Newsletter 3Pro/User 2000 Conference
June 22, 2000
This newsletter brought to your desktop by Sun Microsystems and Dell ComputerPeter Nurkse
Subjects for this newsletter:
In all the years of this newsletter (4, so far), the Wednesday edition has never appeared on a Wednesday. Because Wed. evening is usually just for travel back home, so, Thrs. evening at the earliest. This year, there will be one more newsletter after this one, but not until the middle of next week (I'm going to be on vacation until then, sorry).
CAD Systems Integrators in the Future?
More than 10 years ago some people were talking of a future time, when CAD users could select whatever modules they wanted from different software vendors, and have them all work together. For example, drafting from vendor A, solid modeling from vendor B, assembly structure from vendor C, NC programming from vendor D, sheetmetal unfolding from vendor E, and so forth.
Might sound farfetched, but right at the conference we had a modest example, a prototype of the possible future: Bob Singer, who has a design business in North Palm Beach, called Beyond The Board. Bob uses these CAD tools:
And these 3 packages are all integrated with PTC's Associative Topology Bus (ATB), and Bob reports it works, his updates and changes get transferred back and forth.
PTC has already linked the ATB to CATIA, and will be linking it to Unigraphics (see next article on Data Exchange). And PTC is thinking of SDRC (I-DEAS). So PTC might be best placed, of the major CAD vendors, to become a CAD Software Systems Integrator. It'd be a strong pitch:
True, some customers, given a free choice, might chose Unigraphics for NC programming, say, and not Pro/E. But PTC as a Systems Integrator (might have to be a spinoff, perhaps) could be very profitable, using the ATB technology to bring together different packages. Systems integrators are often more profitable than the poor hardware and software vendors whose products they are integrating.
And what would drive the other CAD vendors to cooperate? Might be just their customers:
So, Bob Singer in 5 years or so might be seen as a pioneer in mix-and-match CAD software. And we might see a new company, the CAD Software Systems Integrator.
Data Exchange(Asa Trainer, PTC)
A key point that Asa has made before at other conferences, but which is worth repeating, is that when you export any MCAD data the quality of the exported data won't be any better than the quality of your own native data. You may use ModelCheck to examine your Pro/E parts and assemblies. Watch out for unnecessary construction geometry, which can make the results of an exchange very confusing. Unless you have a transfer process absolutely perfected, read back in what you're sending out, to make sure you know what you are sending.
Some useful lists for reference. Here are the available direct translators:
ACIS support should be coming soon, 2000i3 or i4, although depends on negotiations with Spatial Technology (as mentioned in the Mgmt. Panel). In the same time frame, we should have a Unigraphics interface, using the ATB.
And the neutral file formats:
STEP already can capture some product data management information (history, release levels), more than IGES. Features and parametrics in the future.
Pro/E STEP support:
New with Pro/E STEP is Validation Properties, for AP203 and AP214. Sending system includes in the STEP file properties such as surface area, volume, and center of gravity. Receiving system then recalculates these properties after the geometry transfer, and if they differ from the original by more than a user defined value, gives a warning. So, that's a better way to check results than simple visual inspection, or a simple part count.
Seems the core value of the ATB is the ability to track and preserve geometry references across systems. We take for granted that Pro/E can track and preserve geometry references through changes (to recognize when a round is still the same round, or when it is a completely new round, for example). But that took a lot of fundamental computer science work and research. Now the ATB extends that capability across different CAD systems.
ATB has 3 levels, "levels of richness":
Don't forget Shrinkwrap as a data exchange tool, lets you remove your own intellectual property from an assembly, pass on just simple exterior volume to suppliers or partners.
For accuracy, the perpetual choice for Pro/E users doing data exchange, Asa had no hard recommendations. But he had a stimulating list of the tradeoffs between relative accurace and absolute accuracy:
Seems you might not bother with absolute accuracy as a Pro/E user, unless data exchange with other systems results in accuracy problems. Original Pro/E software design probably wasn't centered on data exchange.
e/Engineer (2000i3 or i4 time frame) will let you use Pro/E as a remote engine, for example, running Pro/E without a user interface automatically on machines on the network, as those machine are available. To do jobs like data transfer preparation, or analysis, or other non-interactive jobs. The ATB plays a role here, synchronizes databases across different machines. Useful tool, the ATB.
And Asa gave the names of his Data Exchange group, within Technical Marketing:
2000i2 User Interface(Mike Campbell, PTC)
Obviously PTC has been making major changes to the user interface since R20. Obviously those changes aren't yet all done. Obviously any major software project like this user interface work takes time, years. Not to mention stopping to get feedback and making adjustments. And certainly Pro/E users have had problems adjusting to work in process on something as fundamental as the user interface. Sort of like having the street outside your house torn up here or there for a few years.
But in the Modeling session, Frank Desimone from PTC gave out 4 principles for the ongoing user interface work. If you can keep these 4 principles in mind, you may have a useful guide through current and future changes, better than being buffeted by changes without seeing where they lead. Here are the 4 UI Principles:
So, your impression right now, after a couple of years of major changes, may not be quite smooth flow. But if you keep the 4 principles in mind, you may be able to see a direction, that could help a good deal.
Mike Campbell ran through the main 2000i2 user interface changes. Here is a list:
Just looking over that list, you can see there's a lot of work in progress on the user interface. If you feel lost, just try and remember those 4 UI Principles. Frank repeated them twice, that's probably a good idea, I'll repeat them here too:
Here are white papers currently under preparation in the Pro/User Modeling technical committee:
To participate in the technical committee, go to the home page at www.prouser.org
Mike Campbell reported on these current requests:
As well as emphasizing the 4 UI Principles (remember them? see above), Frank Desimone reviewed on-line new features under consideration for 2000 i3 and i4: