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An Objective View of Pro/Detail - almost...


An Objective View of Pro/Detail - almost...

Before I start, I should declare that, ever since I first encountered Pro/E, back in 1994, I have always said that Pro/Detail is a stinker. I told the PTC salesman so, on the day I signed the order. I avoid using it whenever possible. I'll model anything, but I hate having to detail it. That said, I am willing to accept that it has its good points. I just don't know what they might be.


For the record, we currently use Pro/E wildfire 2, although I have used almost every release there has been since 1994.


Now for the more objective side of this discussion:


We have recently taken on an undergraduate in his placement year. He is a Mechanical Engineering student. He had used SW, briefly, at university, but never Pro/E.

On his arrival, I gave him a tutorial to work through, which, being young, he polished off in next to no time. No doubt he has no trouble with the remote control for the TV, either!

I then gave him a 'real' task; we needed an engineering change to an existing part. The existing part was drawn by hand, many years ago, so it needed modelling before the drawing change could be done.

He modelled it, from scratch, having had some 7 days' experience of Pro/E. I kept a distant eye on him, but mostly let him go his own way. Simultaneously, I modelled the same part. Afterwards, we compared his model to mine, side by side, on adjacent monitors. With a very few exceptions, he had modelled it the same way as I had (Note: I like to think that is a good thing). As you might reasonably expect, it took me only half a day, or so, compared to his 3-4 days, but that's as it should be. I gave him a few pointers on what he could have done differently and why.


That done, we set out to do the same with the drawing.


He made his drawing. I (reluctantly - see above) made a drawing in parallel.  I even had to ask for help at one stage The shame...


He hit more snags, asked for help more times, got completely stuck more often, and was rendered almost speechless with anger more frequently, during the first day, than he was during the entire modelling process. The whole sorry exercise was extremely frustrating for him, simply because the drawing package in Pro/E is so difficult and unrewarding to use. he also made a comment to the effect that the experience had been much less frustrating in SW. Everything is there, everything is possible, but almost everything is tortuous and frustrating to use. Making a drawing in pro/E is simply not a pleasant way to pass a day, where making a model is. That's the bottom line, I think.


It has always seemed to me that my long-standing antipathy towards the Pro/detail package, and towards drawings in general, may have coloured my judgement as release after release came and went. However, the experience of this one young chap, who found the modelling process so simple and enjoyable, seems to have vindicated my point of view completely. Note, I am not triumphant, nor pleased, just disappointed.


Remember, this was not an exercise in becoming an expert draughtsman overnight. It was an exercise in using a productivity tool to re-create an existing paper drawing in electronic form.


I am aware that there have been many improvements in Pro/Detail in later releases, right up to Creo 2. However, I am also aware that at least some of the people who are extolling the virtues of these improvements are the same people who have consistently defended the package for all these years. What with the well-documented hatred of the much-vaunted ribbon interface in the drawing context by the majority of the user base, and my natural suspicion regarding the real substance of the improvements, I will not be holding my breath ...


Clearly, the Pro/Detail package in WF2 is, and will remain, what it is. Equally, the production of drawings, however distasteful it may be to me personally, will remain an integral part of mechanical engineering design for many years to come. I hope that this real-life, somewhat objective, example goes some way towards helping PTC prioritise improving the usability of the package, because, without that priority, it must needs become increasingly hard to compete with other software, such as SW.


I know there have been many discussions like this before, with widely differing opinions on either side of the debate. This time, however, I have at least tried to start off 'evidence-based'.


I look forward to hearing other people's experiences in similar circumstances.








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I agree, it will take some time before the 2D drawing can be obsolete....but it's difficult to tell how far away it is. Tablets are being more widely use and in our assembly line every station has a screen to see only the relevant information for the serial id being assembled. I am talking about the BOM now as we haven't come that far with 3D assemblies.

I saw this demo in the Windchill section which shows how to control critical dimensions and geometric tolerances from Creo in MPMLink.