Find missing balloons, delete dangling dimensions, automatic BOM

Drew helps you create, edit and review SOLIDWORKS drawings faster.

To do that, we are releasing Drew version 1.9 today.

It’s another big step forward, with many visible and many invisible improvements.

We have added five major features:

  • Adding a Bill of Materials (BOM) automatically and manually
  • A balloon checker that finds all missing balloons
  • A tool that deletes all dangling dimensions, crosshairs and other annotations
  • Estimating view sizes more accurately
  • New installer + updater

What was new in version 1.8?

Last February, we added the following time-savers in Drew’s update:

Verify that all assembly components have a drawing

It’s very easy to miss one drawing if you’re making tens or even hundreds. That’s why we added a tool that verifies that every component has a drawing. If one is missing, you can start a new drawing with one click.

SolidWorks assembly drawing

Who is using my license?

We wanted to prevent you from having to shout around in the office, asking who is using a Drew license. So we built our own license checker on top of the existing license manager. This checker finds everyone that has a license in use.

Automatically adding blocks and notes

Blocks and notes are great standardization tools that let you create standard annotations to a drawing. To prevent having to add a block to every weldment sheet, for example, we automated the process of adding an annotation. Starting with version 1.8, Drew can add a block or note to a new drawing, at its preferred position. You can also store any annotation in your Company Style and drag the block or note onto a new drawing manually.

SolidWorks add blocks and notes automatically

New in this version: Find missing balloons

You probably have experienced this.

You’re making a drawing for an assembly or a weldment. You have added a BOM or a cut list, now you only need to make sure that every component has an item balloon.

SolidWorks missing balloons checker

Once you think you have added them all, you’ll need to make sure of it. You start with 1, then take as much time as you need to find every single one.

You might even have to print the drawing so you can highlight the balloons that you already counted.

And the reviewer of your drawing will do the exact same thing once more.

We didn’t like this process, so we automated it.

Drew find missing balloons in drawing

Find all missing balloons in a SOLIDWORKS drawing

With one click, you can now find all missing balloons on the current sheet, or in the entire drawing.

Drew will then show you the missing balloons:

Drew missing balloons hover

Remove dangling annotations

This process could also use some automation.

Having to look through all sheets of a drawing to find dimensions, crosshairs and other annotations that have somehow become dangling and dirty brown-green-ish in color.

It might be because you removed a feature or a body. In the example below, we delete a hole.

Delete all dangling dimensions and annotations with one click

Delete all dangling annotations with one click

With our new tool, you can delete all dangling annotations from the current sheet or from the entire drawing. With one click.

Drew delete dangling annotations one click

Add a bill of materials automatically

This improvement is so simple, yet it makes so much sense.

Drew could already add a cut list when the model is a weldment.

Now every time you make a new drawing for an assembly, Drew adds a bill of materials (BOM) from your preferred BOM template.

Just add the BOM template to your Company Style and enable adding the BOM automatically.

The table will snap to the BOM anchor in your sheet format.

Add a BOM bill of materials automatically

The drawing above took only one click to set up with Drew. As you can see, it contains a sheet format, a 3D view, 2D views, a block and now a BOM as well.

Estimating view sizes more accurately

We have spent a massive amount of time on this because our AutoFit technology is the reason that Drew can fit views, tables and blocks on a sheet nicely.

The image below left shows a sheet with a weldment body. Drew extracts unique bodies from the model and creates a sheet for each body.

The best 2D view is chosen and rotated automatically. In this case, the main view is a top view, which is then rotated 45 degrees.

The problem with rotating views is that SOLIDWORKS now thinks that the red box is the size of the view. The block that is linked to the main view makes the box even bigger.

The image on the right shows (roughly) how previous versions of AutoFit would fit these views.

SOLIDWORKS view outline too large SOLIDWORKS views fit automatically

That red box is not very accurate. So we built a better estimation for the view size, by analyzing all of the lines in the view.

The green box shows the results of our efforts. Nice and accurate 🙂 The image on the left shows how Drew fits the views on the sheet from now on.

Better installer + updater

We have replaced our previous installer for Drew by a brand new one.

Now we can be more certain that the installation goes well, that Drew will stay up to date and that we can release smaller, more frequent updates.

Drew now checks online for updates. This happens only when Drew is starting up, there is no extra process that continually runs in the background. You can choose to install the update right then or at a later time.

You can check again manually by using the tools menu (and edit the updater settings if you really want to):

SOLIDWORKS updater settings

Before installing the update to Drew 1.9, we ask you to remove the old version first (your settings are saved). Uninstalling a previous version will not be necessary for future updates.

We have also made our settings files more compatible with different versions. That allows us to make these files easily shareable with colleagues. We will add that functionality in future updates.

Further improvements

  • Added Tables section in the task pane with buttons for adding and removing a BOM or a cut list
  • Added a way of opening a sheet by entering its number
  • Component drawing checker: added the assembly itself and an option to find drawings for all subcomponents.
  • Made saving settings files more robust. The old file remains in place when saving fails for some reason. Also shows a more accurate message when it fails.
  • Added loading spinner when loading the trial license takes longer than usual, for example because of a slow internet connection.
  • Improved speed of creating a new drawing

Bug fixes

There were a few bugs that needed fixing. As always, thanks for letting us know that you found one.

  • Replaced getting the Company Style from the sheet format in the active sheet, because sheet formats can be used by multiple styles. Now stores the Company Style for a new drawing.
  • Fixed showing incorrect items when the Drew add-in was activated while an assembly was open.
  • Fixed the trial status on the last day that the trial is valid.
  • Fixed the status of the save button when an existing drawing was opened that needed saving.
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