Have It Your Way with Custom Configurators27 Apr, 2011 By: Paul Harrison
IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Use Autodesk Inventor's integrated form creation capability to simplify your workflow and minimize errors.
Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of IMAGINiT Technologies.
Ever wanted to make a configurator for your Autodesk Inventor designs? Whether it's for a template part, a sales tool, or just to speed things up, custom forms can really help to simplify your workflow and minimize errors. It's always been possible to create custom forms using iLogic, but that process required a copy of Microsoft Visual Studio and a lot of patience. For Inventor 2012, Autodesk has integrated form creation directly into the product itself. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to add forms or configurators to any design.
Although the tool that we're using is called the iLogic Form Designer, you won't need any previous experience with Inventor's programming language. It'll be necessary if you're looking to use your configurator to control things like part color or material, but some knowledge of Inventor's parameter functionality should be all that you need to get started. If you're looking for an overview of iLogic, check out my previous IMAGINiT Tricks tutorial for an introduction to the tool.
Before creating our configurator, you'll want to make sure that the part or assembly to be controlled is parameter-enabled. It's also important that your key parameters have descriptive names. If you're starting from scratch, remember that you can name parameters in any new dimension window. To create a parameter named Width, for example, I would enter "Width = 2" as my dimension value. You'll want your parameters window to look a bit like the figure below.
To hide unimportant parameters using the filter in the bottom-left hand corner of the window, check off the Key column on the parameters that you'd like to control.
Next, it's time to determine the configurations that will be included in your form. If you'd like to limit dimensions to a certain set of values, you can right-click on the parameter and select Make Multi-Value. This will add a drop-down list to the parameter.
After you've got your parameters established, it's important to test out each configuration — bug testing at this stage will save you many headaches down the line.
Adding a Form
Now that your parameters are established, it's time to create the form itself. You'll want to navigate to the Manage tab and expand the iLogic panel. Make sure that the iLogic panel is displayed; if it's not, you can turn it on using the iLogic Browser toggle.
Next, click on Add Form and give your form a descriptive name. Keep in mind that what you enter here will be displayed on your form's button in the iLogic panel.
Pressing OK will open up the Form Editor window and a preview of the form.
The Form Editor window.
On the left-hand side of the window, you'll see a list of our file's parameters. Keep in mind that the list has the same filter functionality as the Parameters window; if the parameter that you want isn't listed, just change your filter settings using the funnel at the top of the screen. Drag the parameters that you'd like to control into the main window. Keep an eye on the preview panel, as it's going to update in real time.
The parameter's display properties can be customized in the lower half of the window. Here, you can change the parameter's label, layout, font, and more. By editing the Edit Control Type property, you also can make the parameter display as a slider rather than a box.
Once your parameters have been added and customized, it's time to organize the form itself. Using the Toolbox on the left-hand side, you can add tabs, groups, photos, and more to your form. Once your groups have been added, organizing your parameters is as simple as dragging and dropping within the tree. If you've added a picture, make sure to select the picture using the Properties panel at the bottom of the window.
When you're finished, you can find the newly created form on the Forms tab in your iLogic browser.
Click on the form and give your configurator a go. Wasn't that easy?
In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor and Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD video tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!