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Mathcad Reasons


Mathcad Reasons

Hello Dear Friends,

What are your reasons for which do you want to stay with Mathcad and not to migrate to other mathematics software (like Matlab, Maple, Wolfram Mathematica, etc)?

How do you feel when you are aware that another mathematics software offers or has more facilities in many things than Mathcad?

I think you've been with Mathcad for a long time, and therefore if you want to switch to other math software, the learning curve for that software isn't that easy (due to the fact that math software has generally evolved a lot, it is very complex in nowadays) .. and then there is this restraint for Mathcad.. because do you know a lot of things of "how to do" in this software.

What are your opinions?

Thank you.

Best regards.




I started using Mathcad in the 90s. There was nothing like it and there still isn't. The closest thing is Smath, which I have tried a few times. I'm an engineer not a mathematician. So, I don't need a lot of high end math. The attraction to Mathcad is that it's very easy to use, the help in classic Mathcad was awesome, it could do everything I wanted, it was easy to share things with colleagues. I wish there were viable alternatives or that PTC would sell Mathcad to someone else, possibly Maple (seems to be the best candidate at the time). The main problem for people to switch to something else at this point, is not losing the decades of old work done in Mathcad. That all has to be preserved and accessible. You can't just delete 1000s of files and switch to something else. Converting them to Prime isn't really a good option either. So I would say the people still using Mathcad are doing so because they are more or less stuck. Also, they love the program (classic of course).


As an engineer, the only tempting option is Matlab, because it has a lot of built in engineering routines now. I have always considered Matlab to be a lazy mans Fortran. So I was never impressed with it. However, they added all the new engineering libraries. So if I was to switch to anything, it would be Matlab. Of course, the cost is obscene. Hard to switch to that when Fortran is free (gfortran). Yeah, you have to write your own routines. But that's half the fun of engineering. I'm always scared of people using Matlab, not really knowing the math involved. In my opinion, if you don't know the math involved, you shouldn't be using it in the first place. But now days, people use all sorts of software to do engineering, but rely on the computer to know everything. Then just pay huge prices to big corporations, for the luxury of being lazy and pretending to be smart.


I do the hard stuff in Fortran and the easy stuff in Mathcad. That's worked for decades. I do rely on software for CAD and FEA. That's too hard to write yourself. However, there are a lot of free and low cost CAD and FEA programs out there. So it's worth it to rely on others for that.


Well that's my two cents. Everyone is different, so my thoughts are certainly not universal.



" So if I was to switch to anything, it would be Matlab. Of course, the cost is obscene."


For those so inclined, there are MatLab clones that are free.  (Octave, for one.)  Octave will accept and execute MatLab scripts.  (Maybe not all, but a goodly majority.)  If you still think programming is fun, but need to move on from FORTRAN . . .


I have been using Mathcad/Prime for at least 25 year for both computation and documentation of engineering work. I am retired now but use Mathcad Prime to write tutorials (which are saved as PDF's) for an online college course I mentor and presentations I do for Ham radio clubs. I even was a tester for the earlier versions of Prime. So I know Mathcad/Prime very well.

With 25 years of documents both in Mathcad and Prime it is very hard to give up. I have used both SMath and Matlab but neither suits me. Wanting to avoid writing code is the reason I latched on to Mathcad. Also the ability to actually format and organize your work in a very legible document was a big plus when I did consulting. One firm I worked for, had clients who wanted the work done for them in Mathcad. No need for the client to decipher code to understand your computations. 

I definitely do not need integration with a CAD program. I need it to work with Microsoft Office and have the ability to make handbooks with hyperlinks. We can only hope that PTC will spin off the original Mathcad to someone who appreciates its value to engineers and do whatever they want to Prime going forward. 



I used BASIC and Pascal languages. My son came up to me and said. Dad, see how your problems can be easily and simply solved with the help of Matcad! Since then, this package has become my "quitrent peasant".

23-Emerald III

My first encounter with Mathcad was about 34 years ago, at the university. Back then it ran on DOS, of course; I still have it.

Over time I have had brief experience with Matlab (a programming language, NOT a 'math CAD' application in my opinion, can handle very large data sets) and Mathematica (very powerful, large learning-curve, well structured). I've also played a little with Maple, Smath studio, Maxima and Derive. I learned my son (muscular disease) to use Mathcad to enter his math homework for highscool, until we discovered Efofex, which he then actually used to pass his high school exams.


Mathcad 11 is my (almost) every day tool for calculations, modelling and occasionally prototyping of programs. In my view it is the natural way of entering mathematical constructs, that makes it the best tool for documenting engineering calculations. It's WYSIWYG, and (in most cases) sufficiently powerful to do the (my) job, and it still runs under Win10. I see no reason to switch to another tool.

I’ve been using Mathcad for the last twenty years or so.  I’ve used MATLAB for longer.


I tend to turn to Mathcad as a first port of call, unless I have a large modelling program that I need to develop (which is rare now that I’m retired!).  This is because of Mathcad’s “mathematical” look i.e. I can usually write equations in “text-book” form, using Greek letters if necessary.


However, Mathcad has some idiosyncrasies!  The several forms of the “equals” sign for one – this was probably the most frequent source of errors I came across when I was encouraging young engineers to use it.


Its programming facility for another.  If you need more than a single page for programming the result quickly gets difficult to understand – even if (or especially if!) you try to simplify the structure by calling out to other functions, rather than writing everything in line.  I remember being presented with dozens of pages of Mathcad programming to check, by engineers who had enthusiastically (wonderful), if uncritically (not so wonderful), adopted Mathcad!


 That said, a nice feature of Mathcad is that you can often get away without invoking its programming facility, by using its other solving features such as “Given...Find” and “Given…Odesolve”.   These, combined with its mathematical look, are the real reasons I like it.


Mathcad’s graphing capabilities are limited (M15 is significantly better than Prime here but still not good).  They are ok for personal use, but are not report quality.



It is probably one of the easiest tools to learn for newcomers to engineering calculations (though those with a background in FORTRAN or other procedural language would probably find MATLAB easier).  The main problem these days is that it is rapidly falling behind programs like MATLAB, MAPLE, etc. 


However, I like it and will continue to use it (M15 that is, not Prime).

23-Emerald I

This is starting to sound like the retiree's corner.


Mathcad allowed me to recreate the type of analysis that I had been doing on paper; I used to refer to it as "an automated quadrille tablet."  I could enter a math expression and have it evaluated or graphed; what came out could be given to somebody that didn't know Mathcad and didn't use it, and they could understand the math as it appeared.  (Try that with any of the programming languages!)


Mathcad also saved me from unit conversion errors--the units in an equation need to balance and conversions were handled automatically.  If I expected a calculation to result in a length and Mathcad reported the length with other units added there was an error that needed found and fixed.


Symbolics, small program blocks, and solvers are added bonuses.


Since I've retired (yep, me too!) and can't justify the annual cost, I'm constrained to Prime Express.  But I've discovered that emasculated Prime is still a pretty powerful tool, reminiscent of what Mathcad could do when I first found it.  And it's been fun finding the work-arounds to replace the "premium" features.

lol, i'm retired as well

24-Ruby V

I guess most of the reasons why old dogs like me still use Mathcad (not Prime) were already mentioned.
Its because we are used to it and it enables us to quickly implement our ideas in a natural way we are used to from pen and paper work. Its unique when it comes to a natural WYSIWYG whiteboard interface, selfdocumenting to a high degree, natural and intuitive handling of units, etc.
Mathcad sure is not the best or most capable number cruncher around - its easily beaten in that discipline by MatLab (after all the "Mat" in MatLab does not come from "mathematics" but from "matrix").
And Mathcad sure is not state of the Art when it comes to symbolic math (not even MC11) and is sure beaten in that discipline by Maple or Mathematica (and also MatLab).

But many of us think that the numeric and symbolic features of Mathcad are good enough for our everyday work and the interface and handing are unbeatable.

All of that does sure not apply to new young engineers. When it comes to the question if we should encourage (or even force) upcoming engineers into learning and using Mathcad, my answer would be "no". I think that wouldn't be responsible as Mathcad is a dead end. I have no hope that Mathcad will be sold to a company that will appreciate it and seriously maintain and develop the program. Nor do I have any hope that Prime will ever follow in Mathcad's footsteps.

We old dogs will use Mathcad as long as we will be able to do, but we are sure to be a dying breed.

Just my 2 Cents

What saddens me very much - is that PTC does not interfere in our discussion of retirees, sorry, veterans of Mathcad!

@ValeryOchkov wrote:

What saddens me very much - is that PTC does not interfere in our discussion of retirees, sorry, veterans of Mathcad!

Why should they? They are here to make money and not to make friends or to gain sympathy.

" When it comes to the question if we should encourage (or even force) upcoming engineers into learning and using Mathcad, my answer would be "no". I think that wouldn't be responsible as Mathcad is a dead end."


As a tool for newer engineers, I agree.  That's the same philosophy I adopted when I didn't require them to know how to use a slide rule.  😉

When we laid aside our slide rules in the old days, we did it because we were given a more versatile tool at hand, the pocket calculator.

But  now - what are the alternatives?

"But  now - what are the alternatives?"


Newly graduated junior engineers?  😉


Most of the young engineers I've encountered are smart, well educated, and come with solid capabilities in MatLab (for doing the analysis, because that program is pushed aggressively on college campuses), and PowerPoint (for creating the presentations necessary because senior engineers and managers can't understand MatLab scripting.


ANSYS (and other software) is also becoming easier to manipulate.  While I still have a strong suspicion of  FEA analysis (I've seen too many wrong answers caused by improperly created input models), I have to be impressed by the accuracy and detail that can be achieved by proper modeling.  My young cohorts (while I was still working) were exasperated because I required a Mathcad analysis to validate what could be checked.

there is no question that all new engineers in the usa are taught matlab and ansys. i'm not sure what the programming language du jour is. way back in my day it was Fortran 77. however, it's changed numerous times since then. but i imagine they are also being taught to program in something modern as well.


mathsoft was very successful at moving mathcad into companies and schools. but once ptc bought them. that all went to crap.


my first intro to mathcad was in college to design cam shaft profiles. mathcad is good for lots of little projects and sharing the work.


It's all about versatility.

I haven't found any software that allows me to communicate data analysis, calculation/design reports and back of the envelope calculations as easy as MathCad does.

Granted, the graphing is dated and many a document functions are lacking, but MathCad 15 delivers. Moreover, I can send calculation documents to colleagues and they understand the intent as it is not a program language but standard mathematical notation. This alone is a priceless differentiator.

I have used Mathcad 15 for fifteen years and I will keep it as long as possible.



I agree!!! No other software, save "SMath", comes close to mimicking Mathcad's behavior, environment and unit inclusion. Many others are very powerful but solve problems in a different way, usually when use of complicated input and output are required to be performed, with fast compiled code, 100's, or 1000's of times over. All good, grounded engineering starts with 1st principal analyses, and Mathcad 15 supports this need perfectly. My work often does not end with Mathcad files, but it always starts with it!