Ever since the launch of Creo on October 28th, PTC has been talking about something called the “Common Data Model”. People are confusing it with a common file format. A data model basically consists of the internal data structures that are used to represent data, geometric as well as non-geometric. A file format is merely a way to represent this data in the form of a file.
Take the AutoCAD data model for example. Internally, a 3D point is stored as a collection of three real numbers, one each for its X, Y and Z coordinate. A point also has data which is not geometric, such as color. This information is also stored along in the point data structure. A line is defined by its end points and some other non-geometric data, and so on. These data structures can be represented using two file formats: DWG (binary) and DXF (ASCII).
So coming back to Creo, the different Creo apps will continue to have different file formats depending upon their specific functional needs. In some apps, PTC may limit access to certain parts of the data model. For example, in the Creo Direct Modeling app, a user may not have access to the feature tree in the common data model. But internally the software can access it if required.
All these apps will internally be storing and using their data from the Creo common data model. For Pro/ENGINEER based apps this will not be a huge problem. However for CoCreate based apps, PTC will need to map each CoCreate data structure to its equivalent data structure in Pro/ENGINEER. Where one dos not exist, or they cannot find a Pro/ENGINEER structure they can adapt to, they will need to create a new data structure. As you can imagine this is quite a huge task and one that will take some time. That’s the reason PTC will continue to develop CoCreate as Creo Elements/Direct for some time to come.
The single most advantage of Creo’s common data model is interoperability. All Creo apps will be able to talk to each other in a seamless manner. Couple the common data model with WindChill and you can have an explosive combination of excellent interoperability and a high level of granularity of data.
Siemens PLM has done a decent job of exchanging data between NX and Solid Edge. The less said about Dassault Systemes, the better. PTC already had a single MCAD offering spreading across the mid-range to high-end. Now with PTC breaking down their mid-range product and its modules to even smaller bite size chunks, all of which use a common data model, it is basically opening the doors to an even larger number of people in the enterprise to use their software and communicate efficiently. Whether this leads to an increased number of license sales is left to be seen. But with Creo and its common data model PTC is laying the foundation to do exactly that.