61 Replies Latest reply on Jul 17, 2018 8:18 AM by Jesse Seger

    The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!

    Chris Clouser

      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:


      2017-03-15 14_29_20-HawkWare™ TreeView Studio.jpg


      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:


      2017-03-14 16_37_20-Treehouse - pump truck trree.jpg


      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:


      2017-03-15 14_36_37-Treehouse - Untitled.jpg


      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.

        • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
          Jeff Holliday

          There was a program about 10 years ago called SolidMap (from Kollabnet) which was like treehouse on steroids. In addition to just allowing very good visualization of a project would also point out things like circular relationships within/between parts. It was quite a nice program but did not gain a lot of traction - possibly due to price. From what I can tell, SW 2010 was about the last version released. Shortly after that Treehouse was shown and included in SolidWorks Labs. For those that never heard of it, SolidWorks Labs was an area within the SW Site that some early versions of side programs were available to SW users to gage interest in the functionality.

          • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
            Dave Bear

            Hi Chris,

            Okay, before I throw my two cents in here, I am going to willingly disclose that I do NOT use SolidWorks for a living and that I have only been using the product for approximately 8 - 9 months. With that being said, I still believe my opinion is as valid as any other albeit perhaps in a smaller way lol.

            Personally for me an add-in such as "ProjectTree" or "Treehouse" in SolidWorks that was actually fully functional would be terrific. I don't see that I would have the demand for high end functions that those that use SolidWorks everyday may need, but I'd be coming from a organisational aspect. Working on the model that I have been for the last 6 months I've often found myself doing something else and then having to write a note because I've thought "Oh!, I'm going to need to model these parts", "Oh!, I'm also going to have to make some of these".

            If there was a platform whereby you could have your initial concept as a main project (assembly/ assemblies) and this could be broken down as you indicated into your sub-assemblies, parts and drawings it would be great. Then you could plan which parts and sub-assemblies are required where under those 'tree branches' etc. As you think of things, you add them to the required area. As they are started, they get assigned a colour, when the part is complete, a different colour. When the drawing is done for that part, yet again another colour or check. When all required parts for a sub-assembly are done, yet the same again.............. rinse and repeat...........


            I hope I've made sense of what I'm trying to explain here. Just a little planner, that shows you what's in a project from initial concept, let's you add what you may have missed from the beginning, and let's you track your overall progress. As for it's cosmetic appeal and UI I really have no preference but import and export capabilities are definitely a big want.


            Like I said, this may not be the same sort of desire as many others may have but I like to be somewhat organised where possible and feel that this would help. Especially with fading brain capabilities................



              • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                Chris Clouser



                Treehouse does have some of the functionality of which you speak.


                You can build a "blank" tree, or I'm guessing add to an existing one.  Haven't tried it.


                It will use your templates and as I've shown above, you can start filling in custom properties from Treehouse.  It's in your start menu SolidWorks Tools folder.


                So you can see how with improved functionality, this really could be the hub that helps you control your project.


                I have to manage large projects and several employees.  this tool, if it worked properly, would make a TREMENDOUS improvement at how effective I can manage a project.

                  • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                    Dennis Dohogne


                    I remember at the SWX2017 rollout they showed the improvements to date that had been done for Treehouse.  Nobody in our group had been using it and even the VAR only knew what they were showing for the rollout.  However, he did say this was an area of renewed development for SWX.  You have some great points, but I also know you have had some issues with SWX Corporate.  That said, have you put any of these ideas into Enhancement Requests?  Even though these forums are moderated, the good folks at SWX still are in love with their ER system instead of paying close attention to posts such as these.


                    Alternatively, there are some folks like Jody Stiles, Matthew Lorono, Richard Doyle and others that do have an active presence here on the forums.  I am tagging you guys so you can perhaps bring this post to the attention of someone at SWX that can really draw from it for the development of Treehouse.  Better yet, have that person engage with Chris directly.

                      • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                        Chris Clouser

                        Thanks Dennis.


                        One point of clarification, my issues are probably more with Dassult than with SolidWorks.


                        Evil Corporate Overlords, and all that.


                        The love of money is the root of all evil.  These new full backdating policies and such should rub us ALL the same way: the wrong way.  Even for those who don't have to concern themselves about maintenance costs, they should at least feel some pain for their employers.


                        We've all probably worked at companies where the profit margin was the focus, not the product and not the customer.  It makes going to work suck.  I get the feeling from the Glassdoor reviews of SolidWorks that this is somewhat how it is.  That in turn makes me worry for the future of the product, the untold time and money I've invested in it, and all the other people I've brought to the trough.


                        Speaking of the Glassdoor reviews, it appears that a bunch of employees have recently bolstered the ratings!  Perhaps after a few of us have mentioned some of the poor reviews?  But either way, I usually find the most valuable information in the lowest reviews.  Try it on your next Amazon purchase, the lower ratings are the most informative.




                        I haven't submitted an ER on this Drawing Tree thing yet.  I do submit a lot of ER's.  I think the first thing I am trying to do is get people to understand what this lost art form of a Drawing Tree is, how it can make their lives so much easier in many cases, and then once the demand increases, I think we can get some changes.   But I think that's the biggest problem right now is that how many engineers and designers even know what this is!!??


                        thanks again

                      • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                        Dave Bear

                        Chris ,

                        I had a play with 'Treehouse' last night. Firstly, it's one of those rare trees that grow sideways which is a little annoying. As an experiment, I loaded my current project into it (V12 engine) and the end result was a HUGE horizontal line that was somewhat cumbersome to navigate. I've no doubt, perhaps part of this is to do with my sub-assembly to assembly relations maybe, but even so. Secondly, I tried playing around with a blank setup but found it too hard to get simple things in motion. Therefore, for what I have suggested previously, user friendliness is not present.

                        I have the vision of something that "branched down" as in your example and the example of 'Treeview'. A project planner from the beginning, but with all the other aspects that an engineer slash designer may need of course.


                        Perhaps there is already an Office suite program that I could utilise for this? But something that was incorporated into SW would be awesome.



                          • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                            Chris Clouser

                            you're right, your assembly structure will effect the shape of the tree but Treehouse does seem to spread things horizontally.


                            You should try the TreeView link above.  It will probably present a more visually pleasing tree.  This can be exported to a graphic for printing.  but it does not allow manipulation of the tree with new, empty parts and assemblies.

                              • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                Stephen Graber

                                I think (or understand) the horizontal feature view of treehouse is to show the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc indenture levels.  supposedly a product should be considered for subcontracting at around the 5th indenture level.  in-house production logistics are reduced if/when significant subassemblies are outsourced.  (for companies I've worked in, this might be such as harness and cable assemblies).


                                but I agree, strictly horizontal is hard to work with.  right off it doesn't fit on a screen or print well.  some software geek must know how to make these group-smart assemblies move lower to fit on a screen.  again, some version of Visio might help the view and presentation of a product structure.

                        • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                          Paul Salvador

                          ..I luv the concept.. have used them both a few times but.. sadly,.. they always felt like alpha/betaware... 

                          ..so... for fun, I opened up a 2017 asm.. to see.. and crash....  btw, Hawkridge "was" my Var... no longer...


                          • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                            William Radigan

                            Thanks for the link to TreeView Studio Chris.  After playing with both TreeHouse and TreeView Studio this morning, I found that the HawkWare product came closer to what I was looking for, mostly due to the ability to export relatively high-resolution PNG images.  Exporting a vector graphic (SVG? or Adobe Illustrator?) would be a nice plus, but I wont complain about a free product that helps me out.


                            The SW TreeHouse 2017 enhancements for printing are a step in the right direction, but truncated filenames and inability to customize the displayed information just didn't work for me.

                            • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                              Jesse Seger

                              Hey Guys

                              I'm Jesse Seger, the lead developer for TreeView.  I'm excited that many people have found this product useful.  It started out as a small tool to offer to our customers after SolidWorks killed their labs program.  TreeView quickly become popular.  It was/is never meant to be in competition with Treehouse, but I'll just say that we get a lot of compliments on TreeView.


                              Even though this is a free tool, it is still a priority for us to improve the functionality, add features, and grow our customer base.  I'm happy to announce that we have a new version of TreeView with a few added features.  You can now select a custom property to show under the thumbnail in place of the file name.  Or you can remove all of the text to show a nice clean tree. 


                              Don't forget you can also save a thumbnail for every component, search for custom properties, add/edit/remove custom properties, and view external references if they exist.


                              Here is a link for the download.  Enjoy!


                              TreeView Studio 2017 – HawkWare

                              • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                Chad Huleatt

                                Biggest problem with tree house IMO is that it does not show drawings, unless you have pre-created the assembly structure, with drawings, in tree house.


                                I often have to make more than one drawing for a part (i.e. one drawing to get blank from vendor, second drawing for in house machining etc), and a program that could show all that would be very helpful.

                                • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                  Christopher Estelow


                                    I just installed TreeView and I wanted to thank you for sharing the link.  Awesome program and keep up the great work!!!

                                  • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                    Stephen Cooper

                                    just found this post Chris. I completely agree with you.

                                    We use Product Family trees extensively. They are a great way to visualise the structure of a product, for engineers change management, Project & Product managers, ERP administrators, Service and manufacturing etc. We currently create them manually in 2D CAD, but this seems a waste of time when the structure, data, and custom properties are already in CAD. An enhanced Treehouse could be a great tool for this. Treehouse really isn't much use for large assemblies (1000+ parts).


                                    A few items I'd like to see;-


                                    Reuse existing BoM data (exclude items set as "do not show in BoM")

                                    Use custom properties / PDM data

                                    Place diagram on a drawing sheet

                                    Ability to rearrange the diagram, icons, linking lines, on a drawing sheet to get a better pictorial presentation.

                                    Full ability to add additional 2D graphics to mark up, group annotate the diagram.

                                    Be able to split the diagram on to multiple sheets (So icons are readable on large (1000+ part) assemblies).


                                    I've tried to push this via my VAR, but I guess this will have to be submitted as an ER?



                                    • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                      Bernie Daraz

                                      Just bumped into this post...


                                      At a former contract position the lead project manager would create a 'tree view' as a flow chart of the project in One Note. That would define the project and would 'construct' the 'assembly' from PCB to drawings. Along the way part numbers and names would be specified. It made my job much easier. I had to add intermediate model names to the One Note view when I created a file to send to the PCB designer as the case might be for a DXF file of the PCB. At this stage it appeared to be a complete flow chart and indicated the complete BOM, model and drawing requirements going forward. Sorry I don't have any examples to share, they would have been proprietary in any case.

                                      • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                        Stephen Graber

                                        you nailed it Chris!  the drawing tree approach is classic for project/program management.  we used to make these by hand "back in the day".  even turning them sideways we could track a project status across a timeline.  we were able to drawings released, tooling ordered, identify parts ordered, received, ready for use, etc.  all classic project management needs. 


                                        and while MS Projects "can do the same thing", it really can't.  someone (the engineer) has to re-input all this data into a timeline.  Frankly that isn't happening.  perhaps if MS Projects saw the value of this project management scheme they might take the concept and go forward with it?


                                        I did a similar product structure visual aid on a recent project using Visio to help convey the product complexity.  it's a great visual aid.  and since it's all manual when we made radical changes to the product design - guess what - I updated nothing because of the time involved.


                                        I doubt this is "hard" to actually do, it's just no one wants to do the software.  the younger generation never saw a drawing tree so they are simply unaware of how one can be used.  however this is an extremely good tool for engineers.  typically the engineer runs the project, and this kind of a tool is extremely valuable to engineers.

                                        • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                          David Matula

                                          Get the tree linked to the MRP system.  Be able to tell the status of any part along its life cycle.  From the time is spends in design to the time it takes to get built, to when the parts will show up at the shop to be assembled.  Right on down to where the exact location that the unit is being stored waiting on the customer to put it into service.

                                                      Now to be able to take all this info from multiple sources and compile it into one awesome dash board that lets you know where a project is and how it is doing along the way.  This would allow a sharing of a project from the guy that is drawing the parts to the guy that is selling the units to the customer is one so chooses.  To get a better understanding of the project as a whole something that has taken years to learn.  Inventory to raw materials to mfg lead times.

                                          So to be able to click on any part and find out where it is in the process would be great. 

                                          To be able to do this without SolidWorks on the machine would be even better.  

                                          • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                            Stephen Graber

                                            AGREED - it would be great information.  to summarize all the info into a tree-status of a product.


                                            a sad part - which should get software sellers excited - is doing it well and getting the information into a system, then turns them into "cancer" status so no one can ever delete their software due to the legacy information it has and convey's.  ala Pro-Engineer integration with MRP systems. 

                                            • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                              Jody Smith

                                              As someone who has to maintain these drawings in released form (in AutoCAD, I might add), please don't promote these monstrosities. These Drawing trees (or Hierarchy Drawings as we call them) are one of the biggest PITA I have encountered in my career. If your organization does not use or have an MRP/PDM/PLM solution I could maybe, MAYBE see some benefit to them, but nothing I would not rather create in another form elsewhere. Ours used to even have the revision of each part on them, sweet baby jesus what a time suck just maintaining those were. Now, if you live in a world where this could be utilized and NOT Doc Controlled somehow, by all means please feel free. Chris, please don't tale this as a knock to your post. I mean no disrespect. At face value these are extremely valuable, and I understand that. They have personally just been the bane of my existence.

                                                • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                                  Stephen Graber

                                                  Jody your topic goes deeper into many other issues. 


                                                  once CAD was created we saw design rooms of 65+ people turn into design groups of 12 or fewer.  CAD models were on everyone's screen and overall management would start to ask "why's everything taking so long?  everything is DONE!  everyone is just looking at their screens".


                                                  CAD made design work and detailing appear "easy".  staffing dropped and quality of people hired dropped as well.  management felt "anyone can do it".  no one wants to hire more engineers because "why - it's so easy".


                                                  the treehouse system - essentially exporting a drawing tree - doesn't work well so far.  it bombs out on "large" assemblies which seems to be even the little ones I work on.  if/when it does work better, then (to me) this could be an easier document (there I go claiming easy=fast) where a PDM rev control could be more easily used.

                                                  • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                                    David Matula

                                                    Wow Mr. Smith.  Someone really has taken it to far on trying to keep up with what rev a part is on the overall purpose for the tree.  If a part was in need of revision as you are saying I think that it would just need to go back to the in design mode.  I could see keeping a drawing up to date with the tracking info on it could be a major pain.

                                                    I see this as a tool that would allow someone to see at a glance where a project is not something that would add 3 weeks to the time line of the project to keep up.

                                                  • Re: The ULTIMATE DRAWING TREE Discussion, all ideas welcome!
                                                    William Radigan

                                                    I almost didn't believe it, since I have images from another project that appear to show Part Number and Description at the same time.  (I am trying to figure out how to duplicate that display on a new project.)   I just realized though that the difference is that the Filenames for the new project aren't explicitly tied to the Part Number.  Dangit!


                                                    While I'm asking for stuff.  How about the ability to export Adobe Illustrator files (or SVG images, or Visio files, or SOLIDWORKS Drawings, or any vector graphic) from TreeView Studio?


                                                    Thanks for the great tool!