Software firms selling mechanical CAD software tend to have two products: a really expensive one for prestige and a less expensive one for popularity. In the world of architectural CAD, this tends not to be the case.
So we have...
Vendor High-end Mid-range
Dassault Catia Solidworks
Siemens NX Solid Edge
Autodesk ... Inventor, Fusion
PTC Creo Onshape
Autodesk doesn’t have a really expensive CAD program; by really expensive, I mean in excess of $10,000 and ranging up to $20,000. Each.
PTC last month added a third CAD program, Creo+. This one is just like Creo, but uses PTC’s new Atlas platform to add Internet-friendly functions like multi-user editing, branching-merging, and remote licensing. Atlas is based on Onshape.
The most shocking thing reported by Monica Schnitger from PTC’s LiveWorx conference is that Creo cannot read Creo+ models, after they are modified by Creo+. [https://schnitgercorp.com/2023/05/26/its-a-wrap-a-recap-of-ptc-liveworx-2023/]
For customers, this means that PTC is offering three incompatible MCAD programs:
- Creo+ - not backwards compatible with Creo
- Onshape - uses a different kernel (Parasolid instead of Granite) and doesn’t use a file structure at all (data is stored in a database)
Four, if you include CoCreate, which PTC still sells. (PTC acquired CoCreate from HP, where it was known as ME/30, for its direct modeling capabilities, which were merged into Pro/Engineer to come up with Creo.)
If I was PTC, I would dump Creo, because, as the company noted at Liveworx, it is feature-identical with Creo+, but without the Internet-bits. PTC execs, however, enthused that Creo is good for another one or two decades.
PTC has otherwise done a good job is differentiating Creo for desktop-bound users who need the benefit of functions that have been developed since 1987, with Onshape for new firms and schools, who are okay with a less mature MCAD system that runs in the cloud -- with the benefits and drawbacks that entails.