What is it?? A drawing tree looks like this:
Why do I need it?? Its purpose is very important. It is a way to quickly view a project, especially for those of you who need to keep non-engineering staff briefed on progress. Many of your team members don't have SolidWorks. And even if they did, do you really want them opening and snooping around your project files? I didn't think so.
The drawing tree just graphically displays why you see in an assembly's feature tree. It lays it out very nicely so a quick glance gives one a tremendous amount of information. What quicker way to show the scope of a project and, if properly illustrated with colors and such, display the ongoing status??
If done correctly, this can be extremely useful for project management and to provide project or program visibility to your organization.
First, though, I would like to say that several years ago, I asked Hawkridge Systems, one of my VAR's, if they could create a "Hawkware" product (Hawkware is their custom software for SolidWorks users) that would create a drawing tree from a SolidWorks assembly.
Challenge accepted! They jumped on it and this is the result:
it's called "TreeView Studio" and is a standalone product. Free to all!
Now, a year or two after they came out with this, funny, but SolidWorks re-released Treehouse. Hmmm. Originally Treehouse could not produce a Drawing Tree from an assembly file, so in other words, what good was it? Well, maybe Hawkridge's efforts spurned them on a bit.
Neither of these products is any good, I'm sad to say, unless you only do small assemblies. In which case, you probably don't need this.
TreeView has an advantage because it can export a snapshot of the tree so you can at least print it. But it will not create a Drawing Tree of a large assembly. I just get a blank screen. So it is not usable. We have an assembly that has around 5000 bodies, 2200 parts, and under 500 unique parts and about 130 unique assemblies. This is maybe a medium sized assembly for us and it won't convert the tree.
Here is an image of the output of TreeView on a small assembly:
Treehouse will produce a Drawing Tree of a large assembly, but it has no export or print options. Another fail. Also, it seems the icons don't work consistently. Here's a picture of it's output:
So here we see the effort of two different groups going to waste on what could be a very powerful engineering tool with proper implementation.
Finally, here is a defunct product that had potential, but since nobody knows what a drawing tree is, I guess they didn't get enough orders:
I would like to see a product called "ProjectTree", because this is a project management tool.
- I would like it to be a SolidWorks add-in!
- I would like to be able to place it on a drawing format, should I choose.
- I would like to be able to easily arrange it on that format by dragging, perhaps even using snap feature for uniform layout.
- I would like to be able to color code the blocks and produce a legend so that one can quickly visualize how the project is going.
- Multiple trees could be made for each project representing various requirements, one tree for manufacturing status, one tree for engineering status, etc...
- I would like a variety of options in each part or assembly "block" (icon in nice, part number, revision, what else do you think would be helpful?).*
- Please add more suggestions below!
*Each block containing an assembly or part could be a treasure trove of information. SolidWorks has already started this process:
When we look at a single block, see all the information surrounding the part icon.
-The upper left is a component configuration button. From this one can actually change the active configuration in the assembly.
-Below that is the custom properties button that one can press to check custom properties or change custom properties. Pretty dang slick if you are one to want to organize your project from one location or quickly check if your team has filled everything out correctly.
-The upper right number (2) is the number of instances of this block.
-Below that (0) is the suppression count.
-In both TreeView and Treehouse, one can open the part or assembly from a block in SolidWorks using the right click.
So much more could be available. I'm imagining a small grid in the lower corner of the block, customizable to the number of squares, but each square represents something: design finished, drawing finished, ordered, manufactured, installed, etc. A legend would clarify and one would be looking to fill all the grid as the project completes.
Anyone who plays around a little bit with either of these unfinished programs can quickly see the tremendous potential for project management and organization. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this could be worth so much more if properly implemented.
I think it wouldn't require a huge effort to produce a wonderful tool to help those of us who are involved in large project management, and even those who want to keep smaller projects somewhat organized. And if the tool works correctly, I think a lot more users will become Drawing Tree enthusiasts.
And so, why aren't these being used? First, it seems nobody knows about them. Second, they lend themselves to larger projects, many SolidWorks users maybe aren't dealing with large assemblies. Third, the only way to do it now is manually, such as on AutoCAD...BLAH!
If you think this tool can help you, add some suggestions below.