Hands-on Pro/Engineer Wildfire: The New User Interface
March 20, 2003
Parametric Technology Corporation’s survival depends on the success of its recently delivered Wildfire release. Sales of the company’s computer-aided design software have been declining for almost four years.
Wildfire offers PTC the last chance to turn its business upwards. If the improved software is a hit with both new and existing customers, PTC’s sales should begin to rise. But if Wildfire fails to ignite growth, the company faces continued shrinkage in its core CAD market and an uncertain future selling product-data-management systems.
Something old, something new
Users of Pro/Engineer 2001 and earlier releases will find much that’s familiar in the Wildfire release. The first difference users will notice between Pro/Engineer 2001 and Wildfire are tool bar menus for creating features. These resemble buttons found in most other solid-modeling systems.
To create the first feature of a new part in Pro/Engineer 2001, designers must select the following items in order from a cascading set of text menus: Feature/Create/Solid/Protrusion/Done. With Wildfire, users select the Extrude Tool button at the left. Pro/Engineer responds by opening a ribbon bar that PTC calls the “dashboard.” On it, the user will find buttons that invoke the processes of sketching the feature profile and controlling various properties of the extrusion such as its depth and direction. The dashboard prompts the user to press the sketch button to begin creating the profile.
After the sketch button is pressed, Pro/E displays a dialog box called “Section.” If the designer has selected a plane on which to place the feature before pressing the Extrude Tool button, Pro/Engineer will remember that action and put the sketch plane ID in the dialog. This object-action procedure is new to Pro/Engineer. If the user selects the Extrude Tool button without first selecting a plane on which to sketch, Pro/E will prompt the user to select one. Pro/Engineer completes the remaining information required by the Section dialog with its best guess. Experienced users can override these choices to reorient the sketch plane before selecting a second sketch button.
After pressing the sketch button, the user sees one more dialog box before the sketch surface. Pro/Engineer’s intent manager places dimensions on all sketch elements with respect to two orthogonal planes of its choosing. The Reference dialog (which also appears in Pro/Engineer 2001) enables designers to choose other entities that might be more convenient.
The Wildfire sketching tools are almost identical to those found in Pro/E 2001, so experienced users will have no trouble working with them. After the sketch is done, the designer presses the button with a check mark to return to the dashboard. Like other modern systems, Wildfire displays a preview of the feature that has been sketched and lets the engineer select the depth and direction of the extrusion. When the feature looks right, the designer presses a green check button on the right side of the dashboard to complete the feature.
- Creating and changing features
- Parts, assemblies and drawings,
- More to do
- Solid-X killer?
The full article is available for a fee at CADCAMnet.com.