRoads technology yet, you’re not alone.
If any of the above applies to you, I urge you to begin learning SS4. Here’s why you should start now rather than wait it out.
First Things First
Not sure which software version is which, or how they differ from each other? Let me clarify.
Prior to being retired this year, SS2 was the last supported software version before Bentley revamped the technology powering its civil design products. After SS2, OpenRoads was introduced and provided users with new tools to create more efficient, 3D-based designs. As the last iteration in this series of releases, SS4 bridges the gap between the two eras of design technology: SELECTseries and OpenRoads.
Marking the beginning of the next wave of technology, ORD is in many ways a new single application rather than a version of the software. Similar to SS4, ORD is powered by OpenRoads technology but goes one step further by combining all the capabilities previously delivered through multiple application packages, including InRoads, GEOPAK, MX, and PowerCivil, which are all replaced by ORD.
Lay the Groundwork for Success
OpenRoads technology significantly changes the user experience by introducing a comprehensive approach to collaborative design, creating smart associations between survey, geometry, terrain modeling, dynamic cross-sections, design intent, and design-time visualization. Coupled with the design element interactions, OpenRoads replaces some of the previous capabilities, streamlines workflows and simplifies the interface. And, perhaps most importantly, OpenRoads moves to a single data format for graphics, geometry, and surface. All of this allows users to more quickly iterate designs in three dimensions, which for you means less time spent between iterations to arrive at the final design.
While you may be thinking that these changes are enough to make your head spin, remember that you don’t have to dive headfirst into the unknown. Because SS4 runs on OpenRoads technology while still utilizing the same separate application packages as SS2, it can serve as a logical stepping stone and training ground to bridge the gap from one era of design technology to the next.
Invest Time Now to Save Time Later
Of course, even if you agree that this all sounds great, you may still be concerned about the time investment. Although there is an initial time investment to learn the new tools, the benefits far outweigh the initial time spent by increasing efficiency, streamlining collaboration, and setting yourself up to be well-prepared to adopt ORD, since the ORD design workflow is so similar to SS4.
When you’re ready to take the first step and start learning the fundamentals of OpenRoads, make sure to do some homework first to set yourself up for success. And if you need help navigating through it all, don’t hesitate to reach out to me for consultation and information on training opportunities.