This year was a pretty good release for eDrawings. Accompanied by some useful compatibility and performance improvements, the biggest attention-getter was the full release of the Virtual Reality functionality. With eDrawings 2021, they turned to some long-requested enhancements, providing major improvements to the core functionality of the program. Of this year’s additions, I will focus on three, specifically in the areas of properties, measurement types, and Web HTML exports.
A major development in eDrawings 2021 is the addition of file properties. In earlier versions of the program, the only kind of properties you could see for a model were mass properties, and these were only accessible with eDrawings files. In this new release, you are also able to see any custom or configuration-specific file properties that were saved with the model. Unlike mass properties, these file properties can only be seen with SOLIDWORKS files; exporting a SOLIDWORKS model into an eDrawings format will not carry over the file properties.
You can find the File Properties button at the bottom of the eDrawings 2021 window or in the Tools dropdown menu. The popup lets you toggle between general custom properties and those specific to the current configuration. In the image below, you can see the two configuration-specific properties I created for my “1-4 hole” configuration: Description and Weight. (As a reminder, opening a SOLIDWORKS model in eDrawings does not bring all of the configurations by default. You need to add a Display Data Mark to any inactive configurations that you want to be available within eDrawings.)
Another eDrawings 2021 update expands the capabilities of the Measure tool. Measurements can now be made between cylindrical faces or between a planar face and a cylindrical face. Measuring between cylindrical faces, you can obtain the center-to-center, minimum, or maximum distance—similar to your options with the SOLIDWORKS Measure tool—and its X-, Y-, and Z-components. The planar-cylindrical face measurement returns the minimum normal distance between the planar face and the axis of the cylinder. Since this is a normal distance, with the normal direction being defined by the planar face, it is just a projection of the distance between the entities. Additionally, depending on how the planar face is oriented relative to the axis, the minimum normal distance may not be to a point on the face itself but, rather, to a point out in space on the plane defined by the face.
The images below illustrate these two measurement types. In the first image, we can see that the cylindrical-cylindrical face measurement includes flags for the overall center-to-center distance and for the three components of the measurement. These values are also shown in the Measure pane on the lower-left side of the screen. In the second image, we can see that a planar-cylindrical face measurement does not include any flags. The normal distance is given in the Measure pane (highlighted here by the orange box).
Web HTML – Measure
The last enhancement I want to talk about applies to the Web HTML file type. In its 2019 release, eDrawings started to allow users to save files in a Web HTML format (.html). Users could launch these files in a browser and do things like rotate models, hide/show assembly components, and create section views. eDrawings 2020 introduced the ability to freely move the components of a Web HTML assembly around the graphics area. With the 2021 edition, we continue to gain new capabilities in the browser, as we can now use the Measure tool with .html files. This functionality exists for all three document types—part, assembly, and drawing.
To ensure your Web HTML file will allow measurements, you need to select “Enable measure” in the Save As dialog when you are exporting. If you are trying to save a file that does not allow measurements, then this “Enable measure” option will not be available. Also, note that the ability to export to Web HTML is only available with eDrawings Professional.
Overall, I think we get some really strong improvements this year that can help make eDrawings more useful as a standalone viewing tool. The file properties and expanded measurement capabilities make it much easier for SOLIDWORKS-less users to get valuable information from CAD files, and those who are interested in utilizing browser-based viewers can learn more about their models with the added Measure functionality for Web HTML files. If you’re interested in any of these developments and haven’t installed eDrawings 2021 yet, go ahead and give it a try! Let us know what you think so far.
I hope this part of the What’s New series gives you a better understanding of the new features and functions of SOLIDWORKS 2021. Please check back to the CATI Blog as the CATI Application Engineers will continue to break down many of the new items in SOLIDWORKS 2021. All these articles will be stored in the category of “SOLIDWORKS What’s New.”
What is DI Month? We’re declaring October Design Innovation Month—again! It’s a month-long series of special events focused on what’s new in design and manufacturing technology. You’ll learn about enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2021 that deliver new capabilities for improved performance, streamlined workflows, and a connected design ecosystem. Find out what’s new in 3D printing applications and 3D scanning to integrate into your design process.