Everything you ever wanted to know about openBoM data properties

openBoM uses a simple Excel like paradigm to define BOM data. As a user, you create properties and add them to a BOM or inventory (part catalog). Properties are similar to spreadsheet columns making them easy to understand and intuitive to use.

However, we went one step further than mere columns in spreadsheets. There are seven predefined property types. Some of them are straight-forward such as Number and Text, others require some clarification.


The Checkbox property is indeed just that, a simple checkbox. It is useful for sign-offs in collaborative situations and to get and record confirmation for approvals. Another use case is creating an approval dashboard as part of your BOM and sharing it with your contractor or supplier.


The List property offers users a predefined list of values to choose from. You create a List property using the openBoM dialog window which is part of the user interface. You can determine the order of the list and change their values at any time.

Multi-selection list

The Multi-selection list property is similar to the List property. However, you can select more than one value in the list.


The Reference property is a generic URL reference with a label. You use it as a link to an online catalog, a document in Google doc, an Onshape document, or anything else that is accessible via a simple URL link.


Use the Image property to load images for preview within your BOM. You can add as many image properties to BOM or Inventory Item as required. For most CAD packages, openBoM automatically extracts thumbnail images of components.

Private and Public properties

As part of it’s core design principle, openBoM is all about how to improve data sharing among users, teams, and other organizations involved in the manufacturing process. To help share data openBoM provides shareable property definitions. This means you can share and use the same properties in your BOM as a team or organization. By doing so, you improve the way information is shared now, in later projects as well as improving collaboration functions offered by openBoM. The easiest way to share property definitions is to make them “public”. This means, everyone using openBoM has access to these ‘public’ properties.

If you prefer to share a property definition with a limited number of users, you can use the private property table to limit access to these properties. A private property table can be shared with others. By doing so you limit these definition to your organization and/or team.

Find a complete explanation of Public and Private properties in our documentation site, here.

One final point I’d like to add regarding properties. We are working on an improved user interface (property dialog) to define and manage properties. We hope to have something available, soon, which I will share with you.


openBoM Properties are a powerful yet flexible way to define data in your BOM.

The spreadsheet column paradigm deployed helps you define new data elements as required whilst not overloading our users with administration functions. We plan to offer some simple yet effective administration functions in future releases.

So what do you think about openBoM properties? Is there anything missing property definition you’d like to see us add? Please let me know.

Best, Oleg @ openbom.com

PS. We should know each other better. If you live in a Greater Boston, please let’s have a meeting (coffee is on me). If you’re located in other places, let’s have a virtual coffee session — I will figure out how to send you a real coffee for our virtual coffee session.