In spite of all their positive benefits, which are many, more than a few SolidWorks users look upon custom properties with the same disdain that a pre-schooler would have for green leafy vegetables. You can explain the benefits of custom properties, how they help you find things, how they lead to healthy drawing title blocks, how they improve PDM implementations, etc… until you are blue in the face and with some individuals you still won’t make a dent. There might be a change for a few days even a few weeks but inevitably you are back to files with no custom properties filled out.
In order to increase the life-expectancy of CAD administrators everywhere, I have posted a free .NET Add-In for SolidWorks that will “remind” your users to enter certain custom properties whenever they create a new file or save an existing one (after the initial save). The list of custom properties is configurable and
the user cannot proceed with their file until they enter the custom properties. I am sure the program can be improved upon but for those without SolidWorks API skills of their own this should be a nice little app. Also, for those who do have SolidWorks API skills using Visual Basic.NET, I am more than happy to share the code if you request it.
The Add-In, called “Big Brother” is written for SolidWorks 2008 and targets the 2.0 .NET Framework, which means if you have SolidWorks 2008 installed on your machine then you can use it.
To get started,
1. Download the installer package for Big Brother from here.
2. Run the installer, agreeing to the overly wordy license agreement on the way.
3. After installing the software, run the “Register Big Brother.bat” file in the installation directory. Running this batch file will register Big Brother with COM and add the appropriate registry entries for SolidWorks to load Big Brother when SolidWorks is run.
4. This is an optional step but if you don’t already have a decent XML editor, then I recommend you download XML Notepad which is a free XML editor from Microsoft.
5. Use XML Notepad to edit the XML configuration files in the installation directory. The installation has three XML files which are used to configure which custom properties are managed by Big Brother for each of the three main part types in SolidWorks.
Edit the list of custom properties to manage for each document type using XML Notepad. Each “ExtProperty” node represents a custom property. PropName represents the name of the custom property to be managed. PropValue and PropType should not be touched. Leave those alone. Save the file(s) when finished.
6. Open SolidWorks and create a new part. After selecting your template, you should be prompted to verify or fill in the values for the custom properties in your PartPropertiesToManage.XML file. The same thing should happen for subsequent file saves. The original Save (for new documents) doessnot trigger the FileSaveNotify event. I suspect that it is triggered by the FileSaveAsNotify event. If anyone tries that and gets the answer then please let me know.
7. Additional configuration of the Add-In may be performed by editing the “ExtensibleEventManager.dll.config” file, which you should also use XML Notepad to edit.