There was a bit of a crowd lining up near Boston's Park Plaza this morning, and if it wasn't for all the business-casual attire, you may have thought another Apple Store was opening up down the street. The event was actually PTC's unveiling of its new product suite: Creo.

Here's the quick rundown:

Creo is a suite of interoperable, role-specific applications based on an open common data model and four technologies: AnyRole Apps, AnyMode Modeling, AnyData Adoption, and AnyBOM Assembly. Jim Hepellmann, PTC's President and CEO, kicked off a presentation in the Park Plaza and handed it over to Brian Shepherd, EVP Product Development, who did a demo of the suite live on screen.

AnyRoleApps is an effort to allow "casual users," and the many participants along the design path, to contribute to the development process. The functions are role-based. An analyst may not need surfacing tools, but he or she can have the ability to use direct modeling functions, for example. A service planner may only want a 3D view of a product, so that person can be strictly given the tools to create three-dimensional illustrations. Someone on the marketing team may just want pretty pictures, too! Anyone's modifications go across all deliverables. One attendee and PTC product user that I spoke to seemed particularly interested in this feature, as many players in a product development process are often left out of the loop.

AnyMode Modeling refers to data flowing and interoperability between applications. Engineers can sketch in 2D, then gradually add intelligence to a design and move to a 3D environment. There was a round of applause when Shepherd showed a "Track Changes"-like view of the modifications made by a direct modeling user.

AnyData Adoption allows the use and reuse of external CAD data, which can then be visualized and edited. This was another important development, according to another engineer at the event, because data can be brought from one CAD to another, and not have to be recreated from scratch -- a common pain point for him.

AnyBOM Assembly creates a link betwen PLM and CAD environments, where users can create configurations and drive updates in the CAD model.

Creo 1.0, which will feature apps for parametric modeling, structrual simulation, direct modeling, conceptual engineering, schematics, 3D technical illustrations, and visualization, is set to release in the Summer of 2011. Version 2.0, which will add configuration modeling features, is set to launch in Fall 2011.

Also, I have to say, PTC gets an A for creativity, as the company turned Park Plaza into a jail cafeteria, complete with searchlight, bread and water, registration "processing" tables, and prisoners named "Value" and "Efficiency."

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