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Reference feature - Intent Object


Reference feature - Intent Object

Can someone provide me with some use case for reference features, aka intent objects?

I'm preparing an upgrade from WF3 to WF5, and rediscover the reference features,or do you have to say 'intent objects'. I once had a use case for it, but we never implemented it.

Tia, Hugo.

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Reference feature - Intent Object

They can be useful with things like draft features or rounds where you
might want all the edges or surfaces of a given feature treated the

For example, say you extrude a pair of ribs using a standard extrude
feature. You can grab all the surfaces created in the extrude direction
with one pick and draft them then grab all the edges in the extrude
direction and round them. Later, if you change the sketch and add in a
second rib, or you have to change a rib and add a jog, the new surfaces
and edges get picked up and draft and rounds get automatically applied.

Doug Schaefer
Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer

Reference feature - Intent Object

Right, think of it as selecting a given "domain" of references for a given feature, NOT individual edge/surface ID's.

So when the system recalculates the regeneration, it's not looking for edge/surface ID's, it's reevaluating the references for the feature.

Probably some movies around somewhere that demonstrate the how/why of it.

RE: Reference feature - Intent Object

Thanks Doug and Kevin. I got one extra direct reply, stating more or less the same. I found some video's on the net,some of them using reference features (intent objects) to facilitate the placement of UDF's.

My conclusion until nowis that ProE knowsintent objects by default (e.g. intent edges of a protrusion). "Reference features" add the option to define your own intentions, explicitly as a feature.

If this is correct, than I'm still wondering about the practical value of reference features. Or my round is going into resolve mode, or my reference feature is. So, what's the difference? There is a conceptual reason to use them, but is this enough to bother about them?

Two extra considerations:

- I saw a video where a reference feature was defined based on a query. At least, that's what I think I saw, because the resolution wasn't to good. But I don't succeed to reproduce this.

- Reference features get a feature name AND an intent name!! I'm scrolling through the help files, but I can't find a decent reason to explain to my designers when to use this.

Anyway, thanks for reading until here, and hopefully I will understand ProE sooner or later, Hugo.

<< ProE WF3 M250 - PDMLink 9.1 M060>>

Reference feature - Intent Object

Your post made me look up 'Datum reference' features. I had no idea
they existed! I have used the built in intent chains etc. but never
knew I could make my own. I'm not sure how or why I would, however.
Like you said, seems like an added layer of complexity. First he ref
feature fails then the round based on it. Why not just create the

Interesting ...

Doug Schaefer
Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer

Reference feature - Intent Object

"... no idea they existed ..." I had exactly the same feeling. I asked around in the office, nobody ever wondered about the feature. Strange, isn't it 🙂

Since there are enhancements in WF4 for intent objects, there must be a reason to use them. So I started wondering ...

Met vriendelijke groeten, Best Regards,



RE: Reference feature - Intent Object

Hi Guys,

I'd like to try to clear up the confusion around Intent Objects. At a high level, there are two kinds of Intent Objects: the ones that the system creates for you, and the ones that the user defines manually.

The ones that are created by the system are what Doug described in the thread above. They are automatically created at the intersections of merged solid features, all side edges, start or end section edges, all side surfaces, start or end surfaces, etc. It's a great idea to teach your users to use these references when they can, because, as you learned in the thread above, they are very robust because they don't require a specific reference. To get to the Intent References, you need to either query select or Pick From List (RMB on a reference). A simple example of this would be to extrude a cylinder, then apply a round to the Intent reference that corresponds to the circular section at one or the the other end. Now go back and redefine the extruded cylinder. Delete the circle and draw a rectangle instead. The round will still be created on the edges at the end of the now rectangular protrusion.

Next we have the Intent Objects that the user defines manually. These are the Intent Reference Features, such as Intent Chain, Intent Surface, Intent Csys, etc. There are basically two uses for these. The first is to provide a single reference that collects a set of several references. The second is to provide automatic placement of a UDF.

If you have a scenario where you have several children that all refer to the same set of surfaces or edges, you can create an Intent Reference Chain or Intent Reference Surface that collects all of those references. If you need to change the set, you only change it once in the definition of the Intent Reference, and it updates for all children. By the same token, if it fails, you only need to fix it in one place.

Automatic placement of a UDF can also be achieved with Intent References. Basically, you can create named Intent Refernce Features on your model, and then design your UDF so that the placement references are Intent Reference Features that query for the names of the references to which they should correspond. The simplest case would be to place an Intent Datum Csys in your model with a name, then build a UDF around an Intent Datum Csys that searches for that name. When you insert the UDF, it will place itself.

I did a presentation on Intent References at Planet PTC Live 2012 in Orlando a couple weeks ago. It talks about the advantages of using Intent References over both simply selected references and rule based references. It also covers the use case of auto placing a UDF. I think I've seen the low res Youtube videos that Hugo mentioned. I think you'll be able to follow along with those videos combined with my attached presentation to learn the UDF auto-placement workflow.

Let me know what you think, I hope you find the presentation helpful.


Reference feature - Intent Object

Don, et al,

Having followed the progression of intent objects/reference since their
inception I was happy to see it getting some attention from the user
community. I am sure others feel the same way.

I would like to spend a few minutes and touch on the items Don mentioned.

First, because of the robustness created by intent objects it would be nice
to have the selection filter order change during reference selections. If
an intent reference is available it should appear first and then query/RMB
to surfaces, edges, and vertices. It has been my years of experience with
PTC (c. '91 rev.7) that this is the most robust reference order (of course
it really depends on your design goals).

Second, is in regards to the intent object a user defines. I have many
items to cover in this area. Let me start with at a very high level and
later touch on potential short term solutions.

The following is a portion of a draft document a friend of mine from the
appliance industry intended to send to Jim Heppelmann. Unfortunately we
never had the time to finish and send.

"...A number of years ago (while in Automotive) we were involved in a
project proposal with PTC entitled "xxxxxxx". The core of this project was
to enhance and focus the development of Creo Parametric's (at the time
Pro/E) intent objects. Even though we did not move forward with the project
small bits and pieces have made their way into the Creo Parametric tool.
PTC should be commended. However, we believe that a higher level concept of
intent objects could be leveraged across the PTC product suite to improve
ease-of-use, interoperability, assembly management, assembly configuration,
visualization and product collaboration.

We believe the concept is quite simple. Creo Parametric currently has
technology for managing references at a different level than normal
referencing (intent features). Conceptually the way Creo Parametric
(partially) manages intent features could be applied to any data object.
Intent objects offer user the flexibility to maintain their design intent
despite complex dependency and relationship changes. While there is still
some holes on the Creo Parametric side with intent objects, the conceptual
use across the whole Creo product suite cannot be understated.

Look closely at the concept for intent objects. What would happen if intent
objects where an integral part of the complete Creo suite? We can imagine
an improved usability that would shock the industry. Imagine if references
for any feature/object could be controlled at a slightly higher level
(persistent named reference). Because of the technical nature of this
subject we'll keep it short and respectively request that PTC has a few of
their top Creo Parametric people familiar with intent objects discuss this
with technically savvy members of the other product suites. It needs to be
looked at from a product development viewpoint. ..."

Hopefully that brief draft sparks some thought within PTC. It is an
exciting technology. Some additional thought starters would include;

. What would a persistent intent object look like?

. How could references for any data object (including Windchill) be
managed and controlled using a persistent named reference/intent object?

. How could the user experience (create, name, reference, rules,
search) be simplified and streamlined?

o How could any references created in Creo products be turned into an
intent object "on the fly"?

o How could any component interface in Creo products be turned into an
intent object "on the fly" (maybe a step with the ability to name temporary

. How could intent objects be applied to non-geometric data types?

As with many aspects of the PTC tool set there is some remarkable
technology. I believe that intent references is one of those technologies.
However, the User Community and PTC need to drive it further faster. In the
words of the late Steve Jobs " more thing". I will leave it at that
for now. I hope this helps to spark some detailed discussions within PTC
and the user community.

Last but not least I will close with some short term improvements for Creo
Parametric to think about.

. Improve the workflow for rule creations - "Search" vs. "Rule
Editor". From a user perspective the workflow is really lacking.

. Improve rule based selection to include the functions from the
flexible modeling extension for all licenses. This would provide additional
reference selection that would improve robustness, performance, and
usability. This should include Shape Selection, Geometry, and Tangent
rules. PTC is missing a huge opportunity here with current users and with
potential new business (perception and client references).

. Improve or change reference selection order as mentioned at the
top (intent, surface, edge, vertex).

. Create the ability to create user defined intend references on the
fly (maybe start with option in sketcher references).

Thank you very much for your time,

Tim McLellan
Mobius Innovation and Development, Inc.