Dropbox Preview for SolidWorks Setup

Dropbox has become the universal tool for syncing data from our desktops and mobile devices for a few years now. Having talked about the topic a lot on the podcast, syncing datasets between not only systems but also collaborators on a project can be quite useful.

With access to almost anything from our phones and other mobile devices has many of us storing 3D data in Dropbox and wanting to see more than the "Unable to view file" screen from our devices.  Until Dropbox enables a way to natively preview our 3D data on their service we are out of luck....sort of.

SolidWorks has a nice little tool that I use for many tedious and repiticious tasks called SolidWorks Task Scheduler (...and yes it appears this utility has been named following the Microft product naming methology, just state what it does as the product name.)  Anyway, this tool can do all sorts of jobs like file conversion, eDrawing creation and, in this case, Export files...

On my Dropbox I have a folder called "CAD" and inside that folder I have sub folders for different CAD projects I am working on.  Obviously I can navigate to these folders from my phone without issue but viewing doesn't work so unless I know the exact the name of the file I want, I have no way of "viewing" what the file contains.  Since Dropbox has a built in viewer for pictures I figured I would just run a task to create a simple image of the cad data automatically so I could preview it on my phone.  So I setup SW Task Scheduler to run daily on my CAD folder to export files to a sub folder called "CAD Images".  

Since the JPG export from SW, by default, uses a screen capture, I wanted to make sure the files would be large enought since SW sessions launced by SWTS are really small so the images would be poor quality.

Here is how you can do it:

1 - Go into SolidWorks and set the JPG Export options: (set to Print Capture instead of Screen Capture)

2 - Launch SolidWorks Task Scheduler (Start -> Programs - > SolidWorks 20XX -> SolidWorks Tools -> SolidWorks Task Scheduler

3 - Click "Export Files"

4 - Select JPG (*.jpg) as the "Export file type:"

5 - Pick your folders and set the file names to use for *.sldprt;*sldasm 

NOTE: You cannot do this for slddrw so I would do another task to export slddrw to PDF with a similar schedule.

6 - Set your Task schedule to "Daily" or whatever interval you would like.

7 - (Optional) Pick a sub folder inside the folder called "CAD Previews" or something that you can preview.  It might be easy to just have it save in the same directory as the original so you can see the names right next to one another on the device.

8 - Click OK! 


  I hope that SolidWorks has some good news this year at SolidWorks World about viewing our CAD data on our mobile devices but until then, this will have to do.  I have been experimenting on a little command utility that can be triggered by Windows Task Scheduler that creates a picture with the same name of the file from the Windows thumbnail graphic.  This would work on any files in Dropbox that the local system running the utility would have a preview in Windows Explorer.  Once I finish it I will post it for use for free and post the source on GitHub. ~Lou