Solidworks FeatureManager Tree tells you the story

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When using Solidworks the focus logically is in the sketch/modeling area of the screen where things gets life, the rest is just tools and menus leading to more tools …… and more menus.
With a overview of Solidworks FeatureManager Tree I hope to give newer users a tool to help preventing your model from go all into a frenzy of red “wrong Way”signs with a end result of migraines and frustrations. The Feature Manager gives some handy tools and can wave some flags that will give you a finger on the pulse as you bring your designs to life.

Know what Solidworks FeatureManager Tree tells you
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1)You can use Filter at the top of the FeatureManager design tree to filter items displayed
in the tree.
You can filter by:
~ Component and feature name
~ Component show/hide state
~ Tags that you add
It is pretty easy to figure out, start typing and you will see that you quickly can key in on details in your tree.

2)The 1st icon is familiar to most, is it a part file or an assembly file, the deformed yellow LEGO with a green square on it will indicate that there is a part file being linked here. This also means cation when you start thinking where about to save this file.

3)The yellow and almost rectangular Lay Out icon tells you that you can switch back and forth between top-down and bottom-up design methods. You can create, edit, and delete parts and blocks at any point in the design cycle without any history-based restrictions.

4)Naming your feature
Most issues in Solidworks is lost links between parts and assembly files. I advice that you make a rule of always naming a new feature. Part1, Part2 and Part3 obviously do not make for much of explanation compared to Part-Fork, Part-Knife and Part-Plate. Naming features doing creation is a switch in system option page (standard toolbar), and make life so much easier when trouble shooting your assembly, but so much obvious when trouble shooting someone else’s.
5/6)(Default)(Default_Display State-1>)
On your 3rd tap over on your FeatureManager you can set up your configurations and display state, Display state is favorable over suppressing features when trying to illuminate clutter and components on you screen.
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Here you can easily see which is active.
(XXX=Active config)(XXXActive Display State>)
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Folders
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The future will bring additional tutorials about these powerful tools on cadcamstuff.com, here is a link to one that even got some seasoned users attention Store your scribble and notes in Solidworks

You should also know that you have some option to trigger these folders to appear in your tree from your System Options=>FeatureManager.
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Planes and origin
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3 standard planes and a origin, if you have drawn a few models already I am sure you are familiar with these functions, the red arrow is a added bonus trick for still reading this blog post. Right click a plane => click “Normal To” and you might just added a new tool to your belt. If you are a repeated reader (and I thank you) you might recall “Normal To” from this blog post How Do you like the view……in Solidworks

Sign language Ala Solidworks
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1The red lettering tells you that this part has an issue, and the red sign with the arrow pointing down tells you that the issue is further down the tree. You will see that the part 3 places further down also has issues further down the tree.

2No feather on the yellow icon, no (), everything is black lettering = This part is fully loaded into the memory, the part is fully defined and lastly this part is happy and healthy in our assembly.

3 The (-) tells you this part is under defined, this doesn’t mean that this part need to be locked and tied down, but there is loose ends that could go red, if other things start to change.

4 A sub-assembly (yellow with green square) It is good practice using sub-assembly when your start to mate parts, and then mate parts to those parts. Sub-assemblies helps Organizing bigger assemblies and make it quicker to load when working on details in the assembly.

5The (f) tells you the part is fixed. (right click the part in the FeatureManager tree) This part is lock to the screen until un-fixed(float).

6 A Concentric mate in red lettering and a red sign with a white “X”. Our issue has been located. this mate was destroyed between our 2 parts earlier in our tree.

The FeatureManager tree has some good indicators on the health of your assembly, problem is sometimes understanding what it is telling you. Personally I would probably prefer a little balloon popping up with arrows pointing specific to problems with mates and features in the tree and link to help files for solutions, instead of giving me a red sign with a arrow down, and then leave the user with a feeling that he is in a maze where there are no beginning or end. You should take a few minutes and go through some of the help files about the FeatureManager Tree, doing a little work flow change and experiments with things like “Transparent flyout FeatureManager”, splitting menus and folder options can only make the day go by a little faster.

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