Descriptors and Descriptions in Autodesk Factory Design Suite

30 Nov, 2013 By: Rusty Belcher

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Use a little iLogic to identify your assets — it's not as hard as you might think.

Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of IMAGINiT Technologies.

A factory may contain many pieces of similar equipment, and attaching a descriptor makes it easier to identify a particular asset. Autodesk Factory Design Suite 2014 allows you to identify your assets using the new descriptor tag functionality. Assets also have a Description iProperty field that should be filled out as well. Many Factory Design Suite users want the asset Descriptor to display the same information as the Description iProperty.

Before we explore this topic in depth, we need to differentiate the terms Descriptor and Description. A Descriptor is a simple node built into new factory assets that displays identification information when the user hovers the cursor over it. A descriptor can display additional information about the asset, such as type, part number, flow rate, etc. The term Description refers to the iProperty of the Inventor model. Every Inventor part and assembly file has a set of iProperties that include the Description. Downstream processes like title blocks, parts lists, and bills of materials often display the Description iProperty alongside the other component information. This presentation provides a method of generating a Descriptor that displays the necessary asset information and automatically updates the Description iProperty when the asset parameters are modified.

The Descriptor node at left can display any asset information desired. The iProperty Description on the right should display similar data.

In this demonstration, we will use a simple rectangular tent as the asset example. The model has parameters that control the length, width, and height of the tent. There is also a simple iLogic rule that allows the color of the tent to be set by a text parameter. The Descriptor will need to display the color of the tent as well as the values for Length, Width, and Height. The same information needs to be populated to the asset’s iProperty Description field.

Note the parameter values for Length, Width, Height, and the multivalue text parameter for Color.


Each parameter that will be used to control the size and color of the tent is marked as Key in the Parameters dialog box. Key parameters are automatically published as controls for the final asset. It is also a good idea to mark these parameters for Export because they are often referenced in downstream processes like a parts list or bill of materials.

This image shows the Key and Export settings for the parameters.

The iLogic Rule that controls the color of the tent is a fairly simple piece of code. A multi-value text parameter is created displaying the different colors of the tent. Then an iLogic rule is created that sets the color of the model according to the value of the color parameter. The rule in the following image is built using the “Select Case” format. With any iLogic rule, it is important that all parameter and color names be entered precisely, including capitalization.

The iLogic Color rule for this example is shown here.


Once the model parameters and iLogic rules are working as expected, it is time to begin converting the model to a factory asset. The first step will be to activate the Asset Builder located on the Environments tab. This environment allows you to specify a landing surface and connector points for the design. In this example, we also create asset variants that define the sizes of tents available. These sizes are set in units of feet because that is how the end users usually reference the tent sizes.

The Asset Variants allow users to establish standard sizes for the assets.

Now it is time to include the Descriptor. When you add the Descriptor you are prompted to select a piece of geometry to locate the Descriptor Node, then a heads-up dialog offers you the opportunity to enter any static text you desire. There is also an advanced option that automatically creates an iLogic Descriptor rule. In this example, we used the advanced option and built a rule that fills out the Descriptor with the Color, Length, Width, and Height parameter values for the tent. The following iLogic rule starts by establishing simple variables that are used to convert the Length, Width, and Height parameter values from inches to feet. Then the variables and Color parameter are used to set the value of the Descriptor and the values for the Description iProperty at the same time.

The iLogic code that sets the Descriptor and Description values is shown above.

The format of the above rule is fairly simple and can be mastered with a bit of practice. Here are some tips for new iLogic users:

  • Plain or Static text (known as a string) is enclosed by quotation marks; for example, “Tent”
  • Empty spaces between values (“ ”) are also considered a string.
  • Use the Ampersand (&) to add additional values to the string.
  • Parameter Names must be entered precisely including capitalization.
  • The Factory_Descriptor Parameter is automatically added to the Descriptor iLogic rule.
  • The iproperties value for Description can be found in the available snippets browser.

After the asset is published, it appears in the Factory Asset Browser. When the asset is placed into a layout, the parameter values for Length, Width, Height, and Color are available in the Factory Properties palette. In the following images, three versions of the rectangular tent are placed in a layout. The Descriptor for each tent reveals the desired parameter data and the component iProperty Description displays the same information.

The final image shows three different tents, with the Descriptors showing the desired parameter data alongside the iProperties for one of the tents with the Description filled out.

About the Author: Rusty Belcher

Rusty Belcher

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