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2009

This blog post is the seventh 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 Context Toolbars.

 

Context Toolbars

Context Toolbars were introduced for part and assembly documents in SolidWorks 2008 to provide easier access to the most common commands/options that relate to the current selection. SolidWorks 2010 adds the Context Toolbar for Drawing documents. The following image shows an example of the context toolbar alone on the left and the context toolbar on top of the right mouse button shortcut menu on the right:

context-toolbar.png

These toolbars work similar to the “Mini Toolbar” introduced in Microsoft Office 2007; on selection, they show up partially transparent and become opaque if you move your mouse onto them or disappear when you move your mouse away from them (assuming you don’t want to use the toolbar). The context toolbar is positioned very close to the mouse when making selections in the FeatureManager tree (similar to the Mini Toolbar in Office) but is positioned further away when making selections in the graphics area so it is easier to make multiple selections of geometry without moving your mouse away to dismiss the context toolbar first. The context toolbar also disappears if you hit the CTRL key to make multiple selections and comes back when you let go of the CTRL key.

 

The default behavior is that the Context Toolbar shows when you select an object with the left mouse button. It also shows at the top of the shortcut menu if you use your right mouse button to make a selection (or after you have made a selection). You can customize when the Context Toolbar is used through Tools, Customize, Toolbars; choosing to use it for left click (selection), right click (shortcut menu), for both, or for neither.

 

The buttons shown on the context toolbars are hard coded and cannot be customized by the user. SolidWorks has chosen to put the most commonly used commands from the shortcut menus onto the Context Toolbars for easier access. It takes a little bit of time to learn the icons, but many users find this approach much more efficient once learned. There are tooltips on the icons to help describe what each button does. Another benefit of the context toolbars is that the icons are in a more predictable location than on the standard shortcut menus and can be used with less "hunting". Once users become familiar with the icons and their placement, they can often even use the buttons by "muscle memory" instead of visual scanning for their location.

 

If users see anything I have missed about Context Toolbars 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

      Toolbar Flyouts

      The Shortcut Bar ('S' key)

 

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 sixth 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 Shortcut Bars ("S" Key).

 

Shortcut Toolbars ("S" Key)

The Shortcut Bars are user customizable toolbars that were introduced in SolidWorks 2008. The intention of the Shortcut Bars is to allow users access to commonly used commands in different "environments" with very little mouse movement. There are four versions of the Shortcut Bars, one each for parts, assemblies, drawings, and sketches (the default Shortcut Bars for each environment are shown below):

ShortcutBarAll.gif

To invoke the Shortcut Bar, simply hit the S key and the Shortcut Bar will popup right next to the mouse. The Shortcut Bar disappears as soon as you select a command from it or click anywhere else in the SolidWorks application window. The keyboard shortcut used to invoke the Shortcut Bar can be redefined in the Others category in Tools, Customize, Keyboard if desired.

 

To customize what commands are on the Shortcut Bar, when the Shortcut Bar is up, choose Customize from the right mouse button shortcut menu on the Shortcut Bar as shown below:

ShortcutBarCustomize.gif

The Customize dialog will open to the Commands tab and you can customize buttons on/off of the Shortcut Bar like any other toolbar. When the Customize dialog is up, you can also resize the shape of the Shortcut Bar by dragging any one of the edges. Repeat the procedure in each of the document modes to customize the four versions of the Shortcut Bar.

 

The Shortcut Bar is a good interface for users who want access to many commands with little mouse movement, yet don't want to have to memorize many individual keyboard shortcuts. Many power users have adopted the Shortcut Bar as their primary interface to accessing commands, hiding the CommandManager and regular toolbars so they have a very large area for their model display.

 

If users see anything I have missed about the Shortcut Bar 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

      Toolbar Flyouts

 

The last topic in the series about toolbars will be:

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.