2. Entering values

Before you start creating dynamic components, you need to fully understand the component attributes window. So create a simple 3D object such as a cube or cylinder and turn it into a component, giving it a name when you do so (such as "My DC cube"). Then open the component attributes window and make sure your component is selected.

You'll see in the window a little bar with the same name that you gave the component. This represents the component itself. If it was made up of groups or sub-components, they would be listed beneath this. Beneath the name, you will see "Add attribute".

Add attribute setting

The attributes in question are all the things which define your component: the position (X, Y, and Z co-ordinates), the size (LenX, LenY and LenZ), the angle of rotation (RotX, RotY and RotY), its material, whether it is visible or hidden, etc.

You can show an individual attribute by clicking "Add attribute" or the plus sign beside it and choosing one of the pop-up list. You can see that they are in groups and you can show all of a group by clicking on the title. If you hover on "Position", it changes to "Position (add all)" – click the title and all three position attributes are added.

You will see that some attributes, such as position and length, already have values in grey. That is because they already exist (any object must have a position, length and rotation) while others such "Name" are blank and can be filled in by you. (The attributes window is basically a spreadsheet and, like that, can contain values or formulas, but we shall look at that later. For the moment, just concentrate on values.)

You can delete an attribute by clicking on it and then clicking the minus sign beside it. Attributes that have existing grey values retain them if you delete them (an object cannot have no length after all) but those that you have written into will lose them.

For the moment, just add all the position, length and rotation attributes. You should see something like this (the value will obviously be different for your component).


Now double-click in the X field (where it says 0 cm in the picture, not the red "X"). Delete the value inside and enter something else such as "20" and press the return key. You should see your component move to the new X position. Try entering different values in the other fields and see what they do.

Now try moving, scaling or rotating the component itself with the usual tools. See how the attribute values change as you change the object. Finally show the "Material" attribute which will probably be blank. Then apply a material to the component and see how its name appears in the field.

For the rest of this lesson, familiarise yourself with these attributes and how they relate to the component. A clear understanding of this is vital to creating dynamic components.