Converting Worksheets from PTC Mathcad 15 to PTC Mathcad Prime

** Guest post by Anji Seberino**

This is really quite a simple process; however, it has spurred enough anxiety and emotion from PTC Mathcad users around the world that I’m going to take a little time to layout some general facts and guidelines around it.

First of all, the converter is used for the sole purpose of converting legacy PTC Mathcad files into PTC Mathcad Prime. If you do not have legacy PTC Mathcad files from PTC Mathcad 15 or prior versions of PTC Mathcad, then you do not need to use the converter. You can stop reading here and get back to work. If you do need to use the converter, then keep reading.


Fact: Running the Converter requires that both PTC Mathcad 15 and PTC Mathcad Prime are installed on your computer

PTC Mathcad Prime comes with the converter. When you install PTC Mathcad Prime, the converter also gets installed.

1. You must have PTC Mathcad Prime installed. It is highly recommended to use the latest version of PTC Mathcad Prime, although previous versions also provide the converter.

2. You must have PTC Mathcad 15.0 installed. The latest released version is PTC Mathcad 15.0 M030. This is very important. Without it, the converter will remain disabled on your computer and you won’t be able to use it.


Fact: The Converter has a tough task

It is no secret that PTC Mathcad Prime and PTC Mathcad 15.0 are not identical products. PTC Mathcad Prime has a graphical user interface that is more modern and intuitive. The file format is also different. PTC Mathcad files are saved and stored as XML files, and the XML schema changed from PTC Mathcad 15.0 to PTC Mathcad Prime in order to support the modern user interface and also to incorporate new capabilities. Additionally, there are some capabilities in PTC Mathcad 15.0 that remain to be implemented in PTC Mathcad Prime. Because of these graphical improvements, the converter has to transfer information from the old file format into the new file format (due to XML Schema changes), and also has to map content from the old layout into the new layout. Since PTC Mathcad 15.0 and PTC Mathcad Prime are not identical in areas of functionality, interface, and layout, the converter does its best to duplicate the original file in PTC Mathcad Prime, but is not always able to create an exact replica of the original. Calculation order is always maintained even though the converter is not always able to create an exact replica of the original layout. Note that capabilities from PTC Mathcad 15.0 that are not yet available in PTC Mathcad Prime get converted into images and displayed as images for your reference. Once you open your new worksheet in PTC Mathcad Prime, you can decide how you’d like to handle those on a case by case basis.

Fact: The Converter leaves your original file intact. It does not modify it, delete it, or replace it.

The good news is that even though the converter may not perfectly convert your file, your original file will remain unchanged. The converter will create a brand new file for PTC Mathcad Prime, and will place it in the same directory as your original file. It will automatically name the new file using the same base filename and the file extension mcdx for PTC Mathcad Prime files. For example:

Original filename:      pipe_flow.xmcd         Original PTC Mathcad 15.0 (or before) file

New filename:            pipe_flow.mcdx         New PTC Mathcad Prime file

Fact: You can load the converter with multiple files at once and go to lunch. You do not have to convert one file at a time.

The converter can be loaded up with many files so that it can run while you are working on something else or away from your desk. The converter will create a log file for each conversion that you can review when you get back.


After conversion, the new file created for PTC Mathcad Prime might look a little concerning at first glance. People take one look at the new worksheet and see red lines and question marks and they panic. Here are some guidelines for quickly getting your new PTC Mathcad Prime worksheet into working order:

After opening your new file in PTC Mathcad Prime (note that all screen pictures below are taken from PTC Mathcad Prime 3.0).

1. Apply the grid. The first time you open your new worksheet, it will have a white background. Apply the grid! This will put the graph paper background on your worksheet. It looks nice and also helps tremendously with region alignment. You can visually see whether or not your regions are aligned vertically and horizontally, and can adjust them to the grid to get alignment. When the grid is applied to converted files, it will default to the Fine grid size. My personal preference is the Fine grid size, but lots of people prefer the Standard. The point here is that converted documents will always default to the Fine grid. If, after applying the grid, you’d like to switch it to the Standard, you certainly can. Be aware that this will decompress your regions; everything will be spaced out more and you will have to make adjustments. Once you are satisfied with the layout of your document, you can turn the grid off if you prefer to have a plain white paper background.


2. Calculate the worksheet. When opening the worksheet for the first time after conversion, you might see question marks where you expect to see results. This causes a great deal of confusion. The reason for this is because the new worksheet is initially loaded into PTC Mathcad Prime using the last set of saved results from PTC Mathcad 15.0. This allows you to see the last state of results as they were saved in PTC Mathcad 15.0. Results that were not saved in the PTC Mathcad 15.0 worksheet are replaced with question marks when the worksheet is initially loaded into PTC Mathcad Prime. The question marks are easily replaced with results by calculating the worksheet. Note that this is only a factor the first time a converted worksheet is opened in PTC Mathcad Prime. Once the worksheet is calculated and saved in PTC Mathcad Prime, the question marks will not appear thereafter when PTC Mathcad Prime is used to open the file.


3. Review and Clear Annotations. When you look at your new worksheet, you will see red lines throughout. The red lines mark regions that have conversion annotations. The converter will annotate all regions that have an annotation message associated with the conversion. There will be a horizontal red line on the left margin to indicate that there is an annotation message somewhere along that horizontal row. A red arrow is used to identify the specific region. Clicking on the region will display the annotation message description. In most cases, the annotation messages have to do with display differences that are not even noticeable. The annotation messages indicate if a result has changed, which is the most important thing to look for. It is very unusual for results to change, although it’s always a good idea to pay close attention. Once you have reviewed all annotation messages, use the Clear Annotations button to remove the red-lines. Note: it’s all or nothing with these red-lines markers. You either see all of them, or none of them. You cannot remove one annotation at a time, so be sure to review all the annotation messages before you Clear Annotations.


4. Remove extra space. There are instances where the converter will add extra space to the worksheet. A few different circumstances could cause this to happen. Remember that the converter is transferring content from the traditional PTC Mathcad 15.0 layout to the new PTC Mathcad Prime layout. Properties of the original document that are not consistent with properties of the new document, such as page margins, cause worksheet content to shift (calculation order is always maintained). Shifted content can cause extra space to be added in order to satisfy the new layout in PTC Mathcad Prime. Another cause of extra space is manual page breaks in the original document. When the converter encounters a manual page break, it creates a new page in the new document, and fills in the remainder of the previous page with blank space. This is essentially the same thing as using a manual page break. The end result is the same when it comes to printing the document or creating a PDF equivalent. The difference is in the display of the document when viewing it electronically within PTC Mathcad. Rather than seeing the page break marker as seen in PTC Mathcad 15.0, you see blank space until the start of a new page in PTC Mathcad Prime.

In essence, the new document in PTC Mathcad Prime is created using a different layout and different implicit document properties, so it’s a real challenge to create the new document while maintaining identical region positioning to the original. We took a conservative approach and decided that it would be better to add extra space in areas of ambiguity rather than risk creating a new document with overlapping content. If your new document does have extra space, the easiest and quickest way to remove it is to remove an entire chunk of extra space at once. Position your cursor at the point where you’d like to start deleting extra space, and use the Remove Space button to select Remove Empty Space. This is a major time-saver. It will pull everything up to where your cursor is. You can do this for each chunk of extra space in the worksheet.


5. Resize plots and add plot titles. You’ll notice that plots are enlarged in the converted document. The plots get enlarged in order to accommodate the axis expressions within the new graphical user interface. By using your mouse to get a handle to the lower right corner of the plot, you can shrink the plot down to the desired size in length and width in one step. There are also resizing handles on the right side and the bottom of the plot object frame. These resizing handles can be used to adjust the height and width of the plot separately.


You’ll also notice that converted plots do not retain their titles or axis labels. Use a text box to create titles for your plots. One of the benefits of this method is that each plot title and axis label can have its own format, unlike PTC Mathcad 15.0. In PTC Mathcad 15.0, a single default style is applied to all plot titles, axis expressions, and axis labels in the entire worksheet with no ability to customize or format each individually.

Note: Axis expressions are different from axis labels. Axis expressions are mathematical expressions used to generate the plot traces. Axis labels are text expressions used to describe the data being plotted.


6. Cleanup headers and footers. PTC Mathcad 15.0 has predefined commands within headers and footers that are used to create fields for page numbers, dates, timestamps, filenames and filepaths. Header/footer items that are created using these predefined commands get converted using their literal representation from the PTC Mathcad 15.0 header/footer interface, because fields for these items are not designed the same way in PTC Mathcad Prime. Therefore, you’ll need to remove the curly bracket regions, i.e. {p}, produced by the converter in the header/footer sections and replace them with the desired header/footer items in PTC Mathcad Prime. Text that is entered into a PTC Mathcad 15.0 header/footer does get preserved through conversion and should retain its original font, style, and size.


7. Obviously, save your file.

Once these things are done, your new PTC Mathcad Prime worksheet should be in pretty good shape. Of course, some worksheets will have other things that need to be addressed, but most will be good to go. These are general guidelines to get the majority of worksheets into a good-looking, workable state. For detailed information on converting legacy files and resolving conversion discrepancies, please refer to the Migration Guide.


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