Inventors new and improved text editor is a GOST

Every time I think I know Inventor inside and out, I learn something new. I discovered something very exciting today that for sure would have stayed buried if it wasn’t for my prying nature and an overdose of coffee. First, let’s start with some background information. I have been asking Autodesk for many years now for an improved drawing text editor. Anybody that has ever used Inventor to create a drawing with complex notes can understand that Inventor is no AutoCAD when it comes to text editing. I always thought it would be great if there was a little more intelligence around adding notes to a drawing. The ability to add notes as smart bullet lists with the ability to embed symbols within the note, such as surface finishes, feature control frames and toleranced dimensions would be very beneficial.

This brings me to my discovery of what Autodesk has provided to the lucky people who use the GOST standard. There is a hidden gem of an add-in that is not enabled by default within Inventor called. “ESKD Support”. You can enable it by opening the add-ins manager from Inventors “tools” menu. Check the “Loaded/Unloaded” checkbox and the “Load on Startup” checkbox.

Once the add-in is loaded and you have a drawing open, the “Annotate” ribbon menu appears as “Annotate (ESKD)” with a few extra options. Most notable is the “Technical Requirements” function.

This technical requirements tool is basically a note editor on steroids. The tool allows for the following additional functionality:

  • Adding a new note to the list with one click button or by clicking the enter button. Notes act like bullet lists.
  • Undo/Redo functionality.
  • Move up/Move down tool for re-ordering the notes.
  • Added stacked dimensions, surface finishes, feature control frames.
  • Break notes into subsections.
  • Automatically create new columns when the quantity of notes exceeds the set limit.
  • Set the note column width to a hard value. This allows for precise control over the width of the columns.
  • Save notes as templates to use on other drawings.
  • Link balloons to notes. Updating the balloon number also updates the number in the note.

So now that I have seen what is possible, I’m wondering why doesn’t Autodesk expand this functionality beyond the GOST standard? This is almost exactly what we have all been looking for. With some minor updates, this could be a really nice main stream tool to use within all of our Inventor drawings. I did however, find a few things odd or insufficient. The size of the feature control frames and other symbols was a little on the small side. Also, the font used in the dialog windows was a little hard to read. It really would be nice to incorporate the standard dialogs for surface finishes and feature control frames used elsewhere for this technical requirements tool. The lack of the ability to embed custom sketched symbols is also lacking. I personally have a need to flag note numbers with a triangle. This denotes the note applies to a specific feature on the drawing and is more than just a general note. The ability to link notes to custom symbols would really be a fantastic feature as you can do with the balloons.

Beyond the “Technical Requirements” tool is a really nice title block editing tool that allows for property input to the title block through a dialog window that represents the appearance of the actual title block. If our standard iProperty editor could be customized in similar fashion for use with our own custom title blocks, this would bring smiles to many Inventor users’ faces. We all would like Autodesk to embrace the “delighting the customer” approach. Nothing delights us more than to improve features that persist as being cumbersome from release to release.

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YouTube: Managing Data with Autodesk Vault

Great video from Autodesk… Makes me want to break out my Sharpie.

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Autodesk Cloud Now Available! – (Exclusive)

Taking a page out of how Engadget would do it, I just entered into my web browser and bam! It works. Looks like this is what Autodesk is set to announce soon. I was surprised that it was such a plain address and already open to the public. Just sign on using your existing Autodesk username and you get 1GB of free storage. Enjoy!

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Autodesk Design Review for iOS – Now Available

Well Autodesk has finally done it and released ‘Design Review’ for iOS devices. I am also now certain that they are really up to something big with all of this. I have discussed this in several past blog posts and Autodesk has finally delivered:

What’s notable about the application is the Autodesk Cloud option. Opening this folder brings you to the standard Autodesk logon window. After I signed on, I almost was in disbelief that my FishFinder PDF appeared in the list of available documents. This was the document I uploaded using the Autodesk Labs Project Nitrous application as discussed in this blog post. Very cool, indeed. This is also starting to paint a grand picture for the November 29th Vault announcement at Autodesk University discussed in this blog post.

The Design Review application itself seemed to function well but  it looks like for now it is just a basic, bare bones application with 3D model and 2D drawing viewing capabilities. It also allows you to add basic text and callout redlines. No measurement tool is available but you can obtain property information on individual components that may contain the length. Measurement capability would certainly be a nice plus if Autodesk decides to add it in future updates.

Unfortunately, the app can not yet import DWF’s from email attachments on your iOS device yet. The Autodesk Labs Project Nitrous tool is the best interim method for importing files for use with the app until something more streamlined is provided. Update(1): Also, the Nitrous project seems to be disabled. Update(2): Project Nitrous is working again. The Design Review app has this in the help file: “Upload a document: If you have an Autodesk Cloud account, you can upload documents from your desktop or laptop”. Well, since I do not have an account, don’t know what it is and certain this is available in the future and not not… the iPhone Design Review app can only view the sample data on your phone and nothing more right now.

I’m really looking forward to using this app for some real world, in the field scenarios. Also looking forward to the final big picture tie in for all the puzzle pieces to fit together. I’m sure, we’re definitely in for some exciting, new applications to really start putting some meat and potatoes type backing to the whole Autodesk data management vision.

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