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Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Prime 3.1 has been very disappointing over Mathcad 15. I have been using Mathcad since the DOS days. There was always an improvement or new feature with each new release of Mathcad in those days. Mathcad is a scientific/engineering tool and PTC seems to lost that importance of some features. An example of this the plotting feature. It may be clunky compared to other programs, but extremely important to checking results. This could also be a result of the current training engineering/science students are getting. Remember the importance of plotting log/log graphs on paper.

It seems the goal is to integrate Mathcad with PTC's Creo or SolidWorks. I did ask about integrating Prime 3.1 with SolidWorks Technical support told me to purchase the SDK. Based on another discussion, this does not appear to be a correct answer. It seems, technical support does not fully understand the capabilities of Prime 3.1. The integration may be beyond my skills, but I can be taught. I may then be a bigger proponent of Prime.

PTC does not seem to be listening. It would be good if there was some response to these discussions. Releasing worksheets is not the answer. I can write the worksheets that are being released. In fact, mine are just a little more complex.

Cheers

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

If one had a job as a aircraft engineer say maintaining the Airbus A380, and is tasked to fix the aircraft's flight system but Airbus does not provide the control schematics for the avionics, then I think all would agree we are in DS. I suppose you could tinker around and try to fix the flight system but in doing so you would certainly be putting your own job and the life of passengers at huge risk. In Indian culture there is the famous story about the blind men and an elephant.


So continuing the analogy, if it is true that PTC are charging 9K for example code so that one can take advantage of the SDK then I assume the outcome could be similar. Especially since very few will purchase the programming manual thus if final calculations are used in the product development area - maybe to produce aeroplane parts for example then one can only imagine the potential consequence. So if PTC Mathcad shortsightedness continues then who knows what consequences lay in store. The only rational option is for existing users to look for another "aeroplane" provider. One may argue that the user is not always correct but if the aeroplane cannot fly and there is no way to fix it then both user and their customers have a big problem.


Ultimately, in our case it is not the user, their customers but PTC that will have the big problem. So in my view, complaining about the Mathcad Prime shortcomings in many ways is altruistic as it has the potential to wake PTC employees from their slumber so that they can engineer a product that they can be proud of and which provides value for money and so ensures PTC long term success. Continuing the flight metaphor, at one point in time we had a peregrine falcon but now we have a Prime Dodo - lets hope Mathcad does not end up as curiosity in some technology museum.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

It is unbelievable they are advertising primie 3.1 as aving an API but then charging the user 9k USD, yes 9k USD, for documentaiton on how to use it. I have NEVER had this form any company ho charges for a manual to use the API

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Just everything Mark said. Yeah. I've tried nearly every release of Prime, for about 30 minutes, and then back to 15.

I've led product development, including SW, decades. There are only two reasons PTC is where they are today with regards to Mathcad:

1. Total incompetence, which I doubt (no one could be this bad!)

2. Top down management decision on where to put resources. We are all paying our maintenance fees, so the cash flow is there. No real competition - so ....

In terms of competition - I'm doing more an more with Matlab. But I greatly prefer the Mathcad symbolic interface. As a technical manager and not an individual contributor, my need to perform analysis or simulation are infrequent (but not nonexistent), and the Mathcad interface is much easier to pick back up w/o having to remember a lot of special syntax and such.

What we need is some true competition in this space - things would change if that were to happen. Matchad would pony up or die. But for now they are just doing the "chaching!" while keeping the hook baited with promises.

Jim

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Hi Mark,

Like you, I've wondered what PTC thinks they are doing with Mathcad. I've read many of the posts on this forum and have talked to a few folks from PTC. My opinion is:

  • PTC has a vision for Mathcad that doesn't square with what much of their user community wants. They are going that direction whether this community likes it or not.
  • If they cared what we wanted, they would have acted by now. We can complain if it makes us feel better, but it won't matter.
  • They know they don't have any real competition. There are lots of good number crunching programs, but the user interfaces are usually deal breakers. Among users like us, they have a monopoly and they are acting like it.
  • The fact that we are still here on this forum and complaining means we haven't dumped Mathcad and PTC knows this. When we all bail in favor of Maple, Mathematica or whatever and their sales tank, then they will care. For now, my guess is that their Mathcad revenue is still OK.
  • Quit thinking Prime is going to be as good as M15 any time soon. It's not and PTC isn't going to change that. When they have real competition, then they will start fixing Prime, but not before.

I hope this isn't too cynical. My guess is that PTC thinks they can make money from Prime as they envision it. I think they figure they will lose some customers who prefer M15, but that will be an acceptable loss. They are just making a business decision. It's not personal.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Mark French wrote:

  • they don't have any real competition..

There is a real competition:

http://www.smath.info

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

It's missing too many features.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Has anyone considered funding the Smath developer to add features needed to make it a decent replacement for Mathcad?

He has a donate button--which I threw a hundred dollars or so into some years ago--but his total since 2010 is a mere US$5399 (see SMath Studio Forum). What if a Kickstarter campaign were run to raise a large multiple of this and bring smath up to speed over time?

We're all rightly complaining about wasting our "support money" on PTC, which clearly doesn't care about supporting original Mathcad users like us. Why not get a crowdfunding campaign together and put that money into a project that will actually produce something decent?

I'm not talking through my hat here: I raised US$78K to extend my Minsky "system dynamics" program (downloadable from https://sourceforge.net/projects/minsky/😞

MINSKY: Reforming economics with visual monetary modeling by Professor Steve Keen — Kickstarter

and I was linked to another group that raised $35K to develop a cartoon critique of conventional economics:

CRASH, BOOM, POP! Money & Economics Exposed (Graphic Novel) by IDEA Economics — Kickstarter

Especially given how passionate we all are about Mathcad, and the likelihood that PTC will abandon the product completely if and when an iteration of Windows makes version 15 incompatible, we should be able to raise several times what I managed for Minsky.

I don't have the time to run such a campaign, but I can advise on how to put it together, and my cartoon group has very recent experience in doing this. The only difficult bit I expect is getting Smath's developer Andrey Ivashov to get involved.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Mark French wrote:

  • The fact that we are still here on this forum and complaining means we haven't dumped Mathcad and PTC knows this. When we all bail in favor of Maple, Mathematica or whatever and their sales tank, then they will care. For now, my guess is that their Mathcad revenue is still OK.
  • Quit thinking Prime is going to be as good as M15 any time soon. It's not and PTC isn't going to change that. When they have real competition, then they will start fixing Prime, but not before.

I can't stress that enough: it is absolutely NOT TRUE that there is not real competition. From my (brief) evaluation, Maple is a very serious alternative to consider. It has everything that I need, and yes, there are a few missing bits, but compared to the huge issues so many people raise about Mathcad (including me), to me, the right choice is obvious.

I totally understand some people who don't like the interface as much (although it is all menus stuff, no ribbon !), and there are some drawbacks in terms of layout possiblities (and also a lot of advantages, even regarding layout). To me, it is good enough, and clearly not as big an issue as everything people here complain about ! I would seriously encourage anyone to give it a try, and make your own opinion. There is clearly a learning curve, and it might change a bit one's working habits (Stuart, I'm thinking about you in particular ), but to me, it is totally worth it.

Now, regarding the reason I am still here complaining ... Mathcad costs a big deal of money. My company purchased 10 licenses. Going to my manager telling him "I recommended Mathcad 2 years ago, but actually that's a big mistake, let's just forget about the 10k£ we invested in the software and put 20k£ in a better one that does the same thing" is not something that is even remotely possible. Unless Maplesoft came to me and said they would offset the cost of our Mathcad licenses for us to "upgrade" to Maple, there is not a chance that my manager will want to hear anything about Maple (and even if they did, I can't guaranty it would be sufficient to switch).

Now clearly, if/when I change job, the situation will be completely different, and I have absolutely no shame saying that, if I am in a position to recommend a software in the future, Maple will definitely have my preference (and you won't see me complain here anymore... in fact, you won't see me here at all).

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Hi Adrien,

I certainly understand your point. You are right that there are some very good number crunching programs on the market and most of them are more powerful than Mathcad. However, Mathcad is the only one with its type of interface - maybe except for SMath and I plan to try it soon. In fact, I would guess that Mathcad's only real distinction is the interface. Maple, Matlab and Mathematica probably all offer more raw horsepower than Mathcad. If one of them developed a nice scratchpad-like interface similar to what Mathcad uses, PTC would have a serious problem.

I've tried Maple and will probably switch to it if PTC dumps M15 before they fix Prime. However, the Maple interface is very linear and programming line by line. For now, I guess I'll hang on to M15.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

If one of them developed a nice scratchpad-like interface similar to what Mathcad uses, PTC would have a serious problem.

Maple already has unit handling, with more calculation capability (especially symbolic math) and better graphing than even MC15. If they tweaked the interface to make it more freeform like Mathcad, then Mathcad would become a dead product. If they added the capability to read Mathcad .xmcd files (even if not perfectly) then Mathcad would be a dead product in 6 months or less.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I think Mathcad is going to be developed as a Creo Parametric support product, not a competitive stand-alone. I can't imagine it gaining a broader community when the competitors have embedded applications support. It's interesting in the same way that Quantrix is. Looking at the list here, Comparison of numerical analysis software - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Mathcad does not stand out; it doesn't even last past the first table (though Mathcad supporters can edit the page to add correct, referenced information.) On this page, it shows even worse List of computer algebra systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The engineers I've worked with use math software to create dynamic control systems software, software for which huge numbers of simulations libraries are available, which is compiled for either microprocessors or FPGAs.

While I think apps should be units aware, it's not a deal breaker that they are not. Witness the enormous use of Excel in engineering and business calcs, both of which would be a lot more safely constructed if MS made Excel unit aware.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

While I think apps should be units aware, it's not a deal breaker that they are not.

It is once you have become accustomed to using software that takes care of units. A couple of famous incidents that Mathcad aficionados like to point to are the Gimli Glider and the Mars Climate Orbiter. The latter "accident" cost more than 100,000 copies of Mathcad would have.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I'm not saying unit management is not a good thing, I'm saying the market for software doesn't care. The Mars Climate Orbiter would have been fine were it not for the French rejecting all the British stuff just for snotty purposes of making their own rules (or meters.) The USA managed to put men on the moon before futzing with mixed system units.

More to the point, Mathcad would not have helped because it isn't suitable for embedded use. The results of the calculations would have been sent without units so the orbiter would still have gotten it wrong. The flight navigators had already noticed the orbit did not match the expected orbit, but were overruled on investigating the discrepancy. Mars Climate Orbiter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Had LM followed the software development spec the units would have been correct, but they didn't. Even if they used Mathcad they would have set the program to output lbf-seconds, not newton-seconds.

What seems bizarre to me is that no one tried a 1 unit, 1 second burst to see if the end-to-end system was correct. It should have been easy to see they were off by a factor of almost 4:1. It would have acted like the system had lost 75% of its mass.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I'm saying the market for software doesn't care.

Sadly, for most of the market that's true.

I didn't mean to imply the use of Mathcad would have prevented the Mars Climate Orbiter incident, only that it's an example of what can happen if units are not handled correctly. Units can of course be handled in Excel, it's just a lot of work to do so. I, and others that use Mathcad for science and engineering calculations, have become used to handling units almost effortlessly, with all the benefits that brings. So for many of us, no units is a deal breaker.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

My favorite units story is this - My company made military trailers and one day my boss is all happy because we have a shot at a contract to build some trailers with a 1.5Million budget for each, which seems high to me, but for really small quantities of custom designed heavy transport trailers is just possible. So we are all starting on the basics of spec'ing this out for the Swedish military and it's still bothering me a little, for about a week or two, when he comes running from his office going drawing board to drawing board yelling for us to stop - right - now!!

Turns out the budget was Kronas, about 12 cents on the dollar. It's hard to justify a project with an 88% cut in value. For that money I would be surprised if the Swedes got anything besides a regular flatbed painted in camouflage colors.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Richard Jackson wrote:

So for many of us, no units is a deal breaker.

Once you worked with unit management, you can never go back !

Excel is a great tool, but you have to torture it quite a bit to do proper math. I'm a big advocate of the right tool for the right task, and unfortunately, Excel is rarily the right tool. But to someone with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail...

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

We just have to face it. MathCAD Prime is not fit for purpose. Support for v15 is minimal and, like a lot of other people, I cannot see any justification for trying to migrate to Prime. I don't want a Microsoft Word Look alike that does some basic mathematics. All the new interface is just aimed at management to the detriment of people wanting to do real maths.

I don't want to have to add titles etc. to graphs by adding text boxes. This is so retrograde.

A conversation with a support engineer in Europe was revealing. He expressed surprise that I was still using v15 with Win 7 as it "didn't work that well with it". That was the gist of his comment.

I need to plan an exit route

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

RobSeager wrote:

We just have to face it. MathCAD Prime is not fit for purpose.

I'm well aware of the limitations of Prime (even compared to M11 and M15, let alone the competition), but "fitness for purpose" rather depends upon what you want to use it for. Prime 3.1 (from my brief play with the trial version) is capable of doing a lot of useful things and has at least got rid of the static type checking limitations that prevented many of my M11 worksheets from running in M12..M15. There are even one or two features of Prime that I quite like (eg, matrix entry and the control-J symbolic keyword) and even an old Mathcad dog such as me managed to get to grips with most of the new or different HMI key combinations ... although, I'd rather you didn't tell anybody I said that, as I don't want to lose my Mathcad street-cred.

A conversation with a support engineer in Europe was revealing. He expressed surprise that I was still using v15 with Win 7 as it "didn't work that well with it". That was the gist of his comment.

I'd be interested to know what he meant, as I don't recall having any particular problems running M15 on my Windows 7 Ultimate PC.

I don't want to have to add titles etc. to graphs by adding text boxes. This is so retrograde.

Couldn't agree more. And as for having to save arrays to load them into image 'components' rather than just type the array name in as an argument ... well, I can only somebody has a passion for making life difficult, like a Company Sergeant Major with a fondness for whitewashing newly painted walls.

I don't want a Microsoft Word Look alike that does some basic mathematics.

I agree with the basic mathematics bit, but I wouldn't mind if PTC had used some of their documentation expertise to introduce a few MS-Word-like features into Prime, such as basic drawing tools, global paragraph, figure and equation numbering, multiple column text, rtf or html strings, etc.

Support for v15 is minimal and, like a lot of other people, I cannot see any justification for trying to migrate to Prime.

...

I need to plan an exit route

Aye,. there's the rub. For in that dearth of capability what future may come, when users have shuffled off this Mathcad coil, should give PTC pause.

Stuart

See PTC Mathcad Hacks – Shortcuts that will make your life easier: Part II | Product Lifecycle Report for a reference to control-J (if you haven't already found it).

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

StuartBruff wrote:

I'm well aware of the limitations of Prime (even compared to M11 and M15, let alone the competition), but "fitness for purpose" rather depends upon what you want to use it for.

I don't think any of my colleagues has hit the limitations of Mathcad Prime, and complain as much as I do. For most of them, I believe even Prime is a perfectly suitable package. Of course, there are a few annoying things (graphics !!!), and a couple of them mumble a bit because they are used to M15 interface. But overall, the majority seems pretty happy, and it is definitely a huge improvement compared to previous tool (Excel !).

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

athurin wrote:

I don't think any of my colleagues has hit the limitations of Mathcad Prime, and complain as much as I do. For most of them, I believe even Prime is a perfectly suitable package. Of course, there are a few annoying things (graphics !!!), and a couple of them mumble a bit because they are used to M15 interface. But overall, the majority seems pretty happy, and it is definitely a huge improvement compared to previous tool (Excel !).

I've often been puzzled by how many people don't seem to get near the limitation boundaries and yet I seem to trip over them into the abyss in relatively short order. I remember my jaw dropping when a scientist (from a UK government organization reputed to only hire Brainiac's cleverer siblings) said his department didn't experience any problems with going from Mathcad 11 to Mathcad 12 ... maybe I'd inadvertently wandered into one of those alternate universes that quantum physicists like to hypothesize about.

Stuart

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I think a lot of users just use it for basic calculations. I have a colleague that uses Smath, and his only real complaint is the graphing (which is worse even that the graphing in Prime!). Maybe that's just because he's never used Mathcad though. If you have only ever had one eye, you don't miss stereoscopic vision

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I do have a quite annoying problem with v15 on Windows 7. It is only occasional, but it has happened several times in the last year or so. I cannot completely characterize it. But it always occurs while editing regions, often text regions, where the keyboard and the mouse are used interactively. For example, while using the mouse to place the cursor and then typing and/or deleting a few characters and then perhaps moving the cursor again and typing again, at some rather random point in this process, the machine just locks up. I don't mean that Mathcad just locks up, I mean the whole machine locks up hard. No display update, no control, no response to ctrl-alt-del. The only resort is a power cycle. Mathcad v15 is the only application that I have this problem with on my system.

Of course the really annoying part is that this situation has trained me to be saving the worksheet file almost constantly while editing in order to avoid loosing work. Matchcad can actually take quite a bit of time saving a file of 150 pages which is routine for my usage. In short, it is a royal PITA.

This whole situation with Mathcad is really really sad. It's interface design is so unique and it has so much potential for how I like to use it. But PTC's handling of the ongoing development and maintenance is so incredibly incompetent, I could just scream.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I would like to follow up on my last description about the lockup.  Until just recently, I had always experienced this lockup while using Mathcad v15 (which I use a lot).  I can now report that I have finally experienced this same type of lockup with another application, namely MS Word.  So it does not seem to be as Mathcad specific as I had originally thought.  It would appear that the problem may be more of a lower level keyboard driver type of issue.  I do not know if this is Windows related or if it might possibly be a driver / hardware interaction type of thing.  I am running Win 7 Pro on a HP Elitebook 8540w laptop.  However, I am somewhat relieved that it isn't just another Mathcad v15 issue after all and I just wanted to communicate that.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

RobSeager wrote:

I need to plan an exit route

Ask Maplesoft for a Mathcad-to-Maple converter ?

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I have been a MathCAD user since Mathsoft-MathCAD 3.0.
The frst thing I did after successfully installing newly purchased MathCAD 15 M030 and Prime 3.0 was to
symbolically evaluate a large equation that I had trouble processing in MathCAD 14.
Prime 3.0 failed to process the equation and MathCAD 15 successfully processed the equation.

I can now add to this that, Prime 3.1 failed to process the equation.

When the world was more capitalist, we had inspired-innovators with reputations instead of credentials; the result was exceptionalism.

As the world became more socialist, we accumulated more entitled-experts sitting on their credentials; the result was mediocracy.

When the entitlement of credentials becomes more important than the reputation of exceptionalism, mediocracy results.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Hello Errol,

stop wasting time on prime - it`s not worth the effort.

PTC will not longer support MC15 - Prime is crap - we have a lot of  licenses and we put the work in leaving mathcad.

There seems to be no other way.

Regards

Klaus

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

I would be very interested in learning if there is a good forum somewhere dedicated to finding a truly viable alternative to Mathcad.  I am also getting desperate myself.  But the solution needs to be at least as good as the Mathcad v15 feature set (on Windows preferably, but not necessarily) and there needs to be a reasonably acceptable path toward converting the over five hundred odd pages of worksheets that I have already created without having to start over again.  (Although it won't be long before I will finally do just that and forever curse the creation of Mathcad/Prime and the time and effort that I have invested in it.)

Is Smath still the closest symbolic software available?  I do also need all of the Mathcad v15 graphing capability.  Thanks.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

There's nothing out there yet to replace Mathcad. SMath is a long way away. Another future possibility is Miramath: http://miramath.newfrontierscompsoln.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=frontpage&Itemid=54. It also has a long way to go, but it's based on Python which is a good feature.

Re: Mathcad Prime 3.1, 4 and 5 Lack of features

Hi Rick,

I've spent quite of bit of time looking for alternatives to MathCad.  I've been using it since the beginning and am a big fan, however, it's hard to be enthusiastic about the future.  I talked recently with one of the marketing folks and he assured me that Prime 4 would fix many of the complaints about Prime 3.1.  I really want him to be right, but I'll wait and see.

Basically, there seem to be four big choices:  Matlab, Mathematica, Maple and Mathcad.  There are, of course, some others, but it's tough to make a big time investment in a code that might go away without notice.  In terms of user base, it appears to me that there is basically Matlab and then everyone else.  The Matlab user base is huge and appears to be spread over much of the World.  The user interface seems clunky to me; otherwise it's pretty good.  Mathematica and Maple certainly have a significant user base, but Matlab is the program I see everywhere in the engineering world.

Being a Mathcad user is beginning to feel like being one of the last speakers of a dying language.  This semester, my students voted unanimously (undergrads: 80-0, grads: 19-0) to use Matlab for all calculations in class.  They are very convinced that Matlab is a marketable skill.  I had to confess that, while I really like Mathcad, they'd probably never see it again after they left school.

I had originally planned to go to Maple for my classes, but my students were pretty clear about what skill they thought they needed.  Fair enough.

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