Jun 132011

Deelip Menezes, a well-known CAD blogger asks “Do the Creo 1.0 apps store their data in proprietary file formats or not?”

It seems like a rather good question.

Creo is the “reboot” of the PTC product line. There are a variety of Creo products, including Sketch, Layout, Parametric, Direct, Simulate, Schematics, Illustrate, and more. Each is derived from earlier PTC products, such as Pro/E and CoCreate.

PTC says that Creo solves four previously unaddressed problems for MCAD users: usability, interoperability, assembly management, and technology-lock in.
Deelip points out that, in his experience as a developer of data exchange tools, the term “proprietary file formats” cannot be used in the same sentence as “interoperability” and “lock-in.” And, as a result, he wants to know whether the Creo 1.0 apps do actually use proprietary file formats.

I have a hard time arguing with his asking this question. Yet, I strongly suspect, having observed PTC since nearly their entrance to the market, that the answer is going to be “yes, the Creo 1.0 apps do store their data in proprietary file formats.”

Now what? Does the use of proprietary file formats put a lie to PTC’s statements about interoperability and technology lock-in?

I think not.  PDF was, for many years, a proprietary Adobe file format, and it ended up being pretty interoperable. McNeel’s Rhino3D uses a proprietary file format, but McNeel also provides a file format specification and C++ source code libraries for reading and writing those files.

Wikipedia says “A proprietary format is a file format where the mode of presentation of its data is the intellectual property of an individual or organization which asserts ownership over the format.”

Even if a vendor such as PTC uses a proprietary format, there’s nothing to stop them from doing something similar to what McNeel did, and giving users the tools they need to access their data independently.

I don’t know what plans PTC has in this realm. But, rather than asking them whether they’re using proprietary file formats, I’d prefer to ask them something where the answer might be a bit more enlightening:

What, specifically, will PTC do to solve interoperability and technology lock-in problems for their customers?

(By the way: Interoperability involves both importing and exporting customer data.  Any answer that addresses only data import is B.S.)

Were I at the PlanetPTC conference this week in Las Vegas, I could ask the question in person. Since I’m not there, I’ll cross my fingers, and hope someone else asks it.

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  • http://creo.ptc.com Geoff Hedges

    Hi Evan,

    Both you and Deelip ask a great question about PTC’s Creo file format and how open it is.

    To help answer your question, there’s a couple of points I’d like to clarify. The first is that Creo uses a common data model to keep all the data used by each Creo app in synch, the second that a common data model is not the same as a common file format, and that yes, parts of the common data format will be open to customers, partners, etc.

    A lengthier response is available on creo.ptc.com:


    including three short videos where Mike Campbell DVP of Creo Product Development at PTC, explains the common data model, how is used by each Creo app, and how open it is.

    Best Regards,
    Geoff Hedges,
    Program Marketing

  • http://Raykurland.com Ray kurland

    I specifically asked John Buchowski, VP Product Management was was meant by the coomon data model and if they used XML to store and describe the data. His said no to XML, then went on to describe how they were building out the existing data model to include many vertical description of the data. Creo is not backward compatible wit Pro/E.

    The distinct impression I was left with was that the data format was proprietary and that interoperability was TO Creo, not from Creo. Again, my impression was that the Creo Interoperability plan is to allow Creo to work with any CAD data.

    Not sure what their plans are for export of the data. However, they seem to have quite a few tightly integrated third part apps. I assume they provide good API’s. Will follow up on Day 2 of PlanetPTC11.

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