Avatech Tricks: Mastering Styles in Inventor 10

14 Nov, 2005 By: Jason Lane Cadalyst

Bring consistency to all your documents with styles and style libraries.

Styles are predefined properties that you can apply to an object. They are used in one of two ways:
  • To encapsulate a set of formatting properties for annotations, such as dimension or text styles.
  • To capture a set of physical properties to apply to 3D geometric objects, such as material styles.

Some examples of styles and their associated attributes are:

  • Layers: color, lineweight, linetype
  • Dimensions: precision, tolerancing, arrowhead types
  • Materials: density, yield strength
  • Text: font, color, justification

Autodesk Inventor provides two different types of styles: object styles and document styles. Object styles are generally applied using the Style drop-down list on the Standard toolbar (figure 1). Document styles govern what object styles are available for use in a particular document (standards, object defaults); or provide a common format that applies document-wide (materials, lighting).

Figure 1. Autodesk Inventor's Style drop-down list.

What are Style Libraries?
Style libraries are a common source of styles for projects. They are an external, centrally located source of definitions for styles (figure 2).

Figure 2. A list of styles.

Advantages of Style Libraries
Style libraries make sharing styles easy. Placing a style library on a network allows everyone working on the project to share the same formatting standards.

Style libraries also allow administrators to control styles. You can set a style library to read only, either by using the Use Style Library / Read Only project file settings or by other methods such as Autodesk Vault.

When you move styles into an external style library, only the styles the document is currently using are cached in the document's memory space, which reduces the memory footprint of each document.

Style Libraries and Projects
The active project file determines the use of a style library. The project's Use Styles Library setting determines if the project will use a style library (figure 3). This setting also influences how document templates are used in a project.

Figure 3. The Use Styles Library setting.

A project can use any style library a user can create, but the project can use only one style library at a time. The project's Style Library folder option determines which library is used.

Style Library Use: Default versus Project
You can use one of two ways to define which style library a project uses. Expand the Folder Options node in the Projects dialog box and right-click the Styles Library option (figure 4).

Figure 4. Select an option for your style library.

Note: For multi-user collaboration, it is best if the Design Data folder located in the Inventor program directory is copied or moved to a network server location (i.e. \\ServerName\Inventor_Data\Design_Data\) and the path to the server location is set in Application Options (figure 5).

Figure 5. Selecting the default style library.

Setting Style Library Use for Projects
The following options are available of controlling style library project options (figure 6).

Figure 6. Controlling library project options.

Use Style Library = Yes. The project will use the style library defined in the style library folder options. All automatic management styles will be used on all files opened under this project. With this setting, users have full read/write access to the styles in the style library.

Use Style Library = Read Only. This option behaves exactly like Use Style Library = Yes with one difference: a user cannot change the style library using any of the Save to Style Library functions inside of Inventor.

Use Style Library = No. Styles are stored in the template and are copied to new documents when the documents are created.

Tools for Editing Styles and Creating Style Libraries
The Styles Editor is the heart of styles management in Autodesk Inventor. You use the Styles Editor primarily to create and edit styles. It is document based, meaning that you create and edit styles in the context of the document where the Style Editor is opened.

The following options are available when you access the Styles and Standards Editor (figure 7).

Figure 7. Options in the Styles and Standards Editor.

Back: Navigates to the previously selected style.
New: Creates a new style or standard based on the selected style or standard.
Save: Saves edits to the currently selected style or standard.
Reset: Resets the currently selected style or standard by discarding the changes.
Filter: Select a filter on the drop-down list.
Active Standard: Displays only the active styles and standards used.
Local Styles: Displays only styles that are local to the document.
All Styles: Displays all styles.
Import: Imports an STYXML file.

The following menu appears when you right-click a style or standard (figure 8).

Figure 8. This menu appears when your right-click a style or standard.

New Style: Creates a new style based on the selected style.
Rename Cached Style: Renames the version of the style that is cached in the current document.
Purge Style: Purges the selected style. You can purge only styles that are not in use.
Purge Style and Sub-Styles: Purges the selected style and any sub-style.
Export: Exports the selected style from the style library.
Cache in Document: Stores the selected style in the document, so that you can send additional styles with the document even if they are currently not used.
Save to Styles Library: Saves the current selected style to the style library.

About the Author: Jason Lane

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