Populating Autodesk ® Inventor iProperties from the Content Center

Originally Published 1/17/2014

Did you know you could do that?  It’s pretty powerful, and actually powerful easy to do once you know the trick.  You can make any column in an Autodesk ® Inventor Content Center family table send metadata out to the iproperties of the generated parts.  What you do with that metadata after that is up to you.  In my setting, I use a lot of it to map to properties in the Autodesk ® Vault Item Master.

This can be done with either custom content that you have published from your own iparts, or with standard content that you have copied to a read/write library in the Content Center.  When you create an ipart in Autodesk ® Inventor, any iproperties that you add to your ipart table as columns will automatically map themselves back to that iproperty when you publish the ipart to the Content Center.  For standard content that you copy to your read/write library, however, you may find that only certain properties (Part Number, for example) are already mapped for you.  Anything else you want to map, or any mappings you want to change around, you will have to add yourself.

As an example, I’ve chosen one of my pipe fittings, a CPVC 90 degree elbow.  This was published from a custom ipart that we already had modeled up years ago.  However, now, there is information I would like to have sent to the part’s iproperties in order to trigger some Autodesk ® Vault properties when the part is checked in and added to the Item Master.  I want to take the “Member” column metadata (which came right form the ipart table), and map it to the iproperty “Subject”.

To do this is very easy.  On the Manage tab in Inventor, pick the “Editor” button to open the Content Center editor window.  Navigate to the CC family you wish to edit, and right click on it, selecting “Family Table” to open the family table editor.  Locate the column whose metadata you want to capture.  Right click on the column header, and select Column Properties.  You should see a section titled “Map To Inventor Property”, with a pull down below it.  Select the pull down menu to see a list of available properties to map to.  Note that an iproperty in Inventor may only be mapped from one Content Center column.  If the property you wish to map to is not visible in this pull down list, it is probably already mapped from another column somewhere in that family table.

Map To Inventor Property

Once you have mapped all of the columns to properties that you need for that family, select OK at the bottom of the editor. You should see a pop up which tells you “Published Successfully to the Selected Library”.  Hit OK again and close down the Content Center Editor with the “Done” button on the lower right.

Now to test your results.  I suggest creating or opening a dummy assembly file for the testing, you’ll see why in a moment.  When you first use a Content Center part in Inventor, a part file is generated and placed in your default Content Center location, as determined by your Application Options file settings.  Every subsequent time that you place that same part, it retrieves it from that folder in it’s current form.  So, to test your modified family, you need to know if the parts have already been generated or not.  In your dummy assembly, use “Place from Content Center” on the Assemble Tab.  Place an instance of the family, and look at the part’s iproperties.  If this is the first time the part has been generated, you should see the mapped property filled in.

iProperty Successfully Populated

If the part has already been generated, the iproperty will remain blank, or will retain whatever value was in it before.

iProperty on Previously Generated Part

So now the question is, how do I get this part to accept the new information from the family table?  Easier than you think.  The way you do this will depend on the size of the table, and the number of instances you need to update.  In a relatively small family I will do the update right here in my dummy assembly file…. get it over with.  For a very large family I tend to use this update tool on my production assemblies regularly, to catch any out of date content parts as they come up.  Anyway, here is what you do.

Place as many instances as you plan to update, and then save your assembly file.  It must be saved before you can update the parts.   On the Manage tab, select the “Refresh” button, normally located next to the Editor button you used earlier.

Refresh Standard Content

Click the Refresh button at the bottom of the dialog box, and Inventor will update the Content Center part with any new information or changes made to the family table.  If you use Vault, you will be prompted to check out the parts in question so that the changes can be saved to the Vault file as well.  Once the process has run, check the iproperties on the part once again.

Updated Content Center Part

You can also add columns to a Content Center family if there is information you want to map to an iproperty which is not already in the family table.  Adding columns and creating expressions in family tables…. that’s for another day.  😉  So I hope this was helpful in getting data from a Content Center table into an Inventor part’s iproperties.  And as always….


“Autodesk® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc.  Autodesk ® , AutoCAD ® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault ®, Autocad Electrical ® and Inventor ® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.”  Programs and programmers’ information used with permission.  Thanks guys!


CAD Department Supervisor at Powell Fabrication & Manufacturing, Inc. CAD Designer & Detailer specializing in Inventor Tube & Pipe, Frame Generator, Content Center, Vault Professional. Autodesk Expert Elite member. Blogger. AU 2014 Speaker. Husband and father.

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