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.



Selection Pre-highlighting

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.

Precise measurements

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.

Mass properties

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.

Pair-wise measurements

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.


A Part Number Anthology part-number-anthology-small

Part numbering. For most engineers, this two-word phrase is all it takes to conjure up especially strong feelings about what it means to be “right”, and what it means to be very, very “wrong.” We've assembled a handful of our part number greatest hits in this eBook anthology.