If you are using SOLIDWORKS Composer, but have not explored the Styles function, you are working too hard! Styles in SOLIDWORKS Composer can be likened to Format Painter in Office or templates in SOLIDWORKS. Fundamentally, Styles are a set of property definitions you can apply to any collaborative actor (text, image, balloon, path, callout, etc.). For example, you can ensure all annotations are the right shade of green you want or custom font your company uses for branding; or ensure all arrows have the same size, color, transparency, and extremity settings. You can do all this with one click or even no clicks!
Technically, Styles are XML data but saved as a *.smgStyleSet file type. These files can be shared amongst multiple users. We’ll be covering that at the end of this blog.
Let’s outline a few benefits first to make sure it’s worth your while to create and share these.
- No need to re-apply properties of every actor every single time they are created. Save yourself some time!
- Allow teammates a faster and powerful way to create consistent-looking documentation. Save everyone else some time!
- If you create documentation for multiple product lines or branding, it’s easy to switch.
A quick technical sidebar: You can create one monolithic Style with all properties for all kinds of actors. This is great for branding. You can create several Styles for different types of collaborative actors, for example, images, text, arrows, primitives, and more. However, if you decide to create or organize styles, make sure to name them descriptively.
How to Create, Share and use Styles
- Simply create a collaborative actor and set all the properties you’d like to standardize. This will vary amongst different types of actors.
- Once it looks right, simply select it and click on the ‘New’ button in the Styles workshop. (Note: The ‘New’ button is not on the ribbon tab, but on the Workshop panel, located on the right-hand side by default.)
- You can also use the ‘Quick Style’ button on the Styles tab, but you will only get the choice to name the style, not directly edit it.
- Optional: Select one or more properties to define in this Style and specify property values. The available properties depend on the selected actor. You can select multiple actors to add various properties to a style. For the Family property, select the actor family to which this style applies, or Generic when applicable to all families.
- No need to save; it’s done automatically.
- Find your custom Styles. You can determine the location of your Style files from Files>Preferences>Date Paths.
- The file will be <StyleName>.smgStyleSet.
- Copy these files to a network location of your choice.
- Redirect all users’ Data Paths to the shared network location.
- Manual Method: Select actors you want to change and select the Style you prefer from the Style Tab.
- Auto Subscribe: Enables Style subscriptions. When an actor is subscribed to a Style, the actor automatically updates when the Style is modified. New actors are automatically subscribed to the default Style.
- When Auto Subscribe is cleared: Default Styles are applied to new actors but without subscriptions. Future changes to the Style do not affect the actors.
- Note: You cannot change subscribed properties in the Properties pane. You must update the Style to change the properties.
- Unsubscribe: Removes Style subscriptions from the selected actors. Style changes no longer affect the actors.
Some Additional Details for Advanced Use:
- Every Style has a Family property that associates the style with an actor type. For example, to make a Style for arrows, set Family to Markups. To make a Style available for all actor types, set Family to Generic. Each actor Family can have its own default Style, the default Generic Style is applied.
- Refresh Previews: Updates the Style preview images (as displayed on the Styles tab) by reloading the Style image files, or when files do not exist, recalculating the previews based on Style definitions.
- Real Time Refresh: Toggle Option: Updates subscribed actors automatically as you make Style changes. Clear this option when refresh performance is slow due to many subscriptions.
- Refresh Scene: Updates the viewport with Style changes made during this session when Real Time Refresh is cleared.
- Refresh Entire Scene: Updates the viewport with Style changes made during this session when Real Time Refresh is cleared.
As an added bonus, check out the video SOLIDWORKS created just for this topic: SOLIDWORKS Quick Start Video: Composer Styles