I’m pleased to share that we’re working on a new architectural solution to enable direct utilization of Mathcad inside Creo models. PTC has captured many related use cases in recent years, but we haven’t had the ideal foundational relationship between the two apps to best solve those use cases – until we embarked upon this initiative. In the Mathcad Prime 3.0 / Creo 3.0 timeframe, we’re planning to release the first stage of this solution.
So, will Mathcad become a Creo App?
Yes… well, sort of! See, the concept of a Creo App is to allow the application toolset to change based on the user’s role, while acting upon the same data set. Such an “App switch” requires adherence to some fundamental rules to ensure the model data integrity is not compromised while changing the entire environment around it.
With Mathcad in the mix, we challenged our development teams to employ a new solution. Why is that? The short answer is that the periodic transitions to leverage the calculation environment within the model does not really constitute role-based switching. For this new integration to be powerful and usable, we required that engineers be able to use Mathcad at will, during any stage of the modeling process, in order to support the goals of:
- Documenting design intent and assumptions
- Building live geometric relationships
- Ad-hoc solving and calculating
- Establishing theoretical or best-fit “models” (e.g. curves and surfaces)
- Optimizing solutions
In other words, we needed to establish Mathcad as an always-available “Helper App” to Creo – or what we like to call an Applet.
Will this Creo Mathcad Applet be different from Mathcad?
No! This approach also enabled us to offer the same rich Mathcad toolset to the engineers working in the Creo environment. While this of course allows PTC to focus on a single flavor of Mathcad Prime, it also allows users to grow into this solution from their own vantage point. Whether a customer starts with Creo on their system and subsequently adopts Mathcad, or vice versa, the two apps will find each other and work together.
How will it work?
Once co-installed, in various Creo Apps, and for specific Creo file types, users will have the ability to add a “Mathcad chapter” to their model. This embedded worksheet can be newly created, or can be imported from existing worksheets – an important “declarative” option to support the flowdown of requirements from analytical and system modeling exercises. Whether newly created or imported, a visible indicator in Creo will then allow users to open up the worksheet, perform calculations, document their design intent and review others’, and easily copy values between the two environments. The two fully-operational environments can then be used truly asynchronously.
Note that for this first incarnation, we will not be establishing any persistent parametric dependencies with the embedded worksheet. Our first goal is more fundamental than that: overcome the hurdle of getting the apps working well together in the UI. While file management challenges will inherently be solved by this embedded approach, establishing fluid inter-application behavior is a challenge that has long confounded the existing Mathcad Analysis Feature. We feel this is critical to establish first, before building upon this foundation in the next release as we refine the use cases that we prioritize next.
So, what use cases are we targeting next?
As I said before, we’ve collected a lot of use cases for which this first step will serve as the foundation. Here are a few of the common ones:
- Easily mapping more complex and/or legible parametric relations for Creo Parametric, such as optimizations and programmatic relationships
- Running what-if analyses directly within the model, driven by requirement scenarios within the worksheet
- Modeling non-linear materials and dynamic load profiles within the Mathcad worksheet, for real-time use by Creo Simulate
- Leveraging the worksheet as an embedded design-rules checker (i.e. a layer higher than ModelCheck) to keep the engineer within design constraints during modeling
- Serving as a declarative complement to the current behavior of Creo notebook in support of top-down design methodologies
Can you think of any others… and share them, of course?