Re: CAD package for free

From: Ian Gibson (
Date: Tue Apr 15 2003 - 04:33:16 EEST

Rick, et al.

I just wanted to tell a story related to this.

A while ago I was asked to give a class to a bunch of architecture students
and I used my computer to link in to their projector. One of them noticed
that I had Rhino on my desktop and asked me why I had downloaded it and
what I thought of it. A couple of weeks earlier, my 11 year-old daughter
brought home her design homework to be done over Chinese New Year. The task
was to install Pro/Desktop on our computer and draw a block construction of
a model they would be building at school later. She did not have any
instructions, being told to experiment and use the help files. After 2 days
she had just about given up. I decided to help her, first by completing her
homework on my own and then showing her how it was done. After another 2
days, I was pulling my hair out. I had downloaded about 30 pages of
tutorials from various sources (when are CAD vendors going to understand
about compatibility of the user interface? All the tutorials differed from
the version I had, including the ones in the help file). I managed to get
90% of the project done inside 3 hours. The other 10% was still not
completed after Chinese New Year. The problem? Parametrics. Pro/Desktop
forces you to build even the simplest model as a sequence of assembled
solids. When trying to allocate mating and constraining surfaces and
offsets, I could not get the system to behave the way I wanted. I was so
frustrated that I downloaded Rhino to prove to myself that I wasn't going
senile. I finished the job in 1 hour.

Now, I'm not a CAD person, but I am an engineer and I do understand a thing
or to about CAD, design, and user interfaces. If PTC wants everyone to use
their products, then they need to realise that many students are not going
to have engineering knowledge and need properly thought out exercises,
examples, and interfaces. In particular I think their targeting of schools
is seriously flawed. Releasing packages to all and sundry for free is a
great idea, provided you don't turn people off in the process.

Perhaps others would like to comment.


At 11:27 PM 4/14/2003 +1000, you wrote:
> I was very impressed with the new product from Pro-e, called
> 'ProDesktop express". If someone looking for basic CAD package for solid
> modelling, must try this, can't get any better deal than free, that's PTC
> claims its absolutely free. Moreover it has direct translation with
> latest pro-e parts and few other free translators as well.
> BTW I'm not PTC rep or agent, I tried myself pretty cool, thought
> may be someone else could take the benefit. Here's the link :
> <>
>Thanks with Regards,
>Rick Virdi

Dr. Ian Gibson
Department of Mechanical Engineering
The University of Hong Kong
+852 2859 7901 (O)
+852 2858 5415 (F)
+852 2817 1784 (H)
+852 9873 8281 (M)

Still crazy after all these years.

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