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2009

This blog post is the fifth in a series of technical tips about the SolidWorks User Interface. Call the series "Everything you wanted to know about -----, but were afraid to ask". The first few posts will be about the various types of toolbars available in the system. This post is about Flyout Tool Buttons in SolidWorks.

 

Flyout Tool Buttons (or Toolbars Flyouts)

There are two general types of toolbar flyouts in SolidWorks.

  1. Toolbar associated flyouts- These flyouts are derived from the regular toolbars and were introduced in SolidWorks 2004. Think of these as taking a regular toolbar and embedding it into another toolbar as a single button. When you hit the button, it flies out a list of all of the commands that are defined on the regular toolbar associated with that flyout. To change the definition of the flyout, you simply make the regular toolbar visible, customize the buttons that are on that toolbar, and then hide the toolbar. Add-in toolbars, if implemented using the CommandManager APIs, automatically create a toolbar associated flyout for each API toolbar. The Reference Geometry and Curve toolbar flyouts as shown below are examples of toolbar associated flyouts that are shown on the Features tab of the CommandManager by default.
                   toolbarlinkflyouts.gif
  2. Hard coded flyouts- These flyouts were introduced in SolidWorks 2008 to allow more flexibility in grouping similar commands together into single buttons. There is a predefined set of these flyouts in SolidWorks and they cannot at this time be customized by the user (although we are considering adding customizability in the future if there is enough demand). There are three different behaviors for these flyouts:

 

    • Simple flyout- this type of flyout has one single behavior whether you hit the icon or arrow portion of the flyout (the mouse over effects only show one "hit" zone). The behavior is to always flyout and show the commands that are defined on the flyout (same behavior as the toolbar associated flyouts). The icon shown on the top level button is an icon chosen to represent all of the contents of the flyout. The View Settings flyout on the Heads-Up View Toolbar is an example of a simple flyout:
                   simpleflyout.gif
    • Last used flyout- these flyouts have two zones on the top level button, one for the icon, and one for the arrow flyout. The icon portion always shows and executes the last command used from the flyout. The Line flyout on the sketch tab of the CommandManager is an example of a last used flyout:
                   lastusedflyout.gif
    • Most commonly used flyout- these flyouts have two zones on the top level button, one for the icon, and one for the arrow flyout. The icon portion always shows and executes the first command listed on the flyout. When we defined these flyouts, we put the most commonly used command of the group at the top of the flyout list. The Pattern flyout on the Features tab of the CommandManager is an example of a most commonly used flyout:
                   patternflyout.gif

We chose to implement these three different behaviors so that we had flexibility depending on the type of commands on the flyout. Our research showed that the majority of users disliked the top level icon always changing to the most recently used command, especially in cases where the icons of the commands within the flyout are drastically different. In such cases, users would have trouble finding the button again once the icon changed. For cases where the icons are similar and there is no clear “winner” on the flyout as to what users would use most (such as rectangle), we used the "last used" type. For cases where there was clearly one type of command used more than others (such as Line vs. Construction Line or Convert Entities vs. Intersection Curve) we chose the "most common" type. The simple flyout is the least used but is used in cases where we want to group less commonly used commands under one button.

 

You add flyouts to the toolbars in the same manner as other toolbar buttons; drag/drop them from the Tools, Customize, Commands dialog. The flyouts are available from the “Toolbar Flyouts” category. The image below shows the customize dialog for the flyouts category and highlights the different types of flyouts (this is the order they are always shown in this dialog):CustomizeDialog.gif

A general behavior of all toolbar flyouts is that only commands that are currently available show on the flyout; i.e. if a command is currently grayed out in the top level menus, it is completely hidden from the flyout. This is a similar behavior to the right mouse button context menus where unavailable commands are hidden.

 

Lastly, there are some other hard coded flyouts "sprinkled" throughout other toolbars in the system that have special behaviors and do not fall into the architecture described above. Examples of these are the Select, Undo and Redo flyouts in the Standard toolbar and the Change Suppression State button in the Assembly toolbar.

 

If users see anything I have missed about Toolbar Flyouts in this blog post, please comment and I will try to update the blog.

 

The following are previous blog posts about toolbars:

      Regular Toolbars

      The Menu Bar

      The CommandManager

      The Heads-Up View Toolbar

 

The next two topics in the series about toolbars will be:

Shortcut Bars ('S' key)

Context Toolbars

 

Enjoy,

Wilkie

 

Copyright © 2009 Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. All rights reserved.
Do not distribute or reproduce without the written consent of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.

You may have seen a post I recently created on the SolidWorks Blog about Usability Testing @ SolidWorks. We are always looking for feedback on both released products and new things under design and development. There is no need to travel to Concord to participate in our usability feedback sessions - you can participate right from your desk. We use GoTo Meeting web conferences.

 

Two examples, right now.

 

First, we are looking for somewhere between eight and ten people to participate in a study about 3D ContentCentral. It doesn't matter if you are a frequent 3D ContentCentral user, or if you have never used it before - we are looking for a wide range of 3D ContentCentral experience. As long as you have about an hour to spend from your office, and have a working Web connection, you can participate. This study is helping to improve navigation and 3D ContentCentral home page design. This study is in progress now, and we expect to be running it through to the middle of next week.

 

Next, we are also looking for eight to ten relatively new SolidWorks users. Specifically, we're looking people who have less than 12 months of experience using SolidWorks, although you may have some (not a lot mind you, some!) experience with other CAD packages. This is a study about sketching and modeling in SolidWorks. As with the 3D ContentCentral study, this study is in progress now. Likewise, you can participate from your desk.

 

If you are interested in possibly participating in either of these studies, please send email to usability@solidworks.com and provide us with a couple of hour time slots that would work best for your schedule.

 

More generally, we keep a list of people who are interested in participating in future feedback sessions. This list is our first "go to" point when we are looking for input and feedback on our designs. If you're interested in joining this pool of SolidWorks usability testers, please fill out our short sign up questionnaire. When your profile matches an upcoming feedback session, we will contact you.

 

Tom Spine

SolidWorks User Experience

This blog post is the fourth in a series of technical tips about the SolidWorks User Interface. Call the series "Everything you wanted to know about -----, but were afraid to ask". The first few posts will be about the various types of toolbars available in the system. This post is about the SolidWorks Heads-Up View Toolbar.

 

Heads-Up View Toolbar

The Heads-Up View Toolbar was added at the top of the document graphics area in SolidWorks 2008 to provide easy access to viewing functions that affect the graphics area. Below is an image of the default Heads-Up View Toolbar.

viewtoolbar.gif

In SolidWorks 2008 and 2009, this toolbar contains a limited set of viewing commands and which commands are currently visible on the toolbar is controlled by using the right mouse button shortcut menu on the toolbar. To completely hide the toolbar in SolidWorks 2008 or 2009, you must deselect all of the buttons in the visibility list. If you have hidden the entire toolbar to make it visible again, move your mouse to the very center of the top of the graphics area and hit the right mouse button to get the visibility menu.

 

Starting with SolidWorks 2010, this toolbar has been upgraded to be consistent with normal toolbars; hide/show visibility of the entire toolbar is controlled in the same manner as Technical Tip: SolidWorks Regular Toolbars and customization is also handled in the same manner (i.e. any button can be added/removed from the toolbar through the use of Tools, Customize). The only differences between this toolbar and a regular toolbar are: 1) It cannot be undocked. 2) Visibility control is stored twice; once for drawings and once for parts/assemblies. 3) Customization of what buttons are shown is stored twice instead of once; once for drawings and once for parts/assemblies.

 

This toolbar shows in the currently "active" viewport of the graphics area (of which there is only one by default so it is always visible). To activate a viewport, click in the viewport.

 

When we added the Heads-Up View Toolbar, we also added some new flyout toolbar buttons to make some of the most common viewing functions easier to access. These flyouts can be placed on any toolbar (not just the Heads-Up View Toolbar) by dragging them from Tools, Customize, Commands, View. The specific view flyouts that we added in SolidWorks 2008 are:

 

View Orientation- This flyout has all of the standard view orientations, user defined orientations, and options for splitting/linking the viewports. The standard views are shown in a common orientation that is easier to interpret than the linear layout of the View Orientation dialog or the Standard Views toolbar. Below is an image of the view orientation flyout shown with two user defined views on it.

vieworientation.gif

Display Style- This flyout consolidates the five different display styles into one flyout, occupying less space. The user can still customize the interface to have the individual display style buttons on their toolbar if they use certain styles more often than others and want direct access with one click instead of two.

displaystyle.gif

Hide/Show Items - This flyout performs the same function as selecting items to hide/show in the top level View menu, but overcomes the number one complaint about the menu which is you cannot select/deselect multiple items without invoking the menu multiple times. Unfortunately, the single select behavior is a behavior of Microsoft menus which cannot be overridden, so we introduced the Hide/Show Items flyout as an improved method to hide/show multiple display items. The image below was taken in SolidWorks 2010 where starting with Beta3, the icon in the lower right corner is used for toggling dimension names on/off (this is now a per document setting instead of a system setting).

hideshow.gif

Apply Scene- This flyout was added to easily change between different background scenes. You can cycle to the next scene in the list by pushing the icon portion of the button or you can choose a specific scene by using the flyout portion. Users often ask how to make their background white and the image below shows the "Plain White" background selected. Note that scenes are per document, so if you don't want to use different scenes for different documents (i.e. you want a plain white or other background for ALL documents), go to Tools, Options, System Options, Colors and choose from one of the other options under "Background appearance".

applyscene.gif

Display Settings - This flyout contains three less commonly used display settings (again, consolidated into one flyout to save space). Again, the user can customize the interface to have these individual display style buttons on their toolbar if desired.

displaysettings.gif

If users see anything I have missed about the Heads-Up View Toolbar in this blog post, please comment and I will try to update the blog.

 

The following are previous blog posts about toolbars:

      Technical Tip: SolidWorks Regular Toolbars

      Technical Tip: SolidWorks Menu Bar

      Technical Tip: SolidWorks CommandManager

 

The next few topics in the series about toolbars will be:

Technical Tip: Flyout Tool Buttons

Technical Tip: Shortcut Bars ("S" Key)

Technical Tip: SolidWorks Context Toolbars

 

Enjoy,

Wilkie

 

Copyright © 2009 Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. All rights reserved.
Do not distribute or reproduce without the written consent of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.

This blog post is the third in a series of technical tips about the SolidWorks User Interface. Call the series "Everything you wanted to know about -----, but were afraid to ask". The first few posts will be about the various types of toolbars available in the system. This post is about the SolidWorks CommandManager.

 

The CommandManager

The CommandManager was originally introduced in SolidWorks 2004 and was enhanced in SolidWorks 2008 and 2009. It originally was a "super toolbar" where you could simply choose as many normal toolbars as you wanted to be grouped into this super toolbar, so multiple toolbars could occupy the same space. You chose buttons in the "control area" of the CommandManager to indicate which normal toolbar you wanted to be active.

The main goal of the CommandManager was to allow access to many toolbars without taking up a lot of screen real estate since we know many users want as much space for their model as possible. It is obviously a tradeoff between space and mouse clicks, but we built some "smarts" into it so it would automatically switch the active toolbar when appropriate (like when going into or coming out of Sketch mode).

 

The CommandManager has now evolved into a tabbed container of toolbar buttons. It is similar to the Microsoft "Ribbon Bar" released with Office 2007, but is much more customizable and does not completely replace the menus. The user can make as many tabs as they like and put toolbar buttons and separators of their choosing on each tab. The CommandManager has three separate user customizable definitions (part, assemblies and drawings). There is also a "special" user customizable definition of buttons that shows up at the left side of the CommandManager when the user is in Edit Part in Assembly mode. Below is a picture of the current CommandManager:

CM.gif

 

Some users use the CommandManager for their most commonly used toolbars while others use it for their least commonly used toolbars (and use regular toolbars or other methods for more direct access with less clicks).

 

Below is a list of other behaviors that are available with the CommandManager:

  • You navigate between the tabs of the CommandManager by selecting the desired tab OR scrolling your mouse wheel when your mouse is over the CommandManager.
  • You can make the CommandManager a lot smaller by unselecting "Use Large Buttons with Text" (through Tools, Customize, Toolbars or right mouse button shortcut menu on the application/toolbar frame). This turns the text off and makes it about the size of a regular toolbar, with the addition of the tabs. Note that it is intended that the icon size itself is linked to the "Large icons" option in Tools, Customize, Toolbars and not controlled by the "Use Large Buttons with Text" option. This option was originally called "Show Descriptions" but users didn't seem to find that option and always asked "how do I turn off the large buttons" so we renamed the option to be more discoverable. The presence of the text is what makes the buttons large, not the icon size. Below is a picture of the CommandManager with the text turned off:

          CM2.gif

  • Most customization of the CommandManager is done when the Tools, Customize, Commands dialog is up, similar to customizing regular toolbars. Below are the things you can do while in customize mode.
    • Add an empty tab by clicking on the tab with the new tab icon on it (shown below) or by selecting Add Tab, Empty Tab from the right mouse shortcut menu on one of the existing tabs. If using the shortcut menu, the new tab is added after the tab where you used the shortcut menu.

                    CM-new.gif

    • Add a new tab pre-populated with all of the buttons from an existing toolbar by selecting Add Tab, <toolbar name> from the right mouse shortcut menu on one of the existing tabs.
    • Copy the definition of a tab from one document type definition (part, assembly, or drawing) to another by selecting Copy Tab to <document type> from the right mouse shortcut menu on one of the existing tabs. If the tab already exists in the target document type, it will ask you if you would like to over-write the definition.
    • Delete a user added tab by selecting Delete from the right mouse shortcut menu on one of the user added tabs. You cannot delete the tabs that are defined by default in the SolidWorks installation.
    • Rename a user added tab by selecting Rename Tab from the right mouse shortcut menu on one of the user added tabs.
    • Hide a tab by selecting Hide Tab from the right mouse shortcut menu on one of the existing tabs. Show a hidden tab (shown grayed in customize mode) by selecting Show Tab from the right mouse shortcut menu on one of the existing tabs. Note that you can also hide/show tabs when not in customize mode; simply select the name of the tab you want to hide/show from the right mouse shortcut menu when over any of the tabs.
    • Add buttons to a tab by dragging them from the Tools, Customize, Commands dialog onto the tab. When using "Use large buttons with text" mode, the default size/shape of the button is dictated by the adjacent button and you can tell what you will get by the "I" beam shape of where the button is dropped.
    • Remove a button by dragging it off of the tab or selecting Delete from the right mouse shortcut menu while over the button.
    • Change the "size/shape" of a button while using "Use large buttons with text" mode by choosing options from the right mouse shortcut menu while over the button. There are three different button sizes/shapes: without text, with text on the right, and with text below. The text below option is only available when the CommandManager is docked along the top of the SolidWorks window; text on the right is the only text option when the CommandManager is docked on the left, right, or undocked.
    • Add a separator before a button by selecting "Begin a Group" from the right mouse shortcut menu while over the button. A separator can be turned off by unselecting this option on the button that is just after the separator.
  • When you turn the CommandManager off (through Tools, Customize, Toolbars or right mouse button shortcut menu on the application/toolbar frame), SolidWorks automatically shows the regular toolbars equivalentto the visible tabs. This behavior was originally put in with SolidWorks 2004 when we wanted an easy way for users to turn off the CommandManager and get the equivalent regular toolbars (which was the default setup out of the box before the CommandManager was introduced). Now that we have other preferred methods to access commands such as the Shortcut Bar, we may want to take this behavior out to save users from having to go back and hide the regular toolbars after turning off the CommandManager.
  • Starting with SolidWorks 2009, you can dock the CommandManager on the top, left or right of the SolidWorks application or have it undocked. Simply drag anywhere on the CommandManager to move it, and to dock it, drop it on one of the three icons showing the possible docking locations. To have it floating/undocked, simply drop it anywhere in "space". The icons are used for docking as it becomes too difficult to get such a large piece of UI into a desirable floating position if the entire top, left and right of the application window are dockable locations.
  • Starting with SolidWorks 2009, you can dock regular toolbars adjacent to the CommandManager. Simply drag them to the right of the CommandManager if docked on top or below the CommandManager if docked on the left or right.

     

    If users see anything I have missed about the CommandManager in this blog post, please comment and I will try to update the blog.

     

    The following are previous blog posts about toolbars:

          Technical Tip: SolidWorks Regular Toolbars

          Technical Tip: SolidWorks Menu Bar

     

    The next few topics in the series about toolbars will be:

    Technical Tip: SolidWorks Heads-Up View Toolbar

    Technical Tip: Flyout Tool Buttons

    Technical Tip: Shortcut Bars ("S" Key)

    Technical Tip: SolidWorks Context Toolbars

     

    Enjoy,

    Wilkie

 

Copyright © 2009 Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp. All rights reserved.
Do not distribute or reproduce without the written consent of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp.