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Getting Started

Welcome to Bommer!  This article will help you get up and running in no time with Bommer for SOLIDWORKS.  Bommer gives us a powerful new way to build and manage your bill of materials from within SOLIDWORKS.  Users all over the world use Bommer to automate common workflows such as exporting parts into an RFQ template, or provide critical, focused BOM data (such as quantities of purchased hardware in an assembly) to other parts of their organization.

In this article, we'll walk through the following scenario: you want to track when a part has been reviewed by a colleague or approver, and want to know what parts you still have left to submit for review.  In doing so, we'll cover topics such as configuring your properties, setting up your views, adding a filter, and exporting to an Excel workbook.  Please see our other articles for in depth discussions about properties, templates, and other powerful features.

Installation

Currently, Bommer for SOLIDWORKS is available by request for pre-release evaluation.  If you are here but have not requested an evaluation, please sign up here.  We will then contact you with installation instructions, after which you can continue through this article.

Launching Bommer

To launch Bommer, simply launch SOLIDWORKS after you've completed the Bommer installation.  Bommer is launched automatically with SOLIDWORKS, and lives as part of the SOLIDWORKS task pane.  You will need to complete a small registration step but once you do, you'll see something like this:

If it's not already open, click on the  icon to open the Bommer task pane window.  Most of the interaction you have with Bommer will be from within this window.

This window consists of 

  1. A large table that will display the parts in your BOM,
  2. A smaller table that displays threaded holes found in your model,
  3. A set of buttons for interacting with Bommer.

More on these parts in the later parts of the document.

Setting up Bommer

Before we can use Bommer, we have to set up a few things.  Specifically: we need to define Properties, and create a View. 

Properties

Bommer properties are the heart of Bommer; they dictate how Bommer reads and writes your metadata, and control what data can be present in the BOM table, filters, views, and export files.  In many cases, Bommer properties will map directly to custom properties in your parts and assemblies, but Bommer properties also can expose SOLIDWORKS internal data so you can include those data in your BOM.  Suffice to say there is a lot of power here; for now, we'll explore properties at a high level and add a property for demonstration, but look for a more in-depth article about properties in the near future.

To demonstrate how to configure properties, we're going to add a True/False value called Reviewed? to the set of properties that ships with Bommer.  We will use this property in our later examples, but feel free to skip or tweak the example to something more useful for you if you feel you have a good hang of things.

To configure properties:

Click on the  icon in the row of button, to bring up the Bommer settings screen:

This screen displays the list of current configured properties, and has a bar of buttons you can use to change, save, and undo changes to this list.  This screen also has tabs that let you configure export templates, and check for updates.  More on those topics later.

To add a property, press the  icon on in-window button bar to pull up the Edit Property dialog:

On the left, you can select the property data type from the list of Text, Multiple Choice, True/False, Builtin, and SOLIDWORKS.  We're going to use True/False for our Reviewed? property, but you could also make it Text so that any value is allowed, or Multiple Choice to restrict the property value to a set of allowable values.  If you wanted to access some internal metadata that Bommer exposes, you would use Builtin; SOLIDWORKS properties provide support for some SW-* properties that you may be familiar with already.  For now though, select True/False.

On the right side are a series of fields that configure the property: Category, Name, Custom Property, Scope, Order, Display Order, and "Toggleable in right-click menu".  Bommer uses the category to group properties in the editor, and deconflict properties with the same name.  For example, Bommer ships with a property called Description in the General category.  If you also have a description for your supplier, you could create a property called Description with a category of Supplier, and that would be a separate property.  For this example, lets use General for category and Reviewed? for the name.

The Custom Property field lets you specify what custom property Bommer should use when reading and writing this value in your parts.  You can specify a property you already use to let Bommer read and write your existing metadata, or a brand new property to keep Bommer values separate.  For this example, lets use Reviewed for the custom property.

The Scope field lets you tell Bommer where to write this property; this is also how you tell Bommer to write to @, or to the active configuration.  Whichever you use is your preference; Bommer supports both modes of operation.

There may be cases where it doesn't make sense to store a property value in the part itself.  Our Reviewed? field could be an example of such a property.  Suppose that Reviewed? really means that the part has been reviewed in the context of this top level assembly.  It's not correct to store true or false at the part level; instead, the assembly should contain a custom property for each part to hold this value.  Bommer supports this by setting the scope of a property: set the scope to Top Level (@) or Top Level (Active Configuration) and Bommer will store the values for this property, for a given part, in the top level assembly.

Order and Display Order are used to influence the property's position in lists, or in the view editor.  We'll see these attributes in action later on; for now, we can leave them as is.

Toggleable in Right-Click Menu gives you the ability to toggle the value of this True/False property by right clicking on a part in the BOM table and clicking on a row in a right click menu.  Let's enable this setting for our Reviewed? property.

After all of that, you should see something like this:

Press OK, then press the  button on the Settings screen to save your changes.  You can close the Settings screen for now.

Views

Next, we need to create at least one view in order for data to show up in Bommer.  To access the view editor, click the  icon in the Bommer task pane window, then select Edit Views...  You should then see the "Edit Views..." screen pop up:

This style of editor is common within Bommer.  At the top, you can select which view you want to edit, or select New... to create a new view.  Since we do not have any views, we'll leave New... selected.

The two lists in the middle of the dialog list the available properties and selected properties, respectively.  Available properties are pulled from the Properties settings (that we were just editing); the goal here is to select which properties we want to include in this view from the list of all available properties.  To do this:

  1. Select a property on the left side.
  2. Press the >> button in the center of the screen.
  3. Repeat for other properties you want to include.

For our first view, let's include Name (General), Part Number (in BOM Table) (General), Quantity (General), and Reviewed? (General).  Your view editor should look like this when done:

Click Save and give your view a name.  Then, press Close and Select View to close the editor and select the view.

(Side note: Part Number and Part Number (in BOM Table) are subtly different.  Part Number is defined as a Text property wherein you can store a part number.  Part Number (in BOM Table), however, references a Builtin property that gives you access to the value that SOLIDWORKS uses in it's BOM tables.  By viewing and editing this property, that value will be reflected on your drawing BOMs as well as in your Bommer exports.  We'll dive deeper into builtin properties in a separate article.)

After the view editor closes, you should see columns in your BOM table, in the Bommer task pane:

Now we're ready to view a bill of materials.

Viewing your BOM

To view a bill of materials for an assembly, simply open the assembly.  After the assembly loads, the parts and subassemblies will be listed in the big table in the Bommer task pane window.  Here, we've opened a sample assembly of a camera slider:

Here's a close up of the Bommer BOM table:

We can see values for the 4 properties we've selected in our view: Name, Part Number (in BOM Table), Quantity, and Reviewed?  We also see that Bommer found some threaded holes in our model; this is useful to make sure that you have all necessary fasteners in our BOM.

From this window, you can sort the rows in the table by clicking on the appropriate column, and you can interact with a line item by right clicking on the row:

From this right click menu, you can edit the part properties (i.e. metadata, covered in the next section of this document), toggle our toggleable properties, and interact with the selected part(s) in a number of different ways.  For now, let's just mark this part as reviewed.  Click on the menu item labeled Reviewed?.  The menu will vanish, and the row will update in the table:

If you have multiple views, you can select between them by pressing the  icon, and selecting the desired view from the drop down list.  For now, let's move on to editing our bill of materials.

Editing your BOM

Bommer provides a convenient way to edit property values for a line item in your bill of materials.  To edit bill of materials property values for a part, right click on the part in the Bommer BOM table and select "Edit properties...".  Bommer will open a property pane on the left side of the SOLIDWORKS screen that you can use to edit values:

In this pane, you'll find editable fields for the editable properties in your BOM.  In the example photo, we can see Part Number, Part Number (in BOM Table), Description, Custom, and Exclude from BOM; more are available if you scroll down.  You will also find the values for read only properties such as Quantity and Configuration; these are values that Bommer collects and exposes to use in views, filters, and exports, but they are not user editable through Bommer.  The properties are grouped by their category, and organized by their order number (one of those values in the Edit Properties screen that has to do with list ordering).  For now, let's change the Part Number (in BOM Table) value; we'll be able to see the change show up in the table, because this property is part of our view.  Note that you could also change a property that isn't in your view, and use the changed value in filters or in your export.  This just makes the demonstration a little easier.

We make the change in the appropriate text box:

Then press the green check arrow at the top of the screen.  Once the change is completed, Bommer automatically refreshes to show the changed part number:

And that's all there is to it.  

Filtering your BOM

You can filter your Bommer table to contain only rows that are most important for you, or only rows that you wish to include in an export.  First, though, we need to define a filter using the filter editor.  To open the filter editor, click the  icon on the button bar in the Bommer task pane:

Then, select Edit Filter... from the dropdown list.  You should see the "Edit Filters..." screen pop up:

Press the button to add a new condition to the filter.  You can add as many filter conditions as you like; the filter will combine the parts with a logical AND, e.g. a row is displayed only if it passes condition 1 AND condition 2 AND condition 3 and so on.  For now, we're going to define just one condition.  Remember that property we added to hold whether or not a part has been reviewed?  We're going to define a filter to filter the table so that we only see unreviewed parts.  Once the "Add Filter Part..." screen pops up, select Reviewed? (General) from the property drop down, and type False in for the value.

Press OK to see the condition added to the list of conditions on the "Edit Filters..." screen.

Since this is the only condition we want to add right now, press Save and type a name in the box that pops up.  For illustrative purposes, we'll name our filter "Not reviewed yet".

Finally, click Close and Apply Filter to close this screen and apply the selected filter to the table.  We can see that our reviewed part 545360 is no longer visible in the table, and that the  button is enabled.  This button lets us clear (un-apply) the filter if we choose.

If we click on the filter icon, we can see some changes to reflect our new filter: Not reviewed yet is now present in the list, and it has a check mark to indicate it is currently being applied.

Use the filter editor to define additional filters, that represent common scenarios you may find yourself in.  For example, lets say you are being asked to produce a list of purchased parts in your assembly, and you had a property that let you record the type of a part, e.g. Purchased, Machined, Molded, Printed, etc.  You could define a filter for where type equals Purchased, and then enable that filter within Bommer, to get a comprehensive list of purchased parts.  Since Bommer includes all parts and subassemblies in your assembly, this example would get you an accurate representation of all purchased parts and subassemblies in your product, not just at part level or at the top level.  Using filters and properties in this way is a great way to get a better understanding of different parts of your BOM; combined with the export functionality, it's a great way to communicate that understanding to Y

Exporting your BOM

Bommer support exporting your bill of materials in a variety of formats, including Excel (old style and new xlsx format) and CSV.  The export can be configured to contain only the rows in your Bommer BOM table (which would include all filters you have applied), or all rows; Bommer can be configured to use the coliumns in your view, or export all properties.  It can even be configured to use pre-formatted Excel files as templates.  For now, we're going to simply export the non-reviewed parts using the currently selected view, but you should be able to see how you can easily expand on that example.

To export a BOM, press either the  (Save) icon, or the  (Save As) icon.  The former will pick an output file name based on your assembly name, whereas the latter will ask you for a file name.  In either case, you'll first be presented with the Export screen:

We can leave the settings as is, since we're exporting the current view and the current visible rows.  In this context, current visible rows means the rows that are visible in the BOM table (after all filters are applied).

Press OK to continue the export.  If you clicked the  icon, you will then be asked to pick a file.  Otherwise, Bommer will store a file in the same folder as your assembly, with the same name as your assembly.

Once the export operation completes, you'll see a popup box asking if you want to open the newly exported file.  Saying yes will open the exported file in your default editor for that type of file:

As you can see, the one part we marked as reviewed is omitted, and only the four properties we have in our view are present in the export.  Additionally, Bommer creates a sheet called Export Settings to document what filters were applied.  This way you can see easily if the BOM is a complete parts list for your assembly, or just a useful subset.

But wait, there's more...

This article has only scratched the surface of what Bommer can do.  Bommer is designed to let you get started easily, but it is also very configurable.  For example, if you wanted you could delete every Bommer property that Bommer ships with and define an entirely new property scheme (or implement the one already in use by you or your colleagues).  This enables you to leverage Bommer's ability to get data into and out of SOLIDWORKS without having to change your organizational best practices.

Check out our other help articles for deep dives into topics like properties, filtering, and how to set up export templates.  As always, if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please let us know.





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