June 16th, 2009 | Categories: math software, mathcad | Tags:

I’ll start off this post by mentioning that I don’t like PTC’s Mathcad very much and think that is a very weak product compared to its competitors.  Professionally I have had a lot of grief with it and personally I cannot see why anyone who can also choose from Mathematica, MATLAB and Maple (and I am lucky enough to be in this position) would ever bother with it. Most of the things I choose to write about Mathcad concern its bugs.

So, read the following in the knowledge that the writer is heavily biased.

Just recently I have found myself wondering if the product is doomed.  Let’s look at the evidence.

• PTC’s Mathcad hasn’t seen a major new release in over 2 years.  Version 14 was released on 12th February 2007 and since then its competitors have gone from strength to strength.  In the same time MATLAB has seen 5 major new releases going from 2006b to 2009a and Mathematica has been improved beyond recognition in the transformation from version 5.2 to 7.01.  Then we have Maple which was at version 11 back in 2007 and is now at version 13.

Before anyone states the obvious, yes I know version numbers on their own mean very little but the increase in functionality in Mathcad’s competitors over the last 2 years or so has been substantial whereas Mathcad itself has gone nowhere.

• MathCad’s symbolic engine, Mupad, has since been bought by rival math software vendor and maker of MATLAB, The Mathworks.

When I first started working with Mathcad, it came with a cut-down version of the Maple kernel which took care of all of its symbolic calculations.  There was nothing particularly unusual about this as several other maths packages did exactly the same (MATLAB’s symbolic toolbox immediately springs to mind) but in the transition from v13 to v14, Mathcad swapped the Maple Kernel for Mupad.

Mupad was a nice product and, although there were problems with the transition, Mathcad could have done a lot worse in its choice of symbolic engine.  Of course, since version 14 of Mathcad was released the owners of this symbolic engine, Sciface Software, were completely bought out by MATLAB makers, The Mathworks, and now The Mathworks use Mupad as the basis for their symbolic toolbox.

So where does that leave Mathcad?  Will The Mathworks strike a licensing deal with PTC for the Mupad technology or will PTC have to find a replacement symbolic engine for version 15 of Mathcad?

• The maintenance releases don’t add very much

Every software manufacturer has maintenance releases which tend to be little more than a set of bug-fixes and extra tidbits of functionality to keep users happy between major releases.  Although we shouldn’t expect too much of them – we at least expect something worth justifying the download.  Here is the changelog from the latest maintenance release of Mathcad – Mathcad M030.

New features
* Windchill 9.1 M010 Workgroup Manager (WGM) support
* New installer – You can now customize your Mathcad installation by selecting the language, components, and directories.
* User interface translation into Russian
Problems fixed in Mathcad 14 M030
* 1436139: Addresses specific problems involving rapid consumption of memory upon repeated recalculation of a worksheet.
* 1502717: Fixes improper result returned when evaluating 2^31.
* 1507803 Addresses a specific memory leak issue relating to an uninitialized handle.
* 1507032 Addresses a compatibility problem resulting from an improvement in how numeric tolerance in integrals was inferred.
* 1547641 Fixes PDF file generation problem on Window XP x64 machines.
* 1437427 Fixes in-line evaluation to update display to match available value.
* 1587915 Addresses a WRITEPRN restriction by increasing the maximum allowable string length from 128 to 1024.
* 1403321 Addresses specific memory release issue involving large worksheet computations.

Although I am sure this is good news for Russian users I have to say that I’m underwhelmed!

So what do you think – Is Mathcad doomed or am I making a big fuss over nothing? Comments from Mathcad users are particularly welcomed.

1. See new “live” of Mathcad
http://en.smath.info/forum/

2. I received the following reply from Stuart Bruff on the Mathcad Collaboratory and he has kindly allowed me to reproduce it here.

If it carries on like it has been recently, then yes. Too little benefit for the support costs and a product that just hasn’t kept up with the times (in fact, it should be ahead of the times!)

Mathcad is already regarded as ‘light-weight’ by comparison to other products, particularly Matlab in the engineering world – however, the core of this criticism is unjustified IMO. Mathcad is capable of doing much of the work that Matlab is used for and with a quicker overall turnaround plus the benefit of a self-documenting work-product.

But there may be light at the end of the tunnel and it may not be an express train. I believe (only from a PTC conference poster), that PTC intend to release a product called Mathcad Spirit that may, perhaps, represent the major step forward that some of us have long asked for. I have no idea what Spirit actually is, and given some of the capability decisions that have happened in the past (eg, SUC and recursive-depth limiting), I’m not getting my hopes up. For Mathcad’s sake, I will, however, keep my fingers crossed.

Stuart

3. I bought Mathcad a couple of years ago because I could not afford Mathematica or Maple. I even bought a couple of the extensions. I did some good work with it, and found its conceptual model of an integrated workspace based upon an extended sheet of paper intriguing. I developed some facility with its expression language.

I have not used Mathematica, or Maple, but I have used MATLAB. There is something to be recommended for Mathcad’s expression language and metaphor, even if I have not used their symbolics packages and capability so much.

What I think happened to Mathcad is that their founding company got themselves into financial trouble, and then fixed the problem by having themselves bought by PTC. I don’t know much about PTC, but given how they’ve handled Mathcad, it seems to me they have decided they won’t fund it, won’t develop it, won’t invest in it beyond what they think they can make, in the face of fierce competition from a MATLAB and a Mathematica and a Maple, they’re done. Period. Game over.

If they think they have a good product, they need to invest in it, make it better, make it something someone wants.

4. I bought v3 of MathCAD back in the 90s and used it for university computer science graphics programming. I upgraded to 2000, 2001, 2001i and more recently v14. I mention all of this because:

When I raised bugs reported on this blog with v14 I was told I need a $1200 maintenance package. When I inquired if these were known bugs they said “yes”. I indicated they sold me knowingly defective software without a free patch to fix the known bugs. They agreed with my position but restated their policy on future patches. This puts the end user in a bind, buggy software being sold at a discount upgrade with the full knowledge they have to shell out$thousands to fix known bugs!!!

I asked for a refund and started migrating my “workhorse” mathcad sheets to Maxima which is a very decent symbolic and numerical engine. I printed all my MC sheets to PDF so that I have a permanent reference without MC being installed.

All I can say is this: There are a number of free and commercial products with superior functionality to MathCAD. My sadness is that MC was a great program in the early 90s that has been left to wither.

Anyway, Maxima is a great little program and the Windows build is very very good. With a little reading you can create graphs, data sets, and solve symbolic problems.

5. Here is some evidence of a new Mathcad version:

http://twt.mpei.ru/ochkov/Mathcad_14/MahcadSpirit.files/slide0186.htm (slideshow with screenshots of something called Mathcad Spirit, the new interface looks like Microsoft Office 07)

Mathcad Prime and Mathcad Spirit are likely the same thing. Amazingly, these seem to be the only relevant Google hits for either of those names! It’s really bizarre that there isn’t anything else up on the web about this.

6. MathCAD has been stagnant for some time. I bought MathCAD 5 back in the day for $99. Every release cycle, they bundle and extra piece of software to convince you that they’ve added value. Most of those extras get dropped in later releases. I have to say that in all the years in between (12?), the core functionality hasn’t really changed all that much. MathCAD’s great strength has always been units. And it’s the only feature that keeps me coming back. For light calculations, it’s tough to beat MathCAD. But for$1200 retail, it’s a very bitter pill to swallow.

I too have looked at Maxima as an alternative and it does not stack up so favorably. The learning curve is a lot steeper and there is not a similar notebook interface that can be used to make a pretty document you can show your boss.

For now, I still prefer MathCAD, but I’m keeping an eye on Maxima front ends. . .

7. Topic: Converting MC files to earlier version
From: colincware (eagle1@eaglmall.com)
Date: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Richard and all others,

I believe I am saying: Mathcad is losing it stand in the mathematical position in the marketplace. The EASE of working in the Mathcad 6 Pro environment way exceeds what the later environments. PTC especially destroyed the close working relationship we had with Mathcad 6 (and earlier) application and programming engineers.

I am not asking for “converting” latet models to earlier. I am asking Mathcad to write codes so that the later versions look and behave and perform (with the later programs and features) like Mathcad 6. Add the “new bells and whistles” in the familiar Mathcad 6 screen.

Colin C eagle1@eaglmall.com

8. I have to agree with everything posted. Although I have just started using MathCAD in my Engineering courses, i already hate it with a fiery passion. The first time i tried “print preview” and it crashed with about 3hrs worth of homework on it pushed me over the edge. Even though it is required for our class to use it I have been looking at other products out in the world and I think I will be using them instead of MathCAD. In concept MathCAD is EXCELLENT! With the note style for equations, it has a small edge above the other programs I have looked at. In Practice though, the program is marred by bugs, I was able to segfault the program multiple times within just a 50min class period.

As we say in the Q/A business. “Everything always works… in theory.”

9. I have been using Mathcad for years and have been very unhappy with the change to PTC in support and general capabilities. I don’t think this product will be around much longer.

10. I hope someone will save MathCAD…
I realy want to continue working whit it.

11. I’ve been using Mathcad since it first came out in the ’80’s. I’ve allways used it for prototyping my models. The ability to self document and for others to understand your work is really good. The buggs and PTC’s predatory (non-)support are driving me away. Matlab and Mathmatica are too expensive to consider. I’m in the process of moving to Python (MatPlotLib does excellent MatLab graphics)because the price is soo right – ZERO, ZIP, Nada, it’s truely a complete programing language,and it’s platform independent. I believe that it’s faster than MathLb/Mathmatica but I have no first hand experience. I’ve seen evaluations that claim it to be almost as fast a straight C code (as opposed to C++ or C#).

I wonder what it would take buy MathCad from PTC and revive it?

12. I’ve been using Mathcad since the early 90’s (1994 – version 2.53 – still got it).

I buy this out of my own money and I simply can not afford more than one product. I don’t know if the concept of a person buying software for their own interest doesn’t occur to these companies, or if they simply don’t want these sort of people using their product. Whatever the case, the cost is too high. So every year or two I looked at a range of products and I will keep doing this (via demo DVDs and web pages). I then pick the one that suits my needs the most.

I disagree with your points on why anyone would use it – after playing with each of the other software products I still believe Mathcad has a smoother and more intuitive interface, but the others are catching up. I still find Mathcad the simplest scratchpad for laying out test processes before implementing in code. In short, I’m still confident that this is the BEST tool to use. After using Maple I think “almost there” and after using others I keep thinking “don’t users of this product know about Mathcad?” So my following comments are very biased in favour of Mathcad.

As for upgrades – I’m sorry but I work in IT and upgrades are NOT a good thing. When a product is made solidly then few upgrades are needed as there are few bug fixes. When a product is feature packed then few updates are needed to fill gaps. So to my mind the FEWER upgrades that occur the better. No major upgrade for 2 years is FAR better than 20 upgrades in 1 month. I simply want a good product that I don’t have to upgrade every 5 mins.

That said, Mathcad 12, 13 and 14 do have bugs. I run 13/14 all day most days and I’ll get a crash maybe once a week. There are memory leaks as well that need the application to be “killed” in the task manager. So I’m not saying that this product is perfect. Also, the product hasn’t had a major revision in look and feel for a decade or so.

I too feared that the product would die out, but mainly because the market share was dropping due to the emulation of the scratchpad interface by other products.

As you have put into another post there is a new version coming out that is a new look at the product and product space.

In my opinion it may already be too late, the current user base may not be enough to re-build the product, and the new version may turn away people who like the older Mathcad technology. However, if the product is powerful enough and priced right, it could very well create a new golden time for Mathcad.

13. Hi Philip

Thanks for the detailed and considered comments to both this and other Mathcad posts on WR. Considering some of your points:

-Some companies ARE starting to wake up to the fact that some people want powerful mathematical software for their own interest rather than for work or formal academia. Mathematica, for example. now has a cheap ‘home edition’: http://www.wolfram.com/products/mathematicahomeedition/

-Since writing this post I now disagree with some of my own points on why anyone would use it. Mathcad users have told me why THEY use it and the penny finally dropped for me. It is still one of my least favourite mathematical products but my views are nowhere near as strong as they were when I originally wrote the above post.

I work in IT too and part of my job is to deploy Mathcad to Manchester University. The part of me that deploys Mathcad hates upgrades because it makes more work for me. However, the part of me that supports the use of mathematical software for our academics tells me that upgrades are important. When you have enough users of any product, they will ask for new features and Mathcad is no exception.

New hardware (multicore processors for example), the latest operating systema (eg win7), new functions and new algorithms for existing functions. When someone publishes a superfast new algorithm for performing in a major journal, you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will be asking if it can be implemented in . All this stuff needs upgrades.

Userbase:
I have colleagues in many UK universities who do a similar job to me and I pointed out my concerns about Mathcad before Prime was announced. Their response was striking – few of them cared because their site didn’t use Mathcad in a major way and most of them didn’t have a site license for it. If you are in a UK university (other than Manchester) who does have a site license for Mathcad then feel free top drop me a line and let me know.

Of the users I know of at our site, _most_ of them are mathematically unsophisticated, they use Mathcad because it is easy to use and not because it is powerful. Note that I said MOST and not ALL. There are always exceptions.

Our department runs a ‘condor pool’ which allows users to run large computations simultaneously on hundreds of PCs. We have had requests to run code based on MATLAB, Mathematica, Python, Fortran,C etc but no Mathcad. I don’t know if Mathcad can be used in batch mode (I suspect not) so I doubt we will be able to use it on Condor even if a request comes in. Why does this matter? Well, the sort of people who make use of condor are cutting edge users of mathematical software so the software they choose says a lot about the quality of that software.

With all of that said, I am glad that PTC are doing something positive with the product and I am genuinely looking forward to Mathcad Prime being released. I liked what I saw at the virtual conference and hope that they can develop it into a full and powerful product. Ease of use is fine but, for my money at least, it has to have power behind it.

Cheers,
Mike

14. I am a fan and a serious Mathcad user. I have also used Mathematica and Maple, and I continue to use them (especially Maple) on occasion.

I’m a physics professor in a university where my role is really primarily that of educator; so, I teach lots of classes. I use Mathcad to create problem solutions and text (sometimes suppelmental, sometimes primary) for my classes. The look of what I could produce using another package is not comparable to what I can create with Mathcad.

I also use it to teach computational physics. Some of my students entering that class are computer savvy, but others are not at all. Mathcad is much easier to teach and to learn than any other package.

It could be better, but it fills a role that the others don’t. A student can start using it on the first day to solve physics problems, and anyone can read a document without knowing anything about the software. [By the way, I can mix text, math, and graphics in any way I want on a page.]

By the way, I mostly use 14 (sometimes 13, every now and then 11). I haven’t gotten to try out 15 yet.

That’s my 2-cents worth on this,

Mike

15. I am in Lodz, Poland, at this time of writing. I surprised myself that using a Polish compmuter seems to work. Many proper English spellings are underlined as improper Polish words, so this causes me to warn you, the reader, of unintended misspellings.

I have tried using higher than Mathcad Pro 6 for some past more than 15 years. All later versions have unnecessary complicated rules for entering plain, everyday mathematical formulas. Mathcad Pro 6 with a and e extensions has served me very, very well into the the startingly foundations of the Nature of the Universe, NOU. So far, I have come to mathematical no-theory solutions to presently known questions of other persons wondering what TOE, the Theory of Everything, is about. ALL with unadulterated Mathcad Pro 6!! These proofs are on my computer in the US. I will be returning the end of August.

The points I am making here are Mathcad Pro 6 has handled *everyting* of the simple mathematics that NOU defines what surrounds TOE. PTC has made a horrendous mistake not improving the programs within Mathcad by destroying the simple, straightfoward mathematical symbology of everywhere known equations. I have offered Mathcad some major simplifications to the beta 8. They were unable to simplify the beta version enough for my suggestions to ba appplied to the undownloadable 8 on my computer???

16. PTC – Mona Z: Please take note of my potential offer. I beleive it is a very serious matter that the old Mathcad in Cambridge, MA, USA, made a very serious decision. I would have made an offer to create by adding the latest available upgrades to an inhanced Mathcad Pro 6 on being able to sell (initially excusively) a new Mathcad Pro 15 to all who participated in its development.

I am still in Poland, using a Polish keyboard; please excuse unintended misspelling.

Colin C Ware, eagle1@eaglmall.com

17. MathCAD user since V2 in the early ’90s when it was affordable. At the time, this was as very, very useful program that allowed me to explore symbolic mathematics and keep up with unit conversions. AutoSKETCH+MathCAD=bliss! I’ve used spreadsheets since they were invented for PCs and preferred MathCAD. I’ve used computers since punch-cards and am put off by the FORTRANesque/BASICesque interface of mathematica, matlab and other math programs(System R, SAS, etc.). Over the years I paid for upgrades through version 14,buying most toolkits offered. I was using V14 this summer on a job, the week PTC officially released V15, in an incredible coincidence, my MathCAD V14 stopped loading due to some licensing issue. PTC’s phone numbers are not easily found, their customer support is handled through e-mail. When I finally found a phone number, got through to a real person, explained my situation, the person hung up on me!!! I stared at the phone dumbfounded. Since then, I’ve been informed the only way to reach anyone to resolve this problem is to buy a support agreement for one year.

I looked at a ton of sketch-type math products, some free trials, others not. I have begun migration to Maple 14. This software has the closest emulation of the units conversion to MathCAD that I’ve found. It is also a fairly strong symbolic processor, something that I need to help my lifelong pursuit of understanding differential equations. Maple cost $1800, a hefty price…but at least their phone numbers are posted, real people answer the phone and they seem concerned over the performance of their product. What Colin C. Ware produces with his Polish keyboard will be better than what PTC has done with English keyboards! At least he has a clue as to what MathCAD was designed to be in the first place. 18. @VFO I have been using Mathcad from Dos based version and I personally feel that the issues of memory/bugs or drawbacks citied above seem false because whenevr I use the same functions repeatedly I try to experiment and find out that there also another way of creating the same function which can optimize memory requirements.The permutations and combinations possible with arrays and functions are the key factors which contribute to explore mathcad as new whiteboard each time I use. I am thrilled by the idea of getting more and more with the release of Mathcad prime 19. I’ve used Mathcad for many years and found it extremely useful for analyzing and documenting the engineering work I do; however, I find the recent versions to be very buggy (crash a lot) to the point where I can’t count on being able to complete a worksheet without losing work and having to fiddle (in the dark) with orders of things to avoid crashes. Now I much rather use Matlab/Powerpoint to handle the work. I wonder if PTC bothers to run Mathcad through Rational Purify or similar program to catch bugs; it sure doesn’t seem like they do. 20. I have used MCAD since 1996 ver 6. Now we are on ver 15. Tried MCAD Prime but does not have all functionality of 15. Generallty 15 does well for our business – Structutural engineering and composite shells. Our favorite capability is Roarks Formulas for Stress and Strain is great add-on package. We also like the units which is great and many of the curve fitting functions and the contour ploltting capability. Makes our life much easire. PTC has been a disaster in our opinion. TS is miserable and time consuming. I recently bought a new computer – 64 bit and was trying to reinstall MCAD on this machine. Could not because we are dummys when it comes to this stuff. Finally I got an email to upgrade our paid TS. I wrote a complianing email (said I was looking for a new program) and got an email repsonse and phone call from a very helpful lady. Got one of those TS guys in “lord now where” who installed it remotly and now works great. Also we installed Smartsketch and use it a lot (2000 ver I think) bought from MCAD back then for about$100.00. It is helpful but cumbersome to use. Can’t edit it once its finished. Now you must by SmtSKtch for about $1700 (but get as I remember 17 licenses). Many of our clients (manufacturers) also use MCAD and we write design tools for them to use and they are veruy pleased with these tools. Overall we like MCAD but have been very disappointed with PTC’s business strategy and their TS. Does anyone know if other programs will import MCAD sheets? I am certianly willing to look and new programs. We looked at MATLAB a few years ago. It looked like mainly a programming tool, not a live math calculator. I would see the main drawback to swithcing would be the thousands of MCAD sheets we already have and how to easily and painlessly convert to a new program. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. jmc@clark-engineers.com, http://www.clark-engineers.com Thanks, jmc 21. I’ve used MathCAD since ver 2.0. The old 2.53 was the pinnacle. I have never been happy with any of the Windows versions. There is a fortune awaiting the person who presents the equivalent of my old friend that can run on my XP machine. Formatting was a no-brainer. Documentation was near-perfect. A savvy user could gin up more complex functions as needed. I even learned how to do recursive calculations with that old sweetheart of a program. It was the best self-documentating calculator ever. I used it for design and analysis of inertial instruments and preliminary orbit and trajectory work. And I have never ceased missing it. 22. Hi Stan If you’ve still got the install media/license then why not try running your 2.53 on something like DOSBox? http://www.dosbox.com/ Cheers, Mike 23. I have been using Mathcad since version 1.0. PCs were so weak in those days that it wasn’t a very efficient tool, but I was taken with the “idea” of a live mathematical whiteboard that used standard mathematical notation. Because of the clarity of expression, Mathcad worksheets are much easier to debug than program code and Mathcad worksheets tend to be correct far more often than spreadsheets. The output is presentable, and that can be important. I am a structural engineer, and I have to submit calculations for review by public authorities. Mathcad worksheets are perfectly acceptable to building officials. The units feature of Mathcad is a killer idea that has saved me from countless errors, spared me a lot of work and made my output a lot prettier and more legible. Why nobody else has latched onto this is beyond me. Mathcad got better over time, but not without some hiccups. Unlike one of the commentators above, I don’t miss the DOS version that much. I have always needed to multi-task, so Mathcad 5, on Windows, seemed to me a major breakthrough. Mathcad 6 was OK, too. Mathcad 7 was a disaster, though, a crash-o-matic, memory-leaking piece of junk. Odd. There was a change in the keystroke language at one point that I resented at the time. I felt I could compose any notation without hesitation in the old language. At long I feel just about the same about the new language. The switch to the XML file format had a terrible influence on robustness for a time, but that phase is over. Now I’m using Mathcad 14. It’s pretty robust. Most of the problems are in the past. I like it quite well, but I’m unlikely to upgrade. One drawback: like one of the folks above, I can’t ever do a print preview, because that guarantees a crash. Instead, I print to PDF. This work about as well as print preview. I use the symbolic capabilities (MuPad, did you say) a fair amount, and they seem more capable that the Maple engine was. I am told that Mathcad 15 is about the same as 14. After that, it appears, the whole thing went to heck. Mathcad Prime appears to be a horrendous strategic error, and may indeed signal the early death throes of a classic software product. Sad, I say. I’ve brought Mathcad into a number of organizations and been the catalyst for a lot of sales. The way things stand now, though, I may be hanging on to Mathcad 14 until retirement, and I can’t recommend buying the latest versions. PTC had proved an incompetent manager of Mathcad, and they should sell it off. In the right hands it could be saved. First priority, ditch Mathcad Prime and go back to the full-featured approach. Second priority, issue a “Mathcad Robusto” version with as many bugs fixed as possible. Third, but not least in importance, reduce the price. I won’t buy this product again at current prices, and I am one of its long-tem biggest fans. 24. When I run Mathcad PLUS 6.0 on Windows 7, it crashes when we select Save As. Has anyone found a fix for this? It worked fine on Windows XP. 25. I do extensive product development work and simulation. Mathcad is by far my preferred simulation tool, because of its readability and easy of use with full documentation incorporated. I’ve even submitted a patent disclosure written in Mathcad because it guaranteed no errors in the equations with respect to the results. However, I also write product application code that we sell in Matlab. There are some problems that Matlab is preferred but as far as my electrical engineering DSP simulations go it’s probably something like 95% Mathcad 5% Matlab for me. As far as writing a product code that’s close to 100% Matlab. Hopefully Mathcad will survive and thrive! 26. I own Mathcad 11, 12 and 13 but after a computer crash I could not reinstall even though I had the code that came with the original product. PTC would not activate the product. So now to even look at my previous work, I have to pay$600 a year.

27. I have been draping in Mathcad on and off more than 20 years now, mostly off; I started with Mathcad 5.0 in 1994, and has upgraded the program regularly through Mathcad 2001i Professional in 2001. After a long hiatus, now I came back to 2001i again. I’ve been told that Mathcad 2001i is only worked with Windows XP operating system.

I’ve have tried to install it in Windows 7 to no avail, so I gave up; so I bought myself an old used Dell 630, installed with Windows XP Professional, SP3; they charged me $180 for it, it’s a highway robbery…I should have searched out for more, from other places. But the damage was done. The CD that I have for Mathcad 2001i Professional is working great now; it’s one of the best pieces of software, if it’s not the best, that the old team of Mathcad folks have ever made…and at the time in 2001, I only paid$100 for it…There’s no comparison to price gouging modus operandi of PTC now.

28. I think it’s dying a slow death. Word is out that the new MathCAD prime is a total crock, all it does is change the look of the interface. Even worse, it’s not backward compatible. You have to keep MathCAD 15 installed in order to use the Prime file converted to convert your old files to the new format. All that effort for no gain? BS, I’m just keeping MathCAD 15 and that’s the last version I will ever own unless PTC sells it off and comes up with new versions worth buying.

I’ve been running MathCAD since 1994 (Version 4 I think) and it’s looking more and more like Version 15 is the end of the line for me.

29. I agree with John P, MathCAD has been a great tool to create presentations to show to my bosses that are not engineers like I am. It was also great for creating cheat-sheets when I was getting a master’s degree since it’s so easy to put equations and text comments on the same sheet. Microsoft Word has gotten smart(er) about having this capability but entering equations on your sheet is a lot slower and clunkier in Word and text placement is less flexible. In MatCAD, I like the ability to create a text box, be able to drag it anywhere you like on the worksheet, and easily re-size it by grabbing an edge or corner of the text box. When I was getting my master’s degree in mech. engineering, I actually created a tabbed booklet of all my printed cheat-sheets. It was much easier than thumbing through old notes and textbooks.

Things I’d like to see with MathCAD:
1. Have a company buy it that will actually keep it up to date intelligently and fix the bugs. When I say “keep it up intelligently”, I mean keep it compatible with new operating system releases but don’t turn it into bloatware. The big mistake that software companies make is that they often try to turn a program like MathCAD into something that will do everything. What actually happens is that the software becomes something that does nothing well, tries to do too many things, and does then all half-assed. Concentrate on fixing and improving what it does right now instead of adding a bunch of crap that nobody cares about. I’m not saying that new capabilities should never be added. What I’m saying is, do it slowly and make sure that it’s ready for prime-time. Learn from the mistakes of the MathCAD 7 release. Look at the bloatware that Adobe Acrobat has become, that’s the perfect example of what not to do. Adobe Acrobat is no more functional than it was in 2003 but the hard-drive space and RAM that it occupies has grown exponentially.

2. What they need to do is make MathCAD affordable enough that normal people can buy it again. The prevailing attitude is that selling big companies hundreds or thousands of licenses at $1500 each is where the money is and throw the public a bone by providing a free reader that does a very few basic functions and maybe a student version that does a little more. That is total crap. Sam Walton didn’t get rich by pricing motor oil and dish soap like champagne. He got rich by keeping prices down and doing a volume business, that’s what needs to happen here. If you price MathCAD reasonably (in the$100-$200 range), there will be people coming out of the woodwork to buy it for multiple devices in their house (laptops, desktop computers, and tablets). Why limit yourself to big-company site-licenses when you’ve got college professors, college students, high school students, guys that customize snowmobiles and race cars, and a kazillion other people that won’t drop$1500 for it? When you do that crap, all you do is drive a black market of hacked copies. Sell it like candy bars instead of diamonds, that’s where the money is.