PTC Mathcad Prime: Past, Present, Future

**Guest Post by Andrew McGough**

PTC Mathcad Prime was created to address the need to improve the interface and usability of the ageing legacy version of PTC Mathcad. That software had been developed over many years and though extremely powerful, it had become difficult to continue to add to the code base with the improvements that were needed and that our customers were asking for. PTC Mathcad Prime utilizes the same core math engine that PTC Mathcad has always had, but everything else is brand new, using modern coding techniques based on current Microsoft technology. PTC Mathcad Prime’s equation editor allows users to effortlessly enter new calculations or edit existing ones, in natural math notation. Our continuing efforts are focused on maintaining that ease of use while reintroducing functionality with which existing PTC Mathcad users are familiar and have built into their engineering workflow. New users to PTC Mathcad Prime love the user experience and functionality list but long-time users have expectations for what they can do with the product. Through constant contact with customers, we log these expectations and use them to prioritize the functionality list of each new release.

Up to this point there have been three major releases of PTC Mathcad Prime. The functionality list for each of those releases was determined through conversations with users about what they needed to see in the product as their highest priority functionality areas. Symbolics, 3D plotting, the Excel component, collapsible Areas – these rated highly on users lists for essential functionality so we made sure to implement that functionality first. As we move forward, we continue to discuss with customers what their prioritized lists are and as we plan each release we do so using that information. Currently, we’re hard at work on some aspects of and finalizing the plans for our PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0 release and beginning to map out the subsequent Prime 5.0 release. But before those are released, we’ll be launching PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1.

PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1, due early in calendar 2015, is an intermediate release. While we are developing some of the larger components of Prime 4.0 we are releasing capabilities that allow PTC Creo users to better access and leverage the benefits of PTC Mathcad in their existing workflow, which the PTC Creo community has been asking about for some time. There are features in PTC Creo that enable users to calculate parameters but PTC Mathcad is specifically designed to do that job. PTC Creo users want to take advantage of the benefits of PTC Mathcad to calculate and, just as importantly, document the reasoning behind those calculations within the PTC Creo framework. PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 will introduce a powerful new integration that will allow PTC Creo users access to the features of PTC Mathcad that they’ve been asking for directly within PTC Creo, embedded within their existing workflow. We talked about that integration in a previous blog and will discuss more aspects of it in future entries.

PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 will also include a completely rewritten API. The API is used to integrate and automate PTC Mathcad with other tools and in many different company processes. The API in PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1 has been re-written from scratch to be more efficient and easier to use. It also adds important new features like the ability to get and set data in different units and an event handler. We’re developing an extensive SDK with documentation and a number of worked examples to make designing your own integrations as easy as possible.

We have also been hard at work releasing content for PTC Mathcad Prime 3.0. We have converted and created hundreds of worksheets covering many different real world examples and design problems across all engineering disciplines. These are all available from the PTC Mathcad website for download and use as the basis for your own work, to assist in understanding your specific engineering issues or simply as examples of how PTC Mathcad can be structured and used. We are committed to providing excellent worksheet resources and this is a process that will be continued in parallel with our other development tasks.

So what’s next? We’re in the final stages of prioritization planning for PTC Mathcad 4.0 and our development team is actively working on the larger projects. We’ve been using our customer feedback to identify those functionality areas that are most important to address. The prioritization process candidates we are selecting from include worksheet protection, Area protection, Area locking, copy/paste multiple regions to Word (or other external applications), the ability to save a worksheet as a Word document, the ability to save a worksheet in PDF format, plot improvements such as title, grid lines and 2nd Y-axis, ability to wrap long equations, and general PTC Mathcad areas of usability improvements. As well as this, we’re in early discussions on how to reintroduce calculation server functionality that would serve the same use cases as it did back in PTC Mathcad 13.0 while utilizing the power of modern computing infrastructure.

After the prioritization phase for PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0 is complete we’ll tackle PTC Mathcad Prime 5.0; and though it’s in the early stages of that release one item that is on top of the list is Input Controls. This is a large project that we’ve been discussing specifications for at length. As we continue to populate our enhancement database the picture of customer prioritized items will become more apparent but we already have a good idea of what people are asking for. Text styles, hyperlinks, program debugging, redefinition warnings and scripted components are popular items and will be considered side by side with other areas of functionality that we have feedback on and will continue to receive as we talk to customers in the field.

PTC Mathcad Prime 3.0 includes a lot of functionality that longtime PTC Mathcad users have requested but we recognize we have more to accomplish in transitioning everything customers ask for into PTC Mathcad Prime. Re-writing a software product from scratch is a large undertaking but the PTC Mathcad team is focused on a roadmap that will continue to support PTC Mathcad 15.0 and its users while concurrently maturing the PTC Mathcad Prime product until the rest of our users can migrate. That is our primary goal and as we move deeper into the development phase of PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0 we’ll continue to have discussions with you, our users, about what should go into each new release.