It's Your Canvas: Customize the Autodesk Inventor 2014 Interface

3 Nov, 2013 By: Mark Flayler

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Learn how to use the many customization options to streamline your access to frequently used commands.

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

Recent enhancements to Autodesk Inventor have dramatically increased users' ability to make the interface their own. Sometimes these enhancements go against individual users' preferences — that's why customization is so important. In this article, we will explore some of the factors that lead into the interface decisions, and then look at how we can truly make it our own with customizations for items like the Navigation bar, the Marking menu, the keyboard, and even a little ribbon work.

First, let's see how Autodesk gets its data points on how to adjust or enhance the software's interface and command sets.

Autodesk Customer Improvement Program

Autodesk constantly gets reports about everyday use of Autodesk Inventor from users participating in the Customer Improvement Program (CIP). Without interrupting the participating customer, the CIP collects up to 100 K of data daily. This information includes:

  • Total hours product is in use
  • Product commands used
  • Hardware configurations, such as CPU type, memory, and input devices
  • Adjacent Autodesk products installed and used.

Based on this data, changes are made to the interface to enhance the most commonly used aspects of the software — and sometimes, hide away those that are not as frequently used. For more on the CIP program, check out the Autodesk website.

Autodesk also actively engages the community for feedback in programs such as the Inventor IdeaStation, as well as holding focus groups and "gunslinger" events to get a perspective on some of the human factors instead of only looking at these reports.

Customize the Navigation Bar

Our first customization — and the first thing I customize on a new install — is the Navigation bar. This bar sits below your View Cube in the upper right portion of your graphical canvas. By default, it has quite a few commands that are not really needed if you are using your mouse every day. Commands like the Steering Wheel, Zoom All, Pan, and Orbit are not terribly useful to me unless I travel with my laptop and forget my mouse.

Typically, I use my mouse center wheel for Zoom (scroll) and Zoom All (double-click it), and for zoom I have either my 3Dconnexion mouse or I pull out a keyboard trick and hold Shift while holding the middle mouse button. This leaves my Navigation bar pretty useless until I make it my own. The little arrow at the bottom of the bar allows customization of the commands. Here I have added Projection and Visual Styles. Since I do a lot of work in technical publications as well as PowerPoint, these tools are more necessary for me than most.

One item I would like to see here right now that is not available is the Sectioning tools for parts and assemblies. That way I would very rarely ever have to go to the View tab of the ribbon. (It seems like a good thing to add to the Inventor IdeaStation for the community and Autodesk to gauge the usefulness of the change!)

Customize the Ribbon and Quick Access Toolbar

The ribbon was added in Inventor 2010, which is now five releases ago. Over that time, ribbons have been proliferated throughout Autodesk programs, providing a more streamlined feel from one product to the next as well as a familiarity with the newer software programs outside of Autodesk programming, such as Windows 8 and Microsoft Office. The AutoCAD ribbon has the greatest amount of customizability over the other software products, since it has the largest amount of commands available to it and such an expansive user base. When you look at the Inventor ribbon, there are nowhere near as many commands as in AutoCAD; that's due to the advanced nature of Inventor compared to a simpler vector-based system. In general, these ribbons grant more discoverability to the commands than interfaces of the past.

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About the Author: Mark Flayler

Mark Flayler

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