Managing Repetitive Tasks30 Sep, 2003 By: Greg Jankowski
The SolidWorks Task Scheduler utility allows for scheduling tasks for execution at a future time. This could be used to set up an automated schedule for exporting files to another format, batch print a set of files, and so forth. Tasks can be performed on a single file, a group of files, or on the directories. This allows a task or set of tasks to be run in batch mode on the specified files. These tasks can be scheduled to run at off-peak hours so that the files and resources are not in use at the time the tasks are run. These tasks can be set up to run once, or at scheduled daily, weekly, or monthly intervals.
The SolidWorks Task Scheduler is included with SolidWorks Office and SolidWorks Office Professional. This utility is run separately from SolidWorks. The following tasks can be run from the SolidWorks Task Scheduler:
- Update Files, which rebuilds specified files;
- Update Associated Files, which rebuilds the specified file, plus any associated files located in specified folders;
- Print Files, which prints specified files using default document printer settings or selected options;
- Import Files, which allows you to import STEP or IGES files and saves them as SolidWorks documents;
- Export Files, which, inversely, lets you exports SolidWorks documents to another file format, such as DXF, DWG, IGES, STEP AP203, or STEP AP214;
- Update Custom Properties, which adds or modifies custom properties in the specified files;
- Create Drawings, which creates drawings for parts or assemblies, using the specified drawing document template;
- Convert to High Quality Views, which lets you convert drawing views from Draft Quality to High Quality;
- Run Custom Task, which runs any application, using macros or command line arguments that you specify;
- Create eDrawings, which creates eDrawings, using selected export options;
- Update COSMOSWorks, which updates the COSMOSWorks analysis in the specified files.
Figure 1. The Task Scheduler interface shows some currently scheduled tasks.
The interface, as shown in Figure 1, has a couple of areas of interest. the left hand side shows icons representing the available functions that can be scheduled. The middle section shows the tasks per the Show Tasks filter. Above this is the toolbar that has the Show Tasks filter, which will display tasks for today, all tasks, completed tasks, or scheduled tasks. You can select which list of tasks it will display. The other buttons within the toolbar are Copy, Delete, Print, and Help.
Figure 2. Defining the options for a new scheduled task is done in this dialog box.
Creating a Task Scheduler
You can use the following steps to create a SolidWorks Task Scheduler task. First, open the SolidWorks Task Scheduler, as shown in Figure 2. To do this, go to the Windows Start menu, click Programs, SolidWorks 2004, SolidWorks Task Scheduler. Next, select the desired tasks from the list shown. If you want, you can name the task within the Task title field. Now, select the file, files, or directories to apply the task. After you've done this, you schedule the task. This is configured within the Task schedule area. When scheduling a task, you can select to run the task once, daily, weekly, or monthly. Finally, you can customize the task by specifying any options or advanced options based on the selected task.
SolidWorks Task Scheduler runs as a service on a computer, which means that scheduled tasks will run at anytime--even when the user is logged off of the computer. This works in a similar manner to how Windows schedules tasks. The service that SolidWorks Task Scheduler runs is named swBOEngine.exe. It starts automatically when the SolidWorks Task Scheduler is installed. When you restart the computer, the service is in the Windows Start program group. To remove the automatic activation of this service, remove SolidWorks Task Scheduler from the Windows Start program group.
Figure 3. You define the options for a custom task in the options dialog box.
Many tasks have options that can be pre-defined. Figure 3 shows the Import Options dialog box. The default values for each of these tabs can be defined for the related task. This allows for fine-tuning of the options based on your specific needs and requirements. To pre-define these options, open the SolidWorks Task Scheduler and select Options from the View pulldown menu. Select the desired tab and edit the values. Remember, however, to review and set all tab options prior to defining and scheduling tasks.
A custom task, as shown in Figure 4, allows for greater flexibility as it can be run with specified arguments and macros. Typically, SolidWorks is the application that is specified within the program path, but the SolidWorks Task Scheduler is not limited to SolidWorks. Custom tasks are truly only limited by your imagination. While there are many different tasks that could be run by the custom task function, the task are typically geared toward SolidWorks.
Figure 4. Using the Custom Tasks dialog box allows you to set the default options for a scheduled task.
The SolidWorks Task Scheduler is a valuable tool for individual users as well as system administrators. This utility allows for offloading tasks to non-peak hours as well as automating certain tasks that can be performed on a group of files.