Balloon Note – REBUILT

I have to admit my original Balloon Note macro was quite quirky. It was the most complicated VBA project I’d done at the time, so I don’t feel too bad about it. I finally had a chance to try out the SolidWorks 2010 implementation – SO – I decided to rethink the whole thing. WOW – I really have to apologize, I’m surprised that old code worked at all. However, if you liked the general idea found in my original Balloon Note macro, I’m sure you’ll like this completely rebuilt version.

If you have no idea what I’m writing about:
Balloon Note is designed to add a Reference Note to an existing Item Balloon and Group them together automatically. It can add an automatically updating Quantity Text object. The result is similar to a function SolidWorks added in 2010, but, you can adjust the location of the text using the ALT + Select and drag method. The strange squiggle (QTY variable) in the text box represents the selected part quantity, until you apply the Reference Note location (Top, Right, Bottom or Left). Balloon Note uses your current document setting for the Note font height to create the Reference Note. The Links button uses a plain text file “BalloonNote_07.ini” located in the same directory as BalloonNote_07.swp to store your lists of links and symbols. The download includes two versions, BalloonNote_07.swp for SW 2007 (you could possibly change the Reference Libraries to your version) and BalloonNote.dll for SW 2010 x32.


SolidWorks 2010: Minor tweaks II

SolidWorks 2010 has made some minor tweaks to the control users have over balloons.

  1. In an assembly, when the user inserts a balloon, they can set it to follow the item numbering of a selected BOM under Balloon text (an added option for that field).
  2. The user can now add quantities to balloons.  These quantities are parametric so they update automatically as the quantity changes for the associated parts used within the assembly.  This was talked about in one of my SolidWorks World 2009 articles.
  3. One thing that has bugged me about SolidWorks for a long time is the fact that balloon size is determined by font size.  Finally, balloon size can now be set using an actual numeric value (such as .50″).  This can be a general setting in Tools>Options…>Document Properties>Annotation>Balloons.  Individual balloon sizes can also be directly customized via it Balloon PropertyManager.

Drawing ER Blitz results are in

The results are in for the SolidWorks Drawing ER Blitz by Dwight Livingston.  He listed the results in order of popularity.  Here are the topic five.

  1. 60% Provide hole callouts for holes in non-planar surfaces.
  2. 59% Greatly reduce drawing user interface delays.
  3. 55% Provide the ability to item balloon sub assemblies that are inserted after the BOM is created using the Top assembly, ie 3.9 from BOM in a separate sub assembly.
  4. 54% Provide option in view properties window to add view title and/or view scale to view.
  5. 54% Create ability to combine multiple identical hole callouts in a single callout with a combined quantity.

It surprizes me a little that the view title/scale issue is in the top five.  That’s why we vote, though!  The top five seems to be a list that spreads across several difference topics, with a bias towards hole callouts.  In general, the list seems to put a higher priority for dimensioning and more ability to control tables.  It seems to put a lower priority of symbol functionality and handling.  There is a common complaint that broken views cannot be added to detail views.  For whatever reason, this appears low on the list.

The list is a bit surprizing.  Of particular note, very few items even got a majority vote.


Drawing and Viewport Backgrounds

SolidWorks 2008 introduced the ability to control the drawing background.  This was made obvious with the notorious implementation of the Crinkled Paper image that now dons SW 2008 on-screen display of drawings.  This image is kinda cool, but also not really all that professional.  It is an unusual and quirky choice for a default image, to say the least.  Just as quirky is that fact the user cannot choose to print their drawing with that background included.  This makes the whole thing seem rather silly.  Regardless, there is a fairly easy method to change this image.  Instructions to change this image appear latter in this article.  Also included are the instructions to simply turn this function off.  Also included at the end of this article are locations where some background images are available for download.

Before SW 2008, the user only had the ability to set a solid color as the drawing background.  The user did have capabilities to control the viewport background, which also appears underneath the drawing background.  The abillity to control this viewport background has improved over the years.  In the early days, one could only set the color.  Then SW wowwed us with transitional coloration.  Later, the user could display an image as the background.  Instructions on how to apply an image to the viewport backaround appear later in this article.

Instructions to change the drawing background in SW 2008

1. Obtain or create a new Bitmap (.bmp) image for use as the background. For best results, the .bmp should be a pixel size that is similar to the current SW 2008 backgruond image (sheetbackground1.bmp).  Also, be sure the background image is light or ghost-like so that it does not obscure the drawing itself.
2.  Shutdown SolidWorks, if not already.
3. Goto the SolidWorks\data\Images\drawings folder in Windows Explorer. Note: this folder location may vary some between systems at the “Solidworks” level.
4. Rename the standard sheetbackground1.bmp to back it up.
5. Copy the new sheetbackground1.bmp into that folder.
6. Start SolidWorks and open a drawing to confirm.

Instructions to turn off the drawing background image in SW 2008

1. Start SolidWorks.
2. Goto pulldown Tools/Options…/System Options tab.
3. Select Colors in the left selection list.
4. Check the box of “Use specified color for drawings paper color”.
5. If you wish to change the default paper color, select “Drawings, Paper Color” in the “Color scheme settings” list and LMB click on the “Edit…” button to the right. This brings up a window where you can select another color. Pick “OK” button of that window to return to System Options.
6. Pick “OK” button of the System Options to implement the changes.
7. Open a drawing to confirm changes.

Instructions use an image as the viewport background for SW 2006 and above

1. Identify which image you’d like to use as a viewport background.  Note: drawing background images from SW 2008 can also be used as viewport backgrounds in SW 2006/7.
2. Start SolidWorks.
3. Goto pulldown Tools/Options…/System Options tab.
4. Select Colors in the left selection list.
5. Select the option to use an Image file under “Background appearance”. The exact name and placement of this selection may vary between versions of SolidWorks. Look for the field that allows the entry of a file name and its associated browse button (three dots).
6. Browse to the location of the image to be used as the background, and select the image file. Pick “OK” or “Open”.
7. Pick “OK” to accept the change in System Options.
8. Open a drawing to confirm change.

Locations to find drawing backgrounds