Parent page: Working with Managed Components
The number of design components available to an engineer when capturing their next design can vary from a few hundred scattered across individual symbol and model libraries, through to hundreds of thousands, stored in a dedicated c ompany parts database. But no matter how many components are available to hand, there will always be more that aren't, and that need to be created and added for reuse.
For a small design house, an engineer will simply change 'hats' and become the Librarian - whipping up required components that are missing from their design arsenal. However, for a larger organization that employs a dedicated library department to grow and maintain the design components - accessible to all engineers and designers in that organization - it makes sense to submit requests for new (missing) components to that department. Providing an elegant solution to this, Altium Designer, in conjunction with your managed content server, offer the Part Requests feature.
An engineer can simply put in a request for one or more parts to be created, and get notified when that request has either been completed, and the component(s) made available, or rejected (and why). The requestor supplies as much key informat ion to support their request as possible (manufacturer and part number(s), description(s), any relevant datasheet (PDF or URL)). Stub Component Items can even be created that the librarian can then run with (and finish off).
Creating Part Requests
Part Requests can be created and maintained within Altium Designer, through the Explorer panel.
Adding a Request
Use the controls in the dialog to supply as much information as possible:
- Manufacturer - this is a mandatory field to indicate to the librarian who actually makes the part.
- Manufacturer Part Numbers - this is a mandatory field indicating to the librarian the specific part number(s) of the parts you need them to make. Multiple part numbers must be separated by a comma (,).
- Description - this field can be used to give a rich description of the part (typically taken from the manufacturer datasheet).
- Request Id - an ID is automatically generated with, and assigned to, the request, enabling users to easily track the request's progress.
- Required To Date - use this field to specify the date by which you need the component(s) to be ready. Either type the date directly (in the format dd/mm/yyyy) or click the button to the right to access a pop-up calendar window, with which to specify the required date.
- State - this read-only field is used to specify the status of the request. The default state for a new request is New.
- Assignee - this field shows which librarian is currently working on the request. The drop-down field lists all server users who are part of the nominated Librarian role(s), the latter of which is nominated through the relevant admin page of the server's browser interface.
- Component Type - this field can be used to specify the type of component being requested. The drop-down list will include all types currently defined on the Data Management - Component Types page of the Preferences dialog.
- Attachments - this area can be used to attach any useful files related to the requested part. For example a PDF datasheet, an image, or a document. Click the button to locate the file(s) through a standard dialog.
- Part List - use this area to specify any existing Component Item(s) in the managed content server, which you have created as temporary stub components. Click the button and browse for the required Item accordingly. The librarian can then run with this to fulfil the request. If no stub part exists, the librarian will simply create a new Component Item in the server, along with requisite domain model Items (if they do not already exist).
- Parameters - this area can be used to add a set of specific parameters required for the part(s). Click the button and use the subsequent fields to provide a name and value for the parameter. If no parameters are specified, the librarian will likely fall back to addition of the parameters in a related datasheet for that part, in accordance with organizational policy.
Once all information is defined as required - and essentially the Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers (which are mandatory) - click the OK button to effect creation of the request.
Viewing Part Requests
At any time, a user can view the part requests that they were responsible for initiating (Requestor), or are responsible for working on (Librarian). This can be performed from the Explorer panel. For both the originator of a part request (Requester) and the user(s) defined in roles associated to the Librarian role (Librarians), requests are presented through the Explorer panel using a dedicated Part Requests folder.
Example Part Requests in the Part Requests folder. A user will see the parts they have requested. A librarian will see the parts that they have been assigned to work on, as well as those that have yet to be assigned.
Selecting a request in the upper region will display an information stream in the lower region. This information provides a running summary of any event occurring in relation to that request, including any comments made by the requestor or librarian. Each entry in the stream consists of the following elements:
- Created At - the date and time at which the event took place.
- Created By - the user responsible for the event (either the requestor, or a librarian).
- Description - an entry that consists of an auto-generated message, along with any comment included by the requestor/librarian.
Editing an Existing Part Request
To edit an existing part request, either double-click on its entry in the upper region, or select it and choose the Edit command from the region's right-click context menu.
Accessing the dialog with which to edit an existing part request.
Make changes as required, then click OK.
Controlling Data Display
Take a look at the following sections for more information on working with the data presented in the Part Requests folder.
Each column in the view corresponds to a specific field of the part request. Configuration of which columns are displayed - so which information is presented - is performed from the Select Columns dialog. Access this dialog by right-clicking within the column headers area and choosing the Select Columns command from the context menu that appears.
The Select Columns dialog is control central for defining which data is presented in the Part Requests folder.
The order of the columns is customizable. Click on a column's header and drag it horizontally to the required new position. Valid positions are highlighted by vertical positional arrows.
Part Requests can be grouped based on any of the visible column headings. To do this, click and hold on a column header, then drag and drop it onto the text that says
Drag a column header here to group by that column.
An example of customized grouping (by the Assignee column).
Part requests can be sorted by a specific column by clicking on that column's header. Click once to sort in ascending order (based on the content of that column). Click again to sort in descending order.
You can sort by multiple columns. With the part requests already sorted by a specific column, Shift+click on another column to 'sub-sort' by the content of that column.
The right-click context menu for the upper region also contains the following useful commands when working with part requests:
- Operations » Create Component - this command allows you to quickly create a shell Component Item from the part request, giving the assigned Librarian a starting point with which to craft the required managed component. The temporary Component Editor will open in Altium Designer in its Single Component Editing mode - ready for direct editing of the component. Information from the part request is taken as applicable (e.g. parameteric data). Complete the component's definition, add domain models, and release.
- Operations » Export Data - this command allows you to export the data from the upper region. The Select columns for data export dialog will appear. Use this to determine the data you wish to export. The dialog contains all possible columns for the grid, with those that are currently displayed in the panel enabled for export by default. After clicking OK, the standard Windows Save As dialog will appear. Use the dialog to define where, and with what name, the exported file is to be saved. Use the Save as type field to choose the format of file - either Comma-Separated Values Files (*.csv), or Excel Files (*.xls).
- Close » Completed - can be used (typically) by the librarian to quickly mark the part request as being complete, without having to open the request for editing.
- Close » Rejected - can be used (typically) by the librarian to quickly reject the part request, without having to open the request for editing.
- Close » Cancelled - can be used by the librarian (or requestor) to quickly cancel the part request, without having to open the request for editing.