powerJobs – A new UI experience

We recently released a new version of powerJobs 2015 and talked about on this post. In the past week, we run webcasts where we showed the new features in action. We recorded the whole session, so in case you missed it, you can watch it here: Screencast – What’s new in powerJobs 15.1?

Today, I’d like to highlight one feature in particular, which is the extended JobProcessor UI.

This is how the JobProcessor looks like when delivered by Autodesk:

JobProcessor

And this is how the JobProcessor looks like when started with powerJobs:

powerJobs UI

Underneath the JobProcessor window, you’ll notice an additional window that shows messages. It’s a log or trace window. It shows what is currently happening inside the job. It gives you transparency on the current operations, whether they are successful or facing an issue.

You can also save the logs into a file and send it then to your admin, reseller or to us for further analysis.

Looks good, right? But how does coolOrange do this? Are they changing the Autodesk JobProcessor code? Can I still rely on that thing? Will it change the behavior? What about compatibility?
All good questions, and the answers are simple: don’t worry!

The powerJobs executable is independent from the JobProcessor. The powerJobs.exe either starts the JobProcessor, or accesses a running instance, and simply “takes the screen” of the JobProcessor and embeds it into the powerJobs UI. So, the 2 applications are still independent from each other, however, they look as they are one. This way, no matter which improvements will come with the JobProcessor, powerJobs will not interfere.

Of course, you can run the JobProcessor without the powerJobs UI, and still benefit from the jobs that are delivered with powerJobs, such as the PDF creation or your custom jobs created with PowerShell. However, you will not benefit from the transparency and logging of the trace-window.

So, how do these messages come on the screen? With powerJobs 2015 we released a set of commandlets. Simple commands you can use within your PowerShell scripts. We spoke about this few weeks ago in this post and will talk more in future posts. The commandlet responsible for the logging is the Add-Log. The syntax is super simple:

Add-Log –Text “Your text here…”

Now, you can configure how much information you like to see either in the log-window and/or in the log file. For instance, you can edit the coolOrange.powerJobs.CreatePdfAsAttachment.ps1 file and add some more log messages.

By default, in the log file you will have only warnings, errors, fatal exceptions but no info messages. The Add-Log produces info messages, so by default, such messages will not be reported in the log file. This is intentional, so that as long as there is nothing critical, the log-file should remain almost empty. In case of troubles, the log-file will contain the according information.

In case you like to see more, either in the log-window or in the log-file, you can change the standard settings. Under c:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Vault 2015\Extensions\coolOrange.PowerJobs.Handler you’ll find the file coolOrange.powerJobs.dll.log4net. Just open this file with a notepad. You will find 3 appender sections:

<appender name="OutputDebugStringAppender" ...
<appender name="rollingFile" ...
<appender name="MsgAppender" ...

We are looking for the rollingFile, which is responsible for the log-file, and the MsgAppender, which is responsible for the messages in the log-window. Each appender has a <filter …> where the <levelMin value=”….”> defines what the minimum level of information is that we like to get reported. Now by default, the level for the rollingFile is set to WARN (warnings) so that the INFO messages (more verbose but les less relevant) are not reported to the log file. If you like to have the INFO messages in your log-file as well, just change WARN to INFO, like this:

<filter type="log4net.Filter.LevelRangeFilter">
  <levelMin value="INFO" />
  <levelMax value="FATAL" />
</filter>

In a similar way, you can increase the verbosity of the log-window by editing the levelMin for the MsgAppender filter. By default it is set to INFO, which means that your Add-Log messages and also WARN, ERROR, FATAL would be reported. So this level is pretty good. If you like to see more, you may change it to DEBUG, which would fill up your screen with tons of messages coming from the source code. So, just for fun you may do a test, but you probably will switch back to INFO. Remember to restart powerJobs when you change the log4net file.

So, this is one new feature of powerJobs 2015. Next time I will talk about how to easily create new custom jobs.

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Our free apps for Inventor – Part V – featureMigrator

The coolOrange featureMigrator allows Inventor users to create part features – like holes – from assembly features more easily.

For example: if you have 2 plates, you can create a hole through both plates on the assembly level. So you know that the hole fits perfectly. But when you open the plate, you would like to see the hole there as well.

Therefore you will migrate the hole into both plates with the featureMigrator.

Like the other coolOrange plug-ins you can download it from the Inventor App Store. The installation is pretty straight forward. Just run the .msi file and follow the instructions.

In the Tools menu of the ribbon in Inventor assemblies, you will find a new command Control.

This will open the featureMigrator-browser. All features are listed there and you can migrate assembly-features by selecting one or several of them. Then, use the Send to Parts command.

At this point, a copy of the original part is made and the feature is moved to this copy. After this step, the original part is replaced with this copy.

Once the operation of migrating features is completed, the featureMigrator will display a dialog that provides information about the results:

This first dialog is a “high-level” report of the migration. It provides the opportunity to select the action for all the assembly features migrated (Suppress if Succeeded, Suppress always, Delete if Succeeded, Delete always or Nothing), and also for the part features that haven’t been migrated correctly (Suppress, Delete or Nothing). Features created by the add-in can be in an invalid state in the parts for a number of reasons.

 

Associativity between part & assembly features

Once you have migrated the feature to the part, the featureMigrator still “remembers” where the feature came from. All the existing features resulting from a migration by the tool are listed in the featureMigrator-browser. If the original feature in the assembly has changed, you can update the feature in the part with the command Update from Assembly in the featureMigrator-browser.

And that’s it!

Have fun with the coolOrange featureMigrator!

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Our free apps for Inventor – Part IV – linkParameters

linkParameters allows Inventor users to easily create dependencies between parameters in various parts and sub-assemblies in the context of the top-level assembly within which they reside.

Parameters can be visually selected from a source-component and linked to a specific parameter in a target-component creating the dependency. The mechanism employed is based on the iLogic functionality. It will automatically generate the iLogic code which is required to link the values of the parameters, without the need to manually write any iLogic instructions.

Like the other coolOrange plug-ins you can download it from the Inventor App Store and the installation is pretty straight forward. Just run the msi file and follow the instructions.

In the Manage menu of the ribbon in Inventor assemblies you will get a new command linkParameters in the iLogic section.

For example:  you want the diameter of a part to have the same value as the length of another part in your assembly. Select linkParameters and specify the name of the iLogic rule, which will be created in the background. This first dialog also provides the ability to select an existing rule if any.

Validating this dialog will display the main dialog of the tool:

Select the part with the length as source component and the part with the diameter as target component. Notice that the top-level assembly can also be used as source by checking the upper-left check-box. Drag the source parameter Length on the target parameter Diameter.

By right-clicking the target mappings, they can also be suppressed through a context-menu. An option to automatically map source and target parameters with the same name is also provided from this context menu.

Enjoy coolOrange linkParameters!

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Our free apps for Inventor – Part III – pointLinker

Today, we introduce another really helpful tool to you: the pointLinker

Why do you need it? Here’s why:

Inventor can import point data from an Excel file, but once the data has been imported, the link with the Excel file is not retained. If updates to the point data in the Excel file are required, the data must be manually re-imported and the associated model has to be re-constructed. This is time consuming, inefficient and nerve-wracking.

The coolOrange pointLinker plug-in allows Inventor users to import points from an Excel file, retaining a link to that file. Data can be imported (as with the existing command), updated from the Excel file, or mapped to another Excel file.

Like the other coolOrange plug-ins you can download it from the Inventor App Store and easily install it. Just run the msi file and follow the instructions.

In the Tools panel of Inventor, you will find a new command Link Points. When the Link Points command is run, the pointLinker dialog appears. Importing one Excel file will generate one row in the form. You have the option to generate points, lines or connect the points with a spline.

By pressing the Import button, the add-in asks you to select one Excel file. If you select the item, the corresponding entities will be highlighted.

To update or resolve, select the item and right-click. Update will update the item with new date and original Point Type. Resolve will ask you to select another Excel file and import it with its data, with original Point Type.

That’s all, nothing more to it :) Have fun!

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Our free apps for Inventor – Part II – threadModeler

Last week, I talked about our plug-in screenGrab for Inventor 2015. Today, I’d like to introduce our shooting star: threadModeler

You can find it in the “Most Downloaded” section of the Inventor App Store.

The threadModeler has been developed to allow Inventor users to generate a realistic modeled equivalent thread based on an existing Inventor thread feature.

Like all other coolOrange plug-ins you can download it from the Inventor App Store. The installation is again pretty straight forward. Just run the msi file and follow the instructions.

In the Tools menu of the panel in Inventor parts, you will get a new command “threadModeler”.

If you click it, an existing thread feature can be selected in the model browser, which the threadModeler then converts to a realistic 3D modeled thread – based on the underlying thread feature properties.

Modeled threads are accurately generated, saving a lot of time and effort for the user when compared with a manual approach. Your threads simply will look a lot more realistic!

Have fun with the threadModeler!

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Our free apps for Inventor – Part I – screenGrab

So today we’re not talking about Vault or PowerShell, instead we have some treats for the Inventors users among you.

Recently, coolOrange has released 5 free plugin apps for Inventor 2015:

And I am frequently asked what they are doing. All apps have 3 things in common.

1. They are free

2. They can be downloaded from the Autodesk App Store

3. They consist of one feature that makes your work with Inventor easier.

Let me introduce screenGrab

screenGrab can be used within Inventor to simplify image capture of the entire Inventor application window, the graphics view of documents within Inventor, or parts of the graphics-screen.

First, you have to download it from the Inventor App Store (download). The installation is pretty straight forward. Just run the msi file and follow the instructions.

After the installation you will find a new button “Screenshot” in the Tools panel. When you run the Screenshot command, a dialog will appear.

screenGrab

This dialog shows the selection-options and settings. It also displays a preview of the screenshot. The screen will be captured according to the selection options and converted to a relevant bitmap.
You have options to save the bitmap to the clipboard, to a file or send it directly to a printer.

When choosing the “Application” or “Document” option, the borders of the screenshot will be calculated automatically. When using the “Window” option, the user needs to select a region of the screen.

All is pretty easy and intuitive. Try it and have fun!

 

PS: Don’t forget to rate, if you like it!

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More power for your Jobprocessor

If you ever wanted to

  • trigger a job at a certain time or event
  • create a non-standard PDF
  • export your file in another format than PDF
  • know why your job wasn’t executed properly
  • do customizations yourself

… then we have a treat for you!

powerjobs, our extension for the Vault Jobprocessor, is out now, not only with a more polished appearance, but also with a ton of new helpful features.

Here are the new features in detail:

More creativity in PDF-creation

You already know that powerJobs helps you create PDF’s out of your Vault-files. What you didn’t know is that now you have the maximum control over the appearance of it. You define whether it’s gonna be in color or black & white, landscape or portrait format, and even where it will be stored under a filename that you choose. If you like, you can also add fancy stuff like a “Released”-stamp or a watermark.

teaser

Automation

So you’d like to receive a report every monday on the current status of your project? No problem, just tell powerJobs and it will do the rest. The trigger can also be connected to certain events like the release of a file. Just tell powerJobs that you’d like it to create a PDF automatically whenever a part gets released in your project! You can also monitor a folder and process the content automatically at a specific time interval. Possibilities seem endless…

The new dress

The interface of powerJobs has now incorporated the Jobprocessor. It’s also extended by a log window that keeps you updated on what is currently happening.

log

Remember the situations in which your job wasn’t executed and you had no clue what went wrong? <– Never gonna happen again!

As you like it

Who says it has to be a PDF? Why not export a TIF this time? Or a DWF? powerJobs is now able to export not only into PDF, and DWG formats, but also into STEP, DXF, GIF, BMP, TIF, JPG, and DWF!

Formats

Here’ s another goody: So far, the preferred application for generating PDF’s from AutoCAD was DWGTrueView. However, in case you like to create more sophisticated jobs around DWG a full AutoCAD is needed. Now you can define in your job whether full AutoCAD or DWGTrueView shall be used. This gives you tons of new opportunities around DWG jobs.

Tell Vault yourself

The best part of powerJobs is of course its ability to communicate with Vault via PowerShell commandlets. The best part about PowerShell commandlets is, that they’re so easy to write.

At this point I’d like to quote one of our developers and fellow co-blogger Martin. We were talking about developing, when I accidentally called PowerShell a programming language. He gave me that contemptuous look and said: “PowerShell is not even a programming language, it’s just a scripting language. Everybody can do this”. So, no coding skills needed. Just copy-paste-skills. ;)

powerJobs already came with some samples of commandlets, that we massively extended in the new version. You can find the complete list of commandlets here on our Wiki.

So that’s all for powerJobs’ new features, I hope you find it helpful. Make sure to download the newest version that we put up today, and enjoy!

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