Fusion 360 drawings just got a major power-up
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
The latest version of Fusion adds a feature that we're really excited about, and we think makes a lot of sense. It's simple and powerful, and when combined with Bommer can save you a ton of time compared to the old way of doing things. That feature? Copy and paste from a spreadsheet to your drawing to create drawing tables.
So what powers have been unlocked?
Let's start by getting specific: In Fusion 360 version 2.0.9439, you can copy data from a spreadsheet (like, say, from an Excel file) and paste it onto your drawing. Fusion will then create a table with that data. Any columns and cells that were copied will be included when you paste. A preview box will appear for where this table will be placed and what anchor point to use. Once you click on your sheet, a fully editable custom table will appear.
Really, it is that easy.
Hell yes, whoa.
We firmly believe that you should always use the right tool for the job, and sometimes (well, most times) it's easier to get your data right in an external spreadsheet (especially with a tool like Bommer at your fingertips) before it goes into a custom table on a drawing. This feature, while small in scope, enables this workflow.
As we were experimenting with this feature, we collected a set of best practices that we think will help you make the most out of it.
Copy the column headers
This may seem obvious, but by making sure you include your headers, your tables will be easy to read and interpret, and you will know exactly what data was brought in.
Don't be afraid to use formulas in your spreadsheets
Excel, and most other spreadsheet programs we know, will copy the last evaluated values to your clipboard (vs the formula itself). So don't be shy about adding some calculated values if they can help you out.
Include version or revision information
This feature pastes what Fusion 360 calls custom tables. They are not linked to your design data, and will not update when your design updates. Including version or revision information (as part of the name, or as a separate column) will help you make sure the data on your drawing is up to date.
Measure twice, paste once
Changing the order of your columns or making bulk changes across rows is probably going to be easier in your spreadsheet than once the data has been pasted onto your drawing, so we recommend making your changes outside of the pasted table and just dropping it in when ready.
So, where does Bommer come in?
As you, our intrepid reader, might imagine, this new feature complements Bommer extremely well. Our main job is to help you capture and store your bill of materials data (safely in the Autodesk cloud, with your design data), and then export it to a spreadsheet. With Bommer, you have full control over your export, including what fields and which parts are included, and how the BOM is rolled up and counted. Which means that you can:
Enter, or retrieve the BOM for your project
Export it to a spreadsheet in the shape you want
Copy the relevant information out (be sure to press Yes when asked "Would you like to open this BOM?" to make this easier)
Open your drawing sheet
Paste that bad boy in.
You can go from design to parts list or cut list in minutes or less, using almost all of the data that Bommer manages, including bounding box dimensions, mass properties, custom properties, calculated fields, formula-driven unit conversions (read more about formulas here), and more.
But wait, doesn't Bommer already have a built-in drawing table command?
Time to confront the elephant in the room. Yes, Bommer does have a drawing integration and has since mid-2018. Yes, Bommer does build "tables" you can insert onto your drawings that include Bommer data. So what's the problem?
Well, for reasons too long to get into here (maybe in another blog post), Bommer actually builds table images. We then utilize the "Insert Image" command built into Fusion 360 to insert that image onto your drawing. Because it's a static image, and because we're piggy-backing off of this built-in command, it's got its share of issues and while we've tried to make the experience as good as it could be, it's always felt a bit "second class" to our otherwise high-quality user experience.
This new copy and paste tables feature helps address some of these issues: these tables are real, editable drawing tables and not static images; and I'm not too proud to say that selecting and filtering down your data from a Bommer spreadsheet export is a lot nicer than our Export Table Image command. It still doesn't solve the issue of updating tables when your design data updates, and any edits to your drawing table are not saved back to your BOM data.
That's about to change too, though.
I'm thrilled to coyly share that we're working on a really slick solution to putting your BOM data into tables on your drawings that we believe will knock the socks off of your socks. And if you want to be first in line to learn more about it when it's ready, well how about filling out that "Sign Up" section at the bottom of our main blog page here?
ANYWAYS, stay tuned and let us know what you think of this new feature! Are you as excited as we are? How do you think you will use it? Are you team Table Image or team Custom Table? Leave a comment, email us at email@example.com, or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter (or LinkedIn, to keep it professional) and let us know.
For now, though, have an awesome day!
Not using Bommer to manage your BOM? Give it a whirl by downloading a trial from the Autodesk App Store.