TAMPA BAY, Florida (PTC/USER) June 6, 2007 - Didn't get to go to the annual Pro/ENGINEER user meeting? You are not alone -- over 99% of users don't attend the giant user meetings and conferences most CAD vendors host every year. A pity, considering the incredible education a user would receive at such conferences, which are usally brimming with dozens of experts and can have hundreds of courses.
On the last day of PTC/USER recently concluded in Tampa, Mike Campbell, PTC's VP of Product Management (3rd from left above) allowed himself and his team of experts to be grilled by the Pro/E users in attendance. I've recorded the Q&A in the hopes that questions that may have been on your mind were also on minds of the attendees.
By the way, Wildfire 4.0 is expected in January 2008 and Wildfire 5.0 is already in development. "We have given our list to Santa and he will see how good we have been," says Mike. "All told, we have defined 85 'capability packages.' The product definition team will tell us how much it will cost. There's 3 rounds of this."
First, a couple of disclaimers. I'm not a stenographer so the following account of the Q&A is as good as my typing and memory allow. My apologies in advance to those whose words I botch. Also, although the panel may give its best answer based on present information, they cannot guarantee what will actually appear in a specific release.
When can I expect right click customization for my mouse?
Wildfire 5.0 will have better customization. It may have right mouse functionality. The main problem is making the right mouse menu context sensitive.
My top level model has 150 assemblies but it crashes all the time. What's the best way to assemble a top level model?
You have a 32-bit system, right? That's why it is crashing. XP has a switch to allow it to access 3GB if RAM. I've already done that. So, you must take better advantage of Pro/E’s Assembly Management tools, or move to 64-bit system
I'm from a small company. Is there a way to improve our tech support?
You should discuss this with the service people. We are just product people.
When will user interface for manufacturing products be similar to Wildfire?
80% of the manufacturing applications should be "Wildfire-ized" by the next release.
Will Wildfire support multiple processors?
We have been taking advantage of multiple processors since the 2000i Release. Every release we move more and more of Pro/E’s capabilities to take advantage of multiple processors. In Wildfire 4.0, there has been another 3-5% improvement in regeneration, due to multi-threading -- not as much as we had hoped. But if you are considering a multi-core machine, we encourage you to choose one, as you will see a benefit just in the speed it will handle multiple applications running at one time.
What is the cost of Pro/TOOLMAKER? [formerly known as NC Graphics, recently acquired by PTC]
That has not been decided yet. Market research is being done. I expect it will be around $10,000.
If I am already a Pro/E Manufacturing customer. Will I be charged for this new application?
[some hesitancy] Not the full price... We are considering a time limited offer for Pro/NC customers.
What exactly will you be gaining with Pro/TOOLMAKER?
Faster removal of large volumes of material, toolpaths optimized for high-speed machining, web based tutorials, library of tools...
The ribbon cable design is pretty exciting. Can you handle flex circuits?
There will be increased capability for that in Wildfire 5
We make plates with 300 holes. It would be natural for the holes to be included in table. When can i expect this?
Wildfire 3 should allow all types of holes to be automatically inserted into a table. Stick around and we'll look at your case
When is PTC going have software for administrators?
We have a usage tracking utility which analyzes trail files and helps identify frequently used and little used commands. We use it internally. We're thinking of putting an interface on it and making this available to users. But currently there is no boxed solution.
Interoperability with CATIA: can Wildfire 3 read R16 and save to a newer version?
Wildfire 3 can export CATIA R10-R16 and recently introduced R17 support (unofficially). We have thought about adding a tag to identify the version of data but the data is usually upwardy compatible. Build M090 build officially supports R16.
Is there a way to save the part layer status in the context of an assembly without saving [modifying] the parts?
Yes, this capability is new in Pro/E Wildfire 4.0.
How long before the Mechanica postprocessor can interact with with Mathcad or Excel?
Wildfire 3 and Wildfire 4 can handle loads as Mathcad variables. Larger data set handling is under consideration.
Going back to the multi-CPU question, when will PTC take better advantage of multiple cores for Pro/E, specifically for assembly regeneration?
I share your frustration. We are continuing to research greater utilization of multiple CPUs, and certainly recognize that assembly regeneration is an area that you would like to see impacted. We will keep the pressure on development to show improvement here. We want Pro/ENGINEER to be to be waiting for you, but we know you are waiting for it. However, we do consider ourselves to be a leader in this [large assembly] category.
What is the compatibility roadmap for PDMLink and Wildfire 4?
Because Windchill 9.0 will be released before Pro/E Wildfire 4.0, there will be no compatibility between Windchill 9.0 and Wildfire 4.0 at Wildfire 4.0 FCS [first customer ship]. However, Windchill 9.1, to be released in early 2008 will fix that. Pro/INTRALINK is at its end of life, so there will be no support for that with Wildfire 4.0.
A lot of companies have invested in family tables. Why is PTC killing them?
We are not killing family tables. In fact, there are lot of improvements in both Wildfire 3.0 and 4.0. We recognize these are very useful tools in Pro/E, but we could do a better job of managing them with our Data Management solutions.
I have to bring in models into SolidWorks so I can use them in Pro/ENGINEER. Can interoperability be improved?
I am surprised by the question. [list of interoperability enhancements named]. It must be a particular data set that is giving you problems. I'll speak with you afterward.
We want to be able to calculate paintable surface areas (which does not include mating area but does include exposed surfaces, edges, exposed parts of welds...) Will Pro/E be able to do that?
Yes, you can use Shrinkwrap technology to collect all of the external surfaces, and the Pro/E’s Bulk Items can be used to compute necessary volumes of paint required.
PTC announced a partnership with Autodesk? What are the results of that?
We announced a interoperability agreement with Autodesk, we are proponents of openness. We've had a longstanding relationship with UGS. The Autodesk agreement will give us better access to AutoCAD and to Inventor. We are pursuing a interface for those products.