Psst... PTC is Giving Away Mathcad Express. Pass it on.
Rick Stavanja posted on October 23, 2012 |


I feel like I've suddenly gone back in time and landed in middle school, where I was passed a note by the person sitting behind me...

PTC has released an new Mathcad Express tool for engineering/science types looking to use Mathcad Prime worksheets, but without the significant price tag usually associated with it.

Or, in the words of PTC

"Mathcad Express does include the full capabilities of Mathcad Prime 2.0 for 30 days, for free. After the 30 day period has ended, you may continue to use the limited functionality of Mathcad Express as long as you like -- the Mathcad Express license will never expire."

The important point is that the new Mathcad Express is not just a rehashed version of their old Mathcad Explorer tool (essentially a viewer).  It is actually a limited version of Mathcad Prime 2.0 itself.  The only limitations being what tools are available while editing worksheets.  The tools available for Express are for equation editing, numeric functions, units, and XY plots. It also includes a separate utility to convert older Mathcad files to the Mathcad Prime format.

Here's a direct comparison of the toolsets for Mathcad Express and Mathcad Prime...


My Take

There are a couple different aspects to this news that caught my attention.

The first is the functionality itself.  Although a few engineering software vendors have gone the freemium route and given away tools that empower tremendous capabilities (e.g. SketchUp, DraftSight), the vast majority don’t.  For them, it’s free viewers or limited availability time-sensitive demo versions.

In this case, the capabilities of Mathcad Express make it possible to use it within production workflows of Mathcad Prime documents.  It can both create new Mathcad Prime documents, and edit existing ones.  Review and markup of engineering notes can now be done directly by team members without access to a full Mathcad Prime license.  This sets it apart from the free tools provided by many other engineering software vendors.

I think PTC deserves applause for this.  Let’s hope this sets a precedent that will catch on.

The other unique aspect of this news was how little fanfare it received from PTC itself.  I was originally clued in to this news from a simple tweet by Al Dean.  Although social media is my primary source for much of today’s news, digging into those  news stories usually points me to a press release or formal announcement directly from the vendor.  That wasn’t the case here.  There was just a simple pseudo-announcement posted to the PTC Community Mathcad forum.

In discussing it with PTC directly, I found out it was intentional on their part. They wanted to see what kind of buzz it may generate on its own.  Really?  In this age of new media and 24-hour news cycles, can you really just create buzz by the digital equivalent of of passing a note from one person to another?  …like we used to do in school?

As my niece would say, “Duh!”.  I suppose so.

So remember, PTC is giving away Mathcad Express.  Pass it on.


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