Using Empty Views (Part 2: How to use them)

My articles on Empty Views in SolidWorks have been long in coming.  This is not due to the topic being complex or anything.  It’s just taken me that long to get around to this series.  (There’s been a lot of other stuff to talk about in the meantime, such as SolidWorks World 2009, something called a 3D mouse, and rants about this or that.) The Part 1 article in this series discussed how to make, place and size Empty Views.  Part 2 now discusses how to use them once they are created.

Use Empty Views as quick Zoom to selection locations

OK, let’s say that one empty view each represents the title block, revision block and drawing notes.  How does one quickly move about the drawing to view these areas?  There are several methods available in SolidWorks.  The following method is likely less common, but is perhaps quicker can more common methods.

First, assign a shortcut to Zoom to selection function.  Zoom to selection is found under View pulldown>Modify>Zoom to selection.

Zoom to selection location

To add the shortcut (for much quicker access to this function), goto Tools pulldown>Customize…>Keyboard tab> and then search for “zoom to selection”.  From there, simply add a keystroke as the shortcut for Zoom to selection and choose OK to save.

Now here is how to use this shortcut with Empty Views.  With the drawing open and with no views selected, look over in the FeatureManager.  Select any one of the Empty Views (or any view for that matter).

FeatureManager display of views

As this point, simply hit your shortcut keystroke for Zoom to selection.  The viewport will immediately zoom to the area identified by the Empty View.

Zoom to selection of empty view

Choose another view from the FeatureManager and hit your shortcut for Zoom to section again.  Each time, the viewport will immediately zoom to the area defined by the selected view.

Using Empty Views for PDF bookmarking

As an added bonus, any views created on the drawing (including Empty Views) will become bookmarks if you save that drawing as a PDF.  This adds greatly to the navigability of PDF files for everyone who uses them.  Within PDF Reader, the bookmarks will appear to the left (similar to the FeatureManager in SolidWorks).  Simply LMB click on the desired view, and PDF Reader will jump to that location.

There are some pitfalls with saving a drawing as PDF, so if your company is experiencing those, then it is not recommended that drawings be saved as PDF.  In those cases, print to PDF works better.  Unfortunately, bookmarks are not created when printing a drawing to PDF.


The one thing that frustrates me about SolidWorks Empty Views is that SolidWorks Corp reduced their functionality (as discussed in Part 2).  However, with a simple hack, they can be used as drawing bookmarks, to contain drawing notes,  and to add functionality to PDF files.  Additionally, they are always useful for containing sketches, as noted in Part 1 of this series.

Using Empty Views (Part 2: Creation)

In this article I’m going to cover how to create an Empty View, and the ugly hack for making it a desired size.  In Part 2, I will cover how to use Empty Views for quick zooming and bookmarks in PDFs.

Creating Empty Views

Creating Empty Views is easy.  With a drawing open, goto Insert pulldown>Drawing View>Empty.

Add empty view to drawing

SolidWorks will then ask for a location on the drawing for the Empty View. Simply LMB click at the desired location.  In the example below, I’ve placed the Empty View in what might seem to be an very unusual location (covering the Revision Block table).  I’ll cover why in Part 2 of this article.

Pick location on drawing

Ugly Hack

To get the Empty View to stretch across the full length of the Revision Block table, we’ll need to employ an ugly hack.  Within the new Empty View, draw a line that starts from the corner of the border. Terminate the other end at the vertex of the table at other end.  The endpoints of this line will not attach to these two vertices, but will drop on top of them when the line is created.

Pick location on drawing

The result is an Empty View sized as required. The way to hide the line in this hack is to place it directly over another line (in this case, the Drawing Border).  (A RMB click on the line and choosing the Hide function will not work.  The view will resize back to its default shape.)

Pick location on drawing

Now RMB click on the view and choose the Lock View option.  This will keep the view in place (preventing it from accidentally shifting around).

Making the Empty View useful

To make this new Empty View useful, rename it in the FeatureManager.Renaming the Empty ViewRenamed Empty View

This will allow for easier identification when it comes time to use this (and any other Empty Views).  Part 2 will explain more about this and the reason for these additional steps.