labeling materials

by Nate Hekman on October 1, 2007

[Ed., 16 June 2008:  I’ve posted a followup to this article describing a better solution.]

Lori, one of our support engineers (and the lovely voice behind all our videos!), has had a rash of support calls and emails lately asking for this hidden feature.  In fact even she didn’t know this could be done until this week!  So she’s given me permission to reprint the instructions she sent to one user.

The problem people are having is labeling their drawing with the name of the materials used for each region.  It appears easy to do:  Sketch Text, Insert Field, select a material from the list (or click a region to automatically select its material, bet you didn’t know you could do that!), Insert, then click on the region to place the label. 

Looks good. 

Until you change the material applied to that region.  Or you switch to another analysis that happens to have a different material for the same region.  Then you realise all you did was create a label tied to a specific material, not tied to a specific region’s material.

The workaround isn’t hard, but it’s very hidden.

Here’s how Lori describes it:

For the functionality that I think you want, you need to go under the “Advanced” tab and expand the tree as shown below:

Geometry Items … Regions … Region # … Material … Name

The Advanced tab to get to the Material Name field

Then click Insert at the bottom and you’ll see the following dynamic sketch text field in the dialogue box:

The field for region 1’s material name.

Now move your cursor and click the left mouse button to place the material name on region #1 (since that’s the region # that we selected above).

This isn’t as onerous as it looks at first because there are some shortcuts or tricks you can use.

  • I would suggest that you first use View Preferences and ensure that the region # labels are on, so you know which region # you want to label.
  • Then, once you have created one dynamic sketch text field, you can leave the sketch text box open.  Hold the Ctrl key and click on the field in your Sketch Text edit box and change the region # (circled below) to be the next region # you want to label; then click the mouse again to place this new label on that region.

Rather than navigating the field tree again, just type in a new region number.

Again, if you have region # labels in view preferences turned on, it will be a very simple thing to create soil name labels.  Once created this way, if you add another analysis and change the material associated with a particular region, the material name should update.

Give it a try and let me know if you have any questions.  We may still work at making this feature more intuitive as others have requested it as well.

Thanks Lori for that tip!  Got any tips of your own?  Or something you find hard to do that you think I may be able to shed some light on?  Mention them in the comments and I may highlight them in a future blog entry.

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