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Mathcad communities


Mathcad communities

Hi Mathcad Members,

I wanted to reach out to you and ask about the number of sub-communities that currently sit under the parent community that is Mathcad. Currently there are 16, yes 16, sub-communities. Quite a lot in my opinion. Many of you described this as being difficult to navigate.

With the current community functionality, we can solve this navigation issue by consolidating the 16 sub-communities down to a manageable 5. Don't worry, your posts will remain intact and no data will be lost.

The top 5 sub-communities based on popularity are:

  1. Mathcad Usage
  2. Mathcad
  3. Programming
  4. Other Subjects
  5. Calculus & Des

I almost feel that Mathcad Usage, Mathcad and Other Subjects can be consolidated into one sub-community simply named Mathcad. It will be general in nature to capture discussion not specifically carved out for things like Programming, Calculus etc.

What would your top 5 Mathcad communities be?


Hey Dan,

I like your list. #2 is redundant though, I would switch #2 for maybe a symbolics thread/community. Like Calculus/Diffeqs , symbolics seems to have a polarized affect in our customer base .. either customers use it, love it and want to know more or they don't care.


Hello John,

My recommendation would be:

  • Mathcad
  • Civil Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Programming
  • Calculus/Differential Equations

I know I asked for a top 5, but I had a tough time deciding.

Any Mathcad community member want to share their input?

If you're reducing the number of categories, my recommendation would be to make them more general. For example:

  • Mathcad (Usage & Programming)
  • Engineering
  • Science
  • Mathematics (including Statistics and Data Analysis)
  • Other


Thanks Alan. I wonder if Mathematics would be too general? Being a Mathcad community, mathematics would be implied within each category (sub-community), no? The naming could be based on topics, kind of like how it is currently, or role-based (academics, mechanical engineers, programmers etc) or some combination of the two.

23-Emerald III

For newcomers it's generally a big problem to find out in what category they should put their question, sometimes resulting cross-posting in different categories, or posting their question as a document or blog-post rather than as a discussion.

If there's a debate already on what 5 categories should be chosen, I tend to think: no categories at all.

Just Mathcad, that should suffice.




I very much like this idea. I believe the more flat the structure, the better. And rely on Tags to organize the posts.

I thought this would be too daunting of a change for members which is why I didn't offer it up in the first place. By you bringing this up, maybe members are ready for it.


DanMarotta wrote:


I very much like this idea. I believe the more flat the structure, the better. And rely on Tags to organize the posts.

I thought this would be too daunting of a change for members which is why I didn't offer it up in the first place. By you bringing this up, maybe members are ready for it.


Flat structures (if you can call them 'structures') have their uses, but people like hierarchies and groupings as it gives a 'better' sense of structure. Furthermore, history tends to suggest that people like have basic decisions about that structure made simple and tend not to do things that require thinking outside of their basic needs. In my work, I often have need of lots of categorized information to help me analyze problems. I would love to put all kinds of detailed information requests on problem report forms, and some people do, but I *know* that nothing is going be filled in beyond what the users *think* their problem is and that anything will either confuse them or lead to inaccurate / misleading information being entered or just not being reported.

Tagging requires a more active approach than looking at a group structure and, IMO, is not everybody's cup of tea ... I'm particularly lazy and just the thought of having to create / attach / think-of-what-might-help-me-find-stuff tags is giving me a migraine.

There is a debate on another forum I occasionally look at about structure, and the generally supported request is for more structure to help people put posts in appropriate places and find them.

By all means simplify, but experience suggests that some people like visible structures and appreciate the implicit guidance that it gives. The aim of human interface system should to minimize the intellectual effort required to use and to present the minimum of choices necessary for the new / unskilled / occasional user to access it. It should also allows mechanisms that provide further choices to support activities ranging from the 'doh!' to the 'throbbing brain' ... perhaps remembering the experience of Mathcad 12 where attempts to 'simplify' and 'protect' things from a new user perspective led to the crippling of the product from the point of view of experienced users.

5-Regular Member

That could also work


5-Regular Member


I think Alan's example would be the best way to go. Most engineers would look at all threads in the Engineering section, so I see no need to break that community down. I would also expect Mathematicians to do the same.


5-Regular Member

I like this approach Alan. We don't get enough Civil/Mechanical subjects IMO to hold their own topics.


5-Regular Member

either customers use it, love it and want to know more or they don't care.


Agree with this.


Does anyone else have recommendations?

I think it might be beneficial to think of the structure in terms of level of proficiency or features.

For instance, I have little use for symbolic solutions, but a way to solve an engineering problem might be useful for a physics problem also. Also, beginners need a place where they can ask and find answers to basic questions or homework problems from experts with the patience required for such things.

My vote would be for groups like this:

  • Basics and Homework
  • Matrices and Arrays
  • Symbolics
  • Programming and Scripting
  • Engineering and Scientific Solutions
  • Mathcad vs. Prime

I think the single "Mathcad" group would be fine, but I recommend that the tag feature be more prominent so people new to the site can find application areas (e.g. ChE) easily. Also, the word search feature can be used provided it is all-inclusive and fast. I use Medeley to organize my literature files and I finally just went to word searches because folders and tags were to hard to remember and organize. All my literature files are now in one folder.

One caution: non-users who are considering purchase of Mathcad or Prime need to see good examples in their field, not problems people are having. The Author pages on the site currently are very sparse, and they don't include examples by the "non-Authors". It would be nice if tag or search would return just examples, not all of the "help" discussions.

I just did a test using the chemical_engineering tag and compared with "chemical engineering" word search. The latter results were more extensive, but they were not organized latest first like the current spaces are organized. The tag results would be better for prospective customers.


If we do away with spaces, how will that affect the RSS feed option? The email preferences picks up activity that I've participated in, but I don't believe it notifies me of new items in a space like the RSS option. Can we RSS based on a tag?


Don't worry, your posts will remain intact and no data will be lost.

I remember being told that when the Collaboratory was moved here. I suppose it could be argued that the posts weren't lost. Just a very large number of attachments were, and all the hyperlinks that allow us to actually find those posts were broken. If you rearrange the sub-communities will the hyperlinks that have been added since these forums started still work, or will they get broken again? Will attachments still be attached?

How are you going to allocate all the posts from the old communities to the new ones?

As far as new sub-communities go, I don't much care for the completely flat idea. So it then could either be divided up by Mathcad topic or field of endeavor, or both. Both is what we have now, and I don't think it's logical. Suppose my post is about calculus and DE's in mechanical engineering? It could hardly get any more confusing than that!. So, IMHO, it should be one or the other, not both. If we go with field of endeavor, which ones get their own category? Dan's list left out any field that was not engineering (sorry scientists!). It left out chemical engineering too (sorry Valery!). The problem with fields of endeavor is that there are a huge number of them, and so either there will be a huge number of sub-communities, or a few elite groups will get their own sub-community while the rest get to feed from the communal trough. I don't much care for that idea. So I think the best option is by Mathcad topic. After all, this is a Mathcad community!

  • Calculus and DEs
  • Solving and solve blocks (we get a lot of posts abut this!)
  • Programming and scripting (to include the occasional questions about user DLLs and the automation interface
  • Statistics and Data Analysis
  • Range variables and arrays
  • Symbolics
  • Other

Yes, there are more than five. I did that deliberately. Why specify an arbitrary number? Let's come up with a logical set of sub-communities, with the only restriction that it's not too many. 4, 5, 6, even 7 would be fine if they serve a purpose.

I think we need to do this in two steps. First, come to a consensus about the general structure for the communities. Flat, by Mathcad topic, by field of endeavor, by both, by something else? Then we can decide on a set of sub-communities within that framework. So I started a poll: (May as well use the features the forums offer!)

I think your list is good.

My only recommendation would be to

1) combine calculus and DEs with symbolics,

2) put solve block issues in with programming and scripting.

A sub-community is a space. A space designates an automatic tag. And a space can be designated as a tag to follow on a user's home page. So the only thing different from a flat organization with user selected tags is the auto tag feature.

Let's look at what is happening now. A new user has a problem with their worksheet on the genetic evolution of bacteria. They do a search and find a discussion in the statistics space related to genetics or bacteria. "Ah! Here's something similar to my work." So they start a discussion asking for help in the statistics space, but their problem is really with vectors vs. arrays. This gives an "old hand" an opportunity to point out that the discussion is in the wrong place, it should be "here (algebra, or vectors and arrays ?)". So the discussion starts with the new user on the defensive...not a good thing if they have a low cost student license and they are discouraged from purchasing a full license by this greeting.

Next, an "old hand" fixes their problem. Let's assume that the discussion has now been moved or tagged with "algebra" or something appropriate. But four hours later the user is back with the same modified worksheet, now a problem with a solve block. Theoretically, this new post should go to the "solve block" space, but it doesn't because it's a thread. Now the thread is in the wrong place again. Yes, we (only the user) can put a new tag on it, so it will appear in searches on both "algebra" and "solve block". Does the originator care where it resides or what tags it has? No!

Having a "homework" space doesn't avoid the above problem because people still post just about anywhere and that's not going to change. Any structure you choose will soon be defeated. In a sense, the new users default to a flat organization.

What about untagged items? Most of these will be of the type I discussed above, homework. I recommend that they just expire and are removed after a set time (6 mo. ?). People familiar with the site will soon learn to tag if they think something should remain indefinitely. Should problems with homework reside indefinitely? I don't think so because in general the problem gets fixed, but the entire worksheet may not be a good example of how best to solve the problem. The fix allows the student (user) to turn in a worked problem, and eventually they will see that there are better ways to do it. I know I am still learning and improving how I tackle a problem.

Richard Jackson (see comment on the poll) mentioned the problem with multiple versions of essentially the same tag. For searches, this isn't much of a problem because the tag search feature starts giving possible tags as you type. For Richard's example, I found "mechanical_engineering" and "mechanical_engineer". Currently, you have to search one tag at a time when doing a search because having both in the list assumes AND. We need the OR option for the tag search. With a word or phrase search the OR option is available.

Now what to do when there are too many variations of a tag. In Mendeley, I can just click and drag one tag onto another and the program merges the tags into one, selecting one tag as the survivor. PTC could do this maintenance infrequently to clean up the list. Of course, the merge process would have to update everyone's selected tag list with the survivor. For a software company, that shouldn't be difficult.

The tag list already exists, it doesn't have to be created. All that is needed is deciding upon which tags to use in an abbreviated list on the top page. That's no different from deciding which spaces to use except now it is important only for new visitors to the site. The "old hands" have complete flexibility in choosing what tags they want to follow.

I think it would be very unwise to eliminate a fast route to a work specialty. Granted, those spaces haven't had much fully worked content until recently. Now, Prof. Griffin is submitting good examples to the Civil Eng space, and we have a start in the ChE space with multiple contributors. As more users submit to these and other specialties, the importance of work related tags or spaces will increase. Maybe some professors will change their mind about Mathcad if they see more concrete examples in their field.

In the end, I will probably be able to live with whatever solution is chosen. If PTC eliminates some of the spaces I need, then I will use tags. If that happens, I hope the user can set a preferred tag list on their home page to replace the spaces they have removed. Otherwise, more typing is involved every time I visit the site.

Maybe we need to call it the "user defined structure" instead of the "flat structure"?




I'll sit and chew on your feedback and suggestions and also wait to see what data we can yield from the poll.

I see we're your coming from but it's virtually impossible to separate all worksheets by category or problem. The original thread has to be placed somewhere and that worksheet evolves as more and more users participate.

I think worksheets should be placed if a few subcommities and use tags as we are. We should create Licenses and installing to clean the main threads up, but the more committees we have the more time we have to spend trawling through.


Dan (& All Contributors to this Topic)

I only landed on Planet PTC on April 10th 2012.

And on my third day here I've discovered this thread. Perhaps, as a rank beginner, an outsider who has landed here, you might like to hear a few reactions.

Firstly, the natives have been extremely kind and tolerant of my blundering around. Nobody has threatened me with a death ray! Help has been forthcoming and I am making some progress in understanding the language. I have received food for the brain to enable it to start and make adjustments to this new world.

Before setting out on the journey, I did a certain amount of research by looking at the Mathcad space as a guest.

I visited several of the communities to get a feel for what was going on there. I had no problem navigating around the traffic system to find the communities - they were all listed conveniently for me, and with easy to read signs too.

The fundamental problem - not with reorganising the community labels, but with classification - lies, surely in the nature of mathematics. I look at mathematics as a language. It connects many disciplines in terms of application, but if you look at when the techniques were actually developed, then the pure mathematicians were there many tens of years, and often over hundreds of years before the application was required.

Languages themselves have similar problems to the one raised here. For example, a person with a strong interest in obscure 17th century German poets would have little in common with someone studying ancient cuneiform.

As an outsider to planet PTC, and a rank beginner in Mathcad usage, the initial look around the various communities gave me confidence to commence the trip here. This is very important.

I also have a specific target - I want to understand what is happening within Mathcad, and through understanding become a proficient user. I felt the level of experience of the contributors, as well as the friendly attitude, would enable me to achieve this. This also was very important.

I realise that, to achieve my target, I do not need a ready cooked meal in the form of me posting a question and receiving a solution correcting, in the most friendly way, the twenty three errors I would undoubtedly make. Therefore, I gave serious thought to the first post and the nature of the problem. It concerns solution to thick cylinder problems using the equations originally developed by Gabriel Lame (1795 - 1870). [Just have a look at Lame's contributions to mathematics and engineering to realise what challenges he would pose to the Mathcad classification systems proposed.] This problem has some complexity, and would I judged, take me into more than one area of the Mathcad product, so I would be able to get a feel of how it hangs together to produce a result. This is also, I believe, important

In setting out the problem I needed help with - which is a vehicle to greater understanding of Mathcad - I was very careful to put it in the Mechanical Engineering pigeon hole, but not to attach tags of any type. After all, I am a novice, and I had no idea where the quest for knowledge would take me. I did not even know that the first error I received from the system would lead, through the guidance of the experts, to functions. And I suspect that, as my capabilities grow, I could end up somewhere in the exotic provinces of differential equations, solvers (still do not know what a solve block is - is it like writer's block, you want to solve something but can't commit anything to paper?), etc.

Now, of course, this approach would not suit an engineer who has a problem on his desk, and mangement wanting a solution yesterday. Engineering is replete with on the job training exercises that involve getting product out to the customer at the end of the week and, well, just surviving. It is also replete with failures produced by over use of this technique. Think space shuttle Challenger. My approach will not produce results quickly. But I have to ask, is there a method that would produce results quickly, particularly if the problem is complex? The answer is probably not.

At present I feel the classifiaction of the communities works fine, provided that the search capabilites include all Booleans, and can work across all communities as a user option rather than a default. Having said that I have not used the search yet, I have just wandered around the Mathcad spce looking at what is available, reading and trying to assess what it all means interms of understanding the product.

Finally, as a metallurgical engineer, I was pleased to receive a copper grading and some points as a result of my posting. What do I do with the copper and the points?

Kind regards



Welcome and thank you for your candid and honest (witty and humerous too!) first impression. Your post was rather refreshing.

I'm happy to hear you're enjoying your Copper status. You can view this document for more information on status and points. I hope you approve of our other elements



Community Manager | PTC


Thanks for the response and guidance on metals and points.

One of the problems with mathematics is that, unless one is dealing with statistical probability or chaos, by and large black is black, white is white and there are no shades of grey (or gray as you have it over there) in between. We want results and we want 'em right or else that bridge, chemical plant, hydraulic press, molasses vat, space shuttle, liberety ship, or whatever else is inconvenient or contains huge amounts of stored energy will fail and possibly cause loss of life.

So we get to a fundamental. I don't want to be thought to be a nit picker, rivet counter, anorak or geek, but could I just point out (no pun intended) that bronze isn't actually an element but an alloy, i.e. a mixture of two metals, usually copper and tin, but you can also have an aluminium (aluminum over in Massacheusetts) bronze, a beryllium bronze, phosphor bronze, etc.

I could drone on about how it is one of the oldest metals, thought to have orignated in the Middle East as the serendipitous outcome of roasting dinosaur or some such beast on a hearth built with stones that were actually the right ore(s) in the right amounts, and with the right amount of charcoal to produce the correct reducing atmosphere at the right temperature for the metal to appear in molten form, and it may well have happened like that - if you believe in co-incidences.

Now this is not earth shattering stuff measured against renaming/merging/re-organising the user communities, or even a small advance in Mathcad knowledge for myself after interacting with the experts here; I know that, but I suppose this illustrates the dangers of letting metallurgical engineers into the site in the first place. I hope this doesn't get me blackballed just as I was starting to enjoy things on this new planet.

As you are trying to arrange the metals in ascending order of value, these are the figures correct at 13.51 BST as of today, in $/pound:

Copper, Cu: 3.69

Tin, Sn 10.27

Silver, Ag 460.69

Platinum, Pt 23,142.29

Gold, Au 24583.12

Please note if you are going to check my nit picking, silver, platinum and gold are always measured in troy ounces, and with 1 troy ounce = 1.09714286 UK ounces, there are thus 14.583 troy ounces per UK pound. Perhaps these contants can be incorporated into the Mathcad unit database, so we can value our points/element placings in a worksheet?

Have a good day.

Kind regards


The arrangement of metals was less methodical. It was based more on status (think of the Olympic medals) and then perception of rarity/value

5-Regular Member

Some great information there John, cheers.


I know Dan has "left the building", but I want to revisit this discussion question. Previously, I thought it was very important to have spaces dedicated to work disciplines, e.g. che, mech. eng., etc. I wanted a place for potential customers to see example worksheet documents of interest to them. Now it appears that a large number of examples have been loaded by PTC into both the discipline spaces and more recently into the Mathcad space. A directory to these documents has been provided. With this latest development, I think the flat, single Mathcad space makes more sense. If I want to provide a document for a che example, I can still tag it with che. I think the single Mathcad space would be less confusing to new members of the community and of course it would eliminate cross posting.

I also was advocating to keep all the catagories we were used from the old Collab. That was the time we thought we could get some of the damanded features here we missed, like a way to filter for unread messages, have some kind of tree view of groups AND messages for a better overview and quicker navigation or being able to collapse threads and even parts of it. It is clear now that we never will get those features unles Jive decides to implement them, but given that software has more tendency toward some social media kind of thing than to a solid support and discussion forum I guess this will not happen.

Splitting the forum in a bunch of catagories made much sense with the old Collab forum software, as the hierarchy was clearly laid out, we had a tidy view of categories, threads and posts and the tools necessary for quick navigation.

The Jive software used here has quite some advantages over the old forum software (it should, looking at the age of the two) like inline pictures, better search ability, etc. but navigation is a nightmare and thread presentation is a mess for longer and forked threads. Its clearly not made for what most of us want to do here. Given that we won't get anything better in the near future, I guess the flat hierarchy (isn't that an antagonism?) is more appropriate.

Nothing about these forums has changed, and therefore neither has my opinion. A flat forum will not make it any easier to search. It's hard to search because the search relies heavily on tags, but there are no predefined tags, no auto-tagging, only the original poster can choose tags, and people don't always bother to tag. It may stop some cross posting, but it will not eliminate it. The last example was someone posting to two old threads and creating a new one. Fortunately cross posting is not that common anyway. I agree the thread presentation is a mess. A flat structure fixes none of those things. At least at the moment we have some sort of categorization, even if it's less than ideal.

Lastly, but very importantly, could the structure now be changed without wrecking the existing posts (again)? Would the attachments still be there? Probably, but I am not sure. Would the hyperlinks still work? I doubt it. PTC wrecked the forums once, against our wishes, so you should be very careful what you wish for.

Richard Jackson wrote:

Lastly, but very importantly, could the structure now be changed without wrecking the existing posts (again)? Would the attachments still be there? Probably, but I am not sure. Would the hyperlinks still work? I doubt it. PTC wrecked the forums once, against our wishes, so you should be very careful what you wish for.

You raised some important concerns. I wonder if it would be possible to present just the Mathcad space for new posts, but still have the old structure available for searching, like an archive? Anyway, the single space is not that important to me, I just thought it would simplify the community. If it creates too many problems, then it shouldn't be done.

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