Hi JD, hope you're still around the Autodesk forums.
It's been three years since my post, but my issue hasn't gone away, it is only getting worse. At my company, we go thru what's called a power sweep, this is when IT replaces all of our computers every three years. Next power sweep is coming up in August of this year. This means, me and my group will be forced to go thru MDT reinstallations. We have MDT 2006. I'm not even sure if MDT will run on windows 8 ???. Runs fine on Win 7 pro 64 bit.
You mentioned that it would be "trivial" to get Inventor to do what I'm doing using MDT. Basically I create a variable model and have all of my variables in excel. In excel I can easily manipulate the variables and MDT does the rest. It is very important to me that I can keep my model stages in Excel in columns and my variables in rows. In most of my projects, I don't exceed more than 15 model stages, but I can easily have up to 200 variables.
Attached are two files: "Sample Nozzle_MDT_2.dwg" and driving excel spread sheet: "Sample Nozzle1_Design Variables_2.xls". In MDT browser I can simply click on the different model stages and visually see how it behaves. Visualization is also important. I can easily verify if I made mistakes in my excel formulas. I can easily make sure that machining stock amounts are added in proper directions. This is opposed to looking at numbers and dimensions on separate pictures. After I create the model I simply generate 2D layouts as they pertain to the different model stages. In 2D layouts all of my dimensions update accordingly to which model was activated.
This is just an example. In the real life, model and excel spread sheets get a lot more complicated. This is my method of representing a component thru the different manufacturing stages. I start from a finished part drawing and take it back thru the different manufacturing steps by adding or removing material, or features all the way to raw bar stock, forging or casting, etc. I can create a simple and complete manufacturing model including the 2D drawings in one day. I'm in a prototype building manufacturing group. Time is extremely important to me. MDT has a very user friendly interface to Excel and it all works really good.
How do I do this using Inventor ?
I already had gurus from PTC and Autodesk here on several occasions trying to help me with this. ProE will not work at all. Only chance I have there is to use family tables which are very limited. Inventor seemed very complicated when using Excel. I sure hope I don't have to write macros, or some kind of visual basic program to enable functionality that already exists in MDT.
For that one item... Many users of old versions of AutoCAD swear that buying a 3rd party tool called LONGBOW Allows the to run in unsupported newer versions of Windows just fine with no issues at all. Longbowsoftware.com I believe, they seem like good folks who offer refunds if it doesn't work for you.