This article is part of an ongoing series from our Product Managers on how we design and develop new features in SigmaNEST. Today’s article features the new Advanced DXF Export, released in SigmaNEST X1.5 and developed by our Import/Export team.
So, you want to export DXFs?
Improving our DXF export feature has been a very popular request from our customers. A lot of customers use SigmaNEST CAD for part creation or import existing DXFs, DWG files, and 3D geometry to make modifications. For these reasons, having a robust DXF export for verifying part geometry is very important, and it’s something that we’ve wanted to enhance for a while.
When I sat down to brainstorm ideas for how we would implement the many requests we received for enhancements, three main things stood out that we needed to accomplish:
- Modern formatting. Our DXFs need to be readable by other CAD programs to make sure our customers’ customers could open and view these files.
- Customizable and flexible capabilities. Our export needed to be able to accommodate everyone’s needs. Do you need to export a nest, a single part, or a part’s details and dimensions? Do you need to customize layers and colors? All of these options needed to present within the export tool itself.
- Elegant and intuitive interface. The export feature needed to take full advantage of being inside the SigmaNEST program. We should be able to use things like part attributes and other available information to customize the export and create an elegant solution.
Utilizing AutoCAD Toolkit for modern formatting
To ensure we were creating the best quality DXF files we decided to use an AutoCAD Toolkit. This toolkit enables us to translate SigmaNEST geometry to a DXF of any format we need. It also ensures that our DXFs are capable of being opened and modified by the world’s leading 2D CAD programs and any CAD software that supports AutoCAD DXF files.
Tapping into SigmaNEST’s existing capabilities
In order to provide our customers with a customizable and elegant solution, we tapped into SigmaNEST-specific properties that gave us plenty of export options.
From part and layout selection for export to customizing layers and/or colors based on SigmaNEST attributes, or even removing leadins or sheet geometry from the export – You’ll find a number of new capabilities that our previous DXF export was missing (and we have plans to add even more in the future).
A unique approach: Development by plugin
When it came to actually developing the feature, one concern was that we wanted our feature to be backwards compatible, so that it would work with existing parts and workspaces (and not require you to take additional steps or draw parts in a certain way).
To achieve this, we started by creating a plugin with the export functionality. This made it easy for us to test the tool with different versions of SigmaNEST using numerous combinations of existing parts and workspaces. After we were satisfied with the performance of the plugin, we then integrated it directly into the SigmaNEST code as a complete feature.
What might surprise you about this is that we wrote the plugin based entirely on existing SigmaNEST APIs, which means that everything we did could have technically been achieved by a customer with API knowledge and the drive to create something similar.
Now, most of our new features don’t work this way, so this was a unique method of development in that respect. But it’s a great example of what you can do through SigmaNEST’s robust APIs and plugins, if you have the skills and training to do so.
Get started with Advanced DXF Export!
To learn how to use the new Advanced DXF Export feature, be sure to check out the writeup in the SigmaNEST Help Center. We are excited to introduce this new feature and look forward to adding even more capabilities to it in the future!