
MCAD Tech News #94 (April 10, 2003)
10 Apr, 2003 By: Joe GrecoIn a recent review of PTC's Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire I tested the company's claim that the product's redesigned user interface resulted in fewer steps for the user. I found this to be true when compared to Version 2001, but I also wanted to test this claim against competing MCAD programs. So I ran the tests described below and published the results in the review. Some of you contacted me to find out how I arrived at my results. So here they are, along with the results from Solid Edge V14a program I did not have access to at the time of my review of Pro/E Wildfire.
Counting Steps
Any mouse click, icon selection, picking of geometry, doubleclick, or keyin (including hitting Enter) was counted as a step. Task 1 was to create a simple variable radius fillet, which had five different (unevenly spaced) radius values, including the two on the ends. Task 2 was to create an extruded, shelled shape with draft, based on a dimensioned sketch that was a rounded rectangle with two different sized corner values (see Figures 3a and 3b)
Task 1
Here's what it takes to accomplish Task 1 in Inventor 6: select fillet tool1 step; select variable option1 step; pick edge1 step; define three middle points3 steps; define radius of last fillet point2 steps; define radius of other 4 points13 steps (including scrolling up once); OK1 step. They add up to 22 steps.
Solid Edge's variable radius fillet tool only recognizes endpoints and midpoints of an edge, so the solution is to build three planes in between and add a point on each plane at the intersection of the edge. Because of all this, I knew the process in Solid Edge would be entirely different, so I didn't go through the same stepbystep routine. If I did, the number of steps would probably add up to about 45.
Here's how SolidWorks 2003 handles it: select fillet tool1 step; select variable option1 step; pick edge1 step; move three middle points in place6 steps; set five fillet values10 steps; hit Enter1 step. It took 20 steps in total.
Finally, here's how Pro/E Wildfire handles it: select part1 step; select edge1 step; right click1 step; select command1 step; ctrl drag to create three extra points along the edge3 steps; set five fillet values15 steps; hit Enter1 step. It took 23 steps in total.
Task 2
Let's start with Inventor.
Enter Sketch mode0 steps (program starts in Sketch mode); select rectangle tool1 step; draw rectangle2 steps. That's a total of 3 steps to draw the sketch.
Select dimension tool1 step; draw horizontal dimension2 steps; double click on dimension, select field, enter value, and hit OK4 steps; draw vertical dimension2 steps; double click on dimension, select field, enter value, and hit OK4 steps. That's a total of 13 steps to dimension.
Select fillet tool1 step; enter value1 step; create 2 fillets2 steps; select radius field1 step; enter different value1 step; create second set of fillets2 steps; exit Sketch mode1 step. It took 9 steps to edit and exit the Sketch mode.
Select Extrude1 step; rotate model to view in 3D1 step; enter value1 step; select "More" tab and pick draft option2 steps; select draft angle field0 steps (value already selected); enter value1 step; select OK1 step. It took 7 steps to extrude.
Select fillet tool1 step; select face1 step; select radius field1 step; enter value1 step; hit OK1 step. It took 5 steps to add fillet.
Rotate model to see other face1 step; select shell tool1 step; select face1 step; select thickness field1 step; enter value1 step; hit OK1 step. It took 6 steps to add shell.
So, to sum it up, Inventor took a grand total of 43 steps.
Now let's look at Solid Edge V14.
Enter sketch mode1 step; select rectangle tool1 step; draw rectangle1 step (by dragging diagonal line). It took 3 steps to draw the sketch.
Select dimension tool1 step; draw horizontal dimension2 steps; enter value and hit Enter2 steps; draw vertical dimension2 steps; enter value and hit Enter2 steps. It took 9 steps to dimension the sketch.
Select fillet tool1 step; enter value and hit Enter2 steps; create two fillets2 steps; select radius field0 steps (still selected); enter different value and hit Enter2 steps; create second set of fillets2 steps; exit1 step. It took 10 steps to edit the sketch and exit Sketch Mode.
Select Extrude0 steps (already in Protrude command); rotate model to in 3D0 steps (already in 3D view); enter value and hit Enter2 steps; pick side of extrusion1 step. It took 3 steps to extrude.
Select Draft tool1 step; define reference face1 step; define faces to daft1 step; enter draft angle and hit Enter2 steps; hit the Next button1 step; define draft direction1 step. It took 7 steps to add draft (in Solid Edge, you can't specify Add Draft during the extrude operation).
Select fillet tool1 step; enter value and hit Enter2 steps; select face1 step; hit Preview1 step. It took 5 steps to add fillet.
Rotate model to see other face1 step; select shell tool1 step; enter value and hit Enter2 steps; select face1 step; hit OK1 step; hit Preview1 step. It took 7 steps to add shell.
The grand total for the process in Solid Edge V14 was 44 steps.
Now let's look at SolidWorks 2003.
Enter sketch mode1 step; select rectangle tool1 step; draw rectangle2 steps. It took 4 steps to draw the sketch.
Select dimension tool1 step; draw horizontal dimension2 steps; enter value and hit OK2 steps; draw vertical dimension2 steps; enter value and hit OK2 steps. It took 9 steps to dimension the sketch.
Select fillet tool1 step; enter value1 step; create 2 fillets2 steps; select radius field1 step; enter different value1 step; create second set of fillets2 steps; exit Sketch1 step. It took 9 steps to edit the sketch and exit.
Select Extrude1 step; rotate model to in 3D0 steps (done automatically); enter value1 step; pick draft option1 step; select draft angle field1 step; enter value1 step; select OK1 step. It took 6 steps to extrude.
Select fillet tool1 step; enter value1 step; select face1 step; hit OK1 step. It took 4 steps add fillet.
Rotate model to see other face1 step; select shell tool1 step; enter value1 step; select face1 step; hit OK1 step. It took 5 steps to add shell.
As you can see, SolidWorks took a grand total of 37 steps.
Finally, let's look at Pro/E Wildfire.
Select Extrude1 step; enter sketch mode3 steps; select rectangle tool1 step; draw rectangle2 steps. It took 7 steps to draw the sketch and extrude it.
Select Selection tool1 step; edit horizontal dimension that was automatically created with sketch, double click on dimension, enter value, and hit Enter3 steps; edit existing vertical dimension, double click on dimension, enter value, and hit Enter3 steps. It took 7 steps to dimension the sketch.
Select fillet tool1 step; select two lines2 steps; select two lines2 steps; select Selection tool1 step; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter3 steps; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter3 steps; select fillet tool1 step; select two lines2 steps; select two lines2 steps; select Selection tool1 step; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter3 steps; double click on first dimension, enter value, and hit enter3 steps, exit Sketch Mode1 step. It took 25 steps to edit the sketch and exit.
Rotate model to view better1 step; select height field1 step; enter value1 step; select OK1 step. It took 4 steps to extrude.
Select Draft tool1 step; pick surface to draft1 step; right click to proceed to the next step2 steps; define hinge1 step; define plane1 step; drag draft to desired value1 step; hit Enter1 step. It took 8 steps to add draft (you cannot specify Add Draft during extrusion in Pro/E Wildfire).
Select fillet tool1 step; select edge1 step; drag fillet to proper size1 step; hit OK1 step. It took 4 steps to add fillet.
Rotate model to see other face1 step; select shell tool1 step; select face1 step; drag to define shell1 step; hit OK1 step. It took 5 steps to add shell.
So Pro/E Wildfire took a grand total of 60 steps.
Note: It would have taken a few more steps if, for example, dragging to determine value for the draft, fillet, and shell didn't work or if those values were not even rounded numbers (as they were in the example above).
Conclusions
In the Task 1, Wildfire was very competitive; in Task 2, it needs a few more steps in comparison to its competitors. However, keep in mind that these are just two random tests. If I had done a different chore that involved a feature that the other programs don't even offer, such as a variable draft, the results would have been different. In addition, Pro/E Wildfire took way fewer steps than what Version 2001 would have taken for both tasks.
I had fun doing this, so if you have any suggestions for some other common but fairly simple task I can perform, let me know and I will revisit this subject again.
Relevant Links
Autodesk Inventor: http://www.autodesk.com
Solid Edge: http://www.solidedge.com
SolidWorks: http://www.solidworks.com
Pro/E Wildfire: http://www.ptc.com

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