Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Creo, My Take on It - Part 1

I have written about Fusion, SpaceClaim and recently Synchronous Technology, so I guess I should write something about Creo. I am an employee of PTC so I want to make it clear that what I write on my blog is my own personal opinions and may not reflect the opinions of my employer. At PTC I am responsible for technical sales. I am not a product developer, product manager or in a marketing position, so I have no direct responsibility for what Creo is. I view the development of Creo from the sidelines (although I guess that’s better than the bleachers).

I’m sure that most of you have already heard about Creo. I’ve read much about it online in many publications, blogs and forums. There seems to be many different ideas about what it is, what it’s going to be, and what it is not. It’s been interesting to see what PTC is working on and seeing it come to reality. PTC already has the most robust direct modeling technology in the CoCreate product, now Creo Elements/Direct. And of course, they also have the most powerful parametric modeling tool in Pro/E, now Creo Elements/Pro. As a matter of fact these products were the first of their kind that led to many followers – in both cases.

Part 1: Creo and the “Common Data Model”

So what is Creo? The graphic above is indicating the concept of many purpose built applications, all with a common user interface and a common user experience. These apps are sitting on top of what PTC is calling the “common data model” (CDM). There are many advances PTC is making with Creo. For me I am always interested in what’s happening on the direct modeling side, and Creo certainly involves direct modeling. But before getting into that it may be more appropriate to discuss this common data model, (CDM), as this sets the stage for much of what Creo is.

In the graphic above the blue internal arrows basically reference the common data model. I overheard a PTC Product Manager describing the CDM as a book with chapters. It sounded like each chapter could contain different things related to the data that may be created and consumed in the context of Creo. Depending on the “app”, different chapters may be accessed for storage and retrieval. Beyond this I don’t know a lot of details, but I could envision how there could be a chapter for 2D geometry, one for 3D geometry, one for design intent, one for the associated drawing, one for FEA attributes, one for sheet metal attributes, one for NC tool paths, one for technical pubs, and so on. And it’s conceivable that multiple apps could be accessing the CDM synchronously, interacting with the appropriate chapters as needed. The CDM is much more than a common file format or a common data structure and the possibilities are intriguing.

If I’m correct, or at least close in my description of the CDM then the concept of what PTC refers to as “AnyApps”, can really start to make sense. This could be a very powerful approach in solving many issues related to interoperability and consistency across purpose built apps. Lightweight purpose built apps that can read and write into the different “chapters” of the CDM as needed. This would be true of all the “apps”, even the bigger geometry creating apps, whether direct or parametric. Through the CDM a person could chose to use a purpose built standalone 2D app to do some early concepting, for example, and never be disconnected from the engineering master. In this example, the 2D geometry could then easily be utilized in the development of a 3D model, while the CDM maintains the appropriate linkages and consistencies. Today the only way to get this level of consistency is with one big monolithic application that does it all.

Time will tell, and as I learn more about it I hope to share it with you. It seems that the CDM puts the right foundation to Creo.

Part 2




Hi Paul,
Can you explain the relation between Creo, Windchill PDMLink and Relex (Now, Windchill Quality Solutions).Also, Is it possible to integrate Creo with Windchill QLM?

Paul Hamilton said...


Please work directly with PTC on this. There are many more people at PTC with better knowledge of the Windchill Quality Systems and QLM than me.

I really don’t know how well “integrated” Creo is with the Quality capabilities of Windchill. The idea is, however, to make it easy to capture quality information about a product from each lifecycle stage within a single database – including analysis results. The quality “Knowledge” can then be leveraged in the development of new or family products. It is perhaps the ultimate in "Knowledge Capture". I don’t know that there is any concept of directly driving 3D models based on quality data, but I can certainly see how quality data could easily be fed back into algorithms in MathCAD, with the results driving 3D geometry in Creo. Hopefully you will get better answers from the Quality experts at PTC.