Automatic Border tool works its wonders

Check out SOLIDWORKS’s Automatic Border tool and how it makes editing your Sheet Formats so much easier than old fashioned sketching!

SOLIDWORKS has the amazing Automatic Border tool for Sheet Formats. You don’t need to sketch your drawing borders from scratch. You also do not need to edit many sketch objects to update your borders.

The Automatic Border tool allows you to control all elements of your drawing border and associate those with drawing zones which are intrinsic to the drawing sheet. The tool has many functions to provide to you the ability to make and edit your borders to your exact needs.

To support ease of editing your Sheet Formats, a tab is available on the CommandManager called Sheet Format. This tab includes the tools Edit Sheet Format, Title Block Fields and Automatic Border. To find the Automatic Border tool:

Click on the Sheet Format tab
Choose Edit Sheet Format to switch to Sheet Format mode. Then, select Automatic Border tool.

On a newer template created in SOLIDWORKS 2016 or later, your border will highlight as orange. (If you have an older Sheet Format or you are trying to incorporate your old Sheet Format from another CAD application, see SOLIDWORKS Help.) In the Automatic Border PropertyManager, select Next to edit your existing border.

The first page of the PropertyManager is for legacy (pre-SOLIDWORKS 2016) Sheet Formats. If you have a newer Sheet Format, just skip this first page by selecting Next.

On page two of the Automatic Border PropertyManager, you have many options to edit your border.

Zone size and Margins

Zone Size groupbox allows you to establish your zone distribution and region.

The 50mm from center option under Distribution allows you to use a common size and placement regardless to sheet size.

Evenly sized option allows you to automatically divide the sheet up into evenly sized zones, including a custom number of rows and columns.

Under Regions, you can set zones to fit within the sheet’s margins (Margins) or the sheet’s extents (Sheet).

Margin groupbox allows you to establish where your border appears on the sheet in terms of distance from the sheet extents. You can set the border’s line font and thickness. Also, there is an option to allows you to include double-line border called Double-line border.

Independent Border groupbox is a less commonly used option that allows you to place your borders separately from margins. This is only useful if you have unusual distribution of sheet zones that do not take the border into account, with the same Right, Left, Top and Bottom settings as Margins.

Zone Formatting

Zone Formatting groupbox provides several highly specific settings to control the display of zones within the border.

You have the option to show or hide zone dividers with the Show zone dividers option. With this option off, the lines that represent the divisions between zones do not appear on the border.

Show zone dividers is checked
Show zone dividers is unchecked

In Zone Formatting groupbox when Show zone dividers is checked, you can control the line font, line thickness, length for the dividers.

There are also settings under Center zone divider that allow you to control the center zone divider’s length in both directions from the border.

Use Center zone divider settings to control the length of the center zone divider in both directions from the border.
If you do not want center zone divider to extend into the drafting area of your drawing, you can input 0 (zero) into the second field.

Under Zone labels, you will find several options and settings that allow you to control the visibility, placement and font of the letters and numbers which label your zone columns and rows.

Layer

Finally, you can even set a layer upon which your border should be placed within the Layer groupbox.

Ready?

Once you have made all your choices for options and settings on this page of the PropertyManager, you can choose OK button to accept, or you can continue on to the next page for one more advanced function.

Mask Area to Remove some Zone Formatting

Page 3 of the Automatic Border PropertyManager allows you to create one or more masks for your border. A mask is an area on your border where you wish to remove zone labels and dividers. Typically, you will use masks to create space outside your margins to add a company’s legal notice or (if you are still plotting your drawings) you can add part number, sheet number or other information to quickly index through a pile of drawings.

To create a mask, click on the plus sign button.

When you click on the plus sign button, a box will appear on the Sheet Format. You can modify the size and location of this box using the grips.

For example, if you wish to add your company’s copyright notice to the upper left, move and resize the box to cover the upper left corner of your border.

You can add more than one mask. Each mask that you create will appear in the PropertyManager.

All Done!

When you select OK, you accept all the changes that you’ve made to your border, including the masked area. You will still be in the Sheet Format mode. Add any additional details you wish for your Sheet Format.

Return to your drawing’s Sheet mode by selecting Edit Sheet Format one more time.

Your changes will now be the background to your drawing.

If you wish to reuse your newly edited Sheet Format, use the Save Sheet Format command. Find this command in the File pulldown menu, shown above.

Automatic Border tool simplifies a task that can be a tedious sketching exercise. Not only does the above functionality allow you quickly create the drawing border that you want, you can easily edit your drawing border as the need arises.

All Uppercase, or how I learned to stop worrying about CAPS LOCK in SOLIDWORKS

SOLIDWORKS 2014 introduced the All Uppercase option for Note Annotations. Forgetting to use CAPS LOCK is no longer something to fear.

There was a dark time when one had to remember to turn on CAPS LOCK keyboard toggle while they created engineering drawing notes. This was problematic because if you forgot, you’d have to retype everything. If you were creating your general notes, that was a lot of retyping. Even if you remembered to use CAPS LOCK, you’d still have to find workarounds for file properties and certain custom properties that displayed the raw system value, where capitalization wasn’t possible. A light shined upon the world in 2013. That year, SOLIDWORKS 2014 introduced the All Uppercase option for Note Annotations.

All Uppercase turned off
All Uppercase turned on

However, unlike word processor applications, SOLIDWORKS is smart about how it capitalizes text.

  • Original text is preserved, so if you turn the setting off, your text returns to its original state.
  • The setting recognizes the value of file and custom properties and capitalizes these as well.
  • Where you would want the “mm” in the word “dimmer” to capitalize as “DIMMER”, you wouldn’t want the “mm” in “10 mm” to capitalize. So, along with the new functionality, SOLIDWORKS is smart enough to know the difference by using its Exclusion list.
Exclusion list

There is the ability to use the capitalization setting as a Document Property, meaning that any note you create will automatically use the All Uppercase setting. You still have local control for each note, of course.

All Uppercase Document Property
All Uppercase in PropertyManager

SOLIDWORKS 2018 introduced this functionality for Tables in SOLIDWORKS. You can change the setting for an entire table, a range of cells or individual cells.

All Uppercase in 2018

Finally, SOLIDWORKS 2020 introduced this functionality for Dimensions (including Hole Callouts).

All Uppercase in 2020

You have the ability to set All Uppercase document defaults differently for Notes, Tables and Dimensions, so if you want to automatically capitalize your notes, but not your dimensions or tables, you have that choice.

One more point; a tip:

  1. Select a note.
  2. Hold down SHIFT and press F3.
  3. While holding SHIFT, each time you press F3, you will toggle All Uppercase on and off for the selected note.
  4. This is the same keystroke as MS Word for switching between casing options.
SHIFT-F3 to toggle

3DEXPERIENCE WORLD 2020, a non-comprehensive look

So, technically and actually, everyone that attended 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020 has attended every 3DEXPERIENCE World conference! Isn’t that awesome? A fresh start! Or is it? SOLIDWORKS World‘s new skin, or something more?

What really changed? There is still a very heavy SOLIDWORKS focus, the 21st Model Mania, and the SOLIDWORKS Top Ten. The Partner Pavilion is now a bit different with a new name, 3DEXPERIENCE Playground. The number of breakout sessions continues to expand, including new 30 minute format (in addition to 60 and 90 minutes). General Sessions have returned to the morning to include product announcements, keynote speakers, SWUGN community updates, amazing customer stories, etc. Sunday had its Certification testing, SOLIDWORKS CAD Manager’s Boot Camp, and Reception. Monday saw yet another CSWE Event. Tuesday had the Special Offsite Event on Broadway in Downtown Nashville, complete with several live music acts. Even the unsanctioned CAD Monkey dinner roared to record attendance on Saturday.

My Presentations

As usual, I have two (or more) presentations. My breakout session on Monday called MBD and Me was actually standing-room only attendance. There was a lot of interest in Model Based Definition. My other session was a Hands-on session for new and improved tools for Drawing Views in the past 7 years. As per the usual when I presented similar sessions on the past, attendees would yell out in amazement after being shown one or more new tools or enhancements that have been implemented years ago that they somehow missed. I love those moments, but also slightly sadden that well-established SOLIDWORKS users aren’t catching everything they need from each year’s What’s New documents.

Nashville

Nashville may have been unusually chilly (even for winter), but that didn’t stop it from being beautiful and interesting.

SOLIDWORKS World Drawings Top Ten implementation to-date (2011-2013)

SOLIDWORKS World Top Ten list for drawings – review for 2011 thorugh 2013; including implemetnatation rates and release years.

A few years ago, I reviewed SOLIDWORKS World Top Ten lists specifically for Drawing ideas. These articles not only showed a unique view of the Top Ten that is typically unavailable, but it also provided implementation status (implemented or not). It’s time to update those statuses.

2011

  1. Ability to Filter BOMs
  2. Print Selection – make it more like cropping a picture
  3. On drawings: add function to allow users to apply capitalization of text, implemented in SW2014 for notes and SW2018 for tables.
  4. Assign watermark function to drawing sheets, implemented in SW2013.
  5. Allow Multiple Exploded Views per Configuration, implemented in SW2013.
  6. More control over angle dimensions, implemented in SW2015.
  7. On drawings: Allow option for resizing of drawing view outline
  8. Directly editing notes with properties in Drawing, implemented before SW2013.
  9. Broken-out Section in Section, Detail and Alternate Positions Views, implemented in SW2018.
  10. Better line selection in drawings, implemented in SW2014 .

2012

  1. Address Shaded with Edges Bleed Thru issue, implemented in SW2014 for parts, assemblies and drawings.
  2. Dimensions should stay where you place them, existing behavior in SOLIDWORKS. See previous article for additional information.
  3. Don’t show hidden lines in section views and broken-out sections, half implemented in SW2013. See previous article for additional information.
  4. Don’t re-size center marks with scale of drawing view or sheet, implemented in SW2016.
  5. Allow multiple exploded views per configuration, implemented in SolidWorks 2013.
  6. Drawings: make intersection selectable when dimensioning drawings, implemented in SOLIDWORKS 2014.
  7. Ability to create a “purchased” component BOM and “manufactured” component BOM 
  8. Drawings: Revision Cloud, implemented in SolidWorks 2013.
  9. Dashes should not be allowed at the end of a line
  10. Parts as references in drawing views; see previous article for additional information.

2013

  1. Create auxiliary line for dimensioning angles, implemented in SW2015.
  2. Perimeter Dimension or Total Length Dimension
  3. Allow mirroring of drawing views in the drawing, implemented in SW2017.
  4. Isometric view break, implemented in SW2016 (via Model Break View shown on drawings in the same fashion as Exploded Views).
  5. Ability to create half dimensions (Option to change any dimension line to foreshortened), implemented in SW2016.
  6. On drawings, zoom to fit should ignore view bounding boxes, implemented in SW2015 with Zoom to Sheet tool.
  7. Don’t re-size center marks with scale of drawing view or sheet, implemented in SW2016.
  8. Ability to create Alternate position view on sectioned/broken-out section view, implemented in SW2018.
  9. Make an easy interface to modify format of hole callouts (without having to edit calloutformat.txt)
  10. Projected view of a break view should have option ‘align breaks with parent’ enabled by default, implemented prior to SW2018.

In looking at these Drawings Top Ten idea lists, there’s about 75% implementation rate for the years 2011 thru 2013 as of SW2019. As time allows, Top Tens from later years may be shown in future articles.

Presentations at SOLIDWORKS World 2017

SWW2017 banner

Normally, members of the Product Definition team at DS SolidWorks Corp give two presentations at each SOLIDWORKS World.  Presentations can be either Hands-on or Breakout.  Hands-on sessions involve attendee participation at desktop computers provided for the conference.  Attendees typically follow and repeat steps shown by the presenter.  Breakout sessions are essentially talks with demonstrations of functionality in SOLIDWORKS products.

Sometimes our team gives extra presentations.  There are cases where our hands-on sessions are very popular, so we add an extra hands-on session of the same material for the overflow.  Other times, we give the multiple breakout sessions on various topics.

My Presentations

At SOLIDWORKS World 2017, I gave three presentations and a panel discussion.  It almost never fails that I give a presentation right after the General Session on Monday of the conference.  This year, my Monday presentation was a hands-on session about new functionality that’s been added to SOLIDWORKS over the past 5 years.  The session was Streamline Drawing Creation with Newer SOLIDWORKS Drawing Tools.  In this session, attendees got to try out newer drawing tools that they may have missed before, such as

  • User Interface improvements
  • Drawing Zones, Location Label and Automatic Border tool
  • All uppercase setting for notes
  • Angle Dimension enhancements
  • Model Break View
  • Balloon improvements and more

If you’d like to check out this session’s materials, please feel free to download:

Streamline Drawing Creation with Newer SOLIDWORKS Drawing Tools (6MB+)

On Tuesday, I gave two breakout sessions.  The first one was planned and well-prepared about MBD called Model-Based Definition using SOLIDWORKS MBD.  This session covered very general overview of  MBD, ways to implement settings in SOLIDWORKS for the best MBD experience, SOLIDWORKS MBD tools (3D Views, 3D PDF Publisher, etc), and DimXpert.  A lot of people attended this session.  Though, I didn’t pack the house to the wall.

Filling in the room to talk about MBD

The Powerpoint for this session is downloadable here (SOLIDWORKS files not included):

Model Base Definition using SolidWorks-2017 (4MB)

The second Tuesday breakout session,  I presented on BOM’s, called Building SOLIDWORKS BOMs.  Due to a cancellation by the original speaker, I had to step to not only cover the empty slot in the schedule, but also talk about BOMs without a prepared Powerpoint slide deck or file set.  Since there were no materials for me to work from, I had to skip the Tuesday General Session to give myself time to pull together a session plan and file set.  Given the circumstances, I believe I did well.  I was able to cover many basics about BOMs, and also more advanced capabilities.

  • BOM table display options
  • BOM Type (Top Level, Parts Only and Indented)
  • Options for displaying configurations of the same part
  • Keep Missing Item settings
  • BOM Anchor
  • BOM Template
  • Virtual Parts
  • Document Properties
  • Sorting
  • etc.

Unfortunately, because the session was off-the-cuff, there is no Powerpoint outline to provide.  The session was recorded, so it should be available as a video while the SOLIDWORKS Proceedings are available (soon).

On Wednesday, I was part of the panel discussion about MBD.  Five speakers participated in an engagement with attendees who are interested in MBD.  This session was called SOLIDWORKS World 2017 MBD Learning Path Panel Discussion.  Attendees asked about many MBD related topics, including STEP, real world implications, specific use cases, vendor adoption, etc.

My unorganized #SOLIDWORKS User Group tour – #swugn

This year, I’ve been on a kind of unorganized SOLIDWORKS User Group tour.  I’ve presented at user groups in Tulsa, OK, Denver, CO and Seattle, WA.  The diversity of meeting locations never ceases to surprize me: hotel conference rooms, high school machine shops, college meeting rooms, libraries.  BTW, I’m not pictured in any of the photos below, as I was the one who took these photos of other speakers at these events.

In Tulsa and Denver, I presented on Drawing Views.  As simple as this topic may seem for many, even experienced users have told me they learn something new when I talk about Drawing Views.

In Seattle, I presented on SOLIDWORKS drawing functionality that has been added since SOLIDWORKS 2013.  Even though most of the capabilities I discussed were available since SOLIDWORKS 2014 and 2015, even seasoned users of SOLIDWORKS 2016 jumped up with excitement as they found out about “new” functionality.

Tulsa SOLIDWORKS User Group

Tusla, OK


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Northern Denver, CO


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Southern Denver, CO


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Seattle, WA