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By Eric Lagman
JD I have a materials workflow question. I have a lot of materials I use over and over for different models. In past plugins whenever I opened solidworks all my materials I had ever used were there, and I could just apply them to any model I opened. This worked great for my situation. The way the plugin works now if I use embedded is the materials are only available once I add them to a particular part or assembly. Any new part I open has no past materials ready to apply, and I have to go find them. Would the best method be to use linked materials and browse through the mxm's if I want to get back to this type of workflow? I think it is, but just wanted to make sure there wasnt something I was missing.
By JDHill
I liked the materials database too, but it was just too confusing for many users to have a parallel system of materials; some thought it was on the file system, and didn't understand why they couldn't find these things as mxm files on their system. In the end, most did not use it as intended, and were instead always using the mxm browser to drag mxms into every new scene they would just end up with tons of 'duplicate' materials in their database and would not be deriving any benefit at all.

So, what you will want to do to adjust, since you did grasp and use the database, is to do as you guessed and adopt a linked-mxm methodology. Add the directories where you store your mxm files to the mxm browser's pulldown; whenever you start the plugin, the mxm browser should be pointing to wherever it was last time you shut down. To make linked mode the default, you will want to go to options > material defaults and set 'MXM Mode' to Referenced. Then, you will want to look above that in the 'Behavior' section and make sure that 'Ignore Linked Mxm Mode' is set to No and that 'Auto-update Linked Materials' is set to Yes.

What this means is, when you drag an mxm out of the mxm browser, a new material will be created. Since you have set Referenced to be the default, this material will have mxm linking enabled. Since you have enabled 'Auto-update Linked Materials', the material will be monitoring its source mxm for changes which might be made outside of the plugin, such as if you opened it in MXED, changed it, and then saved. As it is using linked mode, whenever you open the document it is stored in, it will attempt to find its source mxm file and refresh itself with whatever the state of that file might be, in case it has been changed between sessions. If that mxm file is not found, the material will revert to non-linked status, and will appear in the rendered output as it existed the last time it was saved, with no data being lost as would be the case if the plugin only used simple file-references.

It might seem a bit roundabout to have these options, but what it does is to enable two completely different workflows: one, where a user prefers that materials always behave as being embedded in each document, existing independently of any other document, and another, where several people in an office might be using the same set of mxms, and require that all documents which use them should always respect their current state.

Just let me know if you have any further questions about this.
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