New in Altium Vault

Modified by Jason Howie on Aug 29, 2017

Altium Vault 3.0

Released: 16 November 2016 - Version: 3.0.5 (build 246)
Released: 05 December 2016 - Version: 3.0.6 (build 270)
Released: 28 December 2016 - Version: 3.0.7 (build 348)
Released: 08 February 2017 - Version: 3.0.8 (build 397)
Released: 13 February 2017 - Version: 3.0.9 (build 414)
Released: 29 March 2017 - Version: 3.0.10 (build 478)
Released: 26 May 2017 - Version: 3.0.11 (build 562)
Released: 16 August 2017 - Version: 3.0.13 (build 659)

This release sees further beneficial enhancements to the Altium Vault and its related technologies. In addition, numerous fixes have been made to resolve issues raised by customers through the AltiumLive Community.

While the Altium Vault 3.0 installer includes automated backup of your existing vault, it is always a good idea to make a pre-update backup of your data yourself - taking a redundancy copy off to one side as it were. This provides additional safety, should any unforeseen technical difficulties arise. It is advised to test out a new release of the Altium Vault on a different machine, before updating your production instance. Use of Virtual Machines can be invaluable in this respect.

Enhanced Part Information Services

Altium Designer 17.0 and the Altium Vault (version 3.0) provide a re-engineered system for making real-world design part choices, based on an updated Part Catalog Vault service and a new aggregated supplier data source, the Altium Parts Provider. The new Altium Parts Provider offers a rich source of live parts information from an expanded list of external suppliers, while for those sourcing parts from a company parts database system, the Vault’s new Custom Database Provider interface delivers a simplified, Wizard-driven approach for connecting to a company’s internal Parts Database. Note that the Vault’s upgraded Part Catalog system for storing manufacturer/supplier data is not compatible with previous versions of Altium Designer, and Altium Designer’s new approach to handling Part Choices is not compatible with previous versions of the Altium Vault.

Improvements to the Team Configuration Center Service (Environment Configurations)

Altium Vault 3.0 brings with it a refurbished browser-based interface to the Team Configuration Center. Remember that the role of the Team Configuration Center is to give the organization centralized control over the environment its designers operate in. It achieves this through the definition and management of Environment Configurations. These are used to constrain each designer's Altium Designer working environment to only use company-ratified design elements, including schematic templates, output job configuration files, and workspace preferences. Not only has the interface been refurbished, but there are also a few newcomer Data Items that can be defined as part of a configuration - BOM Templates, Layer Stacks, and Project Templates.

Browser-based Lifecycle Management

Altium Vault 3.0 delivers the ability to define and manage your vault's lifecycle definitions through its browser-based interface, complementing the ability to already do this through Altium Designer. And providing better visibility of the states and transitions involved, each lifecycle is built in a graphical way, showing at-a-glance the flows involved. Many of the management controls you are accustomed to from the Edit Lifecycle Definitions dialog are present, but in a far more intuitive setting, allowing you to quickly build and modify your definitions with streamlined ease.

True Windows Authentication

Altium Vault 3.0, in conjunction with Altium Designer 17.0, provides the ability to sign in to your Altium Vault using your active Windows session credentials. No longer do you have to specify the domain as part of logging in, you simply enable an option, and the system logs you in based on the credentials already supplied to access your computer - true Windows authentication.

Altium Vault Health Monitor

The Altium Vault 3.0 release includes a comprehensive Vault Health Monitor tool that allows Administrators to quickly ascertain and analyze the condition, or ‘health’, of a local Altium Vault. Provided as a stand-alone, independent application, the Health Monitor delivers a visual summary of the state of the host machine, the Vault storage system and the Vault Services. The tool also includes context related hints, information and paths to important locations and log files, which allows Vault Administrators to preemptively detect and resolve any issues that may affect Vault users.

Support for the use of a Proxy Server

For a company that accesses the internet through a proxy server, proxy configuration information can now be defined for an Altium Vault - post installation. This enables Vault Services to successfully connect with internet-based services through the company's proxy server, as and when required, such as when acquiring content from the cloud-based Altium Content Vault through use of the Content Cart (Data Acquisition Service).


Enhancements to Working with an Altium Vault

Certain new features are vault-based, but are accessed as part of designing with Altium Designer. They are therefore documented for, and reside in, the Altium Designer documentation space. After all, this is information you need to have at your fingertips as you design. While these features and enhancements are summarily listed as part of the New In Altium Designer page, they are listed here also, for convenience.

While connection to Altium Vault 3.0 is possible from previous versions of Altium Designer, users are encouraged to update to the latest version of Altium Designer - especially where vault enhancements relate to changes to the user interface within Altium Designer (such as the Vaults panel).

Support for BOM Templates

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later), caters for the ability to create and manage Excel-based BOM Template Items in an Altium Vault. Such Items are created directly within the target vault, with the relevant Excel template file (*xls, *.xlsx, *.xlt, *.xltx) uploaded to a revision of a target item. A managed BOM Template Item can only be used as a configuration data item in one or more defined Environment Configurations.

Ability to Manage Layer Stacks

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later), caters for the ability to create and manage Layerstack Items in an Altium Vault. Such Items can be created directly within the target vault, or through release of the current stack definition, in the PCB Editor's Layer Stack Manager dialog. In addition, a managed Layerstack Item can be used as a configuration data item in one or more defined Environment Configurations.

Support for Project Templates

Altium Designer 17.0, in conjunction with the Altium Vault (3.0 or later), offers the ability to release Altium Designer Projects directly into the Altium Vault as Project Templates, which subject to Vault administrative constraints, then become available for reuse in future Altium Designer projects. Project Templates stored in the Vault are fully version controlled and lifecycle-managed, and can include the common document and file types that make up an Altium Designer Project, including additional reference documentation and configuration files.

Ability to Store Component Datasheets

Altium Designer 17.0, in conjunction with Altium Vault 3.0 brings the ability to store component datasheets within an Altium Vault and, in doing so, link them to target Component Items. This allows you to more fully describe and support a component, in a centralized fashion, while reducing the reliance on external storage mediums (shared network drives for example). Storing datasheets next to the very items that need to reference them also means you no longer need to have a live internet connection, to consult a reference document that can often, and frustratingly, disappear without warning at the whim of the hosting website!

Support for Draftsman-related Templates

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later), caters for the ability to create and manage Draftsman Template Items - Draftsman Document Template and Draftsman Sheet Template - in an Altium Vault. Such Items are created directly within the target vault. Once a Draftsman Template Item has been created (and data released into a revision of it), and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, it can be reused in future board-level design projects, when creating Draftsman documents (*.PCBDwf) .

Support for Scripts

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later), provides the capability of releasing Script Projects into the Altium Vault where they can then be accessed on a permission basis by Altium Designer users. The Vault-based Script Projects can be opened directly from the Vault, loaded as permanently available projects, used in Custom menu commands, or assigned to Preferences that are controlled by the Vault’s Environment Configuration service. This also allows an organization to manage and distribute ratified, custom script projects to Altium Designer users through administrative control.

Ability to Define the Default Footprint for a Vault Component

Altium Designer 17.0, in conjunction with Altium Vault 3.0, brings the ability to specify a default footprint model to be used for a vault component. This is especially useful, and needed, for components that use multiple footprint models, allowing you to get the footprint you need, by default, when the component is placed into a design (rather than one picked at random).

Support for Multiple Footprints in a Component Template

Altium Designer 17.0, in conjunction with the Component Template Editor extension, brings support for defining multiple PCB footprints as part of a Component Template. Any number of footprint model links may be specified, and this will be a welcome feature for those wishing to create components that reference 3 footprints, satisfying the IPC requirements for different density levels (L (least or minimum copper), M (most, or maximum copper), and N (nominal, or median copper)).

Support for non-Native Design Files as Part of Release

Altium Designer 17.0, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later), provides an expanded range of files that can be included when a design is released to the Vault.  Files such as PDFs, word processing documents, images files, testing log files etc are added to an OutJob’s PostProcess Output, and will be then included in the release and accepted by the Altium Vault. As this allows any file to be added to an OutJob, native Altium Designer files can also be included in specific release categories such as Fabrication or Assembly data.

Managed Projects Usability Improvements

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later), provides an improved approach to creating and working with Altium Designer Managed Projects and the release of their manufacturing output data. Altium Designer works with Managed Projects by providing simplified, direct access to the Vault-based project data, and also offers a host of advanced new project management features. Within the Vault, a Managed Project is inherently associated with its released production data, with both the design source and manufacturing output available from a single unified location.

Streamlined Migration of Existing Libraries to an Altium Vault

Altium Designer, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 or later) provides a streamlined, simple process to quickly migrate your existing libraries to an Altium Vault. The GUI to this process - the Library Migrator view - presents an intuitive flow that takes initial selected libraries, and migrates them to a target Altium Vault. Catering for all types of libraries, relating to older component management methodologies - SCHLIB, PCBLIB, INTLIB, DBLIB, SVNDBLIB - the Library Migrator is the perfect solution to quickly building your company's set of vault components, and the many benefits that such components enjoy (high-integrity, lifecycle management, centralized storage and managtement, where-used functionality, ease of design resuse). And while the migration process can be configured - giving you enhanced control over how that migration is performed - at its most simplistic, you can simply accept the default settings and set the migration in motion within a matter of clicks.

New Document Defaults from Vault and Enhanced Preferences Release

The Altium Vault (3.0 or later) offers the ability to store and manage a wide range of Altium Designer document Templates, which when set to suitable Permission and Lifecycle states, can be reused in future designs.  In Altium Designer 17.0, templates hosted in the vault (as Managed Templates) can be manually applied to Altium Designer documents, set as the default template for new Altium Designer documents, and be included in Preferences that are released to the Vault and then reapplied through the Team Configuration center.

Ability to Acquire Vault Data in IntLib Format

Altium Designer 17.0, in conjunction with Altium Vault (3.0 and later), delivers a powerful enhancement to the Content Cart. You now have the ability to acquire components from your local Altium Vault, into an Integrated Library (*.IntLib). And when placing components from such an Integrated Library, the actual links are back to the Component Items in the vault. This gives you the ability to effectively use your company's vault components in an offline fashion, while ensuring the design still maintains a true connection to those components in the source vault.

Item Manager Enhancements

Altium Designer 17.0, in conjunction with the Altium Vault (3.0 and later), offers the ability to update board design components to Vault-sourced Managed Components using advanced Parameter matching in the Item Manager. The ‘automatching’ process uses a highly configurable Rule system to target suitable Component Item Revisions in the Vault, which are then updated to the board via an Engineering Change Order. The Item Manager provides a fast and effective way to convert a PCB project to one that uses fully managed library components from a centralized Altium Vault.

Checking for Outdated Components as Part of Project Compilation

Altium Designer 17.0 brings the ability to check whether the revisions of placed vault components are the latest available. This ability - essentially validating that vault components in a design are all up-to-date and using the latest revisions of their parent Component Items - can be checked as part of project compilation. At the heart of this checking is the Component revision is Out of Date violation type, part of the category: Violations Associated with Components. Configure the reporting mode for this check on the Error Reporting tab of the Project Options dialog.

Additional Enhancements & Improvements

Altium Designer 17.0 delivers a number of additional performance-related enhancements and improvements, related to working with an Altium Vault, including:

  • Streamlined access to an Altium Vault.
  • The ability to sign in to an Altium Vault using the same credentials, on different computers.
  • The ability to export grid data, from the Vaults panel, to a csv- or Excel-formatted file.
  • The ability to create a shell component from a Part Request.
  • Vault folder naming scheme inheritance.
  • The ability to search for components using footprint data.

 

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