Approaches in Automation

This article gives you Overview of Various approaches in CATIA V5 Automation

Advantages of Automation/Customization

  • Cost Reduction
    • Improved Efficiencies
    • Improved Quality Through Standardization
  • Customization
    • Provide additional functionality not provided in native products
    • Manipulate existing function to better fit customer processes


Examples of Automation

The application of automation in the design process is virtually unlimited. Some examples of automation at work:

  • batch script for the conversion of drawing files to PDF
  • export of points from Excel spreadsheet to CAD model
  • export of points from CAD model to Excel spreadsheet
  • grid of points, centered in CAD model (for element layout)
  • automatic spline creation (from selection of points)
  • create normal (perpendicular) lines to a surface

Automation tools


  • CATIA V5
    • CATScript,
    • VBScript
    • VBA
    • VB 6.0
    • CAA
  • Pro/Engineer
    • Mapkey
    • Pro/Program
    • Pro/Web.Link
    • J-Link
    • Pro/Toolkit
  • Autodesk Inventor
    • Autodesk Inventor API
  • Unigraphics NX
    • Knowledge Fusion (KF)
    • UFUNC

CATIA V5 Automation Tiers

CATIA (Computer Aided Three-dimensional Interactive Application)

  • Open architecture allowing to optimize solutions.
  • Process centric solutions

Native CATIA Automation

  1. Parameters – A feature defining a document or object property.
  2. Formula – A feature used to define or constrain a parameter
  3. Design Table – A table containing values to be applied to a document to manage parameter
  4. Templates – A Document used to store and reuse intent
  5. Power Copy – A set of features (geometric elements, relations,
    constraints) grouped in a generic context to be used in a specific context

Let us see them in Detail


  • Intrinsic Parameters –
    • Created  by CATIA as a byproduct of geometry creation
    • Cannot be deleted without deleting associated geometry
  • User Defined – Parameters created by the user for a specific purpose
    •  Magnitude (Real, Length, Speed)
    • String
    • Boolean
    • Geometric (Point, Circle, Plane)
    • Import From Spread Sheet

2. Formula

  • Formulae – Relations specifying a constraint on a parameter.
  • Formula Wizard – A tool provided to assist with the syntax and format while applying a formula to a parameter.

3. Design Tables
Design Table

  • Provides a means to create and manage component families.
  • These components can be for example mechanical parts differing in their parameter values.
  • An associative link is created between spread sheet and Part or Product

Design Tables can be created in following formats

  • Excel Spread Sheet
  • Tab Delimited Text Files
  • CATIA Design Table


  • A document (Part, Product, Drawing, Process) created in a general context for reuse
    in a specific context.
  • The new context is defined be modifying parameters or replacing specification geometry.


  • A Power Copy is a set of features (geometric elements, formulas, constraints and so forth) that are grouped to be used in a different context, and presenting the ability to be completely redefined when pasted.
  • A Graphical interface is provide to guide user through selection of inputs and valuation of parameters.
  • Can be instantiated from a Document or from a feature catalog.

CATIA Knowledgeware

  • The CATIA V5 Knowledgeware turns implicit design methods into explicit knowledge for obtaining the optimum design.
  • Quick assessment of the best alternative for a design amongst numerous combinations of parameters and constraints.


  • Complex Models Difficult to Maintain
  • Lacks Debugging Help
  • Requires Additional Licenses

Knowledgeware Applications

  1. Knowledge Advisor
  2. Knowledge Expert
  3. Product Engineering Optimizer

1.Knowledge Advisor

KNOWLEDGE ADVISOR is a CATIA product which allows users to embed knowledge within design and leverage it to assist in engineering decisions, in order to reduce errors or automate design, for maximum productivity
Knowledge can be embedded in design in form of

  1. Parameters (Already Covered in Native CATIA Automation)
  2. Formulae (Already Covered in Native CATIA Automation)
  3. Rules
  4. Checks

The rule and check capabilities require the Knowledge Advisor product.
A RULE  is a set of conditional statements, whereby the relationship between parameters is controlled.
A Check is a set of instructions used to analyze the value of specific parameters. It causes no events. It simply provides feedback to users in following ways

  • Silent : No message is displayed
  •  Information: A user defined message is displayed


2.Knowledge Expert

The Knowledge Expert product allows you to create and manipulate relation-type features. These particular features are organized into a hierarchy.

  •  Expert Rule: An expert rule is a set of instructions whereby you can start an action for any object having a type defined in a type list.
  • Expert Check: An expert check is a relation which only verifies that a condition is true for all the objects of one or more given types. It does not modify the document it is applied to.

3.Product Engineering Optimizer


  • The Product Engineering Optimizer is tool to optimize product and part designs by minimizing, maximizing or targeting specific parameter values.

Problem Tab


Constraints Tab

Computation Results Tab


  •  Macros / .CATScripts
    • Free, Rapid Deployment, Easy to Reuse Recorded macros, Limited Flexibility, Difficult to Debug
    • Great tools for rapid deployment of simple automation applications
    • Personal time saving operations
    • They are limited in scope and flexibility.
  •  VBA / .CATvba
    • Free, Graphical User interface (Forms), Editor Provides Debugging Capability
    • Offer increased flexibility and complexity through implementation of user interface forms and modules
    • Requires a short learning curve
    • VBA Environment is Not Object Oriented
  • VB6 & VB.NET– Runs Outside of CATIA, Increased Implementation of Components and Type Libraries, Individual Module Files Makes Collaboration and Sharing Code Easier.


  • How does it work?
    • Dassault Systemes has “exposed” several CATIA objects so that they can be created, manipulated, and deleted by COM compliant applications
  • How does VB talk to CATIA?
    • dll’s – Dynamic Linked Libraries
      • These are compiled files that contain all of the functions that make CATIA V5 perform an action.
      • These files are both compiled and encrypted
      • These files are located in the UNLOAD directory for CATIA V5 (normally “c:\program files\Dassault Systemes\B20\intel_a\code\bin”)
    • tlb’s – Type Library Files
      • These files are necessary for “exposing” functions to Windows.
      • They act as maps which point to the mangled functions inside of the dll files that make CATIA V5 work.
      • The tlb files are located in the UNLOAD directory for V5.
      • Any external application needs to have access to (and reference) these type



CAA (Component Application Architecture)

  • More Powerful and Faster than VB, Harder to Learn, Provides Access to Interfaces not currently available to Visual Basic.
  • The Primary language for development is C++. Java is also supported but it not as common.

Advantages of CAA

  • Single source code for both WINDOWS and UNIX
  • New wizards like workbenches, interactive commands, dialog boxes etc., can be created
  • Add new data and behaviors on an existing feature without overloading standard behaviors
  • No specific Run time license is required
  • Customized GUI using