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Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?

Hi all, I'm doing a bit of V15 worksheet refinement, at home, in my own time, and thought I might look at the community to see what's been happening.

 

I've been championing Mathcad at my work (Defence Aerospace, multi-site, many thousand engineers here in UK..) for many years, and I don't see us transferring to Prime anytime soon. I'm retiring soon, so I'm having to make notes about the current situation and hand over the reigns. Plus a colleague had asked about when/if we might use Prime.

 

Mathcad has been loosing ground as a systems (explore design concepts) tool to Matlab. While PTC is well embedded as the mechanical design/draughting tool, it will be a while before the locally installed versions (of Creo/proe/windchill etc), and their users, are ready for Mathcad integration (I'm thinking 5-10 years). Even then, the 'draughting' processes probably doesn't really fit well with the Mathcad capabilities of old. In Defence, the drawing must be independent of each other when complete...

 

I see PTC Prime as being an attempt to auto-document the basic arithmetic behind many design values that are on engineering drawings, but fails to appreciate the depth and diversity of computation that may be behind those 'simple' calculations.

 

The power of Mathcad is its instant live whiteboard 'textbook' mathematics (for which MathSoft got the patent - Is it still valid?) - I'm using that capability right now which is why I continue to use and champion it. That live mathematics was coupled with the ability to compute things that were 'too hard' to programme, and that continues to be the case. For example, computing integrals is hard, except in a very few specialist packages, and the list goes on - even the direct visualisation of the formulae simplifies the difficulties of the mathematical working..

 

Prime wants to be a cross between Excel, and Word Equation Editor, and it just does not hit the nail on the head.

 

It would be great if PTC actually got behind Mathcad's strengths and extended from the base it had, but I don't think the ship is for turning.

 

Like I said, give it another 5-10 years, and maybe...

 

In the meanwhile I'll try and get the Angle pseudo-dimension better understood, and included in dimensional analysis.

 

Philip

 

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?

Hello Philip. Long time, no see Smiley Happy

 

The Mathsoft patents (all the early ones, anyway) must have expired by now. So it is only a question of who will pick up where Mathsoft left off. Obviously, not PTC. I have started to use SMath for calculations if I know it has the tools I need to do them. If not, then I use MC15. Maybe a commercial venture will provide a realistic alternative at some point. I'm a little surprised that nobody has jumped into the market gap already.

 

Best wishes for your retirement Smiley Very Happy 

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?

Sorry guys but I don't understand the point.
I use MC since 10 years. I moved on to Prime only with Prime 2 (I tried the first but I left when I saw that the potential elevation with "^" didn't work with the italian keyboard...).
Graph customization apart (Ive to see the Prime 5 yet) I am able to operate the same things both on MC15 that Prime.
I am a mechanical engineer; maybe if you work on electric/telecomunication/IT sector, you have some lacks. Could you make some example?

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Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?

Hi Richard,

 

Thanks for the good wishes.

 

If I had to guess, it could be Matlab who pick up the slack. They already own Symbolic engine (MuPAD but that's not mentioned in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_computer_algebra_systems), and also have the Simulink graphical environment, so with a little bit of tweaking they could easily  auto generate the computational flow graphs and do the dependency management. (remembering that each mathcad region has an anchor, which is a paired I/O point, and the flow is in page reading order, so easy to link as if a simulink design)...

 

They have the JIT compilation, multi-dimentional arrays, they can do temporal and 'block' flow (think of a group of equations as a block, instead of needing to be function), they think in terms of vectors and arrays (Ok so thay can't think past one-based indexing but..). They have a large market, and a solid academic base. They have a much larger base of special functions and multi-valued return functions (I had to write the 'unique' function yesterday!).

 

The partial conversion of a Mathcad worksheet XML schema to mathlab should be pretty easy.  But then again, that expectation that Matlab may pick up the 'live white' board part  maybe familiarity with the capabilities of the Matlab eco system, rather than it's business aims. It would need to start putting figures directly into the canvas, rather than stacking them as 'windows'.

 

I'll need to check out how I'm going to get or maintain access to MathCAD after retirement, which could be the big stumbling block.

 

I wish you and all colleagues well in the ongoing use of this great tool.

 

Philip

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?


@PhilipOakley wrote:

I'll need to check out how I'm going to get or maintain access to MathCAD after retirement, which could be the big stumbling block.



Check out SMath Studio. It has a very similar interface to Mathcad, will read many Mathcad files, handles units, etc. It doesn't do everything Mathcad can do, but it does a lot, and it's free.

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?

Hi G.,

 

Before PTC bought MathSoft/Mathcad, it had a very large user base of 'consultant' level users who used mathcad at a higher level that would be expected in a typical drawing office (DO) type environment. This included a lot of professional engineers and scientist types who were pushing the leading edge of their applications in a local sense and needed to extend the maths that was in their text books to the new environment and scenarios.

 

A lot of that work fed down to being 'regular' computation, and in many areas matched up with 'standard' calculations used in DO environments e.g. Work Instruction Sheets (WIS) giving the formula for thread engagement based on load and screw size, for both imperial and metric - we had lots of them covering all the regular arithmetic calculations. These computations were done in the DO and needed no more than a calculator.

 

Meanwhile the advanced design concepts and specialist engineering were done in different departments, such as computing the photon flux from a black body source over a TBD waveband and deciding on a lens f/# and aperture. Those specialist computations need more than a calculator if they were to be done correctly, and human error being what it is (roughly equally distributed..), a method for capturing the complicated equations and doing the calculations accurately, to leave the thinking for the specialists, was very important. Mathcad leapt that hurdle and still does. It can also do the WIS computations, but there was an established process method for them, so wasn't picked up that well by the DO fraternity..

 

Meanwhile PTC saw that, especially in the USA, there is a requirement to 'show all working' for the computations both at WIS and Consultant level, and that Mathcad was the tool every one was using for the documentation of the computations and values used in drawings. PTC bought Mathcad to bring the WIS level capability to their DO fraternity (hence Prime), but had not realised that they had also bought the troublesome consultant level community who still need all the power (and more) of Mathcad, even if no-one individually will use all of it.

 

I have quite a few Mech Engs, especially those that are in Stress and Thermal analysis, who do some quite powerful analyses via mathcad, and would like (and benefit from) the integration with Creo a lot sooner that 'the other crowds' who are at arms length to the rest of the PTC tool set.

 

One example that came up on the old collaboratory was vibration absorption modelling via [a few] cascaded spring dampers. These give adequate solutions but aren't continuous, because the overall net frequency roll off can't be modelled by extending the damper cascade (there is always ripple on the curve as different dampers take up the load), but having the ability to investigate within Mathcad did give a much greater insight into how to approach the problem, and where the text books reach their limit. If I locate the sheet I'll post it as it was public.

 

I hope that helps clarify why (in my eyes) the split in the community has happened. My colleague who manages the Creo side says that PTC do this every time they buy a company - the assimilation process to be swallowed into the PTC code base taking typically 5 or more years.

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?


@gfraulini wrote:


I am a mechanical engineer; maybe if you work on electric/telecomunication/IT sector, you have some lacks. Could you make some example?


Lucky you. As a mechanical engineer I guess you never used any of the features Prime doesn't have. "electric/telecomunication/IT sector" is a rather narrow view of the rest of the Mathcad world though. How about optical engineer, physicist, geologist, biochemist, etc etc etc? Suppose you need to manipulate images in Mathcad (I have several worksheets that do this; output from an optical engineering package)? Well, in Prime you are hosed because there is no image viewer, and the 3D graphs are simply pathetic (I have not tried the ones in Prime 5.0). I also use controls in my worksheets, and sometimes they are not just a luxury. Prime doesn't have controls. It also doesn't have postfix or infix operators, both of which I use. You still can't set the exponential threshold for results (unless that changed in 5.0?). Still no superscripts or subscripts in text. For math software that is ridiculous! And then there is  the stuff that is just annoying. Like the solve block format. In Mathcad 15 you can write many solve blocks on one line. In Prime you need a big chunk of the page. And the ribbon interface sucks. What I can access in MC15 with one click, in Prime I have to hunt and peck around for in the ribbon. It's a huge time waster.

 

I could go on (easily: no error tracing in programs, no text or math styles, can't paste a vector graphic into the worksheet...), but by now I think you get the general idea.

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?


@PhilipOakley wrote:

I'll need to check out how I'm going to get or maintain access to MathCAD after retirement, which could be the big stumbling block.


Mr. Oakley,

 

Having just retired (and lost my company sponsored Mathcad), I can speak to this.

  • Prime can be downloaded for "trial."  After 30 days it becomes Prime Express (AKA "stupid.")  It will read all Prime files (of versions before it; I have Express 4.0, so Prime 5 can't be seen.  And it is capable of being useable, although the choice of "advanced features" is often confusing.  (the function "mean" won't work, but integrals still evaluate. . .)
  • As for Mathcad 15, SMath will read old version Mathcad files and will also compute them (as capabilities allow.)  So we can continue to be involved for free, if at a rerstricted level.

I have enjoyed and appreciated your contributions.

 

Enjoy your retirement!

 

Fred

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?

Enjoy your retirement Fred Smiley Very Happy

 

Overall, I think SMath is better than Prime Express.

Re: Why do PTC continue with MathCad Prime?


@RichardJ wrote:

Enjoy your retirement Fred Smiley Very Happy

 

Overall, I think SMath is better than Prime Express.


Thank you!

 

As a calculating engine you're probably right, but then I'd miss this fascinating dialog!  Smiley Happy