Making Custom Views More Intelligent with SOLIDWORKS Composer

Custom Views are essential when you create interactive content for sales, marketing and technical applications with SOLIDWORKS Composer. Also known as Intelligent Views, Custom Views enable you to simplify the user experience and amplify its effect at the same time. What makes these views so powerful? They contain a user-defined selection of properties. This means that YOU define what happens when the end user activates a custom view.

In the example above, a custom view activates when the user clicks on a button. For example, the dome hides when the user clicks the green dome button. Likewise, the dome shows when the user clicks the red dome button. This blog post reviews how to create these dynamic, color changing buttons and how to use them to activate custom views.

Before you continue, please note that this post assumes you have a basic proficiency with SOLIDWORKS Composer. If you have not done so already, I recommend going through the SOLIDWORKS Composer learning path on MySolidWorks or attend a training class offered by your SOLIDWORKS Certified Value Added Reseller.

Creating the buttons

Before we walk through the creation of custom views, let me show you how I created the buttons.

  1. Open the Technical Illustration Workshop
  2. Select the components of interest (Selection Sets work well here)
  3. Enable “Detail view” in the workshop
  4. Resize the detail area to fit your components
  5. Click Create

Close the workshop and edit the size and properties of the new image. In my example, I set the Attach Type to None to remove the arc tooltip. I also disabled the shadow.

I repeat this process to create additional buttons and create a “HOME” view that shows all of my new buttons. This creates a simple on-screen user interface. The end user will click these buttons to go through a series of Custom Views without digging into the entire list of views in the project.

The series of Custom Views should create a loop. I create a map to help keep track of my progress. For example, the dome button will:

  1. First click
  1. Activate “Hide Dome” custom view
  2. Change the color of the button to red
  • Second click
  1. Activate “Show Dome” custom view
  2. Change the color of the button to green
  • Third click – repeat first click

Mapping out the other two buttons and creating the views in Composer, we see something like this:

As you can see, each button puts the user into a repetitive cycle of custom views. Please note that with SOLIDWORKS Composer 2019 and newer, you can identify custom views by the camera icon in the lower right corner of the view thumbnail. Now that I have the buttons, how do I create these custom views and associate them to the buttons? Let us continue with the dome example.

Hide/Show components AND provide visual feedback from the buttons

We can create and modify Custom Views using the Views Workshop. I will start by creating custom view that shows the dome.

  1. Open the Views Workshop
  2. Select the components of interest (Selection Sets prove very helpful again)
  3. Select items to capture – only pick what is desired
  1. Actors, Apply to Selection, and Custom/Opacity in this case
  • Click Create

To create the “hide” custom view, I change the opacity property for the selected actors to zero and click Create again. This gives you two new views – one that shows the dome and one that hides the dome. Rename the views accordingly.

Important Note: Why did I use Opacity instead of Visibility? While either option works well with the scope provided, the opacity option is more flexible. Custom views using opacity are better suited for reuse with animations. Opacity can change throughout an animation while visibility is a static setting that does not change throughout an animation. Likewise, if the visibility is off for an actor in an animation, it is off for the entire animation.

Next, I will update the new custom views with the additional changes for color and link.

  1. Activate the “HOME” view
  2. Select the button
  3. Change the color Background Color property
  4. Define the Link
  1. Click the ellipses (…) to get the open dialogue
  • Select items to capture
  1. Actors, Custom/Selected Properties only
  2. Hold control (Ctrl) to select both color and link as shown (highlighted in blue in Properties)
  • Select the destination view
  • Click Update

I repeat this process for the custom view that shows the dome, choosing a different color and view for the link.

I also do a final update on the “HOME” view so that it also captures the color and link properties. To test, I switch off Design Mode and give the new button a test.

Cycle through a series of actions with one button

I made the four rotation custom views using the same method. Obviously, I captured different properties in the Custom Views, so here they are:

  • Location
  • I used the Location property in the Views Workshop for the four different positions of the model as shown above
  • Selected properties / Link
  • I used Selected properties in the Views Workshop to only capture the Link property
  • This is very similar to going back and forth between two views, but I created a cycle as shown above for each view. For example:
  • “Azimuth 0” links to “Altitude 0”
  • “Altitude 0” links to “Altitude 90”
  • “Altitude 90” links to “Azimuth 90”
  • “Azimuth 90” links to “Azimuth 0”

Again, I update the “HOME” view so that it has a starting point to enter each custom view loop.

What is also very powerful with this method is that these custom views I created DO NOT change the camera so that when the end user zooms in, rotates the model and click on a button, their camera view will be maintained.

With the broad range of properties captured in Custom Views, you are able to create wonderful experiences for your prospects, customers and technicians. Do not be overwhelmed by the number of possibilities. Start simple. As you have seen, in order to increase the intelligence of your custom views, start with the basic function and then add more properties as you progress.

In the Getting Started Workshop, click “Choose a Sample…” to explore a variety of examples that use these methods.

Ever since he was first able to crawl, Michael has been pushing buttons to figure out how things work and sharing his experiences to empower others. From pool trick shots to technology previews while wearing leopard print suits, Michael lives the question of “how can I do that in SOLIDWORKS?”

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