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Renaming parts in an Assembly that was opened from a STEP file

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by LarryC, Jan 12, 2018.

  1. LarryC

    LarryC Member

    Sorry if this has been discussed before...I couldn't find any thread....

    I have imported a STEP file and have an assembly in Alibre. I need to be able to rename each part in the tree but that does not appear to be possible :(

    I have even tried saving the Assembly, than tried opening the part file in a separate window thinking it would let me do a Save As to change the part name but that does not work either.

    Is there a simple way to do this that I am missing. The part Names that come in from Step are just numbers and I need more descriptive part names for the parts that we will be machining.


    Thanks in advance.
  2. Lew_Merrick

    Lew_Merrick Alibre Super User

    Larry -- This is one of my longstanding complaints (especially as both SolidWorks and CREO allow you to accomplish this).

    The approach I use is to create a list of old Part names versus new Part names, Rename Parts (a few at a time) and Replace them when the Assembly is next Opened. A PITA, but it works. One advantage that helps me is that I use s Parts List (rather than a BOM approach to Project Management as this allows me to maintain a Document Tree that tells me what Part or Assembly gets used on which Assembly or Sub-Assembly across a Project). I follow the naming conventions defined under MIL-Q-9858 which simplifies mcuh of the tracking issues.
  3. LarryC

    LarryC Member

    Is there an easy way to get (copy) a list of all the parts in the tree that can be pasted in Excel or Word so that the list of new part names can be cross referenced as they are being "renamed". That way each part under the old name (once saved) can be renamed and edited when reopening the Assembly....?
  4. DavidJ

    DavidJ Alibre Super User

    After opening the STEP file, choose Save As - before committing the save, click in the name field of any parts that you wish to re-name and do so.

    In the attached image all parts originally had names which started in the same way - you can see that I've renamed a couple with obviously different names just to show it can be done.

    Attached Files:

  5. Jimpulse

    Jimpulse Senior Member

    If you highlight an assembly in Windows Explorer and right click it, one of the menu choices is "Constituents". This is a utility added when Alibre was installed. Clicking on that opens a window that shows a file Tree with the file names and locations. This is somewhat helpful, but since you cannot cut and paste the file names in an editor/spreadsheet, it is limited.
    Recognizing the usefulness of this, a forum member, NateLiqGrav, wrote a routine [DumpConstituents.exe] that would capture this output to a text file that COULD be pasted into a spreadsheet. It helped me out a lot a few years ago while doing something that sounds like what you are doing.

    It was done some time ago, and I dont know if it works with the current version. Perhaps if you reach out to nate he could provide it.
    NATE if you are reading this perhaps you could give us an status report on DumpConstituents.exe. If it needs updating, and you dont feel like messing with it, perhaps you could donate the source or methodology to some other forum member to help with. I do a little programming, but I dont know how you grabbed the output of that "Constiuents" screen!

    It might also be possible to do something with WizoScript.
  6. JST

    JST Alibre Super User


    The issue is that the VISIBLE part name is the filename. When you go to insert a part, the FILENAME is all you are given. THAT IS CRAZY TALK.

    Part names change. Part NUMBERS change during a project. Someone may fat-finger the description, part number, etc, and that should not then be cast in stone for the duration, nor should changing it break everything, as it does now.

    Any decent schematic capture program shows AT LEAST one other "internal" name, which can be changed without messing up the file structure. That is one way to solve the problem, and probably is the easiest. Just show an additional internal field (or two) in the list when inserting parts in an assembly. That field (or those fields) can be used for the part description, part number, etc, and can be selected for printing in BOM or parts lists.

    I suppose it would be possible to provide some means for changing the filename without breaking everything, but it seems harder to do, and is not really necessary.

    This issue is also related to Lew's general complaint about the various items in what is called "part data".
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  7. Lew_Merrick

    Lew_Merrick Alibre Super User

    JST -- If you follow the requirements and procedures of MIL-Q-9858 neither the Document Identities nor Detail Identities change (without being replaced) over the life of a Project. You can follow it nr not.
  8. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    Don't see why the current system would 'break' everything. Its not the simplest to use but done properly it still works fine.
  9. Lew_Merrick

    Lew_Merrick Alibre Super User

    Sebastian -- The major issue (for me) is that preliminary Projects get one set of Document Identities and Issued Projects get another set of Document Identities. Having the ability to rename files within the context of the Design Explorer from (say) SK00100-101 to (say) 18B00100-101 Support Bracket would be a great aid. In addition, were File Properties->General->Part Data accessible through the API and User Definable it would be possible (through WizoScript) to add such things as Project Identity and Used On Assembly (and the like) to dully define things.
  10. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    Ok... so two issues...

    I agree. Its still worth noting though that Alibre method does work. Perhaps a bit cumbersome compared to some (and easier than others) but it works.

    I also agree that part data should be user-definable. However this should be inherent to Alibre, not through Wizoscript.
  11. simonb65

    simonb65 Senior Member

    ... or embed scripting as part of AD's functionality, so it can be better integrated and utilise all the lower level workings!
  12. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    My apologies. That is what I meant. Cheers.
  13. simonb65

    simonb65 Senior Member

    I actually thought you just meant the Part Data should be inherent ... which it should. I was slightly left-of-topic be referring to fully integrated scripting rather than rely on an add-on. By that I don't mean to stamp on Wizoscript, it's invaluable and filling a feature hole in the current base application.
  14. Lew_Merrick

    Lew_Merrick Alibre Super User

    Whereas I agree that I have made the "Alibre approach" work for quite a few years, it could (and should) work better.

    With "API access to File Property values" and the ability to define "Part Data" entries of my own, it would be fairly close to painless to use WizoScript to update and coordinate such Project Values across all the Part, Sheetmetal, and Assembly files making up a Project. WizoScript would not (at lease as I envision it) be used to create such "values" as I envision that task as taking place in a spreadsheet" and outputted as a "csv" (unicode) file.
  15. JST

    JST Alibre Super User

    No company I have worked for or with has actually used the MIL system. We were always COTS, and so were not required to do it, plus the parts always went in a larger system AS parts, so the customer dealt with that. Might be right or wrong, but that is what happened.

    And, it is not the part number alone, but descriptive data.

    If it were simply a non-significant (arbitrary number) part number, then the part number could be used as the filename, and all would be well, IF the daggone Alibre program would SHOW the "part Data" fields that HAD the descriptor. But that does NOT happen in ANY selector list I know about.

    "Properly" covers much ground.......

    Because the name of the part as you see it in a list within Alibre, is the filename, the filename is the de-facto part descriptor, which must distinguish the part from any other similar part so that you have some clue what you are inserting.

    I can assure you that if that filename is changed, it "breaks" every single assembly where the part was used. YOU know that also.

    IF Alibre would display fields from the "Part Data" in the list used for inserting parts, saving parts, etc, THEN one could use ANY filename, and only need to change the "Part Data" fields.

    This also is tied up with the issue of "Library Parts", which is a whole other can of worms.

    Part number/name/filename example:

    Ideally you could have a part number such as "123-456-789-ABCD", a descriptor of "bracket, angle, 5052 alu, 50 x 50 x 20 x 2mm w/M10 PEM", and a filename of "abcdefg123456". Alibre would, in any selection list, show you the filename, the part number, AND the description, so you could identify it and insert it.

    Then, if you had a change in description during development before the part number was officially "accepted" as a configuration, you can make the change without changing all the models. It is not possible to use a place-holder, for the same reason.

    As it is, you either need a crib-sheet, or make the description part of the filename. If you put it in the filename, as you are almost forced to do by the way the lists work, then you must find and change all the models and instances in order to change ANY PART of the descriptive data in the filename (naturally).
  16. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    I use a specific naming system. All manufactured parts are given a number as file name i.e. XXXXX-XXXXX-XX. This number is fixed. All standard parts are given a decriptive name eg. Cap Screw M10 x 80 Din 13 DIN 912.

    Telling which standard (buy-in) part is which is easy enough by the name. In an ideal world I would create a crib sheet (an evergrowing list of parts including part name, decription, material, revison and so on). I don't keep such a document because time (read: boss) doesn't allow it. Also, since I use the Windows file system I have the option of changing the viewing options in a folder to 'large/extra large icons'. This gives a fantastic graphical representation of the native Alibre files making a descriptor in the file name superfluous.

    This works and as literally all I need to to get the job done. I have never not found a part because of a lack of a descriptor. I have to add that my I am quite meticulous when it comes to filing parts (i.e. folder/folder/folder/etc) and my part naming system (the above XXXXX-XXXXX-XX) is very descriptive too in that the number tell pretty much what the part is for. If anyone is interested I can go into detail about this.
  17. JST

    JST Alibre Super User

    Yes, you can work around the issue.

    But WITHIN ALIBRE I am not aware of options to show anything but the filename in the list. Workarounds help, sure, but just showing the descriptor field would really help.
  18. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    You mean in the tree? Yes, that would be a help.
  19. JST

    JST Alibre Super User

    Both in the tree AND more importantly, in the selection lists , such as when inserting a part. All that is given is the filename, which it can be impractical to use as the universal descriptor.

    I also do some of what you do.

    The problem is that I do many designs from scratch, when a part gets a "reference name", and then later gets a real part number and so forth. I realize that appalls and offends those who operate in a rigid environment of part numbers and so forth. But the things start as "free form designs" and narrow down to a final configuration.

    At the time of the exploratory design, there is no pre-existing list of the anticipated parts, numbers and descriptions. That comes out of the design, I am essentially using Alibre as a sketch tool at that point.

    THAT is the origin of the need to change descriptors and filenames, etc, because alibre centers all interaction on the filename and ONLY the filename, (despite using its OWN name for the part internally).
  20. bigseb

    bigseb Alibre Super User

    Switch to large/extra large icons. Makes life so much easier.

    JL82 likes this.

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