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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

Fortunately that is easy to fix with 2 clicks in the sketch. But yes, annoying.


Two clicks are somethng I do not have time for. Those two clicks turn very fast to a 100+ extra not needed clicks per day. I just do not see where PTC is finding all these click reductions of 50-70%? I did not experience any click reduction in Creo. Quite opposite.

I also love the arc tool where you have to move your cursor down first to make an arc to the right. Probably the most annoying tool I have used so far.

Ohhhhhhh!!! Is that what the arcs are doing

No, it does not get any better. Frustrations are sometimes bigger sometimes smaller, but present all the time. You just learn to live with it.

Maybe, just maybe, we all are using Pro/E/Creo in wrong way. Maybe PTC's programmers have best knowledge on how we should be using it. Sometimes I think they made this software for them only not for designer/engineers.

Having three types of menus in one CAD tool after all the time of its evolution just means that the PTC development couldn't get it right after the years, and as more time has passed you can see the results now.

It seems like as a whole this so called Creo is too big for any of those current devs. Simply because they do not get so much time as day-to-day user of Creo, to spend on it. They don't really get to know all the flaws while going through them over and over again, on almost daily basis, under pressure of each and every forthcoming deadline.

@Bart: At the current point, Creo can get overwhelming also for a day-to-day user. If you only have spent 6 weeks on Creo then I wouldn't be hurry on judging it, as 6 weeks is a non-factor.

I would say that most of the people working for PTC can do solid modeling and that's it. Guess who are the ones who have decided all of these interface changes that happened to Creo in say last 5 years. I bet those could be easily put in a pocket as far as Pro/E skills are considered when facing random problems of everyday work.

You probably make a good point about configuration. We run Pro/E and AutoCAD, both extensively re-configured to suit ourselves over the years, and if I ever find myself working on an install without the correct config it's horrible.

I'm not sure I agree with the negativity about the WF generation. I've used 2000i^2, 2001, WF2, WF3 and WF4 where we're currently sticking. We were certainly annoyed about some of the backwards steps (including some lost functionality) when we first moved to WF, but I think now that I'm used to WF4 there would be a lot of things I'd miss if you forced me to work on 2001 again.

Having experienced the ribbon in Office 2007, though, I'm not looking forward to the next version change - and it will almost certainly come, because we have too much legacy data to change CAD systems now.

On the positive side, a significant reason for us choosing Pro/E originally was for creating complex yet robust parametric models, particularly for cast gearbox casings, and it still seems to achieve that. On the occasions when I need to add some new features deep into one of our existing casing models, I'm often amazed at how little work is needed to make the model regen successfully.

It definitely helps a lot to have experienced users around you to learn from - I can imagine that it's a lot more difficult doing it on your own, even with a training course.

We purchased back at the original Wildfire version. Our company is a small plastic injection mold making firm. I am the only user. We purchased the mold module as well as the emx module. I have not been happy since Wildfire 5, if I truly ever was. It seems to me that the interface is changed for changes sake, documentation is extremly poor, and any free training material that is worthwhile is non existant. The last straw for me is the current color scheme. If you use the default emx colors for plates, you can't even see some of them in wireframe mode (it's not the graphics card). Importing dxf files, can't see those either. My life is too short to keep playing with this software. I will not renew. I'm looking forward to retirement and not dealing with this program ever again.

That is pretty disheartening news. I do not want to be wasting my time learning a dying system. Let's just hope that the powers that be at PTC see messages like this throughout the forum and make an effort to effect some real, positive, user-friendly changes.

I would not recommend Creo software to anyone, for now. Too many small but annoying things that takes away your time from "how to solve the problem in design" to "how to solve a quirk in Creo to avoid crash or system slow down or something else". Software has potetntial, but I guess inertia is too big and PTC cannot get rid of it.

Some of you seem to have tried other programs besides Creo...I am one of those that really does prefer Creo. I currently use SW and it crashes all the time...much more than WF5 or creo 1.0 did. I have not used Creo 2.0 though.

I get the "SldWorks has stopped working" message all the time...I have had more than 30 sprs in 2 years.

Also there are many features like welding that are far better in Creo. I like the equations better in creo and family tables and tables in drawing are more powerful. If you want to alter a cell you can...without permanently ruining the link between the default. There are so many things that can be done with Creo that you can't do with SW so unless you spend the time to learn them you will probably always think the grass is greener on the other side.

There are of course some things that I like about SW but if I could choose between the two I would take PTC. I like the way you do ref patterns and the list could go on and on. Anyway hopefully all software gets better and we will live in heaven soon. For now I guess we use what we have access to and hope we don't end up working with autodesk 2D CAD or AutoCAD lite or something!

Amen to that.

If your design requirement is making simple parts, assemblies and drawings with basic file vaulting capabilities, go for SW or Inventor.

If you require large assemblies with top-down and variant capabilities with integrated PDM processes, go for Creo.


I`ve been using PTC software since WF4 and i actualy like ribbon interface in Creo (you can start throwing tomatoes at me now) . Drawings is the part that annoys the hell out of me. Sketching in drawings is archaic at best and making tables overcomplicated. The simpler the problem/shortcoming the software has the less chanse it has to be fixed by PTC. Purge from command prompt window, draft angle 30 degree limit, nonexistent parts library, baren default config settings, non space part/assy names...

I had a chance to work a bit in Inventor and was dissapointed. Orientation is overcomplicated with bunch of toolbars with many functions compared to proe middle mouse click. And pattern options were lacking compared to proe/Creo. Part library was nice tho.

SW looks nice at first glimpse but ive heard from lot of users about large assy problems.

I see the underlying good idea of PTC in Creo apps but some are so unfinished its pointless to put them out at all.

Creo layout - 2 feature short of usability in 2D drawings. Creo Direct - flexibile modeling with its own window and price tag...

Just my 2 give them back to me!

I wanted to repost this from another user since the PTC forum admins decided to delete it or prevent access to it:

"greed has taken over PTC ,they do it by making unintuitive software then selling tutorials for it.if it was possible i expect siemens or Dassault to take over PTC and fire whole design department of PTC.

only way to hurt PTC and make PTC listen is pirate it as much as possible.people are not installing even pirated's so bad.

life is too short to play with these kind of softwares.i have seen much of the older guys showing how to work with pro-e,by the time one has all the tricks of pro-engineer you are in your late 40s and 50s. and soon you be in your 60s.

when i see people saying words like "powerful" and "initutive" in their video guide for pro engineer,i smile on inside "yea right! but buddy you are 90years old to know how it's initutive" pro-engineer doesn't leave enough live neurons in your brain to solve design problems.

using it is like wrestling with some artificial intelligence who knows a$$backward way of doing things better than human."

That was pretty strong language. Most forums would ban people for even suggesting what was suggested in the original post.

I can't speak as a new user since I've learned Pro/E a long time ago but I will agree that intuitive is not how I would describe the new Creo interface. The lack of intelligent prompts and outdated error laden help files with poor context sensitivity makes the product almost unusable for new users who have not bothered to go through the basic interface tutorials and help files. But all this has already been discussed above.


Frustration speaks out from this user. Thruth uses strong language. Lies are always sugar coated. I know and understand how he feels.

Too true.

And that's why Creo will never be the number one solution for everything, some things will always be easier and faster done in other software packages.


"...and fire whole management department of PTC."

There, fixed that for you

While I'll be the first to say I absolutely HATE the creo interface, even more than I hated (and still hate) the WF interface, Pro/E is still far more powerful than SW or Inventor. If all you're doing is putting round holes in square blocks, SW or AI will work fine. If you're doing top-down design, or complex surfacing, the Pro/e has them beat hands down. I've been on Pro/E over 15 years, and much PREFERRED the Unix version (you generally young and inexperienced guys obviously never used it) because it was faster and FAR more stable. Unix is a better system, PERIOD. It just doesn't play nice with all the spoon-fed windows crap the kids seem to like. I also spent time on, and because very good at SW......and I HATED it.

PTC needs to remove their cranium from between their gluteus maximus and FIX the gui, fix some of the long-standing bugs, and stap away from it before they screw it up again. Look at my album and try and reproduce some of those in SW.....I dare ya.

Frank i always wanted to know from ppl that dont like GUI what would a good GUI look like?

It seems to me that even they dont know. Ive seen CATIA,SW,Inventor,NX. Basicly all except CATIA are kinda Ribbonish. Creo has dashboard, SW has vertical panel with options, CATIA has popup windows with options(havent seen v6).

I dont think GUI is problem at all. All i want is GUI that guides you from A to Z to complete feature or anticipates users next move/choice to speed up things. Something like Creo Simulate lite has. Pro users dont care about this anyway but new ppl can get the hang of software faster.


When we signed on over a year ago we chose Creo because we were convinced this software would allow us to do difficult drafts, lofting and filleting that our original software struggles with. I still believe we have made the correct choice in this regards.

What we were not prepared for is how completely unintuitive this software is. We have not abandoned our original software even though we've tried learning Creo for over a year.

What I find incredibly unintuitive is how you have to struggle to find the correct context; many times you are not aware that there is even one available. Do you right click, do you left click and then right click, is it up above, is there a dropdown, where do you look for a continuation of a command? I have no clue sometimes with the order dependencies; sometimes thinking that you flat out can't do an operation only to later discover the unintuitive trick.

PTC gives the illusion of keeping up with the rest of the CAD crowd by releasing the "Ribbon" interface. They miss the bigger point that being more user friendly involves an intelligent grouping of commands and contexts.

I don't know how they came up with the Creo product, but they certainly could have used the advice of their own CAD crowd and very much from CAD users who came over to Pro Engineer from other CAD packages. Ultimately the product needs improvements that gets new users up and running much quicker. This can be done; I've not had near the struggle getting up and running with the previous 3 CAD systems I've used. There are some glaring deficiencies with Creo's interface.


"how completely unintuitive this software is"

THIS is the crucial thing! You can wander around for hours before you see that you have to do some other step first before the one you think it should be next.

Good GUI? Easy, pre-WF. Contrary to popular opinion, you don't need fancy colors or feel-good menus. You're in the big-leagues now, don't expect anyone to hold your hand. The pre-WF GUI's were simple, and to the point. The main issue with WF was that whole stupid "lead vs. follow" workflow. SRSLY? Who thought that garbage up? Someone else's interpretation of what should follow what? The old releases were much better and more consistant. WF, and even worse, creo, are a mishmash of old and new that, from what I see here, frustrates everyone. Yes the older menus had drop-downs within dropdowns sometimes

9still WAY simpler and faster than the maddening ribbon), but they had a totally logical flow to it. Not only that, but with the old menus, the mapkeys for the same commands worked both in modeling mode and drawing mode. with the ribbon, you basically need to double the amount of mapkeys - totally absurd. 2001 and earlier versions (I started on v15) seem to have been written by people who actually used the software. creo seems to have been written by people who use Word. Oh, and BTW, the ribbon totally s u c k s there too. When I work on any software with a ribbon, I can be assured to double to quadruple the time it takes me to get anything done.

I find myself in complete agreement with Frank regarding the the Pre-WF interface. It was so logical that you could hardly screw up your next prompt. Not only that, everything was managed near your current mouse click, not clear across the screen or in some obsure little prompts. I figure that it was the pressure from the Goowy GUI crowd that prompted these overly busy and flowery interfaces. Give me plain 'ol text any day and give me relavant data, not the simple blank stare.

Couldn't have said it better Antonius!

Give me keyboard shortcuts so I don't spend half my time position-controlling a mouse pointer into a tiny target area before clicking, and give me some status-bar prompts so I can learn new ones each time I try a new command.

See Paint.NET for further details. I use it intermittently, but for the few jobs I do with it I know all the shortcuts and I can paste, select, crop, annotate and save a screenshot in moments.

The most fluid CAD software I ever used (2D admittedly) was a package called RADAN, where you mostly used the mouse to indicate an entity but then could use single-key commands to do things to them.

For example, to make two lines meet at a point (trim or extend - it didn't matter which [OI AUTODESK I'M LOOKING AT YOU]):

  • Wave mouse over first line
  • F (select a Feature)
  • Wave mouse over second line
  • F (select second Feature)
  • Shift+5 (or Shift+6 IIRC to trim/extend the only first line to the second)

It took less time to do than it will for you to read that, never mind actually picturing it in your head. The mouse stayed almost permanently within the drawing area, rarely moving more than an inch or two between actions. That was the first time I starting sketching ideas in CAD, rather than reaching for my pencil and pad.

I worked with CoCreate 2D cad software on UNIX OS. I have never seen anything faster than that. AutoCAD looked like years behind. Of course, it did not have many features AutoCAD had but everything we needed was there plus the speed. The best thing was that you were able to use "one key command" while moving mouse around. I hoped that some of it PTC will bring to Creo when they bought CoCreate, but that did not happen. Unfortunately.

Agreed 100%. PTC, don't forget who is running your programs....Engineers and technically oriented individuals. We care about speed and efficiency at the end of the day. Personally I don't think one can argue that the new interface is more user friendly than the old menu based control...I picked up 95% V19 in less than 2 weeks and after several months with Creo I'm still forgetting where things are.

If PTC thinks ribbons and graphical buttons are better for new users, then I can accept that belief; however that is not a good reason to use that interface, since at the end of the day we want experienced users to be as productive as possible....not an interface that wastes time in mouse travel and clicks. Really we would not eb concerned a faster interface took longer to extra day learning can easily be made up for in years of operation at higher rates of production.


I am starting to think that I'd know Creo Parametric already after one year of using it, if the GUI wasn't so twisted.

I am a Pro|Engineer fan . Its been 6 years i have been on Pro/Engineer..I think its never that important that how fast you can model something..its always how fast you can make changes. I use Solidworks regularly..everytime I use it..I only feel....its more automated version of Pro|Engineer.

come one guys it(Pro|Engineer) is the most powerful 3D cad software.thats the good part.

Creo user interface...i am not at all liking it. may be because i am used to the old interface.i think they could have implemented all the new things minus the new user interface. do not like the new measure tool also.

trust me if you know Pro|Engineer better it would be your fav. software too .

Pro|Engineer 2001....was the best!