The SOLIDWORKS FeatureManager Tree is the heart of any model or assembly. It is the recipe for how a part or assembly has been built from start to finish.
In SOLIDWORKS 2012 we saw the introduction of the SOLIDWORKS Part Reviewer (available via Tools > Add Ins)- a great way to roll through a part's history. Have you taken the time to have a look what else can be done with the FeatureTree- if not keep reading!!
You will get different settings depending on which area of the tree you right click on- lets start from the top, and in fact that slot shaped element with the blue funnell icon is actually a filter tool- allowing you to search for the names of features in parts, and components in assemblies- a great tool for those complex models.
Let's look at some of the options on the Right Mouse Click- this menu was initiated by right clicking the top item on the tree (the file name)
-The first two icons (magnifying glass and the beach ball) allow you to firstly Zoom to Selection- this makes the model fit the screen. The beach ball allows you to change the part's appearance/ colour.
- Go To- this is like a Find option that you get in web browers for example so you can search down the Feature Tree.
- Hidden Tree Items- this allows you to access some of the less frequently used options, by allowing you to make additional features visible in the main tree.
- Add to Library- you can designate parts (or features) as library components so they can be resued elsewhere.
- Open Drawing- this option will only be available if SOLIDWORKS recognises there is a drawing file with the same name and file location as the part you are working on.
- Comment- this allows you to add commentary/ notes to features to allow other users to understand how you have put the part together. This is a great collaboration tool and these comments appear in the Part Reviewer add in.
- Tree Display- this allows you to alter what is shown in the tree- show items based on descriptions rather than names, hide configuration names and display states if not needed.
- Document Properties- this takes you directly to the Tools > Options > Document Properties settings.
- Configuration Publisher- this is a relatively new feature and allows you to work with configurations by creating a form based interface for inserting configuration parts into an assembly.
- Appearance- This allows you to add and remove appearances from the model
- Material- you can view the full material database to add mechanical properties to parts
- Hide/Show Tree Items- very similar to hidden tree items above, this will take you into the System Options
- Collapse Items- also keyboard shortcut SHIFT & C- any features expanded (revealing the absorbed sketches) can be collapsed all at once, reducing the length of the Feature Tree.
- Customise Menu- in case any items are hidden from the right click menu you can bring them into view- also any of these you never use can be hidden.
In addition when you right click on features you get extra option such as Change Transparency, Configure Feature, Add to New Folder etc. Be aware on this menu, there may be one or two items hidden that can be made visible by clicking the double chevron at the base of the list.
To conclude there are a number of hidden gems available to uncover in the Feature Manager tree, combining this with general organisation of the list through folders and renaming will allow you to interrogate model history much easier.