Inventor Presentations

In my previous post, I made the suggestion Autodesk should add a PBOM to Inventor Presentations. This Presentation Bill of Materials (PBOM) would allow for the extension of Inventor information outside just the normal manufacturing flow and into the world of service, technical communication, and online parts catalogs. The PBOM is a major step, but just one piece of this proposed kick ass communication tool.

In this second look at Inventor Presentations, I want features to expand the recipient experience. The recipient as the people who will be receiving the videos, images, drawings, 3D PDFs, and DWFs generated from the IPNs.

3D Annotations

This one is easy. Autodesk Inventor provides 3D Model Based Definition (MBD) in the part and assembly environments. This provides the ability to add dimensions, leaders, and other 3D annotations to document the design. So, just flip the switch, and add it to Inventor Presentations.

My vision with the initial iteration of this feature set, Autodesk embeds 3D Annotations into Snap Shots. When editing the Snap Shot, the same Annotate tab as with assemblies becomes active. This allows the addition of the desired (and needed) annotations. Why do this? Add dimensions to locate components, hole notes and GD&T symbols to call out key features of the design, and add leaders to call out specific part information. The General Note then provides valuable information for the current step in the process.


This also provides functionality that is missing from the now defunct Inventor Publisher. The following screen shots are from Inventor Publisher 2011,  presented by Rob Cohee and Autodesk. This is the type of information I’d love to add to my Inventor Presentations.


Please vote up Rusty Belcher’s idea in the Ideastation and also Frédéric Sanchou’s

Bill of Materials and Parts Lists

In subsequent releases, I’d want the addition of Parts List tools. This provides the ability to insert representations of the BOM into the Snap Shot. This should mimic the drawing Part List in that I want to select the columns (properties), the sort order, and the ability to manage the style. Again, this isn’t much different than what was included in Inventor Publisher.


However, Inventor Publisher’s Part List was very limited in managing the appearance. So within Inventor, the style options need to include font, text height, column justification, and column widths. I also think it is critical to include filters so that you can quickly match the visibility and quantity shown in the Parts List to what is shown in the active Snap Shot.


In conjunction with Parts Lists, Inventor Presentations require ballooning tools. If I insert a Parts List, the components need to be called out. It would make sense to also include a semi-auto tool to select components and quickly place the balloons. This also has to include the ability to select at the subassembly or at the part level, so that the balloons match the BOM hierarchy shown in the Parts List. It is assumed Inventor would balloon the part with the item number, part number, or whatever iProperty required. It would provide the ability to control the balloon shape just like within drawings.

Cross highlighting with the BOM

With the implementation of Parts List functionality, a natural progression is the inclusion of cross highlighting. So, when selecting a row within the Parts List the components highlight in the modeling window. When selecting a component within the modeling window, it highlights in the Parts List.

This functionality already exists within 3D PDFs, but it would be useful while working on Inventor Presentations.

Cross Sections

The Inventor assembly environment includes sectioning tools to create quarter, half, and three quarter section views. I want this functionality within Inventor Presentations.


I envision this as a Storyboard level tool, no different than visibility and opacity. As it would add a key to the storyboard this would allow for the fade-in and -out of the cross section and ability to activate it when required. If a snapshot was created it would include the state of the section.

It would be important to include the ability to exclude components from the section which would be important when sectioning outer components to reveal the internal components.

If you agree, upvote Ton Stokman’s ideastation post.

Symbols and Blocks

Continuing with annotations, how about the ability to add symbols and blocks? Inventor Publisher included arrows, images, and support for 2D AutoCAD Blocks. Yep… want it!

Inserted as linear or circular 2D symbols, arrow annotations represented different motions or actions of a component. Styles manage the appearance of the arrow including the fill and outline. Positioning the arrow includes aligning to existing component edges and faces and the ability to use the 3D Manipulator to adjust its position. It would also include the ability to stretch the length and scale the size.

Inventor Publisher included image annotations. Images placed either unassociated to any object, floating in space, or on a leader, associated with a selected component. Adding this to Inventor provides the ability to insert any image into the Snapshot, think safety symbols or component labels.

Finally, AutoCAD is by far the best tool for created blocks and symbols. So, why not mimic Inventor Publisher and allow for the import of 2D blocks to aid in the annotation of the model? Additionally, why not just expand on the block-symbol library feature within the Inventor drawing environment to include Inventor Presentations?

Model Insertion

You know what else would help with understanding the assembly or disassembly of equipment? Screwdrivers, wrenches, hammers, and even human hands! Yes, I want the ability to insert 3D models directly into the presentation. I know what you are thinking, yes, we can do this into the assembly. However, when placed within the assembly, one needs to worry about view representations and setting the component as a reference (so it does not appear in the bill of materials).

Inserting models into the presentation environment would automatically assume it is just for reference. The model would not be included in the BOM.  Inventor would require the ability to locate the model, including the initial alignment and insertion point. Then it would make sense to have the ability to tweak these components.

Auto Explode

I will readily admit that I hated Inventor’s auto-explode option and was not sad when it was removed. It never exploded the assembly anywhere near how I wanted it. However, Inventor Publisher’s Auto Explode was very promising. Not perfect, but it did allow for the quick location of multiple components, tweaked after into the final destination.

Inventor Publisher presented this in three forms: Explode One Level, Explode All Levels, and Manual Explode One Level. Let’s resurrect this functionality and embed it into Inventor Presentations.

From the Inventor Publisher help:

  • “Auto explode one level automatically separates all selected components down to one level in the hierarchy. Selecting an assembly that has a subassembly does not auto explode the subassembly.”
  • “Auto explode all levels automatically separates all selected components down to all levels in its hierarchy. Selecting an assembly with a subassembly explodes the subassembly as well.”
  • “Manual Explode one level is a command that manually separates all the selected components down one level in its hierarchy with a set direction and a specific distance.”

Highlights and Visual Styles

I really like Inventor’s Visual Styles. Out-of-the-box they provide the methods I need to present my designs. For how well Visual Styles work within the assembly, there just isn’t the right amount of control within Inventor Presentations.

First, I want the option to set the Visual Style per Storyboard.

Second, I want the option to override the Visual Style per component. For example, the Storyboard Visual Style is set to wireframe, but specific components are set to Shaded. This would make it very clear the components involved in the active step.

Here is what it would like… isn’t it very clear on which components to focus on?


I also really like Gareth Bowen’s idea in the ideastation and think it is worth your consideration for voting.


Autodesk Showcase was an “easy-to-use presentation and design exploration tool enabling designers to quickly transform digital designs into interactive walk-throughs and design reviews”. Autodesk retired Showcase and transferred much of its technology into other apps including Inventor and A360.

However, there are a few items that would be phenomenal if resurrected and integrated into Inventor Presentations:

  • Component highlighting
  • The Organizer
  • Alternates
  • Shots
  • Behaviors

Showcase had a unique method of highlighting selected components by displaying an animated banding. The active selection was very clear. While hovering over an object the right click menu presented the hierarchies of the components, making it easier to select the right component.


The Organizer was Showcase’s browser equivalent. The Organizer contained two key features not found in Inventor’s browser. First, the ability to rearrange the hierarchy to create custom views of the components. Second, the ability to group components within the custom views. I really miss this when building Inventor Presentations as it is not uncommon to have groups of components that are tweaked together or required for a particular step.

Alternatives let you “compare and contrast variations for parts of your scene”. For example, parts of a model, color studies, or locations of models or model parts. Showcase provided three types of lineups: Visibility, Material, and Positional. I don’t see an overwhelming need for positional (at least initially) but having visibility and material lineups would kick butt. Of course, this could also be solved by adding View Representations to Inventor Presentations.

Instead of explaining it, here is a video showing the functionality.

More Showcase

Shots in Showcase allowed you to capture a camera position and add optional cinematographic movements around it to create moving shots (like those used in car commercials). This included Still (no motion), Start to end (two keyframes), and Cinematic (one keyframe plus path). This is the direction Shots within Inventor Presentations should take.

Here Jonathan Landeros shows creating Shots within Showcase:

Behaviors are controlled animations of models or parts of models in your scene. Within Showcase they were added to Alternatives or Storyboards to bring “dynamic actions and functional explanations to your presentations.” The following types of animated behaviors were available: Turntable and Keyframe Animation.

The Rollout

By no means do I expect this developed all-at-once. Here is how I see it rolling out (Autodesk get your pencil out).

Inventor 2019: 3D Annotations (as it is in assemblies), Cross Sections, View Representations, and Visual Styles per Storyboard. Performance improvements across the board

Inventor 2019.1: First implementation of the PBOM, no Vault support, but Parts List insertion and Balloons. Right-click hierarchal selection (ala Showcase)

Inventor 2019.2: Arrows, Images, and 2D Blocks. Visual Style component overrides

Inventor 2020: Model insertion. Completion of the PBOM implementation – including Vault Support. Publisher style Auto & Manual exploding. Showcase Organizer browser implementation.

Inventor 2020.1: Shots 2.0 (implementing Showcase like functionality)

Inventor 2020.2: Showcase Behavior style animations


I can even envision Autodesk’s tagline: “Get Autodesk Inventor now, easy-to-use software for creating technical documentation—from assembly instructions to operating procedures, repair instructions, and more—that provides customers with clearer and more comprehensive instructions.”

And there you have it, the perfect technical communication tool. Anything I’ve missed?



Feature Image Presentation” by Andrel Asinas