A Delicious New Interface Element in SOLIDWORKS 2016… Meet Breadcrumbs!!

Written by Darin Grosser, CSWE

The SolidWorks Feature Manager was a groundbreaking UI element when its Patent was first filed for in 1995. To date, nearly ALL CAD and CAM tools utilize the concepts of the original Patent.

Fast forward 20 years and we’ve got a fresh take on interfacing with CAD models and it is simply AWESOME! It’s called Breadcrumbs!

Single Click Access to Nearly Everything You Need

The Feature Manager has always been a simple but incredibly detailed way of accessing data, features and entities within a CAD Model, but the larger and more complex the Parts and Assemblies get, the more a user needs to ‘sift’ through the vast list of Features in the tree.

Breadcrumbs simplify the access to these Features by focusing on the feature selected and organizing everything at every ‘level’ related to the selection.

Example of Breadcrumbs SOLIDWORKS elementSimply selecting a face of any part on the screen presents the user with a hierarchy based list of related Feature, Sketches and Mates. They are organized in a fashion where from Right to Left on the Breadcrumbs is effectively like Bottom to Top in the Feature Manager, but is filters out all unrelated things that muddle up the display.

Even Mates for the Part containing the selected face as well as the Sketches for the Feature containing the selected face become accessible without interrogating the Feature Manager.

SOLIDWORKS 2016 Breadcrumbs screen captureBy selecting any of the icons on the Breadcrumbs, the normal, context sensitive menus appear with the options related to each level in the Breadcrumb list.





A Little Added “Magic”

The default location for the Breadcrumbs stripe to appear is in the upper left of the Graphics area, but the “D” key is the default hot key to bring the Breadcrumbs directly to your Cursor Position! This allows you to work in the middle of the Graphics Area with a drastic reduction in cursor travel.

As with any other Keyboard Customization, you can change this to the key of your choice OR add it to a button on your mouse or your 3DConnexion device!

Confirmation Corner ControlsIt even works to also bring your Confirmation Corner controls to your cursor position. This includes when you need to Exit a Sketch or Exit Edit Part Mode in an Assembly, further reducing mouse travel.

Check out the Breadcrumbs feature in action for yourself:


Until Next Time, this is Darin @ DASI! 🙂

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