Autodesk Inventor Publisher 2011 uses the Storyboard as the complete organization tool for the information we are intending to convey. These are collected in a Storyboard Editor, and it’s interface can feel a bit clumsy at first. If you understand how to navigate through it before using the product, you’ll be tremendously more productive.
The Storyboard Editor collects the Storyboards and their contents into a single, easy to use location. Each Storyboard can contain multiple snapshots that individually display various states of model relationships, views, notes etc (what we see and publish). The confusion begins with multiple Storyboards, and continues to get more confusing with Storyboards in Storyboards.
Autodesk refers to this interface as the ‘Storyboard Editor’, but it doesn’t fit the role that it serves. I think Manager is more fitting since it provides visual organization, editing, and navigation. I often find my self referring to it as the Storyboard Manager. I am referring to it here as an editor to avoid confusion.
The usefulness of these Storyboards and sub-Storyboards can be seen in this example:
A Car has multiple main assemblies. An Engine, A Chassis, Electrical, etc. The Engine has sub-components such as a Cylinder head assembly, Piston Assembly, etc. A separate Storyboard could detail the assembly of each of these main component assemblies, and sub-Storyboards for each sub-component, and so on. In this manner the entire document would be easy to understand, navigate, and detail.
A few things to understand about Storyboard Navigation are:
- Each Storyboard can contain both Snapshots and sub-Storyboards
- When the Graphics View Area changes, it alters the current Snapshot …somewhere…, no exceptions
- That Snapshot exists in a Storyboard …somewhere… , no exceptions
- Therefore at least one Storyboard with one Snapshot must always exist in the document
As we continue, I’ll refer to Storyboards and Snapshots as Panels when generally speaking about the item we see or pick in the manager. There are numerous occasions where the two are synonymous in form or function, and referring to them collectively as Panels will make things go smoother.
Our main source of confusion is this: each Storyboard can contain various arrangements of both Snapshots and Sub-Storyboards. There is a slight visible distinction between the two Panels.
In the Image above, the Panel to the left ‘Snapshot1’ is a Snapshot. The Panel to the right ‘Enclosure Assembly’ is a Storyboard. Notice the ‘Film strip cog hole’ impression along the edges of the Storyboard. Snapshots have no such distinction. Being able to distinguish between the two will speed you towards productivity. The Panel with the highlighted corners is the current focus.
Navigation and the Breadcrumb
The Breadcrumb navigation is not only convenient, but really helps us get a feel for where we are in the document. If things get a bit confusing (and they can), focus on the Breadcrumb. It’s like a roadmap.
At the top level of the Editor, there are no Snapshots, only Storyboards. Double clicking any Storyboard will open it, and display it’s contents. Subsequent opening will continue the process.
Each storyboard is identified in the Breadcrumb by its name prefixed with an index number/subnumber syntax. This index is determined by the order the Panels are in. If the order changes, so does the indexing. If the Breadcrumb says ‘1.3 Storyboard’, then you are looking at the contents after entered the first Panel, and then the third sub-panel.
The Breadcrumb displays our progress through the document. At any time we need to back up, simply click a previous Storyboard in the Breadcrumb and you are taken directly to its contents.
Altering Editor Panels
Any Panel can be renamed simply by picking the name text area. The text will highlight and permit editing.
Create New Panels
New Panels can be added through the context menu.
Cut, Copy, and Delete
We can delete Panels by right clicking them and choosing delete from the menu.
The same menu functions permit copying of any Panel. Use the right click approach above to copy the panel desired, and then navigate to where you want to place the data. Then right click the Graphics View area and select Paste. This approach gives straight forward results as one might expect: the data moves or copies into the Storyboard that is current.
*Note: Right clicking on top of another Storyboard panel and trying to paste-drop the data in without making it current will not work.
*TIP: Drag and Drop however works nicely, and will move a Panel into another Storyboard easily.
The drag method can be used to reorder Snapshots as well, just be sure not to accidentally drop the Panel into a Storyboard.
In the image above the example to the left we see a Storyboard being reordered (notice the position bar between Panels). In the example to the right, the contents are being dropped into the Storyboard (the entire Panel is highlighted) , and will move the data into that container.
If anything goes wrong, Undo works great to back up anything from view changes to Storyboard navigation steps.
Publisher Default Organization
This is important to understand for two reasons. It can confusing if you don’t know how Publisher will act, and we can learn a few good ideas from Autodesk if we do understand.
When a new Publisher Document is created, it creates a default Storyboard and in it a default Snapshot. That’s simple.
When we insert a new component into the document, Publisher does something interesting.
It creates a new Storyboard named for the component inserted. If we navigate into the new component Storyboard, we should see a default Storyboard, and inside of that finally a snapshot named ‘Model’. This ‘Model’ Snapshot is a really good idea because it gives us some place to work with and dirty up without disturbing our prepared snapshots.
Publisher will create a new Storyboard for each component inserted as a component container Panel. Inside that Panel, the pertinent details can be laid out with as many Storyboards and Snapshots as needed. This model is a good way to start your document organization. Once you get going and learn the ins and outs, then you can begin to modify and merge your company’s needs.
Current Snapshot Warning
Remember when I said view changes would affect the current Snapshot …SOMEWHERE ? Well I meant it. It could be buried. Take a look at this image for example.
A Snapshot Panel will always reflect the current condition of its actual view. Notice that the ‘Model’ Snapshot does not reflect the changes to the components in he Graphics View Area. Notice also that the ‘Model’ Panel is not delineated as ‘Current’. That is because it isn’t. The ‘current’ Snapshot is actually way back on the West wing somewhere. Good luck.
What you can do in this situation is to navigate to the top level of the breadcrumb.
The ‘Current’ Storyboard Panel will be highlighted. From there you can drill down until you hit the ‘Current’ Snapshot.
Suggestion to Autodesk
We could use a menu list item in the Radial Context Menu for ‘Return to Current Snapshot’. Maybe you just altered something and need to know what you just hosed up. The button would be convenient in this respect.
Check out the last Publisher article on 5 cool features