PTC Creo - the future of CAD for the next 20 years?

Published 28 October 2010

Posted by Stephen Holmes

Article tagged with:

Not a single ‘answer’, but a suite of them

It’s happened: PTC have pulled out all the stops to launch Creo – what it believes to be the future of CAD for the next 20 years.

A super suite of ‘Apps’ launching next summer is what PTC is hoping will answer the “four big problems” facing CAD users today, and it was undeniably rather impressive (apart from the amateur dramatics production of Chicago to begin with and some cagey ‘stage banter’ you’d usually find on QVC).

The Creo suite is set to run under the banner of the four solutions: AnyRole Apps; AnyMode Modelling; AnyData Adoption and AnyBOM Assembly.

AnyRole Apps:

It doesn’t matter what your role is – these apps will give every work role within the PLM cycle “Dedicated Environments”. There’s something for everyone, with a simple UI for each one they’re all set to be the “Goldilocks of Apps” – Just right. And if you needed more? Seamlessly link into another App to get what you need.

AnyRole Modelling:

Killing off the ‘dead ends’ between moving designs between 2D to 3D, and more impressively, parametric to direct, it all looked very slick and fluent.

Push and pull direct modelling retained all its data when opened in the parametric modelling App, but with some Microsoft Word-style track changes.

Team interoperability looks as though it would be rapidly sped up, with little of the clunkiness that you’d expect.

All of this was running off what was described as “The most powerful geometry kernel” around.

AnyData Adoption:

Data from other CAD programs is no longer dead when opened in a Creo App. Far from being a useless block of data, it is now ‘adopted’ into the program, data intact, live, and ready to be modelled.

AnyBOM Assembly:

Sadly, no explosives.

It’s all ready for the manufacturing stage, allowing the validation and reuse of information for highly configurable products using a tight Windchill integration.

The first seven Apps launch next summer in the Creo 1.0 release, including the direct/parametric modeling tools. An autumn date will see the 2.0 release.

PTC are obviously going all out guns blazing with this, as not only are we presented with a new suite of Apps, but a full rebranding of existing products now merely ‘elements’.

Pro/Engineer is now “The Red Power Ranger”… Actually it’s Creo elements/pro. CoCreate is slapped with Creo elements/direct, and Product View is reduced to Creo elements/view. Lower-case, and a lower status for what were once the PTC mainstays. Now they’re all just falling into being part of one big App family.

Tellingly, this notion of Apps and Jim Heppelmann’s convoluted introduction to proceedings about him trying to buy a track from iTunes (your guesses what it he was trying to buy - my bet’s this) would lead to assumptions that the sales channel is about to get a shake-up.

In the later press conference everyone was declining to answer whether PTC would be launching its own App Store, although much theoretical talk about it later that it’s safe to assume it’ll appear by next summer also.

This would also bring in the idea that third party developers would be able to build Apps, although no mention was made of that.

All this and without a single mention of ‘The Cloud’ - who would have guessed it?


Why does PTC's website seem to have a cult of personality about their senior employees? On every page about Creo, you have huge picture of a grey-haired, CEO type and a little one (if at all) of some CAD screenshot. If you are a CAD vendor, show me the CAD! Would it be that tough to have Youtube style video showing what the new software does? Spaceclaim gets this. They have a glut of videos on their site showing their stuff in action. Where is this on the PTC site? The stale 1990s marketing style is PTC's worst enemy. I read through 5 pages on CREO and still have no idea what it does or how it will shake things up.

Posted by Craig Hildreth on 28 October 2010 at 09:56 PM

the website is a dud! Not a good way to set a first impression.

Posted by chad on 29 October 2010 at 02:06 AM

@Craig : The full presentation can be found here : You can see what the Creo suite is supposed to do .

Posted by Manar on 29 October 2010 at 09:03 AM

If PTC believe the “four big problems” facing CAD users today are: 1. Ease of Use 2. Interoperability 3. Technology Lock-in 4. Assembly Management then Creo is answering the wrong questions. I spent a lot of time researching this topic for Physical CAD ( Here are four much bigger problems: 1. Most people in your design team can't use CAD. CAD becomes a disabling technology, excluding them from contributing. CAD is especially bad at bringing in expertise from people on the factory floor back into the design. 2. Your average CAD package has 1000 tools and every CAD package is different. People who make real things haven't time to learn 1000 CAD tools. People who must learn 1000 CAD tools haven't time to make real things or learn another CAD tool. 3. Real manufacturing tools are very different from CAD tools. Making in CAD (using tools like 'extrude') gives no experience in reality. Consequently many things that look great in CAD are hard to make - and many things that are easy to make take forever to model in CAD. 4. CAD treats all materials as the same, and all materials in CAD are static, so designers are unable to see the consequences of design decisions or design in an optimum way for a material (for price or performance). The constraints and manufacturing methods for steel and plastic are very different, but they look the same on CAD.

Posted by Damon on 29 October 2010 at 06:14 PM

Ahh the negativity... With a slight nod to Monsieur Dijon at the top, it would appear that in the build-up to the launch nobody was really rushing to the forums in hot anticipation. Following the actual launch it is at least garnering some type of opinionated response. I agree that the marketing style is, at best, dated - I was expecting show tunes following the whole 'prisoner in CAD' introduction - skip past this, the '4 Big Problems', and everything else that we see as problematic with CAD programs at the minute, and at least the big companies are seeing that CAD no longer applies singularly to 'the guy that designs stuff', but to everyone that works in the pipeline either side of them.

Posted by Stephen Holmes on 29 October 2010 at 10:42 PM

I agree with the "cult of personality" comment....for awhile, the first thing you saw when you went to was heppelman's big head....literally. many think PTC is an arrogant the lower ranks, I have found that much of this has gone away...but at the high levels, that unfortunate culture remains.

Posted by fred on 01 November 2010 at 05:13 PM

All that about CREO it looks nice and logical, but what about surface modeling? And most important, now I can read any native file into PTC's new tool, great! that helps, but it does not help my client when I'll give him back a STEP or IGES or... any other format that is not his original CAD format. What is PTC's position about it? You receive but do not give a native CAD file. Thanks anyway for trying to have a better world!

Posted by rafa on 17 November 2010 at 11:40 PM

I didn't know about this suite so I watched some videos (the website says nothing about the product and all those gray-haired gentlemen don't help at all). What I see is a Siemens NX modeling clone (feature-wise, the interface is more like autodesk's) with some nice features. The AnyBOM assembly is pretty nice actually, not new but with a refreshing interface. Nevertheless it's nothing new and still needs a lot of refinement (as well as a low price tag) in order to compete with the rest of the excellent CAD software available.

Posted by Nacho on 06 December 2010 at 09:59 AM

There's a few things going on here...I'll even stick to the "Big 4" theme of why this will fail. 1) PTC did an oh ^&%$ when they looked at the dried up pipeline of Pro/E, CoCreate, and ProductView sales 1-2 years ago and exec management (at the time) knew there needed to be a big move. 2) Creo is a BIG leap of faith that the CAD market will run out to rip and replace NX, SpaceClaim, Ariba, SolidWorks, etc. etc. with Creo. (In my opinion, PTC has already lost this battle.) 3) It's another way for them to try and get gawdy services contracts from their customers. That "AnyBOM Assembly" is just a way for them to sell more Windchill licenses. (And Windchill is a god-awful PLM tool.) 4) It's going to fail. PTC will go the way of the dodo in a few years. Charging 5:1 services-software for Windchill has pissed off too many customers with horror stories.

Posted by ABCDEFG on 09 March 2011 at 06:04 AM

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