What Exactly Is Creo? – Part 1

Today PTC finally revealed Creo, codenamed Project Lightning. To say that the company has been making a lot of noise about it would be an understatement. Yesterday evening, I spent an hour with Mike Campbell, the man heading the R&D of Creo. Earlier I had been given a far more in-depth briefing of Creo as a PTC partner. The contents of that briefing are still covered under the partner NDA which is not going to be lifted for some time to come. So I will not be able to get too technical here.

In summary, Creo is the name for a new brand of design and visualization products from PTC. Basically, it is Pro/ENGINEER, CoCreate and ProductView mixed together and then separated out to smaller products for specific tasks. For example if you want to do a rendering in Pro/ENGINEER you will need to have a license of the Pro/ENGINGEER application and then have a rendering module bolted on top of it. With Creo you will simple need a product that does just rendering. The number of tabs on the ribbon bar of this Creo rendering application should give you an idea of how focused the product is.

Here is a 3D conceptual design Creo application.

This is a Creo simulation application

PTC has already developed 8 such Creo applications. In all there will be about 30 Creo applications that will rolled out over time. Pro/ENGINEER will not exist. There will be no Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 6.0. Instead there will be Creo 1.0. The CoCreate and ProductView brands will go away as well. All the features of these products will be spread out into these Creo applications.

Some may stop here and say, “Really? Is that it? Is that what all this fuss was about?” On the surface it does seem that PTC has simply shaken up their product line and come up with a new brand name. But if you look a little closer, and more importantly, understand why they did it, you will understand the true value that Creo has to offer.

As they stand, Pro/ENGINEER and CoCreate are huge monolithic CAD systems that do not talk to each other very well. Apart from both having their own native file formats, they look and feel completely different. Moreover, CoCreate came from an acquisition. So the underlying platform and technology is completely different from Pro/ENGINEER. This causes all kinds of interoperability problems. All Creo applications will use a single common data model. This means that they will all use one native file format. Users of the Creo history based parametric modeler and the Creo direct modeler will be able to work on the same file. The direct modeler can trash the model around and send it back to the history modeler and the feature tree will stay intact or get modified to take into account the changes made. This is quite similar to what Autodesk is doing with Fusion, but with a difference. I will explain that a little later.

Part 2 >>