Pointools to be Discontinued

In a move very similar to what happened with Alice Labs when they were acquired by Autodesk a very upset reseller sent me an email stating that he has been notified that Pointools will be discontinued at the end of this month – al of the plug-ins are dead. Both of these products were very good at what they did and were relatively inexpensive. In the case of Pointools I know for a fact that is was selling “like hotcakes” once it got into the Bentley sales machine.

Bentley is working very hard at adding point cloud functionality to Microstation and Descartes as I have noted in the past, but it still seems like there is a place for these standalone utilities. I have heard through the grapevine that the spring release of Autodesk products will have Alice Labs functionality built in. Some will say that you can’t stop progress, but if you are an owner of Pointools I am sure you are not happy about this news.

Your thoughts?

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11 Responses to Pointools to be Discontinued

  1. Dan Cutler says:

    This is not accurate. Bentley Pointools V8i is due for release at the end of this month, this product replaces the current flagship product – Pointools Edit. Follow the link to learn more about the new features in Bentley Pointools V8i:
    Bentley Pointools Product Tour

    The Plugin for Rhino and Plugin for SketchUp products will be discontinued.

    Also Pointools View Pro will be replaced by the iWare app; Bentley Pointools View, which is a free viewer, and PODCreator has an update to support new formats including: Z+F, LAZ and Faro 5.1, this is also an iWare app.

  2. Thanks for some help on this Dan but when is Bentley going to put out an official statement on this so your about-to-be-former customers won’t be so surprised. I am the former Pointools reseller that talked to Gene and even I have no idea what you guys are doing.

    Bottom line – critical Pointools products are being discontinued And other than your reply to Gene’s post, I have not seen anything official from Bentley on any of this – public or not. In our little world of 3D scanning – Pointools was a big deal. But no question that Bentley, like Autodesk with Alice Labs, doesn’t understand or care about this market.

    • Bill Gutelius says:

      Well said, Michael.

      The “big guys” were late to the party on handling lidar point clouds, getting into the game principally by acquiring innovative, inventive small “third party” firms rather than supplying endogenous, ceative intellectual talent. I suppose that if they mishandle their offerings to the market that once again, creative small firms will emerge to fill the desires of power users such you and your customers.

  3. John Russo says:

    I concure with Michael. Point Tools is a big deal in our world of scanning. This is very disapointing to hear.

  4. Dan Cutler says:

    I personally share your disappointment in the discontinuation of the plugin products, but existing users can still use their existing products, and you must see why Bentley would not want to support plugins for competitive CAD apps??

    In general Bentley is committed to point clouds and the Pointools brand – the stand alone app is about to receive it’s biggest ever update/improvement.

    There are no “about-to-be-former customers” as each user of Edit or Suite will be able to upgrade to the new Bentley Pointools for free.

    I’m sorry that you feel a lack of communication Michael, I am trying to resolve this as you know.

    • Leo says:


      I am a more than just a fan of Pointools, I have staked my startup business on the relatively inexpensive point cloud processing software and plugins such as Pointools that were more and more commonly available up until recently.

      Unfortunately, and specifically with respect to the Pointools Sketchup plugin, your argument about “competing CAD apps” doesn’t hold water when you consider:
      A) Sketchup is not a directly competitive CAD app to anything currently in the Bentley suite of offerings. (Can it even really be called “CAD”?)
      B) Sketchup is now owned by Trimble, primarily a surveying hardware manufacturer. Yes they have some software pkgs which serve a COMPETELY different market. But considering point”C” renders this risk null and void
      C) Trimble and Bentley signed a Strategic Partnership less than 2 months prior

      My frustration does not lie with you but instead with the sudden cloud (pardon the pun) that has come over the incredible innovation that was happening around point cloud processing software up until recently, when the Borg and Death Star decided to start snatching up companies that were primarily focused on COLLABORATION to build products and push the boundaries of what was possible…across many popular vertical platforms. Now it feels as though all we have to look forward to is more marketing, segmentation and ultimately drib and drab releases of “NEW and IMPROVED” packaging to drive up costs, and satisfy shareholders.

      Pardon me while I take my ball and go home.

  5. James Shaw says:

    Thank you for the insight Dan, but surely we must not see. Bentley made a decision to purchase a company providing a key product for multiple platforms. Sure, Bentley has their own platform, but the way I see it is that if the Bentley platform is superior to the competition, then continue to support the competition and let the users migrate to you by choice. That is why I teach seminars, knowing full well that I am teaching my competitors, because I welcome the competition instead of trying to eliminate it. In this evolving age of collaboration, the proprietary battles that Bentley and Autodesk have waged for decades will only hurt your long-term marketability.

  6. Paul Fisher says:

    I have an architect client that was just asking about the pointools plugin for Rhino. Can you recommend any alternatives that will continue to be supported?

  7. Faraz Ravi says:

    Hi All

    The decision to discontinue the plug-in products was not based on any aversion to supporting competitive platforms. In fact Bentley sells a vast array of products that run on AutoCAD and other platforms. The issue is more to do with finite resources and deciding to focus on the Bentley Platform, ie. MicroStation based products. You’ll see evidence of this in Descartes for example, a layered application on MicroStation that extends the point cloud processing capabilities of MS. Also ProjectWise that can now stream point clouds, both of these have taken considerable innovation and development.

    I’ve been driven these past 10 years or so, by meeting real-world needs of our users and by the hope that we might enable new workflows and processes that have a positive impact on our built environment and those whose business it is to survey, maintain and build it.

    Extending point cloud capabilities into design platforms was a natural extension of our stand-alone product, I like to think we did this in a innovative way that helped our users do business and deliver better products and services.

    But the world has changed, this industry continues to progress and more money is flowing into exploiting point cloud data. Vendors of CAD platforms are building their own point cloud capabilities, yes a few false starts (no names 🙂 ) but in little time I expect usable point cloud support will be no less available across CAD platforms than 3d solid modelling. So there is a strategic risk in continuing to develop plug-ins that may have limited shelf life.

    At the same time I am not comfortable with the thought that some of our users may feel let down. Existing plug-ins will continue to run of course and I expect there is still a lot of value that can be extracted from these products.

    We have also enhanced PODcreator as a free to download and use iWare product. This means that even as HW vendors update formats, you’ll still be able to use the plug-ins by creating POD files with PODcreator. We are not going to play the ‘format lock-out’ game and are committed to maintaining compatibility.

    Communication about some of these plans could have been better. However we informed all of our resellers over 6 months ago, first by email, then in live eSeminar sessions and in many cases in person that these are our plans.

    Looking forward to sharing the great new capabilities of Bentley Pointools with you soon.

    • steve attaya says:

      Faraz ,
      Please see my comments on the laser scanning forum today.
      Unable to convert a FLS out of Faro Scene 5.5.0 into a POD.

      The reason is the FLS is a little more than 20% of the size of the POD.
      It being point cloud data, that we transfer over a very slow network connection,
      transmission time is the bottle neck. I would like to transmit the FLS (exported out of scene, think “save copy of scans” in earlier version of scene) and xfer them to the other site and have them run PODcreator to create POD files for use in their workflow that starts with Pointools.

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