At INSPHERE we provide SpatialAnalyzer training for all levels of expertise, from introductory training for beginners to more tailored, advanced training for specific applications such as how to automate SA by creating and implementing measurement plans.
New versions of SpatialAnalyzer are released around three times a year, and each incarnation has a plethora of new features and functionalities with some better publicised than others. I’m always surprised which features people are – or more likely, aren’t – aware of. Quite often this is because metrology engineers are under time pressures to complete a certain job and are not in a position to experiment with or try out new workflows.
In this article, I’m going to run through some quick wins that are very simple but can save you a lot of time – here are my top 5 features in SpatialAnalyzer you might have missed.
1. Copying Data from the Report Bar
If you know this exists then it’s nothing special but if you didn’t know it was there and you’ve been exporting to excel or manually entering data, then this is an incredible time saver.
Data in the Report Bar (normally found at the bottom of the screen) can be copied to the clipboard simply by holding shift and dragging a box over the data; you can then just paste it into the destination of your choice. Super quick!
2. Locate an Instrument with Best-fit with No Point Names in Common!
I’m not sure why the SA team didn’t make more of a big deal about this, but in the 2018.07.11 release they changed how the best-fit works in SA when locating instruments. Most people, including myself, learnt how to locate an instrument to a set of reference points (or controls) by measuring them, taking care to match up the point names exactly.
In current versions you don’t have to worry about point names and can measure the reference points using no names in common with a few easy steps.
1) Right-click on the instrument and select Locate.
2) Select the Best-Fit option.
3) Select the Nominal group and press enter.
4) Select the Measured group and press enter.
You’ll then get a dialog box which alerts the user that the point names in the two point groups don’t match, but also an option to rename the points and start the best-fit automatically – awesome!
3. Creating Layers in Callouts
So, you’ve created your Callouts in SA, they’re perfectly laid out and just so. You click on them at a later date, they’re not in the right place and the dimensions, vectors and rendering is all different. We’ve all been there, but there is a quick fix.
Once you’re happy with a Callout, right-click on it in the navigation tree and go to the properties, here you can:
Save Viewpoint: this button updates and saves the current viewpoint and recalls it rather than the viewpoint used when the Callout was created.
Set Visible Layer: this button recalls the objects, dimensions, rendering and vectors etc. that are currently visible. To do this just Set Visible Layer, although you may need to press Add a new layer.
Now when you recall your Callouts, they’ll look just how you left them!
This is another ‘obvious if you know it’ type trick, but it’s amazing how few people know about it. We’re all aware of the lack of back-button in SA, however if mistakes are made – it’s unlikely you’ll have to write-off the file and start again! When SA installs, it creates a folder (C:\Analyzer Data\Backup) that stores backups. By default, these back-ups are created when you open a file and every 15 minutes thereafter; you can change these parameters in the user options.
5. The New Ribbon Interface
For 2019, there is a new look for SA. However, by default the new interface is not active but here’s how to get it.
1) Open up the User Options.
2) Select the checkbox that says, Show Ribbon Bar.
3) Restart SA when prompted.
Next time you open SA you’ll be welcomed with the new look – all the buttons you know and love with the same functionality, but now readily accessible. This supersedes the toolkit and after getting through the learning curve of a new workflow, will speed up your process significantly.
Bonus: Staying on top of SpatialAnalyzer Features
To keep up to date with what’s new in SA there are a few resources available online from New River Kinematics.
1) Check the readme.txt that gets installed with SA for a full list of all the new features and functions.
2) Check the SA webpage for Recent Software Releases or the PDF that accompanies every release.
3) Visit the SA webpage for a list of Helpful Hints for SA Users.
Alternatively, INSPHERE deliver a one-day, “What’s New in SA” training course that covers more features commonly overlooked or unknown and how to effectively use them for your organisation. For more information about this course and other SA training contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ollie Martin, CTO, INSPHERE Ltd.