By Joe McDiarmid
Creating Annotations and Notes in Electrical Schematic drawings is often a tedious, error prone task because everything must usually be created and managed as independent, unintelligent text boxes. If something in the design changes, chances are you have to go back and make sure the information in your text boxes is up-to-date, and if you’ve added a bunch of information you might find yourself in a situation where you have to resize and reposition your text boxes, which may necessitate other things being shifted around.
SOLIDWORKS Electrical Schematic handles the automation of updating the text by doing away with manual text boxes and using database driven intelligent Attribute tags. This is a huge time-saving benefit, as it allows you to simply manage the properties of your parts and components and have the relevant information appear in the position and format you prefer as a standard in your drawing, all by controlling the symbols Attribute tags. However a common question often arises – how does one take a single attribute field, and break it up into multiple lines so that the formatting is consistent from use to use? Ideally, you’d like the text to always behave and fit a certain way regardless of how long or short your description or other piece of meta-data might be.
For this, Electrical Schematic has the Multi-Line Attribute tool. It involves a 2-step process – first, you must create or edit a symbol so the Attribute tag itself is set up as multiple lines, as indicated in image 1. Then, you add “pipes” to the text in your meta-data properties to indicate where the line breaks in your text will be, as shown in image 2. It doesn’t matter what order you do it in, but always remember to right click and update any symbols you’ve modified if you’ve already used them in a schematic, or replace the symbol with the new one you created
To edit the symbol, either open any symbol you wish to edit, create a new one, or copy and modify the copy of a symbol. Once in the editor, choose or add the Attribute tag which would display the piece of meta-data you wish to have in the symbol. Then, as shown in image 3, select the Multiple Attribute tool, making sure nothing in the drawing is pre-selected. Set the properties in the left hand side pane for how many lines you’d like to break it up into and make sure to check on the box that says “specify position on screen” to avoid having to calculate the spacing indicated by the yellow arrow in image 3.
Once you’re happy with your property manager settings, click on the Attribute tag that will be broken up, and then click again in the workspace to place as many subsequent “lines” of the Attribute as were set in the property manager pane. At this stage, you will want to place the Attribute tags in exactly the position you want the text to appear, and set all the properties of the text like the size, font type, spacing, justification, color, etc. so that it’s consistent each time you use the symbol. Save and Close the symbol, and then remember to either update or replace any existing symbols you want to swap with the new one in your drawings.
Finally, go to the meta-data property field that is linked to the Attribute you picked, and put in “pipes”, as shown in images 2 and 4 indicated by red arrows, to mark the spots where the text will break out into a new line. Now, you have full control over the placement, style, and ultimately the parsing of the Attribute text that is independent of the length of the text.