We believe so and in this blog, I’d like to recap the strategy, our approach, and also comment on other technology approaches.
Traditional CAD systems offer many powerful features for product developers. Too many, say some of our customers. They warn that a single monolithic tool is impractical for most users; it’s like enlisting an entire orchestra when you only need a snare drum. And off course, an orchestra requires a skilled expert – a conductor!
So PTC created a series of smaller, more usable apps, tuned to specific roles involved in product development. There’s one for analysts, one for design managers, etc. This part of the Creo strategy introduces the breakthrough technology we call AnyRole Apps, and promises to deliver the right application, with the right set of capabilities, tailored for the right user – no more monolithic 3D CAD systems that require all users to be expert 3D CAD users.
For users that see the value and benefits of the parametric modeling approach, there’s Creo Parametric. For those unfamiliar with 3D, Creo Direct offers a simpler to use and understand approach to 3D.
But teams working with all these Creo apps begs a new question: What really happens when you move designs from one Creo app to another? The CAD industry has been famously clunky at interoperability. What will it look like when a concept developed by one user in one distinct approach and app (like Creo Direct) work in another app (like Parametric)? AnyMode Modeling is a breakthrough technology that allows the smooth flow of design data across multiple apps and people, without loss of design intent.
So, how can all this be kept in synch? Well, let’s consider how other desktop applications have addressed this. Let’s take Microsoft Word. A new user may take an existing document and change it as they see fit, removing content, changing some, adding new – they don’t have to care about tracking the changes they are making, they simply make them. A power user can take this document and look at what’s changed, walk through the tracked changes and accept, reject, or improve on say multiple changes by combining into one. This approach is both simple and powerful, simple because a new or novice user isn’t limited and can change the document as they see fit, and powerful because the expert user can track every change made and use them as inputsNow while Microsoft Word is a single app, the concept and approach is exactly how AnyMode Modeling works, tracking each change, not only across different users but across the different Creo apps they use. Mike Campbell, DVP of Creo Product Development, explained the approach in December 2010:
A new or casual user of 3D CAD can use Creo Direct to change or create designs; power users can use Creo Parametric, and view any changes made, accept, reject, or improve on them.
And don’t mix this up with what’s happening with many traditional vendors, for the most part, they’re still developing monolithic 3D CAD systems designed for expert CAD users, that can masterfully navigate between parametric and direct modeling approaches in one environment after months if not years of developing that expertise. The technology approaches fall into two camps:
- The first tries to try to capture the design changes and intelligently and automatically map them back into an original CAD model’s parametric design intent. With this approach, the CAD system has many assumptions that are applied real-time, with some changes being applied, some not. Losing valuable design intent is a real risk. Finally, up until today, only technology previews are available for this technology.
- The second depends heavily on the expertise of the CAD user, they must choose when is it right to make a parametric change, when is it right to make a direct change and chose the modeling mode carefully. Switching between modes during a series of design tasks can lead design intent captured in one mode not available in the other.
Both approaches have pit falls, the first being that a single monolithic 3D CAD system must be used, and by its very nature, users need to be experts in that CAD tool, limiting is use across the team or company. The second are the assumptions, either implied by the CAD system or by the user that may restrict the free evolution of the design.
We believe our strategy is the best, and others seem to believe that too. It certainly follows the approach of ‘keeping it simple’.
There’s clearly further improvement we can make in the current user experience, and we have plans to further optimize the workflow and presentation of changes to the various users in the various apps. For example, we want to be able to collapse all of the changes made in Creo Direct so that they don’t “clutter” the feature tree in Creo Parametric.
As with any worthwhile strategy, there is a lot of work to do, and we’re committed to doing it over the next weeks, months, and years.