Benefits of Fully Shattered conversion

3DVIA Composer has 2 main conversion types available: Monolythic mode and FullyShattered mode. So what is the difference between these 2 formats type? What is the best methodology when facing large data conversions? Let’s try to discover that out.

Let’s first start with some definitions:

Monolythic files are actually archive file (a .zip file) containing the structure and its associated authoring features such as labels, arrows, views, properties, animations etc… It is one single file.


FullyShattered mode represents an exploded structure. It is a 3DVIA Composer product with multiple .smgXml and .smgGeom files. SmgXML can also point to .smgSce (e.g animations) + .smgView (e.g. views). These animations and views are available for all using this smgXML



Fully-shattered assemblies have several advantages:

  • The assembly loads all its parts by reference. An assembly does not have geometry files. This keeps the file size of the main assembly small and lets you reuse parts in multiple assemblies.
  • You can load assembly parts as you need them instead of loading the entire assembly when you open it.
  • You can load parts with different levels of details. If you create your fully shattered assembly with more than one level of detail, you can choose the level of detail.
  • You can perform incremental updates. Because parts are loaded by reference, you can update only parts that have changed.

When using fully shattered format, it is always advised to create a new project and reference the top-level product XML file. But what is a Project file?

A project file .smgProj points to an .smgXML with the lower structures and geometries included, it also points to .smgSce (e.g. animations) and .smgView (e.g views) files. These animations and views will be available for all users using the smgProj-file, but do not affect the included .smgXML or .smg files.


Working with project files present several advantages:

  • It allows several users to work with the same source geometry data, since the project file is only a link to the source data.
  • All changes done within the project file are stored inside the project directory/folder not affecting the original source data.
  • It allows updates of the original source data that does not interfere with user’s saved work.
  • All updates of the source data will automatically be available/applied to the project file.
  • By creating a project file as user, you create a soft-link or a reference to the source data.


Therefore, it is easy to understand that SMG monolythic file format should basically be used for small data/minimal number of files whereas FullyShattered associated to project files is the best way to manage large data assemblies.

Gordon Benson from NACCO Materials Handling Group explained that the decision to choose fullyShattered Vs Monolythic mode “really depends on your use case and how your business operates. For our company we replaced a different visualization tool with Composer specifically because the other tool did not support shattered structure. For us the benefits are significant over a monolithic file not only in terms of administration, automatic updates whenever the file is opened, and how we use Composer in a distributed global company.”


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