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Is there a better way to present macros than this?

TimSharp
6-Contributor

Is there a better way to present macros than this?

We've got a macro for drawing our most commonly used nuts, bolts and screws automatically, but it needs a toolbar with a minimum of 18 icons, most of them just to select options - see the image.

It works like this:

  • Choose the options for screw head, nut, washer, length and whether to draw fitted or exploded
  • Choose what fixings to draw with one of the last 4 icons
  • Select a hole on the illustration and a point for direction
  • Macro draws fixings in the right orientation and scale, with thick/thin changing to medium/thin or all thin and threads being removed depending on how small the fixings are

The limitations:

  • There's no indication of what options have been selected - you have to remember
  • All the options have to be displayed all the time, making more clutter on the screen
  • When we add more fixing types, it will just add more icons
  • The macro can't prompt the user what to do next - unless we accept the user has to click the screen to remove the prompt

Things that could make it better:

  • If the toolbars could swap icons as items are picked, it could be reduced to just 9 icons.
  • If toolbars could be controlled from within macros we could, say replace the 4 icons for choosing the screw head type with just 1 - that pops up a toolbar to choose the head, then closes it again when one is selected - changing the main toolbar icon to show the selected head type.
  • alternatively, a macro controlled menu could display all the options together rather than in one long toolbar.

Can anyone think of a better way to present the options for macros than this?

Can anyone at PTC tell us whether there is any possibility in the future of the macro language being extended enough to make the delivery of macros to the illustrator more effective?

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Accepted Solutions
TimSharp
6-Contributor
(To:thendricks)

Thanks for the reply Trevor.

Unfortunately, the Library tool (like a lot of things in Isodraw) is too long winded - you have to scroll through all the available permutations to find the one you want (there are several hundred) then you have to resize them, often change line thicknesses and thread counts, then rotate to suit. I'm fed up with having to spend time fiddling about with the fixings after they are loaded when a macro can load just what you need right away. It's all about shaving off a few seconds from things we do an awful lot. I wanted to prove to myself that macros save time, so I've a macro that logs each use of some of our macros and adds up the time difference between the macro way and the fastest alternative. We've saved over 1600 hours over the last few years with 3-5 illustrators.

When I first did the fixings macro, I was using pre-drawn groups of fixings but by the time I'd done just one type, I had over 100 illustrations, so I had to change it or I wouldn't have had time to draw all the permutations. The macro sets options (all global variables so you can repeat run the macro later), then loads up individual drawings (e.g. flat washer, spring washer and screw), moving them into position to form a fixings group, then sizing and rotating according to the hole selected. It also changes line thicknesses depending on the hole size and removes some of the thread (using infos) if they are very small.

No, unfortunately using the 'get' prompts would just hold the user up. I want it so you can set all the options bam bam bam then click to draw the items. The 'get' way would have the benefit of not using lots of icons though, but I don't think it would be quick enough to lure people from their old ways.

I appreciate your reply, it helps confirm that there are no other ways to present macros that I've missed. With my CAD background (HP's ME10 - now a PTC product!) I'm used to having macro driven pop up menus where clicking a box can cycle through icons until it shows the one you want to set, plus drop down boxes and check boxes to simplify complicated settings.

I just wish PTC had throught that people might want to use macros seriously and given us a bit more control - even a toolbox that macros could access and where an icon, once clicked, could change to another icon would be very useful.

View solution in original post

2 REPLIES 2

I wish you could use shortcut keys in many cases, but unfortunately this is an area where IsoDraw seems to fall flat on its' face.

In regards to your issue, a couple possible approaches.

First is in regards to even using macros. If these macros are done basically to draw common parts, have you thought of using the library tool? That way it is simply a matter of inserting the art and resizing if desired? If you're orientations change that much, likely not a good options, but a possible route if you have say only four orientations used.

In regards to macros, you could potentially use a 'get' function. Not sure if this would be better, but it would be a different approach. Basic idea here is that you run the macro via a button. You then use the 'get' function to prompt for a selection. Again, a limitation is you can grab a string, or a numeric basically. The user would then type their selection. Perhaps a number (1=screw, 2=nut,...) or a letter (s=screw, n=nut,...). Not perfect, but depending on your users it may be a more suitable method.

TimSharp
6-Contributor
(To:thendricks)

Thanks for the reply Trevor.

Unfortunately, the Library tool (like a lot of things in Isodraw) is too long winded - you have to scroll through all the available permutations to find the one you want (there are several hundred) then you have to resize them, often change line thicknesses and thread counts, then rotate to suit. I'm fed up with having to spend time fiddling about with the fixings after they are loaded when a macro can load just what you need right away. It's all about shaving off a few seconds from things we do an awful lot. I wanted to prove to myself that macros save time, so I've a macro that logs each use of some of our macros and adds up the time difference between the macro way and the fastest alternative. We've saved over 1600 hours over the last few years with 3-5 illustrators.

When I first did the fixings macro, I was using pre-drawn groups of fixings but by the time I'd done just one type, I had over 100 illustrations, so I had to change it or I wouldn't have had time to draw all the permutations. The macro sets options (all global variables so you can repeat run the macro later), then loads up individual drawings (e.g. flat washer, spring washer and screw), moving them into position to form a fixings group, then sizing and rotating according to the hole selected. It also changes line thicknesses depending on the hole size and removes some of the thread (using infos) if they are very small.

No, unfortunately using the 'get' prompts would just hold the user up. I want it so you can set all the options bam bam bam then click to draw the items. The 'get' way would have the benefit of not using lots of icons though, but I don't think it would be quick enough to lure people from their old ways.

I appreciate your reply, it helps confirm that there are no other ways to present macros that I've missed. With my CAD background (HP's ME10 - now a PTC product!) I'm used to having macro driven pop up menus where clicking a box can cycle through icons until it shows the one you want to set, plus drop down boxes and check boxes to simplify complicated settings.

I just wish PTC had throught that people might want to use macros seriously and given us a bit more control - even a toolbox that macros could access and where an icon, once clicked, could change to another icon would be very useful.

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