Exports in one click (and use custom properties)

Engineers spend way too much time importing and exporting files.

So, I made exporting smarter and easier with this update for Drew (we already made importing smarter).

Plus a dozen other improvements.

What is Drew?

Drew is our drawing automation add-in for SOLIDWORKS.

SOLIDWORKS hasn’t really improved the drawing tools over the last few years, so we decided to improve them ourselves.

We let you capture your company preferences in software so you can create and edit 2D drawings twice as fast.

We have just released another update for Drew: version 3.2.

Create an export in one click (and use custom properties in the path)

Drew could already create exports in one click. But the exports weren’t smart. We would overwrite existing files and you could not use a custom property in the file name. So we made improvements:

  1. Store your export preferences in each blueprint.
  2. Use variables to build a path:
    1. The current directory.
    2. The current filename.
    3. The date and/or time, formatted as you like.
    4. The name of the current configuration (for parts and assemblies) or the current sheet (for drawings).
    5. The value of a custom property.
  3. Store for which model types Drew should show export buttons.
    • If the file extension is not relevant for that model type (like DXF for an assembly), we open up the drawing and export that.
  4. Choose whether Drew should ask for confirmation before overwriting an existing file.
  5. Choose whether Drew should as for confirmation after creating the path, but before saving the file.
  6. Set the STEP version more reliably.
  7. Added the file extensions JPG and PNG so you can make superfast screenshots.

Now you can for example always store PDFs in a PDF subfolder of the current directory, or use the revision letter in a STEP export.

Read everything about these exports in our Knowledge Base article.

You can find and edit all your export preferences in the settings under the Exports tab:

Drew export settings - custom properties - sheet name - date time

Add balloon quantity automatically

You’re gonna love the body sheets feature that lets you create a sheet (with views and outer dimensions) for each unique body. It does wonders for weldments and multibody sheet metal parts.

Drew could already add a balloon to one of the views, but now we can also add a quantity to each balloon.

We thought you could already store this preference in your SOLIDWORKS drawing template, but this is not the case. So we added it to our settings.

Balloon quantity automatic solidworks

New license provider

We use an existing product to manage our licenses, but we got fed up with the provided service.  The platform has multiple bugs (like people getting the wrong license when they buy one) and the owners were not fixing any of the bugs. It also takes them three weeks to respond to our emails. So we are leaving.

We moved to a new license tool for this update. You should have received an email from us with a new license key if you have a paid license. That’s the only real difference that you will see.

Simpler license window

We also completely revamped the license manager window and made it easier to use. It was hard to find the information that you needed, so we made a simple start screen with six buttons:

Change sheet name

We received a feature request to make it easier to change the current sheet name. This was such a small feature that we had to do it.

Just type a new name in the textbox on the right and press enter.

Drew change sheet name

Prevent overlap in bend-to-bend dimensions

This was another user request. We added what we call bend-to-bend dimensions to flat pattern views last month.

But when the part is long and slender, the dimensions would end up on top of each other:

bend to bend dimensions old

So from now on, we try to shift the overlapping dimensions. In this case, we shift the dimension to the left and reuse the previous y-coordinate so multiple dimensions line up:

bend to bend dimensions new

Other improvements

We made a dozen of smaller improvements under the hood, like removing almost 1000 lines of code. These are the changes that you might notice, though:

  1. Stop causing assemblies to be marked dirty, so it would look like they needed to be saved.
  2. Collapse the top row of buttons in the drawing panel when there is not enough room.

Bug fixes

Together with our customers, we noticed a few bugs in the past month and fixed them:

  • Fixed bug in getting files from a directory
  • Set a new default when you delete the default sheet size

What’s next?

For the next version, we’d like to improve Drew’s ability to work with existing drawings. Drew is great at starting new drawings but lacks editing tools.

This is a massive challenge, so we’ll have to see how far we get with each of the next updates.

If you haven’t done so, go ahead and try out Drew for free 🙂

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