Preform viewer concept

I have a lot of preform files, some come up in MS Windows explorer, some don’t. I am wanting a simple viewer to see what the preform file holds, quickly, and then if I desire I can launch preform from it. this capability will enable me to waltz thru files that don’t preview, some of my files are similar. I don’t want to do more than bring it up, maybe spin it around, It would be handy to be able to print from it too. I am thinking it might be good to see what a prospective print time was or is.

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You could just pick descriptive filenames for each that says what it is… that’s what I do. Not like you don’t have 256 letters and space characters to use. :slight_smile:

Like so:


Yup I do that too, but some prints have other jobs/projects imbedded with them too.

this is typical for me, what I want to over come is the one file that shows what it is and the others don’t. I do pretty good descriptors, I just want to have a quick look.

You mean the icon being the Preform icon or the Meshmixer icon? Or the one FL icon that shows a thumbnail of the model?

I never use the “Icons” view in Windows File Explorer, so I actually didn’t know it did this. Cool.

If I look at the files that have thumbnail icons vs the ones that just show the Preform logo, I see that the ones with the logo were all created in 2020 and the ones with the thumbnails were created in 2021.

As an experiment, I opened the “87mm Frame Parts” file and then did “Save As…” and selected and overwrote the same file and viola! Now that file also shows a thumbnail.

So at a guess, if the file was saved with a recent enough version of Preform it’d show the thumbnail and if not, you have to re-save it with a recent version of Preform to get it to show a thumbnail.

Randy, yes that is the problem, I scan the directory/folder to see if the preform file is in there…yeah I am not as consistent as I should be, and then when I check dates…using details. But I want a visual reference for what is in there, like I said earlier, I mix jobs sometimes, to fill up the print. So it showing up visually has something to do with the version of preform? Are you saying preform enables this in Explorer?

Thumbnails are built-in to Windows. If the file is an image file, like JPG, Windows will generate thumbnails automatically. But other files (like a Photoshop PSD file, or I am supposing, a FORM file) aren’t handled natively by Windows. But Windows includes provision for those programs to generate their own Thumbnails. Adobe doesn’t take advantage of this, though. To get my PSD files to display thumbnails, I have to use a 3rd party program that knows how to generate them. But Windows doesn’t care who generated the thumbnail, it only cares if one is present. It looks like earlier versions of Preform didn’t generate thumbnails so those files appear as the generic icon, but at some point, Preform included an update that creates thumbnails of the FORM file. So if the file was created with that more-recent Preform (or in the case of my quick and dirty experiment, an older file is overwritten with that more-recent Preform) it gets a thumbnail that Windows displays when you look at it in Windows File Explorer.

If you just save an old file with a newer Preform I’m guessing it’s not rewriting the file in its entirety and you don’t get a thumbnail. Which is why I chose “Save As…” instead of just “Save”. “Save As…” will rewrite the file as if it’s brand new where “Save” just rewrites the data content but none of the file meta-data (which would include the thumbnail).

So if you open one of those files that doesn’t have a thumbnail with the current 3.19.0 Preform, and then “Save As…” and pick the same filename to save it as, it ought to show a thumbnail when you look at it in Explorer.

thank you, this helps me understand that part of the issue. I think I would still have a desire to have a previewer of the Form file. Ideally having the ability to do a quick look, spin around, maybe even hitting the print button to print the image on paper. Yup I know I can do the same via a couple of keyboard strokes. I am just looking at the work flow…or maybe the rework flow. Thank you all that have taken the time to read this,

I would definitely like someway to see the STL file names that comprise a .form job. We use our printers for mastering tabletop miniatures so one job has dozens of parts in various sizes that is too hard to see from the icon preview in File Explorer. Sometimes I need to verify if a part was printed months after it should have been done so if there was some way I could search a filename and see if it links to a .form would be so much easier. Especially since the icon view doesn’t always show the contents of the build plate for some reason.

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