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Creo vs. Solidworks vs. Inventor


Creo vs. Solidworks vs. Inventor

I feel like I need to vent a little, so I was hoping to get a discussion started as to why Creo has any advantage over the other popular 3D CAD modeling systems. I want to like this product, I really do, but right now, I feel like I am being forced to learn a dying system. Creo will not survive if they do not change the way things are done.


I am new to Creo (6 weeks), but I have used Inventor for the past 3 years. In my opinion, there is no comparison between the two. Inventor is significantly better than Creo in pretty much every single way I have been using the system.


Component Modeling:

Creo is completely unintuitive. For the novice trying to obtain a grasp on this program, it is next to impossible without a significant amount of training from PTC. This is probably part of their business plan because truthfully, their documentation and training programs are superior to the software itself. It seems like the designers of this software have had no personal experience using a system. The user interface is obviously a copy of what Autodesk has been doing - the Ribbon UI. However, they have failed at the ease and convenience that Inventor provides and it seems like their employees do not understand why they are programming their product in this way.


Right clicking for everything is a nuisance. The commands should be explicit. Once a command has been initialized, it should state what is needed to accomplish a successful feature. When I hover over some of the commands, it's as if the programmer just did not understand the point of what he/she was trying to create. For instance if you hover over swept blend, the information contained says "create a swept blend". Inventor shows a preview of what the function actually does in a quick movie if you hover over it, plus it provides a link to learn further information and even provides an exercise showing explicitly how to use the function and what must be defined for the function to work. PTC expects that you just know that you need to add certain references without actually telling you that you need it. For instance, the rotate feature needs a centerline (should be able to use any datum axis) which you then need to right click and define it as the rotational axis. If you try to do this through the message box, it will not work. There is no documentation in the help file saying this needs to be done. My anger continues to grow.


Also, patterning complex features is pretty much a null exercise, since it takes Creo 20 minutes to regenerate the model. I have never experienced this with Inventor. Their software updates automatically after a function is confirmed. There is no need to repaint/regenerate.



The constraint system seems to have a mind of its own. After applying an angle constraint just this morning, and the preview showing the correct orientation, after confirming, the model just sort of reversed the direction and tilted on another axis which was untouched. I know it's difficult to picture this. But just picture me wishing that Creo was tangible and that I could soak it in Ethanol and watch it burn a slow painful death.


That's enough.


Please provide some insight as to why this program is any good at all. I need to like it. I want to like it. I have to like it. But right now, it is the bane of my existence. Some of the simplest commands that I try to initiate do not work as intended. There are way too many idiosycrasies that 'just have to be known' through experience. There is no way that someone could just hop on this program and start using it. However, with Inventor, they have actually put work and research into making their product user friendly. So much so that at my previous position, I could educate a technician in a day or two and they are off and running producing components, assemblies, and even drawings.


Please help me think of Creo as a helpful tool instead of a hinderence and outdated piece of garbage.


Thanks for your help.






172 REPLIES 172

Hi Bart

If you are a new user, pls. look at

You can start Creo Parametric 2.0 without option. Then you can see the welcome Creo 2.0 window

I can recomend you Learning Connector too:

Software consultant.

Hi Radovan,

Thank you for the reply. The issue is not the training as my company is set up on PTC's site for online learning (which I try to complete at least one module per day) and I attended a week intro session with a very good educator. The problem is the software itself. The reason I have this view is that I came from a far superior software that makes sense, is intuitive, and actually works to enhance the design process.

I really do want to like Creo. But my frustrations will be there until I learn all of the idiosyncrasies that come with this particular software.

I am a Creo user. When i go onto Inventor i say this:

"The problem is the software itself. The reason I have this view is that I came from a far superior software that makes sense, is intuitive, and actually works to enhance the design process."

It's purely down to you not wanting to change. Not the software.

Hi Tim...

That actually is not the case (me not wanting to change).

I want to change to liking the software and I give it try after try. If you read through the rest of this post, you will see some gripes from Creo users and former Pro/E users, so it's not just me.

The fact that someone who knows nothing about CAD could hop on Inventor and be off and running in less than a week is proof enough to me that they are doing something correct. This does not happen with Creo. There is definitely a steeper learning curve for Creo...that's just fact. And I'm trying my best to climb the curve, trying to keep my previous softwares out of mind.

My main gripes are the inconsistencies and the non-stop crashes on an 'approved' computer and lack of explicit feature flow.

Ideally, Tech Support will be able to update my settings to avert this in the future (once they respond to my ticket).


Just trying to point out that I would and have suffered exactly the same problem as you. I used Inventor to design a rig that tested for the COG of a motorbike... It took me months. I could do this in days with Creo.

I wanted to change to Inventor and I needed to but I still spent my days moaning that it wasn't as good.

I use creo 2.0 everyday now and have only seen it crash a few times (mainly through user error, i.e. rediculous patterns), when using Inventor I found that the system was crashing constantly. Again I believe mainly through user error... A poor workman blames his tools, as they say.

The problem with someone jumping onto Inventor and using it within a week as that they will not be creating models in the correct way. This leads to system instability, models that are not robust and further problems down the line. In my opinion.


I have worked on solidworks 2007 and some inventor sales representative came to me last year there i have seen one major drawback. That is, suppose you have one sub assmebly with some mechanism and assemble it in on top level assembly, in solid works and inventor the sub assembly is being treated as rigid component( i dont know if they modified recently). So you will not have mechanisms of the sub assembly in top level assembly however in proe/Creo it remains.

Also I think providing motor/torque or force is more logical in Creo.

As far as my working experience is concern for large assemblies like 5000 parts in solidworks older versions and wildfire3(Pro/Engineer), I found it is very easy to provide constant like line to line or point etc in solid works however I have faced many problem when retrieving cnfigurations most of the time it reversed because in solidworks does consider all the possible constant( for example line to point constant can easly be given but it should have some direction vector to define which does not require in solid works). However in wildfire, it is difficult to have those constant however if you provide any constant it should have defined so correctly that in space there can be only one position which you need.

It's really sad about the reverse option which was happend to you, but I never come across such circumstances in Creo.

I agree solid works and inventor is more user friendly however I think if your looking to work in large assemblies with more accuracy you can go for Creo parametric.

Lastly, I want to share one opinion that, if an employee works in Creo for around 6 months, he/she will be proficient on it.

Thanks for the insight Jayanta. Some of what you mentioned is a bit over my head currently, but I hope to get there some day.

We are working with assemblies that can contain thousands of components, so I guess a good way to look at Creo is that hopefully it is advantageous for this. It is also helpful to know that after half a year I will be proficient. I guess it is something to look forward to. For now, frustration indefinitely ensues.

I need a job to live my life and my current job requires Creo/Parametric users, therefore I like Creo/Parametric since it provides my livelihood.

That being said, I would much prefer to use SolidWorks which I used from 2002-2010. The usability of SolidWorks is far superior. For the few things that I found Creo can do which SolidWorks cannot do is not worth the tradeoff. Also changing jobs over a piece of software isn't reasonable. It's probably best we understand there is better software out there, and hope that the software engineers, and product managers at PTC assimilate with their competition to make our day more productive.

Some of my co-workers and I have the image below printed out and hanging in our cube, feel free to do the same.



I want/have to like Creo for the same reasons that you mentioned - it allows me the freedom to live my life in a way that food, shelter, clothing, and toys are readily accessible. I love my job currently, so there is no problem. I am just frustrated that my ability to design things is hindered by the disconnect of the software managers and the product managers as you described.

I am sure that Creo 3.0 will continue to become more user-friendly, because the competition will eat them alive, and colleges will not even consider it for curriculum.

A few of the guys here have mentioned that Solidworks is much easier to use and that it can be learned relatively easily. Maybe since Creo has such a large learning curve, it will provide some job security. i.e. if they want to hire someone else, they know that they are going to have to spend the time and money to develop the skills required by this CAD system.

Thanks for your response!


One funny video for Jim.

Software consultant.

SW is not angel as well. They also have frustrated customer. For example, they have no option to pull dimensions from the model when in drawing mode. They have to make dimensions everytime they make a new drawing. Although, they can link drawing to a similar model and drawing will try to adapt existing dimensions for new part. And this is where Creo lacks - inteligence. After all, software companies are the only one that can make money selling unfinished/non-stable/bugged products.

I made a simple comparison Pro/ENGINEER vs. SolidWorks 3 years before. Here is the result.


Software consultant.

Bwahahaha! there's plenty of times I wanted to do that.......but my bosses would not have been anywhere near as supportine as Jr. is on that.......


I agree that PTC Creo, Pro Engineer, Wildfire, or what ever else they call it is on it's dying legs. I've used this software since Pro Engineer rev 10, and at the time PTC was light years ahead of the competition. PTC was also very competitive with a strong sales force, but they still cared about their existing customers. Now it seems the attitude of the company is screw our existing users, let's just get more customers.

This attitude works for them because changing CAD systems is becoming almost impossible in medium and large companies. Where I work we have designs that were done years ago which are government programs. The government would never pay for transferring a program to a new CAD system, so we have to keep whatever CAD system the program was created in.

I took a serious look at Solid works, and I felt it was far superior to Creo 2.0. However, my company would have to by 6 new licenses of Solid Works plus maintain at least 3 licenses of Creo. Solid Works is cheaper maintenance, so you'd think it's an easy choice, but it's not cheaper because you have to support other CAD software. PTC knows this, and I think this is a major reason why they don't care about their existing users.

I also think that PTC is still stuck in Unix mode. Pro Engineer started in Unix and I think deep down below the simple windows and buttons it's still Unix. Let me give a simple example, let's say your using Word to type an e-mail. If you misspell a common word Word will underline it with a red squiggly line. By right clicking on it you can change it. It's simple and quick, and it's been around for a few years now. In Creo Parametric, or what ever Wildfire 5.0 is called now, you create a note. You then have to run Model Check. Oh wait, first you have to configure model check. This involves about 5 to 8 config files with almost no support or help files. Now you run model check on a drawing, and it finds words misspelled, but wait 90% of the words misspelled are spelled correctly. Now you realize that the dictionary for model check only conations a very small percentage of the normal English words. WOW! Why doesn't PTC give us live spell checking???????

I've lost all hope in PTC and Creo, Wildfire, Pro Engineer!

Side note: It seems that many users of this web site are hardcore ProE guys. I've met a few of them in real life, and they are very old school in there attitude both about what they do, how they do it, and what tools they use to do it.

Thanks for the message Tim. It is unfortunate that it only took me a month and a half to realize something you have known for years.

The old school guys are complacent with having only one way to do things. But that does not allow for truly creative design. There should be as Paul states below, multiple pathways to accomplish the same task. This is the stark contrast that I noticed between Creo and Inventor. Inventor is parametric, but it is also flexible and allows for much easier manipulation of dimensions, features, and assemblies. They also provide a robust platform for personalization and automation based on Visual Basic. Autodesk definitely knows what they are doing - this is apparent from the applications that they have developed for touch applications. They have also released a free 3D modeling system (123D) betting on the common person owning a 3D printer at some point in the future and being able to design and create items from their imaginations. They also have 123D Catch which allows users to stitch together up to 50 or so photos to create a 3D model which then be manipulated via CAD software. They are setting the bar and it might be a bit too high for PTC to reach, but I sure hope they realize this and that they are doing something about it.

I may be naive as I have little experience as mentioned prior, but it is blatant that what you wrote is true.




I can certainly sympathize with you Bart. Our company is struggling to get on our feet with Creo.

The software with out a doubt is un-intuitive. There are many softwares out there that are much easier to comprehend (including the software which we will eventually replace with Creo).

There certainly is a disconnect between end users and developement. It's too bad that the developers don't borrow extensive input from users outside of the Pro Engineer product. The product has a feel of a house that has rooms built upon rooms without regards to the roof line or how the rooms connect with each other.

As a CAD modeler you don't want to look all over for different contexts that can be used in different situations depending on whether something has been selected or mouse clicked correctly. Some times you have to do things one way; other times another way.

I'm saying this because I want this software to be the best software regardless of anything.

We knew we would have a battle learning Creo when we bought our licenses. The reason we went with Creo is that we needed rock solid parametrics and tools to carry tangencies, radii and draft through out complicated geometry. We know this can be done because we've seen this software used in the hands of masters. We are just having trouble getting there.


Seems like this program crashes an awful lot - and my computer is up to par.

I'm saving up my nickels for SolidWorks. PTC just isn't getting it. Instead of upgrading the base product, our maintenance dollars are going to extensions I simply cannot afford. SolidWorks does a lot more out of the box.

I will still support clients with Pro/E but I will be using the product that will give me the better return when I have the choice of platforms.

5-Regular Member

I agree with this. There's plenty of basic capabilities which Creo is lacking, but I'm confident PTC will start to include some of these with the base product in the future. They won't have much choice in the matter given how quickly the competition is adding capabilities.

I am starting to think in the same way.

The reason is PTC's greed.

I am fine with the software but not with the company at the moment.

In response to the original post; I find myself agreeing with most of the comments. I've been using Pro-E since 1998 (Version 19).

Creo appears to be a major step backward from Wildfire in terms of significant increases in the number of clicks and mouse travel required to accomplish tasks. MS office's (2010) ribbon has added a similar obstacle to productivity. I'm still working on developing my map keys and quick access toolbars to help myself out with all of these new ribbon interfaces.

For a new user today I can only imagine the frustration in trying to learn Creo (or even Wildfire). When I started with Pro-E Version 19 in the late 90's it was fairly easy to learn the program; as everything was very intuitive with menus that started out at a high level and expanded as you selected in them to show you all of the options available to perform the desired operation. (and these menus had words, no cryptic icons you have to mouse over and wait for the description on if you are unsure of their meaning) Speed was excellent for experienced users since many default options could be selected by middle clicking...which could be done anywhere on the screen while you were traversing to make your next geometry selection or make another specific mouse selection.

The nice thing about pre-wildfire Pro-e was that if a particular process for modeling wasn't working out for you, the similar and/or alternate options were listed in the same area of the menus, so even if you hadn't been aware of those other functions before, you would would see them and give them a try to eventually accomplish your goal. The information line prompting was a great aid in learning to use options as a new user.

With wildfire there were some improvements in speed, and some shortcomings. In large models and especially large assemblies the preselect highlighting that PTC pushed could significantly slow down the process of selecting geometry. With query select you could begin a query at a location under which you knew you would find the correct part or feature, then you could manipulate the model to get a better view of the buried parts being highlighted as you right clicked to go through selection list...and once the part or feature was highlighted you just middle clicked to finished the selection. For a user with some experience it was incredibly effective from a speed and accuracy standpoint. Preselect highlighting can still be turned off to allow use of query selection, however the query selection process does not always work as seamlessly as it had in the past...sometimes right clicking will not scroll through the selections and sometimes middle clicking will not finish the selection.

Creo, seems to have more shortcomings than improvements with respect to productivity, PTC made some good steps forward with Wildfire to improve productivity (versatile copy and paste of features, ability to change some solid features from positive to negative (cuts) which could be handy when combined with using the cut and paste functionality). While those improvements remain in Creo, they are encountered less frequently than the obstacles added in Creo in terms of general navigation...and hence the overall experience is slower and more tedious.

When Wildfire was released PTC tried to market the fact that they could perform tasks with fewer clicks than competitive software packages...I have not heard anything like that PTC with the Creo release. All I have heard are comments that the interface is more like other programs.

It is sad that PTC has become a follower, trying to look like other products, when in reality, the look of other products may not be well suited to the task of efficiently generating parametric models and assemblies. I still contend that if I sat down with the last menu based version of Pro-E (2000i or i^2 I believe) I could outperform an experienced user at a Wildfire seat with respect to general modeling and assembly.

I hope that major customers of PTC will begin to push back and drive them to produce a product that helps users increase their productivity...but I recognize that the loss in productivity is not something that most organizations can quantify. Indeed it seems that most times the complaints are likely written off as nothing more than grumblings employees that "just need to adjust to a new interface".

I'm not even going to start to complain about the steps backwards in default graphics settings each subsequent overhaul...I'm just glad I can use my old lights files and color schemes that give me a good perception of surface shapes and depth without horribly loosing contrast at some angles....and without using edge lines which overly complicate views of large assemblies or complex models.

Wow Jacob,

That was extremely comprehensive. It is excellent to get some history and background on the software and to realize that it is (or at least was) a solid environment. It is also good to know that I am not alone in my grumblings, especially from experienced professionals such as yourself and some of the responders above. It provides a glimmer of hope that things will change in the future.

I know we are all hopping that PTC will finally listen to their customers, and make the corrections and changes that will make a difference. From what I've seen of them over the past 10 years I would not hold my breath for this to happen. I really think PTC is to self absorbed to make a change, and I also feel that many of these issues originate in some way or another at the senior level of management at PTC.


...I still contend that if I sat down with the last menu based version of Pro-E (2000i or i^2 I believe) I could outperform an experienced user at a Wildfire seat with respect to general modeling and assembly.

Jacob, I can attest to this. Before upgrading to Creo, I was using 2000i in production early this year. It just - f l o w e d -. The only caviat I had was the lack of a comprehensive interface for

I skipped the Wildfire days all together except for a short bout this year. It had the interface, but everything else was horrible. I literally found nothing new except that I could finally use shaded views in drawings. But the interface was seriously inhibiting even in WF.

I understand your frustration since I felt the same 7 years ago. What you'll need to know is that Creo is core Unix software with Windows make-up. PTC calls Creo revolutionary, I call it Windows make-up. All comments here are 100% valid. I had a problem with Pro/E Wildfire because I was a new guy in company and the way Pro/E was configured was BAD in every way. Part of my frustration came from that. Other part was Pro/E itself. Intuitive software - what is that? What is really annoying are unbelieveable amount of clicks you have to do to achieve something. It takes 12 clicks for one simple counter bore hole! Twelve clicks?!?!? Although, you can use mapkey to reduce amount of clicks and that helps.

I think the major flaw I noticed is exactly what you brought up - there are way too many actions involved to complete a simple feature. The one thing I noticed is that I feel I am always clicking on edit definition to edit any of my features, but instead of it being the first thing the mouse encounters, I have to scroll halfway up the menu list. There should be a config to change the menu list order.

Also, adding appearances to a highly surfaced component is terrible having to hold down control and if you accidentally let it go after you've had quite a few surfaces selected, you are screwed. In my opinion, it should be simplified to if you are holding down the left mouse button, all of the surfaces that you 'paint' should highlight and if you accidentally highlight a surface you didn't want, just right click to remove that surface from your appearance change.

Please tell me after 7 years it gets better??

Also, a zoom to face feature (any flat surface or plane becomes 2D orientation) would be excellent - the orientation capabilities are pretty lacking.

As for the orienatation capabilities, how do you like it when you select side plane and top plane becomes vertical instead of horizontal? It kills me everytime.