Just out: precise select and measure in the Workbench viewer
If you've used Workbench lately, you may have noticed a little change in the 3D viewer. When we got started with the 3D viewer in the community, web 3D graphics were in their infancy. The goal of the viewer was to let you quickly view and comment on 3D files. Most Workbench users also use CAD, and we received a lot of feedback that we should strive to make a more CAD-like user experience. Today, I am thrilled to announce that we have launched a new select and measure capability that almost all CAD users should find familiar.
The first new feature you will notice is pre-highlighting before you click. When your mouse cursor hovers over faces, edges, and vertices, Workbench shows you what will be selected before you click. Almost all modern 3D CAD systems work this way, and now Workbench does as well.
Once you select, you will notice that a new panel pops up telling you about the properties of what you selected, depending on what it was. For example, if you select a face of a hole, you will see measurements like this:
While all faces have area, perimeter, and bounds, this face is a cylinder, so Workbench also shows its radius. This information is calculated directly off of your precise CAD geometry.
If you select a body (using shift-select), you will also see the volume and surface area for the entire body. Displaying these mass-properties was one of our most common enhancement requests. Unlike a lot of simple web viewers, Workbench also calculates the volume off of the precise solid model, so you see the real data and not an approximation.
If you select two objects, Workbench shows you even more results. We calculate all of the measurements that would be useful between the two selections, including underlying untrimmed geometry (if it exists). For example, between a planar surface and a hole surface, you might want to know how far the faces are apart, or you might want to know the projected distance to the axis of the hole from the plane. Here you'll see both, as well as the minimum projected distance to the edge of the hole.
Summing properties of multiple objects
If you want to add up the length of many curves or calculate the area of several faces, just keep adding to your selection. Workbench will tally the result.
What about the old measure tool?
You will also notice that we haven’t gotten rid of the old measure tool that created dimension-like annotations. Although that tool has some limitations, such as not supporting many kinds of precise geometry, we know that many customers use it regularly. There are also some capabilities that don’t exist in the new tool, such as angle measurements and the ability to measure inexact data like STL and VRML files. For the time being, we will leave the existing tool in place, but eventually we expect to completely replace it with the new CAD-like paradigm.
What do you think?
Customer needs and feedback drive our engineering, and, as with any new capability, we won’t think it’s done until our customers agree. How does the new tool work for you? What’s missing? Where do you want us to go next? I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
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About the author: (Blake Courter)
Blake has dedicated his career to making engineering more efficient, fun, and team-oriented. Blake started his career at PTC, where he created new CAD tools to assist with conceptual design and components to solve interoperability problems. In 2003, Blake co-founded SpaceClaim, Inc., a CAD company whose direct modeling paradigm heralded a new generation of solid modelers. At GrabCAD, Blake is focused on turning engineering data management into an amazing, enjoyable team experience. Outside of work, Blake is usually found reading math books, producing art from code, and occasionally playing the banjo.
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