Search Your Tree at the Speed of Light with # Tags

Posted in: Mechanical Design
March 10, 2017

I think most SOLIDWORKS users will agree – searching for the right information in your designs can be a pain. Whether you’re working on a complex part with a hundred features or a large assembly with a thousand components, finding what you need quickly isn’t always the easiest task. By now you’re probably already familiar with breadcrumbs, and you probably already know how to search your design tree for features by name. However, many users remain unaware of the ability to add an unlimited number of tags to their design elements. These tags allows for rapid searching of very long design trees, even if features have non-descript names or are inaccessible from the graphics area.

1 - HawkEye Drone Assembly Model 1 - HawkEye Drone Assembly Model

If you’re already familiar with the infamous hashtag that has pervaded social media, the concept is identical. Take any design element, whether it be a sketch, feature, or component (or a material, a piece of reference geometry, etc.), and add a tag to it. Once you’ve added your tag, searching for the tag name in the FeatureManager Design Tree will filter the results to only the design elements that have had that specific tag assigned to them. Perhaps your workflow requires you to name all components in accordance with their associated part numbers; tags might be simple descriptions of these components. Or perhaps the opposite – if you title components according to their name, a tag listing part number might be more appropriate. In any case, tags exist solely to make your life easier. So how do we work with them?
First, let’s take a look at the drone model, shown above. There are just over 100 components in this model, which isn’t too bad, but might make searching a bit difficult. Let’s assume I’m relatively new to this model, or it’s been a while since I’ve worked with it. I know I need to work on the radio transmitter component, but I don’t see it in the graphics area, and I don’t remember what I named it. Fortunately, I had the foresight to add a tag to it the last time I was working on it. Searching for the ‘radio’ tag in the design tree shows me exactly what I need, despite the fact that the component is hidden from view, and was named VideoTX. Had this tag been assigned to a sketch, it would still show in the design tree and highlight in the graphics area, even if it were several levels deep in the hierarchy.


2 - FeatureManager Design Tree Results from Searching the 'Radio' Tag 2 - FeatureManager Design Tree Results from Searching the 'Radio' Tag


Adding a tag is as simple as searching for one. Select the item you’d like to tag in the design tree or the graphics area, then turn your attention to the very bottom right-hand corner of the screen. This tiny symbol (highlighted in red below) is the tag symbol, and clicking it will open up a small window where any existing tags will show for a selected item, separated by semicolons. In the case of the VideoTX component, we find two tags – the ‘radio’ tag and the frequency of transmission.


3 - Tag Dialog and Associated Tags 3 - Tag Dialog and Associated Tags


The first tag for an item can be added by simply typing into the box. Existing tags can also be edited, or additional tags can be added simply by typing them after the last semicolon. Additionally, tags already in use in the design can be selected from a popup menu to add them to the current selection, or they can be typed in manually. This allows the same tag to be used in multiple locations, which is especially helpful for assigning design elements to categories. By selecting a group of items from the design tree or the graphics area, the same tag can even be applied to multiple items simultaneously.


4 - One Tag Being Applied Simultaneously to Multiple Items and Resulting Search View 4 - One Tag Being Applied Simultaneously to Multiple Items and Resulting Search View


At this point I think you’ll agree – tags are a fantastic way to organize your work and search your design tree at light speed without the inconvenience of renaming your design elements. Now, go show all your coworkers how #productive you are. Happy modeling!

March 10, 2017
Did you like this post?