My 4 Favorite Features of the Animator Tool

These days, it seems like subscription is everywhere. We have subscriptions to our movie/TV streaming service (or services); we have subscriptions to our music streaming service (or services); we have subscriptions to our software; we have subscriptions to car rental services (e.g. ZipCar); we have subscriptions to cloud storage services. Heck, I even pay a subscription to get my car washed as many times as I want. And in case you haven’t heard, you can get PTC Mathcad as a subscription, too. But it’s not just the software that you get with the subscription bundle; there are loads of things that are included in the subscription purchase. We’ve blogged about a few of those: Home-Use licenses, online training, and other things to get “more math for your money.” You can view the complete list of what is included on our Product Comparison Chart. Most of the items are self-explanatory, but there’s one item that you might not be too familiar with: the Animator Tool.

So what exactly is the Animator? Essentially, it’s an application built by PTC Mathcad Application Engineers that utilizes the API to animate plots.

How does it work? The first thing is to set up the variable that you want to animate. Let’s say, for instance, that I want to see the effect on the power triangle of changing the resistor or inductor values in my RLC circuit. To do that, I need to set my L and R values as inputs in the worksheet. Inputs allow 3rd party applications to send numbers, units, strings, and matrices into PTC Mathcad via the API.



Once that’s set up and saved in the worksheet (I’ve also got several calculations and a plot that shows the power triangle), I give the Animator access to that worksheet by clicking File > Open in the Animator window.



Then, within the Animator, I select the input value that I want to use, apply the appropriate units, and set the range on which I want to animate. I also determine the delay between frames (i.e. the time that the Animator waits before supplying the worksheet with the next value) in units of milliseconds.


 Once that’s set up, I navigate to the plot in the worksheet and press Play (or Loop, if I want to loop through the animation indefinitely). Since I’ve set a delay of 500 milliseconds, my plot will update every half second, allowing me to see the power triangle shrink as the resistance increases (below are obviously only a few shots of the changing plot):




So it’s pretty simple to use, but there are a few features that I really appreciate:

1. The Animator knows all of the available inputs. Any inputs declared in the worksheet are recognized within the Animator window and pre-populate the drop down list. As long as you know the alias of the variable you want to animate, just select it from that dropdown list.

2. The Animator is units capable. Any units that you want to use (even units that are defined by the user within the worksheet) can be sent by the Animator by simply typing the unit into the Unit text box in the Animator window.

3. The Animator pre-populates the Units text box. When you select an Input from the dropdown list, the unit associated with that Input auto-populates the Unit text box in the Animator. You should note that the unit that gets auto-populated is based on the default units for the unit system in the worksheet (For example, if I select L in my Power Triangle worksheet, the Unit box will be populated with “H” even though it is defined in the worksheet as “mH.” But that’s no problem. All I have to do is type “m” in front of the “H” in the Animator, and I’m ready to send units of milli-Henry.)

4. The Animator can animate two Inputs simultaneously. If I check the “Enable Secondary Animation Input” box, I can use the same process described above to animate another input. The only difference is that, in order to have the animations stop at the same time, the step size for the Secondary Animation is determined by the number of steps used to animate the Primary Animation Input.


So that’s the Animator Tool, another thing to make the PTC Mathcad subscription bundle that much more valuable.