Search This Blog


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

AU 2014 - What?!

Well, this is becoming something of a whirlwind.

First, I get talked into submitting a proposal for a class at Autodesk ® University in Las Vegas this year, something I never thought I would do, as I am generally terrified of speaking in front of people.  Hiding back here behind these blog pages is more my speed.  But I thought... what's the worst that can happen, right?

So, then that class gets accepted, and now I'm heading off to Las Vegas in December for my fifth AU, and first as a speaker.  I'm getting used to the thought, and have gotten a fairly good start on making outlines for my class.  Then it just gets weird.

Last week I get an email from someone at Autodesk ®, telling me that I have been invited to present my class at Autodesk ® University.... in Moscow.  MOSCOW!  RUSSIA!  I've never been out of the western hemisphere!  But I can't really turn down a chance like this can I?  So... I bring it up to the boss here at work, and he's pretty excited at the invitation.  He goes to the big boss, the owner of the company, and... I'm goin' to Moscow!

That's right.  Yours truly will be attending Autodesk ® University Russia in October this year.  I'm pretty excited about going, and slight nervous as well.  So, if any of my readers happen to be from Russia, come on out the AU and introduce yourselves.  I warn you though, I don't speak any Russian other than a few words I have been trying to pick up just in case the trip got approved.

Wish me luck and...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

DWF creation on Vault check in, how to set your preferences.

I saw this post last week linked on Twitter.  Kudos to David Gates at Cadline Community.  This went right along with a problem I was experiencing with Vault® 2015, that I had not seen in Vault 2013.

In Vault 2013 I set my visualization file preferences so that my drawing visualizations would be created 11" x 17" (ANSI "B" size), plotted to extents from paper space layouts from AutoCad® and full sheets from Inventor® drawing sets, black and white... no colors.  I have Vault set up to create my visualizations on check in, with no Job Processor in the mix.  When I upgraded to Vault 2015 I checked my settings, and they had migrated perfectly... as expected.

Vault Visualization Settings - 2015

My Inventor visualizations continued to be created as they had been, but suddenly my AutoCad visualizations were giving me full color, model space.  So what had changed?
I logged a case with Tech Support at Autodesk®, and described the problem.  The tech who took the case was trying to talk me through some changes in the DWG TrueView® drawing called TrueViewSetup.dwg.  He was walking me through changes in the publish command, the export command... none of it was making any difference.

Then I saw the Cadline post on Twitter, and had a bit of an epiphany.  The steps outlined in this post, applied to this TrueViewSetup.dwg might just make the difference.  The problem was, there are 5 of them spread throughout the installation of Product Design Suite.  Which one do I edit?

I settled on one in this path (may be slightly different on your systems): C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Vault Professional 2015\Explorer  But, when I edited the page view setup in this drawing using DWG True View, as outlined in the Cadline post, I found I could not save the file.  Well, I had been told to make these changes using DWG True View.  Obviously this was not going to work.  So I opened the file using regular Autocad, edited the page view setup, and saved the file.  Voila, since that my Vault visualizations have (so far) been working exactly as expected.  So simple, but I had to combine ideas from tech support and a blog post to make it all come together.  Thanks again to David Gates at Cadline for pointing me in the right direction.


“Autodesk ® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc.  Autodesk ® , AutoCAD ® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault ®, Autocad Electrical ® and Inventor ® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.”  Programs and programmers' information used with permission.  Thanks guys!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Autodesk® Vault Professional 2015 - Microsoft® SharePoint® 2013 - Can they get along?

Hello again!

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had been working on the Vault - SharePoint integration.  This was a lot of fun, with a few unforeseen bumps, and a few added grey hairs to an already grey head.  I told a lot of my online friends that I would write about this when I was finished, and I've kept that promise.  However, I will not write about it here.  I was approached by the rock stars at Design & Motion, and asked if I would guest write the article for their website.  No one has ever asked me to write something for them... well, not since I was in school.  So, I agreed and got busy writing.  The article took on a life of it's own and turned into 4 articles.  I'm proud and happy to say that these are now up on the Design & Motion website, with yours truly as the author.  Special thanks to Mr. Scott Moyse for his help and patience.

As with everything I write, I offer my opinions and experiences.  I don't claim to have all the right answers, or the only answers.  Someone else doing the same implementation might run into entirely different issues, and come up with different solutions.  This article... is my Journey into The Unknown....


“Autodesk ® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc.  Autodesk ® , AutoCAD ® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault ®, Autocad Electrical ® and Inventor ® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.”  Programs and programmers' information used with permission.  Thanks guys!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

AU 2014

Well, it looks like it's official as long as all of the logistics work out.  My AU2014 class proposal on Inventor Tube & Pipe got accepted.  Now I just have to write it up and find the courage to speak in front of a room full of people... and convince them that I know what I'm talking about!  :D

I hope to include some of the tips I've written about on this blog, as well as some of the basics of getting started.  I hope to see some of my readers there, but please be gentle!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Vault 2015 Visualization Previews

Hello again!  I've spent the last month playing with Autodesk ® Vault Professional 2015 in a test environment, trying to figure out the integration with Microsoft ® SharePoint 2013.  Finally loaded Vault 2015 into our production environment the other day, and have found a few annoying, if not show stopping problems.  But I'm not going to rant about it here, it's more productive to work on solutions.  Like this one I want to share.

In Vault 2015, when you select on a file in either the Project Explorer or the Item master, there is no longer simply a view of your visualization file in the right hand window.  There is, in it's place, a thumbnail that you have to click to get to the visualization.  Now, I'm not sure of the reason for this... I'm guessing there was one... but I hate extra mouse clicks.

File Viewer with Thumbnail
For the first two days I lived with it, then I got tired of it and went looking around.  I found this in Tools\Actions on the main toolbar of Vault Client.

Document Preview Options
Simply check the boxes of any file types that apply, or as I did, check them all.  Hit OK and Apply on the Options menu.  Close out and return to Vault Client.  Click on the file again, and it should look like the preview you are used to (at least going back to Vault 2013... I can't speak to Vault 2014).

Visualization Preview is Back to Normal.
You can pan and zoom in this window as you used to be able to, with no extra mouse clicks!  You're welcome.


“Autodesk ® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc.  Autodesk ® , AutoCAD ® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault ®, Autocad Electrical ® and Inventor ® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.”  Programs and programmers' information used with permission.  Thanks guys!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Inventor Tube & Pipe Styles - A Walkthrough

Hello all.  As usual it's been a while between posts.  This has been the busiest year that I can recall at this company I work for.  This is a good thing, but it takes me away from writing, and I do enjoy this.  Still, I'd hate to have more time to write if it meant I didn't have a job anymore.

Anyway... this post is going to be about Autodesk ® Inventor Tube & Pipe Styles.  How to create them, where to save them and how to copy them.  It seems pretty straight forward, but I've seen a lot of questions in the Autodesk ® Community Forums about how to do this, and I remember from when I first started using Tube & Pipe, that it was not immediately obvious how to go about setting these up.

First thing, let's talk about "piping runs.iam".  This is an Inventor, "out of the box" file that is generally found in your install path, in the Design Data folder.  This file may be placed in a shared drive, as a part of moving the entire Design Data to a shared location.  Bear in mind that if you do so, you need to modify the Design Data search path in your Inventor Application Options.

This is the file that contains everything that Inventor Tube & Pipe needs to know to create pipe runs and routes.  So, this is your Tube & Pipe environment "template" file... if you will.  Here is the best place to add new Tube & Pipe styles, if you want to be able to use them all of the time.  So many times, I see the question "Why aren't my styles there when I start a new pipe assembly".  Most likely it is because the styles were created within a design, and not saved to this "template" file.  I should point out that in this folder there are sub-folders containing English unit and Metric unit versions of the file... if you should want to use those.

Once you have opened this assembly file, select the Tube & Pipe tab on the ribbon, and then Tube & Pipe Styles.

Tube & Pipe Ribbon
The "out of the box" Tube & Pipe styles window will look something like this (Inventor 2013).

Tube & Pipe Styles Window
The toolbar along the top will help you create and edit your own custom styles.  Here is a blowup of the tools:

Toolbar Tools
To create a custom style, simply use New, or Copy an existing one that looks close to what you want.  If you would like to create a new category, that's very simple as well.  Create a New style, and give it a unique category name.  Once the style is saved, the new category will be created.  Once you have selected New or Copy, the new style will be created under whatever category your currently active style is in.  The active style is distinguished by it's name being in bold text.  If you use the Copy command, the new style will appear directly below the style you copied from, and will include _Copy (1) at the end of the name.  You can simply edit that out and name the style whatever you want.

New Tube & Pipe Style for Editing
Your newly created style opens in a dialog box similar to the one above, waiting for you to fill in the information.  Give the Style a name and a Category name, or accept the current category name.  Categories may be created for things such as different materials, pressures, fluid codes... however you want to differentiate your pipe styles.  Each style within a category may be named however you would like; suggestions would be to include the size, material or spec, and perhaps end treatment.  But this is up to you or your company standards.

Once you have a style and category name, you need to specify the base fittings for this style.  Decide whether this is going to be a Flanged or Butt Weld style. I will not be talking about Self Draining or Mixed Unit styles, since (frankly) I know very little about them.  If your style is going to include or allow any flanged valves, fittings or instruments check the Flanged box.  This will make it so that the gaskets and mating flanges are inserted automatically anytime you place a fitting or instrument that has flanges on it.  Butt Weld allows for another setting which I will get to in a while.

You must specify fittings to be automatically placed in this style, based on which boxes you have checked above.  If you have checked nothing, you will need to specify: Pipe, Coupling, Elbow 90 and Elbow 45.  For Flanged: Pipe, Elbow 90, Elbow 45, Flange and Gasket.  If only Butt Weld is checked: Pipe, Elbow 90 and Elbow 45.  This assumes that you have these fittings defined and in your Content Center already.  To create, Author and Publish these please see Autodesk ® Inventor's Help documentation.  Perhaps I'll write up a walk through for these next.

When you double click inside one of the empty fields under the fittings, a Library Browser opens which has already narrowed your choices to the type of fitting you are adding.  You can further narrow the results by adding filters and selecting the filter button at the bottom (looks like a funnel).

Library Browser

Once you have selected the fittings for each line required by your style, you're halfway there.  You must also decide whether to set the size by Nominal Diameter & Schedule (as in rigid pipe), or by specifying OD & ID.  You may also choose a color other than the default for this pipe style.  Note that colors will only apply to the pipe and fittings generated by your routes.  Any fittings added in line later will come in as the model color.

Style With Fittings Selected

Now that this section of the style is filled in, select the Rules tab to complete the final steps.  You must specify a Minimum, Maximum and Increment length for your pipe spools.  These can be whatever fits your specs, but I do have some advice.  For Minimum I almost always go with .001".  This allows me to create extremely small gaps between fittings if I need to.  With the piping I run, I sometimes need to have 2 small branch fittings in the same spot 180 degrees apart.  This setting allows me to have 2 route nodes that are .001" apart, which rounds out to nothing on a fabrication drawing.  You will know what is going to work best for your situation.  Maximum is usually dictated by the longest length of tube or pipe that you can buy.  In my case this is 240" or 20'.  Increment specifies the increment by which your pipe lengths can grow.  For example, you can specify that you always want your pipe lengths to be within the nearest 1/2".  For me, I again set this to .001 so my pipes can be whatever length they want based on equipment layouts.

Rules Tab
If you selected Butt Weld on the General tab, your rules page will look like this:

Rules For Butt Weld

Here you can specify a gap between welded pipe and fittings, based on your welding specs.  This will ensure proper cut lengths in your BOM.  You can also choose whether or not to display the gap in your models.  In any style where flanged is set as an option, but is not the only option, you will see the Coupling Type pick box.  This gives you the option to have the system place a set of flanges and a gasket at any point that would require a coupling, such as on pipe lengths which exceed your maximum setting.

When you have set everything in your style to what you want or need, hit Save and your new style will be created.  If you have given it a new Category name, the new category will also be created.  Now that you have one style done for this new category, you can copy it as many times as needed for the various sizes, and simply change the size setting and name as needed. In this way you can quickly create an entire family of tube & pipe styles.

The Export & Import buttons on the tool bar can be used for just what it implies.  Tube and pipe styles, or categories can be exported to a .xml file.  If you feel comfortable with doing so these can be edited outside of Inventor and then imported back in with the changes.  I have used this to quickly copy a category, saves it for a different fluid code and change the color in the .xml file (using find & replace).  I don't recommend this for the faint hearted or those not at least somewhat familiar with .xml files.  This Export/Import feature also allows you to copy styles between machines that do not share a common server.  Simply export them and put some portable media, and Import on the machine that needs them.

So, there it is.  A quick (sort of) walk through to get you started in creating Tube & Pipe styles for Autodesk ® Inventor.


“Autodesk ® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc.  Autodesk ® , AutoCAD ® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault ®, Autocad Electrical ® and Inventor ® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.”  Programs and programmers' information used with permission.  Thanks guys!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Inventor Tube & Pipe Wish List Part 2

lHello again all you happy people.

Sorry, I just like Droopy.

Anyway,  welcome to Part 2 of my Autodesk ® Inventor Tube & Pipe wish list.  I revamped the first post in this series to include links to the Autodesk ® Discussion Forum Idea Station posts for these suggestions, so I will do the same here.  Ready to go?

Tube & Pipe Branching

This request has actually been moved to the "Under Review" state in the Idea Station, which means that Autodesk is looking at whether this CAN be done, and SHOULD be done.  Progress!  Basically this is what I am asking for.  Currently, in Tube & Pipe, you create a branch by adding a branch fitting into an existing route, and then beginning a new route from the outlet of that fitting.  This works just fine, until you need that branch to line up perfectly with another pipe run, or a piece of equipment whose location is fixed.  See the image below; I need a line coming from the outlet of the pump and intersecting the main trunk line shown.  If I place a tee in this line, I would need to have an external reference point in my route to constrain the tee's location to in order to ensure it lines up with the pump suction.  If the pump moves later, there is no guarantee that this reference point would move with it, and would result in a failed route.

Branch Location

My proposed solution is one I have seen in another piping program.  It would be nice if we could run a line from the suction nozzle of the pump and have it intersect the main line shown, and have Tube & Pipe place the tee automatically.  Perhaps this would mean that in our Tube & Pipe styles we would need to specify a branch fitting as well as the elbows we need to specify now.  I would be OK with that!  This could even work in the context of a single route, creating branches on the fly as needed.  If done in conjunction with one of my other proposals; the ability to have a route reduce in size; the branch fitting could even be a reducing tee, for example.  Here is a link to the Idea Station post if you want to add your Kudos.

Tube & Pipe Branching

Content Center Parameters Propagated to Tube & Pipe

A little over a year ago I posted an idea to the Idea Station about a problem I was experiencing with getting column information out of the Content Center Family Table and onto my part models in Tube & Pipe.  Here is a screen shot of the post:

Idea Station Post

I was going to include this in this wish list, but in the last few days I have had some great success on a work around for this problem.  Instead I think I'll end this whole thing on a positive note and share what I've figured out in case it will help you.

To sum up what I was after, I wanted to get the same information onto the pipe spool model regardless of whether it was placed as part of a pipe run, or simply placed as a stand alone part.  The out of the box behavior was different in Tube & Pipe than when placing it loose in an assembly.  I wanted a concatenation of the spool type, nominal size and length.  The work around starts at the part level. I placed a pipe spool from the Content Center, "as custom", and saved it as a stand alone part.  I opened up that part file and looked at the model parameters.

Pipe Spool Part parameters
In the parameters I scrolled down to "length".  This parameter was first created as a part of the original iPart which was authored and published to be our flanged pipe conduit.  For help on creating and authoring your own custom pipes, see this Help document:

Author a pipe iPart

I set the length parameter to be exportable, then right clicked on the length value and selected "Custom Property Format".

Custom Property Format
For my needs I wanted the value to show up in my iProperties and in my Bill of Materials as fractional inches.  I unchecked the Units String so that the "in" would not show up as a part of my file names later.

Custom Property Format Dialog Box
With these changes tucked away, I saved and closed the part, making note of where I saved it for the next step.  In Inventor still, I went to the Manage tab and opened the Content Center Editor.  Finding the family for this pipe spool in Tube & Pipe\Conduit\Pipes, I right clicked and selected "Replace Family Template".  When the file dialog box opened I navigated to the location of the spool I had just modified and selected it.  After a few moments (with my fingers crossed) I got the satisfying "Published Successfully" message.  These changes to the parameters had now been propagated to the Content Center Family.

Next, I edited the Family Table for this pipe part.  Now, normally I use one column in a part family table to populate both the file name and the BOM description.  I do this by mapping the file name column to "Project.Description" under Column Properties.  For these pipe parts, however, this didn't work.  The fact that I was getting different results in Tube & Pipe, versus placing the pipe as a stand alone part made it necessary to use two different columns to populate file name and description.  File name is a standard CC Family table column, so for this one I chose an Expression as shown in this shot:

File Name Column Properties.
To edit this, you right click on the column header and choose Column Properties.  The Expression string is hard to see but here is the text:  {DESIGNATION}&" ETFE SPOOL x" &{length}
Designation is set to our sizes for this pipe, expressed as 3 or 4 digit size codes (1" - "100").  The Length column has been set up as an Expression column as well as shown here:

Length Column Properties.
This allows Tube & pipe to place these pipe spools at any length in this range.  Note it is mapped to the iProperty Custom.Length, which will push the value of Length out to the part as a custom iProperty.

For the Description, I chose a column we were not really using for anything else, but you could just as easily create a new column for this.  In my case I used Stock Number.  I set up the Column Properties as shown here:

Stock Number Column Properties

Note how this is mapped to Project.Description to populate the part iProperty.  Again the text of the expression is:  =&{DESIGNATION}&" ETFE SPOOL x <length>"  This is slightly different than the File Name.  The "carrots" around length here will cause the resulting string to populate the part iProperties as an expression there, using the value of the custom iProperty "Length" as a part of the Description.  This will ensure that if the pipe route changes later on and the length is different, the part iProperty for the description will update automatically to the new length.  This was something I was trying to do for quite some time and finally hit on it.

So with this somewhat lengthy process, I was able to force my pipe spools to come into Inventor with the correct file name and iProperty information, regardless of how they were created.  A shot of the iProperty dialog for my test pipe looks something like this:

Pipe Spool iProperties

Note the file name along the top has the size, the type of pipe spool and the length.  In the Description field, I have set it to show you what the expression looks like, the value for it is the same as the file name.  Now, it is important to note that when routing pipes using Inventor Tube & Pipe, your pipe spool file names will be auto generated.  You can set your Tube & Pipe setting such that you will be prompted for conduit file names.  To do this, right click on the "Tube & Pipe Runs" main assembly in your Inventor browser window, and select "Tube & Pipe Settings", then check the appropriate box.  I do this so that I can add the job number to each spool as a prefix.  It's a lot of work up front, but I'm always glad I did it later when I need to use Copy Design.  Also note, that you can modify the file name that is generated by placing a pipe spool outside of Tube & Pipe, if you place it "As Custom".

Well, this went from a wish list to a tutorial, and I'm sorry if I got long winded... but I hope there is something in here you all can use.  As for me I think it might be time to call it a week.


“Autodesk® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc.  Autodesk ® , AutoCAD ® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault ®, Autocad Electrical ® and Inventor ® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.”  Programs and programmers' information used with permission.  Thanks guys!