NX Dialog Options and Simple Measurements

NX Dialog Options and Simple Measurements


Sometimes there are some NX settings that just seem to hide in the dark.

Have you ever opened a dialog and realized that some of the Groups are missing?

edge to blend

Somehow, your dialog has been set with those options turned off.

NX Dialog Format

You see, it all started in NX8.5 after the dialogs had all been updated to a more universal look and feel. The short-lived Dialog Track Bar went by the wayside and the introduction of a new little “gear-like” icon appeared in the upper left of most dialog windows called Dialog Options. They even added it to the old Form Feature dialogs.

dialog options

Also, you can press MB3 on the Title Bar (header) and get the same drop-down. When you drop that down, there’s a list of options that a lot of users were never informed about. If we revisit the Edge Blend dialog, we’ll see the reason that the more advanced blend options have disappeared. Here are examples in both NX8.5 and NX9.

edge blend
edge blend

In the NX8.5 example, the top 2 options in that drop-down, “Edge Blend (Less)” and “Edge Blend (More)” are set the opposite of NX9. The NX8.5 dialog still offers all the advanced options because the Dialog Options is set to the “more” option. The NX9 dialog offers the minimum input widgets to accomplish the command. Once we set that back to the “more” option, all the advanced groups and options come back.

edge blend

It’s hard to say how these Dialog Options get set to the “less” option. I’ve occasionally seen students experience it in my classes.

How to Get Irrational Dialog Options the Easy Way

Let’s go to the Simple Diameter measurement function and delve deeper into these Dialog Options.

simple diameter

Most of the NX dialogs will have the Less and More options as well as the Hide and Show Collapsed Groups options. Measurement functions and some of the others will have alternate Type options. You won’t see, for example, a Chamfer option in the Dialog Options for Edge Blend or Draft.

simple diameter

This drop-down includes the Less and More options but, as you can see, they are for Measure Distance, not Simple Diameter! Only Simple Radius and Simple Diameter will have Measure Distance Less and More options. The other simple measurement dialogs will have their Measure counterpart, e.g. Simple Angle->Measure Angle and Simple Length->Measure Length.

The reason for this behavior, assuming there must be some logic behind it, is so you can easily get to more comprehensive, detailed measuring methods if you’re measuring with a Simple command and need to know more. Simple Radius and Simple Diameter commands can switch to Measure Distance commands because there really isn’t much more to find out about circular objects unless you want to now find the total length of the arc, measure between points on the arc, etc. The other Simple measurement commands have greater possibilities than their simple nature.

This Simple Diameter dialog has neither of the Less or More options checked. Instead, it contains options for the three other Simple Measurement types, Simple Diameter being the one checked by default. Below that there are two options common to most of the dialogs, “Show Collapsed Groups” and “Hide Collapsed Groups”.

If your mind is already running ahead of me, yes, when you select the “Hide Collapsed Groups”, it literally means that the dialog will no longer show any of the collapsed groups. In this case, there aren’t any other collapsed groups in the dialog so choosing the “Hide” option will do nothing.

But what else could possibly be shown in a Simple Diameter measurement command if we were to choose the “Show Collapsed Groups” option? I mean, it’s supposed to be a simple function, right? You pick a circular object and it pops up a value display of the diameter of the selected object.

show collapsed groups

Goodness, gracious! What are all those things??? And where have they been all this time?

Hidden. By default, mind you!

With all groups expanded, the dialog appears like this:

simple diameter command

Without explaining each newly expanded setting, the one with the biggest punch is up top, the Type group. You would think it would only offer the different types of simple measurement commands, Distance, Angle, Length, Radius, and Diameter, right? But behold!


Now here’s where it gets a little crazy and you have to be careful. Selecting one of these other options, regardless of which one, the dialog will now update to include tools to accommodate the selected option. For instance, just selecting the Distance option yields this:


So now there’s a Start Point step and an End Point step. Yet this is still the Simple Diameter dialog! One might ask the question, “Why in the world would one want to measure between two points or objects as a diameter measurement?” If you were to pursue this you would find that NX simply pops up the same value result as it did for the Diameter option. No diameter symbol in front of the value, no circular reference indicator on the screen, just a value.

select point or object

I’ll leave it to you to decide if this is an option that you would ever use.

Points on Curves Measurement

Here’s an interesting little option, Points on Curves. Selecting that option from the Type options provides you with the same Start and End Point selection steps. By default, the Point on Curve icon in the Snap Point group of the Top Border Bar is turned on. When you select two point locations on a contiguous curve string (not edges), NX reports the distance along the path from point to point. If the curve string is a closed loop, it results in the minimum or shortest path on the string from point to point.

specify point
“Minimum” option

Notice the “Minimum” option in the Measurement group. Although grayed out, NX still performs this Point to Point measurement in the shortest or minimum path possible. This is actually one of the standard options in the Measure Distance command.

points on a curve

Now watch… we go back to the Diameter Type and…

select point or object

The dialog is back to fully hidden groups yet retains the two selection steps that it provided the last time we used the function. However, selecting the same points as we did when using the Points on Curves option above yields a different result.

check marked selection

Confused? I don’t blame you. When looking at the collapsed groups, notice that the type option is set to Distance now.

Set the Type option back to Diameter

When hiding the collapsed groups, it gets us back to the original, default condition of the dialog.

diameter object

OK, are you beginning to feel normal again? Collapsing the remaining group for Diameter Object and then selecting the Hide Collapsed Groups options from the Dialog Options and we can actually minimize the entire dialog to basically a simple strip of OK, Apply, and Cancel buttons.

simple diameter

Go one step further and it practically disappears. Double click on the Title Bar (header). This is the same as selecting the Dialog Options (or MB3 on the Title Bar) and selecting Collapse Dialog.

simple diameter (collapsed)

Yet we can still perform a measurement in this state. That’s the way it rolls, I guess.

Now, regardless of whether you actually complete a measurement or simply cancel this dialog, the next time you open the dialog, it reinstates and expands the Diameter Object group.

Collapse and hide all groups as we just did above. Now complete a measurement and close the dialog (choose OK after selecting two points). When you start the command again, it would retain the Type selection and only show and expand the Start Point step of the distance measurement you had previously executed.

Now, when you select the first point or object to measure a distance from, it advances to the next step, End Point, but the dialog does not expand to show you that step. Read the Cue Line to see the prompt for the second point or object.

Resetting the dialog with the little circular arrow icon at the top deselects all objects, expands the Start Point and End Point groups, and resets the dialog back to Simple Diameter. But it does not reset the measurement Type back to Diameter. The dialog will remember these Type settings.

Cancel that Simple Diameter dialog and now select the Measure Distance command.

When the Simple Diameter dialog Type is set to Distance, NX reassigns the Measure Distance command to the Simple Diameter dialog, Distance Type.

But don’t panic. While the Simple Diameter dialog is open, choose Measure Distance (More) from the Dialog Options drop-down (or MB3 on the Title Bar) and execute a measurement. Now select Measure Distance and all should be well.

Changing Simple Distance dialog to Diameter

  1. Choose Dialog Options.
  2. Select Show Collapsed Groups.
  3. Open the Type options.
  4. Select Diameter.
  5. Collapse all groups except Diameter Object.
  6. Hide Collapsed Groups.
  7. Measure something.
  8. Close the dialog.

So now you know all about the Dialog Options settings including the More, Less, Show, Hide options and the unique options in the Simple measurement commands. That’s enough for today. Maybe later we’ll talk about those “favorite” options. And perhaps the effect that selecting a Role has on Dialog Options as well as some other “reset” type commands.

Post by Garrett Koch

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