Parent page: Getting Familiar with the Altium Design Environment
Design space panels are essential elements of the Altium Designer environment. Whether specific to a particular document editor or used on a more global, system-wide level, they present information and controls that aid productivity and allow you to design more efficiently.
When the software is first started, a number of panels will already be open. Some panels, including the Projects panel and Navigator panel, will appear grouped and docked to the left side of the application window. Others, including the Components panel, will be in pop-out mode and appear as buttons on the right-hand border of the application window.
At the bottom-right of the application window, the Panels button provides quick access to the available design space panels in context with the document editor you are currently using.
Click on an entry in the menu to open the corresponding panel. If a panel is open but not visible, for example, it is an inactive panel in a group of docked panels, or it is currently in pop-out mode, click its entry in the menu to make it visible and it will become the active panel.
Depending on the particular document editor that is currently active, a large number of panels may be accessible or open at any given time. To facilitate the layout and use of multiple panels in the design space, various panel display modes and management features are provided.
Three different display modes are supported for panels:
In this mode, a panel can be docked horizontally or vertically within the main application window. Right-click on a panel's title bar (or tab) and choose Allow Dock from the context menu to configure its docking capability - Horizontally and/or Vertically. When docking vertically, a panel will dock to the right or left of the main design space. When docking horizontally, a panel will dock either above the main design space (and below the main menus) or below the main design space (and above the Status Bar).
This mode is essentially an extension of the standard docked mode. A docked panel can be put into this mode by clicking on the pin symbol next to the panel's close cross. The pin symbol will change to indicate the mode.
In this mode, a panel will appear as a button on the application border, giving back valuable design space. Moving the cursor over the panel button will result in the panel sliding out from the border. Moving the cursor away from the panel will cause it to slide back again.
In this mode, a panel can be placed anywhere within or outside of the design environment. This is the standard opening mode for panels that have not been previously placed in docked or popup mode.
A floating panel positioned over the editing area of the main design space can also be made transparent when carrying out an interactive operation in the design space in accordance with options defined on the System - Transparency page of the Preferences dialog.
These options allow for making such panels (and toolbars, for that matter) transparent immediately when launching an interactive editing process. You can also make the transparency dynamic so that floating entities become more transparent as the cursor approaches as illustrated below.
Panels may be grouped by dragging and dropping one panel on top of another. Two modes of grouping panels are supported:
The resulting display of the group depends on where you drop the panel being added. If you drop it on the center of the target panel, it will become a tabbed group. If you drop the moving panel onto one of the small arrows that appear on each edge of the target panel, it will become a fractal group.
To group a panel with other panels in tabbed fashion:
Once grouped, use the small down arrow at the top-right of the panel grouping to change the visible panel. Alternatively, make another panel in the group the visible panel by clicking directly on its tab. The order of the panels in a tabbed group of panels can be changed at any time by clicking on a panel's tab then drag to the left or right as required. A positional arrow will appear marking the position in the group order at which the panel will be placed when the mouse button is released.
This mode displays a set of panels as a fractal grouping with multiple panels in the group visible at the same time. Fractal grouping is similar to horizontal/vertical tiling of open windows. You can drag a panel to dock it within another panel essentially tiling them. A fractal grouping can consist of individual panels and/or standard tabbed panels.
To group a panel with other panels in fractal fashion:
Move the cursor over the required icon. Only that side of the target panel will become shaded, indicating where in relation to the target panel the source panel will appear.
Drop the source panel (release the mouse button) to group the panels together.
To make a panel active in a fractal grouping, click on it. If the required panel is part of a tabbed grouping within the overall fractal structure, make it visible/active either by clicking on its corresponding tab or by choosing the required panel from the menu associated with the small down arrow at the top-right of the panel grouping.
The following points relate to moving design space panels within the Altium Designer environment.
A panel can be closed by:
When in floating mode, a panel (or grouping of panels) can be maximized by right-clicking in its caption bar (or on its tab, where available) and choosing the Maximize entry from the context menu. To restore a maximized panel (or grouping of panels) back to its original size, right-click in its caption bar (or tab) and choose the Restore command from the context menu. Alternatively, double-click in the caption bar to toggle between maximized and restored state.
You can save and reload panel arrangements and also reset them to the installation defaults using the buttons available for layouts in the Desktop region on the System - View page of the Preferences dialog.
For example, to reset all panels back to their default locations and visibility, click the button.