Introduction to SolidWorks Custom Properties

SolidWorks has something called custom properties. Many programs within Windows have file formats that include properties which allow the user to include some general information about the file without affecting its actual content. For most of these programs, there is a standard short list that includes fields like Author, Keywords, Comments, Title, and Subject. There is also a method that allows the user to create their own custom properties.

SolidWorks has simplified the process to create custom properties, and allows its users to utilize their values within the document via linked annotation notes. The custom properties are available under pulldown File>Properties>Custom tab. There are even shortcuts included that allows the user to create links in these fields to attributes of the document itself.

The advantage in using custom properties is that one can link to their values in annotation notes. This allows for automatic updates to annotation notes without having to edit them directly.

Here are the instructions to link a note to a property. (These instructions are from SolidWorks Help which can be found by searching titles only for “Link to Property”. For more detailed information, please see the Help.)

Start an annotation note.

In the Note PropertyManager (left pane) choose this icon:

 Link to Property Icon

-OR-

In the Note Properties dialog box, choose this icon:

Link to Property Icon

Then,

  1. Select the radial button that identifies the file from where the values will be linked.  The most common choices are either the “Current Document” or “Model in view specified in the sheet properties” (for drawings).
  2. View the available custom properties.

    Dialog

  3. Choose one and then click the OK button.
  4. This will add a tag to your annotation note that looks something like $PRP:”<property name>”.  The annotation note itself will display the value of that custom property.

This can be used to automatically fill in data fields on drawing blocks based on custom properties and document properties in the model.  It can also allow the fields to be filled in from a macro that is designed to provide those values.  Linking annotation notes to custom properties can save a lot of time and reduce repeatitive drawing activies.  However, before committing completely to using links to custom properties on drawings, one should look into the methods and reasons for this.  They should also consider the pros and cons of each.  I will go into detail about when and how to use links to custom properties on drawings in a near future article.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

4 thoughts on “Introduction to SolidWorks Custom Properties”

  1. Hi,

    We were previously using the SolidWorks custom properties to manage our different properties. But I have to say that it was taking us so much time and patience to type over the same properties again and again. This problem has now been solved as we use CustomTools for SolidWorks, where the different properties are stored in a database and can be easily managed and customed as well. I really recomend this add ins for any SolidWorks struggling with their documents properties

  2. For those who find custom properties to be cumbersome it is time to use a PDM system that prompts you for that information. Erik made a great point about have to retype over and over again, so when you are looking into PDM make sure the system supports the ability to copy custom properties when you do a save as copy. There are systems out there that also support linking to external databases or creating internal databases. This functionality allows you to create fields that have drop down selections and even based on those selections can update other fields.

    I ramble only because I have found a good PDM system with and excellent implementation can solve many issues from file searching to the mundane title block, rev block, bom changes.

    Chris MacCormack

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