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We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.


We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

Our electrical design team has been an offsite collaborator for a while now supporting a very large project that is in it's senior years. We have been using AutoCAD (their preferred tool) for all electrical designs system wide.

Our team has been given the task to not only learn Creo Schematics, but figure out the best way to merge it into our design process.

I have begun converting some existing wiring diagrams into a Creo design while doing so I have been creating and submitting aritfacts to a central catalog and it is this that has me thinking, "How can we use this tool the way it is meant to be used at this stage of the game?"

We have an existing component database of close to 40,000 components, 90% of which are electrical. How does one even start to create a catalog this large?

At this point I think using our designs to route 3D cables is not of any importance. The main objective is to USE Creo Schematics instead of AutoCAD.

I guess I would like to get others opinions on can we use Schematics how it was meant to be used, with a Central Catalog consisting of datatables, datasets and artifacts reflect all of our components?

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Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

Hi Joe...

You're facing a daunting task to be sure. However, taking the long view, the work you're doing will be worth it in the end. Imagine a library of physical books... a very large one that contains books available nowhere else. Now imagine you've been given the task to SCAN each one into a computer database by hand. The purpose is that eventually you'll be able to search through the texts of those books using a computer (something not possible with a physical book). At the beginning, it seems like the process is more trouble than it's worth. But by the end, you'd look back and wonder how you ever got along without your database. You'd never be able to go back to using the library the old way. That's what you're facing with this transition to Creo Schematics.

Look at it this way... your 30,000-40,000 AutoCAD objects are never going to be any more intelligent than they are right now. They're essentially physical books in the library. By converting these to Creo Schematics, you're adding intelligence... you're adding capability... and you're building the "library of the future". You may not even be able to see the complete picture right now. You may not fully know how this intelligent library will eventually benefit your company. Creo Schematics is only gaining in power. Tools that can simulate circuits were just concepts only a few years back. Now those tools are becoming more mainstream. By developing your new library now, you're getting ahead of the game. Although it's a struggle, you'll be ahead of other companies which did not have the foresight to modernize their libraries. Your old library isn't going to be doing any fancy tricks for you... it'll just sit there for the next 20 years.

So how do you tackle such a huge job? I'd steal most of the geometry from your AutoCAD symbols to use as Creo Schematics artifacts. Start with the most common symbols first. Add in the intelligent features required by Creo Schematics. Build your datasets as you need them. But perhaps most important... train all of your people to create artifacts as they need them. If you have a team of 10 designers, that's 10 people making the artifacts they need. Have them check their work into common repository with a librarian (or "gatekeeper", data manager, etc) who verifies the new catalog submissions for completeness before uploading them to the master catalog. Many times you only need a simple artifact to create dozens of items. Datasets do much of the work of creating 'families' of components.

No doubt this is going to be a chore. But what I'm talking about is developing a workflow that includes making the necessary catalog components. For instance, what is your workflow now? Maybe you receive a sketch or markup from your Electrical Engineers, place symbols for rough space claim, route wires, fire off a check print, and await redlines from the EE's. In your new workflow, you'd receive the sketch/markup, place whatever symbols you have for space claim while identifying any missing symbols, create new artifacts for the missing symbols, route wires, fire off check print, etc.

If you make the act of creating new artifacts part of the design process, you'll quickly build up a library of the most often used items. At first, it'll be slow going... so maybe you (personally) want to build the first couple hundred or so components before you start using Creo Schematics in earnest. But then, once you make the switch, your team will rapidly begin to populate your new library. Within a few weeks, the common components will be created leaving only the rarer items to be dealt with during your normal workflow. The time you save using Creo Schematics will initially be lost as you work to populate your library. But within a few months at most you should begin to see positive gains. Your designers will be able to work more efficiently. Modifications to designs will come about more easily. And ultimately even if you don't see any productivity gains initially, your wiring diagrams now have an intelligence that they did not possess before. As I said, you may not even know the dividends this intelligence will pay in the future.

When I was about 10 years old, I watched a guy eat a full-sized bicycle on a TV show called That's Incredible. Ever since then, old jokes like "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" seem less funny and more like wise business advice. While recreating a large library seems impossible at the outset, if you hit the high points first, leverage your team, and methodically continue making progress, you'll see it's actually not so bad.

As for the 3D routing stuff... that aspect is seriously overblown. This is one of my biggest issues with PTC's routed systems products. You're led to believe the 3D routing becomes so much simpler with Creo Schematics... and conversely that you need Creo Schematics if you expect the 3D routing to be anything less than a huge mess. The fact is you can route easily in 3D without Schematics... and you can gain great benefits from Schematics without ever bothering to route cables in 3D. Both tools are great on their own. We don't need to hype the interaction as the main selling point. That's actually a disservice to both pieces and it makes some companies fearful of adopting cabling thinking they have to go 'all or nothing' (Schematics & Cabling or nothing at all).

Next Wednesday at 10am in Anaheim, I'm presenting Ninja Cabling 2: Learn Cabling in 30 Minutes at the PTC Live Global conference. The whole point of my presentation is to demonstrate the power of cabling without Creo Schematics. That's not to knock Schematics (which I love) but to kock down some of that hype and show how cabling can stand on its own.

Thanks and best regards,


Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.


If you buy a new fridge do you go to the grocery store and buy everything in the store to fill your new fridge? I would guess the answer would be no.

So considering my little analogy, have a serious think about your huge incumbent catalog.

Do you require all the symbols in your legacy designs?

In AutoCAD do you have a symbol for a 2 pin connector and another symbol for a 3 pin connector and a third symbol for a 4 pin connector? If so then investigate variable groups which will allow one symbol to support multiple configurations.

And as you create your catalog objects, think about grid size, font size, layering etc and think about how you want to automate parameter values and labels

As you define what the catalog definition rules should be, ensure you make them available internally to your company so everyone works of the same standard.

I cannot stress how important it is to set your catalog up, correctly and above all consistent.

Get the catalog right and it will pay huge dividends later on

Finally you can consider buying a library from

I hope that helps


Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

Wow Joe!

On your second ever post you got advice from THE man. Jim is the PTC Product Line Manager for the routed systems suite of products. There's no higher authority on those products than him.

If you need help with anything (like figuring out how to do a variable group) please ask!



Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

Hi Joe,

the only thing I would add is that you have an opportunity to re-think your workflow and design process to capitalise on the strengths of Creo schematics. 40,000 symols is a LARGE library to generate and maintain, even if you have the starting geometry from AutoCAD. I would re-iterate Jim's point:do you need 40,000 symbols, do you use all of these symbols? Do you want to take this opportunity to adopt an industry standard for graphical symbols such as IEEE315:1975 or ISO60617?

We have tranisitioned libraries from AutoCAD to Creo schematics for customers, but in practice it comes down to the relative grid sizes used in each system and how much manipulation of the geometry is required. The imported symbols will have to be scaled to ensure the interconnect points sit on the connection grid and then ports (Creo Schematics connectivity artifacts) will have to be added to the symbol shapes. This is going to take a bit of time for 40,000 symbols.

I would also consider, what you need out of the schematic as a deliverable. Companies are begining to look for early day eBoMs from the schematic and as such you should give some thought to an appropriate DataTable structure which in turn will impact your Central Catalog structure.

We are also in Anaheim next week, Booth #810. More tahn happy to talk through some of the pros and cons

Best of Luck!

Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

Thank you all for repling. Your input and further investigation has made me realize I may have jumped the gun deciding it's too late to make the switch to Creo Scematics.

I also realize I should've gone into more detail about our existing component database.

Although we do have a decent size AutoCAD block library this is not the database I was referring to. Our component library is a collection of part numbers that are assigned to the purchased components we've used and continue to use, some more than others of course, over the years. Each number contains metadata describing the component it represents (mfg or alt vendors, mfg part no., long descr, short descr,, etc). It also gives us a place to upload the datasheets to.

This information is accessed via web portal but it can also be downloaded as a excel spreadsheet. I now realize that with this spreadsheet we pratically have our datatables already built, all they will need is some formatting.

There may be something else somebody may be able to help me with. I've looked but am having trouble finding something sort of like an "Advanced Creo Schematics" resource (web page, tutorials). I'm starting to see that these drawing are capable of being much more than just lines on printed paper, but there isn't really anyone out there showing what can be done or what kind of advantages come with having all this data available. Something that really peaked my interest was when I started seeing Java functions inside parameters and labels.

Keep in mind routing 3D harnesses isn't really what we're looking for. A majority of our drawings will be system interconnects and system wiring diagrams.

Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

I just so happens I do have a question about variable groups you may be able to help me with. Posted the discussion as "Variable group creation question". Thanks

Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

On your post on (,105.msg342.html#msg342) you mention you had sent someone the 'datatables tutorial doc" that they were looking for. I know the post is almost ten yrs old but I was wondering if you could possibly send this to me.

Or, if you could, point me to some other resources specific to Creo Schematics that could give me more of an understanding of the kind of things that are possible when datatables and membermaps are used to their fullest extent.

Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.


Do you know of any walkthrough for the initial setup of the Piping and Cabling extension? It doesn't have to be majorly in depth, but an overall process would be a good reference for me, as I can't seem to find a single guide written for beginners in the Piping extension. My company uses mostly a grooved piping system so I'd like to build my own libraries of parts for use with non spec-driven and in the future spec-driven piping.

Thanks in advance.


Re: We are going to make the transition from AutoCAD to Creo Schematics...somehow.

By the way, by initial setup, I mean building my catalogs/libraries. I've already installed the extension.