33 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2018 10:47 AM by Ruben Rodolfo Balderrama

    Toolbox - How To

    Sal Lama
      Hello all,

      I've attached a few documents that I've written which I hope help answer the questions that many of you have about setting up Toolbox. They certainly don't contain all the answers, but I hope that you agree they're worth a read.

      I'm open to all feedback, as I'd like to improve them over time. Please let me know what other information you need.

      Cheers,
        • Toolbox - How To
          Matt Lombard
          Sal,

          I'm not sure if you can give me a straight answer about this, but if you could try, it might be helpful.

          Why does SolidWorks persist in the database driven configurator route for a library when it has been shown to be downright dangerous for your data? The problems specifically are the huge db opening over a network for shared installs, the "huge screws" problem of a new TB installation with old assemblies, along with all of the network and sharing/permissions problems, etc.

          Why has SolidWorks avoided static libraries that work 100% of the time? I'm not trying to start a flame war here, I have never heard anyone from SW address this issue honestly. Can you shed some light on it? Even if the answer is disappointing, I would rather hear the truth..

          Thanks,
            • Toolbox - How To
              Sal Lama
              Matt,

              You ask a fair question... Let me see if I can share a bit of perspective on the matter.

              As you know, we have an Access database at the core of Toolbox which stores all the size data (as well as other information) for each fastener in the library. That same database also holds all the Hole Wizard data along with the associations that tell us which size hole goes to which fastener (e.g. a counter bore for a ½" hex bolt is a different size than that for a ½" socket head cap screw).

              The interface that appears in the PropertyManager when you drag a fastener into an assembly gets its definition from the information in this database, as do the Hole Wizard, Hole Series, and Smart Fasteners interfaces.

              When you hover over a hole or shaft and the fastener automatically sizes, or when you drag the arrow at the end of a bolt to dynamically change its length, we are relying on the data in the database to make this functionality work.

              I could go on, but I think you can see the point I'm trying to make... that a ton of functionality relies on the data in this database. If we were to ditch the database and go with a library of static models, we'd effectively remove most of this functionality.

              Now perhaps for some, that would be fine... But we have to consider all of our existing customers, many of whom happily use Toolbox. We have to consider the impact such a change would have on them. We'd also have to work out how existing files would react if they were opened in a SolidWorks where the database no longer existed (e.g. what would happen to a SmartFastener feature when the user tried to edit it? What about the persistent auto-sizing option - would it just stop working?) There are a ton of questions like these that would have to be addressed, and we'd likely be facing a list of regressions in the behavior that users have come to expect and rely upon.

              Now, I'm not saying that the database is perfect. It has certainly been the cause for some frustration - not just for customers, but for our developers as well - case in point the 64 bit performance problems that Chris Dundorf mentions in his post. There are times when we too wish we weren't dealing with an Access database. The simple fact remains, though that a change in this area is no small task.

              Our challenge moving forward is to address customer's existing pain points as well as their future needs in such a way as to maintain existing functionality. We may wake to a day where Toolbox no longer relies on a database, but if we do, we will have crafted a solution that gives users the performance and simplicity they crave while maintaining the functionality they are accustomed to and providing them additional benefits.

              I hope that helps...
                • Toolbox - How To
                  Anna Wood
                  Sal,

                  Why does SolidWorks not port the Access database to a SQL Express database? I would think there are advantages to SQL over Access. Especially for those of us that would like to hack the raw database.

                  By the way can you shoot me an e-mail, I have a specific idea for the Hole Wizard that is hard to explain in an Enhancement Request. I would like to show you in a Live Meeting to see what you think and how easy/hard it would be to implement.

                  My e-mail address can be found on my blog.

                  Cheers,

                  • Toolbox - How To
                    Matt Lombard
                    Sal,

                    Thanks for the response. Let's just say that I agree with all of your concerns. Basically, I'd like to eliminate all of that as point of concern. I understand all of the benefits of integrating and automating things, and while it doesn't work nearly as well in practice as it must in theory, I'll concede all of that to you because I'm interested in something else, and I don't think you have to undo all of what you talked about to fix this other problem.

                    What I'm worried about more directly is this:

                    When you install, you have a single default configuration. As you build more configs, they start to populate. This scenario only works flawlessly with single users who never share data with other Toolbox users. Once you put it on a network and start sharing assemblies, the file management aspect of Toolbox is no longer reliable.

                    Is there anything you can do to make the file management aspect of Toolbox less dangerous?

                    The answer is of course "yes", but it would involve populating all part configs, which might take a long time and it might take up a lot of space (kind of like feature dissection, except that this would be useful).


                    I think you have to fix the basic file management (without the use of another add-in) in order for users to be able to use any of the smart benefits that exist. Can you comment on that?
                      • Toolbox - How To
                        Kevin Bouwman
                        I want to start by saying I agree with Matt more than anyone else on this issue. As someone who has programmed in Access and in PostgreSQL that I do believe that the ultimate solution to this problem does lie in continuing to use some type of database. I also agree with what Anna was getting at; we need the capablility to add custom fields to the Solidworks supplied database. This would enable the inclusion of part number, price, material, grade, etc. important to any toolbox supplied model. Some of these fields, such as material, would be better included right from SW. The ability for the user to extend the toolbox database to include new types and sizes of fasteners is also a must.

                        Many of the problems with toolbox could be eliminated with two core changes. The idea that it should be possible to share assembly models without including the fastener models should be abandoned. The idea that the toolbox database can or should be shared on a network should be abandoned. This would require each user to have a copy of at least the default SW Toolbox database installed locally. This requires more space on their harddrive but this is hardly a hardship now days.

                        A toolbox model should have its own file extension. All of the database information that Toolbox has about a model should be embedded in that model. When a user prepares an assembly model to be shared he should have the option to strip out senstive custom fields he has in his toolbox models such as cost and vendor.

                        If toolbox models were handled this way then when an assembly model with unknown fasteners are present the user could be asked if he wants to add the new fasteners to his toolbox. The creator of the toolbox model should have the ability to check a setting embeded in the model to prevent this.

                        If we stop trying to share the database our network related problems go away. If we make it possible to add new models, with addtional data, to our toolbox the problems with sharing assemblies goes away, and potentially, everyone's toolbox grows.
                    • Re: Toolbox - How To
                      Vikas Garg

                      Good point Matt,

                       

                      Thats why we have avoided using Toolbox, but created our own static library, without any configurations.

                    • Toolbox - How To
                      Devon Sowell
                      Thanks for sharing this information.
                      • Toolbox - How To
                        Alessandro Frattini

                        Sal Lama wrote:

                         

                        Hello all,



                        I've attached a few documents that I've written which I hope help answer the questions that many of you have about setting up Toolbox. They certainly don't contain all the answers, but I hope that you agree they're worth a read.



                        I'm open to all feedback, as I'd like to improve them over time. Please let me know what other information you need.



                        Cheers,

                        Hi Sal,
                        I tested 123GO by Logopress and I don't like.
                        I like Toolbox, but for now problems are to work in shared mode and the time it needs to be open and create the standard.
                        If you resolve this two big problems, I think that Toolbox can be more estimated and used.
                        • Toolbox - How To
                          Alessandro Frattini
                          Hi, I've wrote the same thing as Anna into other Toolbox topic.
                          This is my opinion:
                          "I really like Toolbox.
                          The problem is reading the database, which is very large.
                          Suffice that SolidWorks Corp. connect the database via ODBC and if we want, to transfer to SQL Lite, MySQL or MSDE, which are very efficient and free.
                          I would like an opinion from Toolbox developers."
                          • Toolbox - How To
                            Jeff Moon
                            Thanks for posting these articles.  Some of the content I discovered the hard way.  Some of the information is enlightening.<br /><br />We are sharing Toolbox with the <Solidworks Data> files on the server.  We are using SW2009.  All is going reasonably well until one of us needs to work offsite without using a slow VPN connection to the server.<br /><br />Generally, I use the "Make Available Offline" feature to create local "virtual" copies of shared component libraries on my local HD.  I tried to do the same with the <Solidworks Data> folder but this scheme does not work with the associated Access MDB file.<br /><br />I can make a copy of the <Solidworks Data> folder and change the Toolbox/Hole Wizard option in Solidworks to point to the local folder.  This works for a time but causes problems when switching back to the server based <Solidworks Data> folder.<br /><br />Is there a reliable why to make the <Solidworks Data> folder available offline including the MDB file to be automatically updated by the OS when reconnected to the server?<br /><br />I am questioning the use of the central MDB file.  Seems dangerous to me particularly since we have had nightmares of our own using MDB files associated with data acquisition apps.<br /><br />Jeff Moon, P.E.<br />Tulsa, OK
                            • Toolbox - How To
                              Bill Rose
                              Is there any like this for 2008? The tutorial is great but I don't see the same options for 2008 that are being explained.

                              I always regret using Toolbox parts. It never fails to fail. Simple things like materials are left out of the database. Part descriptions are unusable for BOM and always need to be edited. Many times there's a problem with which database version was used causing error messages and large parts. If just the materials and description issues could be addressed, it might be worth the pain.

                              The tutorial posted seems to address the materials property (adding it) but there does not seem to be like function in 2008. As I said before, why the database lists SHCS and the like with no material is very strange...........Bill
                                • Toolbox - How To
                                  Robert Thomson
                                  I am in the same boat as Bill, I'm using SW 2008 and am not able to translate your directions to the options I get. Is there any tutorial for 2008?
                                  Rob
                                    • Toolbox - How To
                                      Tony Hayes
                                      Hello everyone,

                                      I have tried to do exercise 6 on Sal's how to file. Solidworks will not let me drag my part to my new folder it tells me "An invalid Toolbox folder was selected. Select a folder that contains Toolbox content". Why is it saying this?

                                      Also how do you copy a standard in 2009?
                                        • Toolbox - How To
                                          Alessandro Frattini

                                          Tony Hayes wrote:

                                           

                                          Hello everyone,



                                          I have tried to do exercise 6 on Sal's how to file. Solidworks will not let me drag my part to my new folder it tells me "An invalid Toolbox folder was selected. Select a folder that contains Toolbox content". Why is it saying this?



                                          Also how do you copy a standard in 2009?

                                          Hi,
                                          I don't know which service pack you have, but in SP3, SolidWorks Corp. has implemented the help, which before not was clear.
                                          Now, from the help :
                                          Add to Library
                                          When saving to SolidWorks Toolbox, you must select a third-level folder. The Toolbox folder structure is standard > category > type (for example, ISO > Bolts and Screws > Hex Bolts and Screws).

                                    • Toolbox - How To
                                      Thank you Sal.

                                      Since I've started to use Toolbox I'm looking for some best practices know how. Your files are very well described and despite some lack of explaining about your choices, I believe they contain a lot of experience and that motivates me to try it.

                                      Pedro Mendonça
                                      • Re: Toolbox - How To

                                        Sal,

                                        Thanks for the very nice tutorial.

                                        2 questions:

                                        1. Wouldyou please tell me where I can get all the extra toolbox content on the SW website (like steel shapes and routed systems components)?
                                        I can't locate the link for the downloads.

                                        2. I can't find the link to download the service release for XP 64 on a stand-alone machine that's not connected to the network.

                                        In other words, I need to download the sr to my 32 bit machine that's connected to the web, then transfer it by thumb-drive to the cad machine.

                                        Thanks ... Chris

                                          • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                            Roman Piekosz

                                            Hello Everybody,

                                             

                                            I have one question about customizing icons on the screen.

                                            For some reasons when my parts or assemblies are open all toolbox icons changing their position making mass on the screen at least a couple times per day.

                                            Do you know how I would save the arrangement of the icons?

                                            There was no problem with that in AutoCAD so I believe that SW has this option too.

                                            If anyone would help I appreciate that.

                                            Best regards.

                                            Roman

                                          • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                            Tony Brodie

                                            Hi Sal,

                                             

                                            All I can say is Thankyou.  After years of struggling with Toolbox it's starting to make sense.  I know most of this information is in the help menu but your tutorials make a lot more sense.

                                             

                                            Cheers.

                                            • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                              ismail asi

                                              hello Sal,

                                              Is there a way use toolbox for Solidworks Standart?

                                              • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                Daen Hendrickson

                                                Sal,

                                                 

                                                Thanks much for the tutorial.

                                                 

                                                We just upgraded from SW2008 to SW2010 SP2.1 and I would like to take advantage of some the new features outlined in your lesson. But a few questions are raised.

                                                 

                                                We use many McMaster-Carr fasteners. We often have more than one part number for a fastener of the same type and size - usually a material or finish difference. Good or bad, we managed this in toolbox by opening the toolbox part file and manually creating a new configuration - a copy of the existing size with config name and custom properties edited. Then we insert the the part in an assembly, create a new favorite and point this new favorite to the new configuration name. This approach works but very tedious and lots of opportunity to break something!

                                                 

                                                Now I have the option to do this through the Toolbox Configuration utility. But what happens to my existing additional configurations? Will they somehow be cleaned up / overwritten? And my existing models point to these configurations. Is there any streamlined approach to re-pointing to the new toolbox structure. This will affect thousands of fastener occurance's in hundreds of assemblies. Not a pleasant thought.

                                                 

                                                Anybody have any thoughts on a migration or cleaning up of toolbox and references in existing models? Looks like a big hole to dig myself out of. For me, this is the essence of the love/hate relationship with toolbox...

                                                 

                                                Thanks, Daen

                                                  • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                    Scott Baumli

                                                    Sal,

                                                    What we did was to add configurations in the Toolbox to include our different part numbers we have. i.e... 1 is Stainless Steel, 2 is Silicone Bronze.. That seems to work well, except when we did that it wiped out the old data. But now whenever adding say a bolt, the material is one of the options on the left to pick and it gives the right part #.

                                                    What we want to learn is how to get those part #'s put is straight at the Toolbox Data base. That would simplify things, that's for sure. we figured out how to add lengths to bolts not shown in the Toolbox, but that's all we've learned.

                                                      • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                        Daniel Melendez

                                                        Hi Sal thanks for the files. I was looking for them for the longest time. Fortunately with the help of Kelvin P and Deepak the Great I was able to find them. Most comprehensive even more so than Matt's SolidWorks 2010 Bible or his SolidWorks Administrator Bible.

                                                         

                                                        Unlike the brainiacs, Kevin, Matt and Anna, I'm not too aware of the inside workings of toolbox but with all the threads regarding toolbox it definately could be improved. Especially in the updating areas. Thanks, Daniel

                                                    • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                      Nathanael Powers

                                                      Thanks Sal for this infomation. It was helpful

                                                       

                                                      Also Sal, I posted a question on relating a Vender to a vender P/N when the vender is not link to a configuration. Check it out thanks

                                                       

                                                      https://forum.solidworks.com/thread/40000

                                                      • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                        Aaron Simpson

                                                        Hi Sal,

                                                         

                                                        Maybe this is just because I haven't had to work with the toolbox over a shared network, but most replies seem way too critical to me. The toolbox has always been great and the database approach makes loads of sense to me from an automation standpoint.

                                                        The one thing that is really frustrating though, is that I wish we could add content to the toolbox.

                                                        I frequently use spacers and standoffs, and I am stuck downloading them piecemeal or creating them myself.

                                                        I've tried to look into alternatives, but neither design tables nor driveworks xpress seem as appropriate for automating spacer creation.

                                                         

                                                        Is there a way to add an automated configurable design of my own to the toolbox? If so, can you detail that for me?

                                                        If not, what is the best alternative?

                                                         

                                                        Thanks,

                                                        Aaron

                                                        • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                          Phuong Van

                                                          Hello Sal,

                                                          Can we edit the the toolbox standard proerties? Because in my work, the bill material and the vault, they are link with "number", not "part number",  "Length" is fraction, not decimal. ...

                                                          Thanks.

                                                          • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                            reeshi pradhan

                                                            Hi Sal,

                                                             

                                                            I am having one problem when using toolbox item.

                                                             

                                                            I  saved standard toolbox items to my own folder.

                                                            now they are no longer configurable.

                                                            there are some configuration saved in part file but if I want to customize the size i can't do any more.

                                                            How to link this toolbox item file to standard toolbox library again?

                                                             

                                                            Thanks,

                                                            Reeshi

                                                            • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                              Marcos Rodríguez

                                                              please check out my free macro.

                                                               

                                                              Toolbox property - ToolboxPartType

                                                              • Re: Toolbox - How To
                                                                Ruben Rodolfo Balderrama

                                                                Thanks Pal....