Mathcad Prime 4.0 hits the street in a few short months. In June, we gave you a sneak peek at some new features in the engineering notebook, like content protection, equation wrapping, and OLE.
Some of those might leave you scratching your head and wondering how they relate to your work. We caught up with product manager, Andrew McGough, for more details:
Q: How is content protection improved in Mathcad Prime 4.0?
McGough: We’re re-introducing Area Protection and Locking in PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0. To understand that, it’s helpful to understand what I mean by Area. A worksheet can consist of many different types of regions to describe the engineering calculation you’re authoring. Math regions contain the math, but you can add plots, text, solve blocks, images, etc. An Area is a region in which a collection of other regions can be placed to organize them within your worksheet. You can expand or collapse Areas – thus, a user can take mathematical workings that aren’t actively needed and put them in an Area that is then collapsed.
With the Area Protection and Locking functionality in PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0, a user can protect the content of an Area from editing, with a password if needed. This prevents anyone reading the worksheet from changing the contents. A good use of this is when you have company-specific parameters that need to be included in the company Mathcad template, but you don’t want them modified.
We also allow the protected Area to have its display state locked. As mentioned before, you can view an Area in its expanded or collapsed states. So now you can protect an area and lock its display state. For example, protecting and locking an Area in its collapsed state means that when someone else uses the worksheet, they won’t be able to access anything in that Area – they can’t see the content, let alone edit it. This works for Mathcad worksheets embedded in Creo assemblies, too.
Q: Turning to equation wrapping. How does it benefit engineers building Mathcad worksheets?
McGough: Equation wrapping is mainly visual. It makes long equations easier to read by wrapping the equation rather than letting it disappear off the edge of the page.
Equation without wrapping, leaving some of the math hidden.
The same equation with wrapping enabled, giving a full view of the work.
You can structure the length of an equation to fit within the bounds typically viewed on a page. You can even split shorter equations onto separate lines to make them easier to read.
Q: Wasn’t much of that available before?
This functionality in PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0 is beyond what we did in the legacy version of Mathcad. Users can now both insert a wrapped addition, subtraction, multiplication or inline division operator while typing an equation (in other words, they can wrap as they go) or they can go back to existing math and toggle the wrapping on those operators too.
Q: I understand this feature comes as a response to user feedback. Is that right?
McGough: Yes. In fact, all our release planning is based on customer input – we listen to what customers want and try to prioritize release content accordingly.
Equation wrapping is among the top items users ask us to add to Mathcad Prime – almost everyone at some point will need to use it.
Can you explain OLE—that is, object linking and embedding—in down-to-earth terms?
McGough: Mathcad will act as a container where you can embed other applications. For example, if you want to put a sketch of a bridge design in your Mathcad worksheet, you can embed a Paint object and use the Paint functionality to draw a simple diagram.
You can even embed a Visio flowchart or a PowerPoint slide. And although we already have ways to get Excel data into Mathcad, you can now embed an existing Excel spreadsheet. Then when you update the spreadsheet in Excel, you can open Mathcad and update the view of the linked spreadsheet in it, keeping your Excel data within Mathcad current.
A Visio object embedded in a Mathcad worksheet. The file can be edited in Visio, and the data is then pulled into the object embedded in the Mathcad worksheet.
Q: There are some new copy/paste features, right?
McGough: Yes. Users can now copy and paste multiple regions from a worksheet and paste them into a third party application while maintaining the layout from Mathcad. They can also merge the content with the third party application, so users get all the regions but can move them around to suit their needs.
Imagine, for example, that you are required to use Word to record design decisions. This new capability makes moving content from Mathcad to other applications like Word incredibly easy.
Q: Finally, tell us about performance improvements
McGough: Some worksheets that users have created with Mathcad are enormous – a hundred pages and more, containing many regions. This can impact the ability to simply manipulate the worksheet – adding space, removing space, changing page format or margin size, collapsing or expanding an area, those kinds of operations.
We’ve undertaken a very large project to re-architect how we display regions on the page to greatly increase performance for large worksheets. In some cases, an operation that used to take 10 seconds to complete will now take under a second in PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0. We have run an alpha test of this functionality with a select group of users who have large worksheets and the feedback we got was very promising. In some cases we were told it made worksheets extremely useable where before they were incredibly unwieldy.
Mathcad 4.0 isn't available today, but there's still a lot to learn about your engineering calculation today. Especially if you're a product designer. Listen in on our pre-recorded webinar and learn how the Engineering Notebook can help you document design intent, create analysis-driven designs, and more.