SOLIDWORKS’ Property Tab Builder

One of the main advantages of using SOLIDWORKS (or any CAD software) is the ability to add metadata to your model. Adding metadata allows you to take that information and use it to fill out your drawings or bill of materials. This automation ensures that the data is consistent and the number of errors on the drawing is reduced.

In SOLIDWORKS (without PDM or any other 3rd party add ins) you have two options when it comes to filling out the custom properties.

The first option is to open SOLIDWORKS and go to Properties.

In here you can either write the custom property and value, or select it from a list and write the value.

While this method works, there is a possibility that you will select the wrong property or mistype the property name. This is why I always recommend that if you are using SOLIDWORKS in your daily work, you take a look at the property tab builder.

What is this?

The property tab builder is a small but very useful program that comes with every version of SOLIDWORKS, and in every build of SOLIDWORKS desktop and SOLIDWORKS connected.  It allows you to create a property template that you can attach to each model or drawing, should you be so inclined.

When the information is filled out and you click apply, the information is saved on the file and can be used later. By using the template, you eliminate the possibility of errors in your properties.

Starting the program

Depending on your SOLIDWORKS build — Connected or Standard — you have a number of options.

In both builds, you can start by clicking the “Custom Property” tab (1). In case you don’t have this tab, you can press “Create” (2) and this will launch the program.

If you want to start the program without starting SOLIDWORKS, you can. If you are using the Standard build, open the program by searching for “property tab builder” in your windows search bar.

As you can see, there is a property tab builder for each version and yes, they follow the same rules as any other SOLIDWORKS file: files created using 2023 version cannot be used in 2022, etc.

If you are using the SOLIDWORKS Connected build, you do not have the option to search for it but you can find it in the folder C:\Program Files\Dassault Systemes\SOLIDWORKS 3DEXPERIENCE\SOLIDWORKS\sldPropertyTabBuilder.

Of course, if you have changed the installation folder, the location will be different.

Building a better tab

The first step is to decide if this particular tab is for a part, assembly, drawing or weldment.

In this article, I will focus on a part template and go through the different options.

If the menu on the left looks different, you have different building blocks or boxes for your tab.

The main building block is the “Groupbox.” The Groupbox is used to contain the other boxes and will help you keep it organized.

For now, I am going to create three boxes: “Project,” “Technical” and “Revision.”

The first thing I need to decide is if I want the group box to be collapsed or expanded when I press the tab button in SOLIDWORKS. For the sake of demonstration, I will ensure that Technical is expanded.

Next, I can insert different type of input boxes: “Textbox,” “List,” “Number,” “Checkbox,” “radio button” and “list group.”

Before I go into the different options with these boxes, I will review what they have in common:


The caption is what you see on the property tab input file.

Custom Property Attributes name is the name of the property you are going to fill out. This does not have to be the same as the caption name.


Do you want the information to appear on the configuration tab or the custom property tab? If you have a lot of configurations, you need to make sure that you have given this some thought. By default, this is set to “configuration.”

Read Only

And finally, you can decide if a text box is to be Read Only.

With that determined, let’s look at the different types of input boxes.

The first one and most common is the Text box.

After filling out the caption and property value, you need to determine the type of information that is to be used. You can use Text, Date or a Yes/No value.

Within the text value, you can predefine different values, material, weight, volume etc. As always, make sure you check out the many options yourself.

In this example, I have added three text fields: two of them are predefined SW-Material” and SW-Mass. This will ensure that the selected material is added to the custom properties and that the weight is also added.

The last textbox is a description text box that is empty.

For the sake of the article, I am going to create a Yes/No box, which states whether the part is purchased.

This will ensure that the system reads it as a Yes/No box and makes sure that only the value Yes or No can be inserted in the particular property.

A Created Date text box, where the type is set to date, is placed within the revision group.

Using the date box allows me to select the date from a calendar and the property will be saved as a date.

A quick word about the date: It always uses the format selected by your computer. This ensures that it will be interpreted by the system as a date property.

Next, I want to create a field for “Created by.” Since we have multiple users, I am going to use the list input field.

Again, I have to insert a caption and property name field and then I need to define where the list should get the information from: a standard list, a text file or an Excel sheet.

With the standard list, you can define the values in the property file.

When using a text file, you simply create the file in your notepad, write one value and press Enter, add another value and so on. After saving the file (in a place that everyone has access to) you can browse to the file.

As for the Excel file, you need to ensure that the file is, once again, located where all users will have access to it.

Now browse to the file and select it.

In the next field, write the sheet name followed by the fields where the list is located written in parentheses. For instance, I have written down years and write “(A1:A10)”. If you know that you are going to expand that list, you can write A1:A50, for example, as the tab builder will not show empty fields.

With all the different lists, you have the option to allow custom values.

For the drawing numbers, I will use a number field.

In this field, you can only insert a number and as such it will also be interpreted as a number in the custom properties.

The checkbox allows you to create a checkbox that creates a custom value if you check the box or not (1). But it also allows you to hide or show different fields depending on your selection (2).

The radio button gives you the option to see a series of preselected values for a single custom property.

The main difference from the checkbox is that you can have more than two selections. You can still use this to hide or show different fields.

After I have inserted the radio buttons, I need to address a selection in the List options.

You now have the chance to set a Parent item. With a parent item, you can set a selection based on a previous selection.

For instance, if I select the “under revision” state, I can select the columns C1:C5, and so forth.

Finally, you have the List Group which allows you to select an Excel sheet with multiple columns and point out the ones you need.

It is much like the “standard list” except that it allows you to bulk select an Excel sheet and use the values you find needed.

All done, now what?

After the property file is done, you need to save it. For now, let’s save it as if you are working with desktop SOLIDWORKS and in a future article I will show how to use the property files while working with 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS.

The location of the file can be determined by opening your SOLIDWORKS and going to “Options” and “File Locations.”

Here you can find “Custom Property File locations” and that is where you want to save your custom property file.

Afterwards, you can create custom property files for your assembly, drawings and weldment files.

After these have been set up, you will find it much easier to create and maintain your custom properties on your models and drawings.

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