Parent page: Workspace Configuration
Altium NEXUS's Explorer panel provides a direct interface to your connected Workspace. From the Explorer panel, you can perform many activities, including:
- Create and manage the organizational structure used in the Workspace
- Create any number of Items, each representative of a design object
- Review and manage the lifecycle of Item revisions
- Interrogate the usage of a particular Item revision (Where-Used)
- Browse and manage supply chain information for Component Items
This page pulls together some tips, tricks, and cool functionality that may otherwise be missed amongst the feature-rich environment of the panel. Think of this page more as a 'crib sheet', presenting a collection of features that can really enhance your productivity when working with the Explorer panel.
The Explorer panel provides a direct interface to your Workspace from within Altium NEXUS.
Changing the Browsable Workspace
The Explorer panel can only interface to one Workspace at a time. The field at the top-left of the panel indicates the currently active Workspace – the Workspace whose content you will be able to browse and modify. To select a different Workspace, click on the Workspace name and choose a different Workspace from those currently connected.
Access controls for changing the browsable Workspace.
Folder Content Loading
When you click on any folder within the Server Folders structure region of the Explorer panel, only a portion of that folder content will be initially loaded, where applicable to do so. This greatly decreases the folder's initial load time. As you scroll to the end of the initial content, an additional portion of the folder content will be loaded.
Moving Folders and Items
One or more Workspace folders, or Items within a folder, can be quickly moved using the drag and drop technique:
- Folders – select the folder(s) to be moved (using standard Ctrl+Click, or Shift+Click techniques), then click, drag, and drop the selected folder(s) at the required place in the structure, as indicated by a horizontal indicator.
- Items – select the Item(s) to be moved (using standard Ctrl+Click, Shift+Click, or Ctrl+A techniques), then click, drag, and drop the selected Item(s) onto a different folder in the structure.
Drag & Drop Placement
Placement of certain Workspace Items into a PCB design project in Altium NEXUS is streamlined with the ability to drag & drop revisions of these Item types onto the active (and applicable) document, directly from the Explorer panel. Support is available to drag:
- A revision of a Component Item onto the active schematic document (or PCB document). The applicable model for the chosen domain will appear floating on the cursor accordingly.
- A revision of a Managed Schematic Sheet Item onto the active schematic document. A sheet symbol that references the sheet will float attached to the cursor.
- A revision of a 3D Model Item onto a PCB or PCB Library document, creating a 3D Body object that references that Item Revision.
Browse your Workspace for the required Item to be placed. Placement involves a specific revision of that Item, so be sure to expand the main Item entry to list all of its available revisions (click the button at the top-right of the panel and disable the Show only latest option to see all previous revisions). Then click on the required revision and drag an instance of it onto the design document.
In addition, Altium NEXUS supports access to, and placement of components from, the Components panel. For more information, see the section Placement from the Components Panel, on the page Working with Components.
Batch Download of Items
The Explorer panel supports the ability to select multiple Items in a Workspace, and have the source entities for those Items downloaded, en masse, into a newly created single source library or folder, as applicable. The following Item types are supported by this feature:
- Symbols – with the selected symbols downloaded into a Schematic Library (
- Footprints – with the selected 2D/3D component models downloaded into a PCB Library (
- Components – with the selected components downloaded into a Zip archive file containing source symbol and model libraries, and a source Integrated Library Package (
- Simulation Model Items – with the released data applicable to each Item in the selection (
*.ckt) downloaded to a separate sub-folder.
To download multiple schematic symbols:
- Browse to the Workspace folder containing the symbols of interest.
- Select the symbols required for download, using standard multi-select controls (Ctrl+Click, Shift+Click).
- Right-click on the selection and choose the Operations » Download selected symbol in library command.
- Use the Choose destination file dialog to determine where, and with what name, the new Schematic Library file is to be generated.
- Click Save – the SchLib will be created, with progress displayed in a dedicated Downloading dialog.
Once the download is complete, the Downloading dialog provides the ability to explore the downloaded content within Windows Explorer (click Explore), or to open the library within Altium NEXUS (click Open).
To download multiple footprints:
- Browse to the Workspace folder containing the footprints of interest.
- Select the footprints required for download, using standard multi-select controls (Ctrl+Click, Shift+Click).
- Right-click on the selection and choose the Operations » Download selected footprint in library command.
- Use the Choose destination file dialog to determine where, and with what name, the new PCB Library file is to be generated.
- Click Save – the PcbLib will be created, with progress displayed in a dedicated Downloading dialog.
Once the download is complete, the Downloading dialog provides the ability to explore the downloaded content within Windows Explorer (click Explore), or to open the library within Altium NEXUS (click Open).
To download multiple components:
- Browse to the Workspace folder containing the components you want to download.
- Select the revision of the component(s) you want to include in the download. You can only choose one revision of a particular component (typically the latest revision) but can include as many different components in the download as required.
- Right-click on an entry in the selection and choose the Operations » Download selected component to zip command from the context menu.
- In the Save As dialog, specify the name, and location, for the generated Zip file. By default, the file will be named in the format
Components - <Date> - <Time>.zip.
- Once ready, click the Save button to proceed with the download, and generation of the Zip file. An Integrated Library Package (
*.LibPkg) will be created, with source SchLib (with symbols, parameters, and model links) and PcbLib (with footprint models) files generated and added. This is then compressed into the Zip file, which is generated in the specified folder. An information dialog will confirm successful generation of the file.
To download multiple simulation models:
- Browse to the Workspace folder containing the simulation models of interest.
- Select the simulation models required for download, using standard multi-select controls (Ctrl+Click, Shift+Click).
- Right-click on the selection and choose the Operations » Download selected sim model to folder command.
- Use the Browse For Folder dialog to determine the parent download folder for the models.
- Click OK – the download will proceed, with progress displayed in a dedicated Downloading dialog.
Once the download is complete, the Downloading dialog provides the ability to explore the downloaded content within Windows Explorer (click Explore).
Batch Lifecycle State Changes
Related page: Defining Lifecycle Definitions for a Workspace
All of the design Items stored in your Workspace have a Lifecycle State. The lifecycle state is used to reflect the readiness of that Item for use, for example, an Item might be
New From Design,
In Production, or
Deprecated. The lifecycle state of multiple Items can be changed in a single batch process.
To perform a batch change:
- Select the required Items in the Explorer panel.
- Right-click and choose the Operations » Change state command from the context menu.
- The Batch state change dialog will open. The Next State column will default to the next lifecycle state for each Item involved. This can be changed on an individual Item basis, but editing of multiple selected entries in the column is also supported, for quickly setting the required state across Items.
- Once the Next State has been set as required, click the Process button to effect the lifecycle state changes.
- A Confirm dialog will appear, enter a comment if required (this is stored as part of the Item History) and click Yes to complete the batch lifecycle state change.
An example of quickly changing the lifecycle state of two components.
Further improving the usability of Workspaces, the Explorer panel supports clickable URLs. This functionality can be found in a variety of relevant areas, including:
- Clicking on a component parameter whose value is a URL, opening the target page in an external web browser.
- Clicking on a URL in the supply chain data for a component, opening the target page in an external web browser.
- Clicking on a document in the Released Documents region – from the Preview aspect view tab for a revision of a PCB Fabrication Data Item, PCB Assembly Data Item, or PCB Project Design Item – to open that document.
For a released component in a Workspace, the Preview aspect view tab presents a region for that component's parameters. For a parameter whose value is a URL – such as a datasheet, package specification, or manufacturer's website - click the URL to open it in an external web browser.
Example clickable Parameter URLs on the Preview aspect view tab for a Component Item in the Explorer panel.
Each released component in a Workspace can have defined supply chain data, in the form of Part Choices. These are presented on the Part Choices aspect view tab. The actual supply chain intelligence is sourced from the Workspace's local Part Catalog and the relevant Part Source – either the aggregate parts database of the Altium Parts Provider (which itself interfaces to, and gathers the parts from, enabled Suppliers), or a linked local parts database (a Part Source configured as a Custom Database Parts Provider, and where supported by your specific type of the Workspace). Clickable URLs associated with each part choice are:
- Manufacturer Name and Manufacturer Part Number – a clickable link to the Octopart website, providing detailed information on that manufacturer part.
- Supplier part number (in an SPN tile) – a clickable link to that part on the supplier's website.
Click a URL to open it in an external web browser.
Example clickable URLs associated with a defined Part Choice for a component in the Workspace.
Support for Multi-Part Components
When viewing the symbol for a multi-part component, the Preview aspect view tab will present each part – each with its own distinct symbol graphic – as a separate tab. In addition, the Place menu will present a sub-menu of all applicable parts that can be placed for that component.
Browse to the multi-part Component Item of interest, in the Workspace, and ensure the Preview aspect view tab is active. Each distinct part's symbol can be browsed in the symbol viewing region. Click on a tab along the bottom to switch between parts.
Browsing the parts of a multi-part component, at the component level.
Double-click on the entry for the child symbol to browse the constituent parts for the component at the symbol level. Again, ensure the Preview aspect view tab is active.
Browsing the parts of a multi-part component, at the child symbol level.
When placing a revision of a multi-part component onto a schematic sheet, right-clicking on the revision's entry and hovering over the Place command on the menu will present a sub-menu containing all parts for that component. Select the required part to place.
A placement sub-menu offers all parts in a multi-part component.
Ability to Copy-Paste Workspace Folder Structure
Adding greater flexibility to the management of your Workspace content, the Explorer panel provides the ability to copy and paste a folder (and its descendant structure). This essentially allows you to quickly clone areas of your Workspace folder structure, which can prove a real time-saver when readying your Workspace for a deluge of component data, for example, where the structure is similar, with a parent folder and sub-folders for the various domain models.
To use this feature:
- Select a folder in your existing folder structure, whose structure you wish to copy.
- Right-click and choose the Operations » Copy Folder Structure command from the context menu.
- Select the folder under which you want the cloned folder structure to be pasted.
- Right-click and choose the Operations » Paste Folder Structure command from the context menu.
Once pasted, you can make adjustments to the cloned folder structure as required.
Item Revision Comparison
Using the power of Altium NEXUS's native file format comparison technology, the Workspace supports the visual comparison of two revisions – of the same, or different Items – for a range of supported content types, directly from within the Explorer panel. Revisions of Items of the following content types can be compared:
- Component Item
- Symbol Item
- Footprint Item
- Managed Schematic Sheet Item
- Schematic Template Item
- PCB Fabrication Data Item
- PCB Assembly Data Item
- PCB Project Design Item
Within the Explorer panel, browse to the relevant folder, select the two Item-Revisions that you wish to compare, then right-click and choose Operations » Compare from the context menu.
When comparing two Component Item revisions, after clicking Compare a sequence of events takes place:
- The referenced Footprint Item revisions are compared.
- The referenced Symbol Item revisions are compared.
- The parametric data for the two Component Item revisions are compared.
The results of the comparison are presented in the Compare component revisions dialog.
Example comparison of two revisions of a component.
The dialog is divided into three distinct sections, showing the results of comparison for the parametric data, footprints, and symbols. If values for parameters are not identical, they will be highlighted with a reddish background. For footprints and symbols, the text will either state they are Identical or Not identical.
When comparing two revisions of Symbol Items, after clicking Compare a graphical comparison is made and any differences that are detected will be listed in the Differences panel. The SchLib documents for the two revisions are opened within the design space – by displaying them side by side in the design editor window, you can peruse the differences graphically. Clicking on a top-level folder for a detected difference will highlight that difference on both documents simultaneously.
Example comparison of two revisions of a symbol.
When comparing two revisions of Footprint Items, after clicking Compare a graphical comparison is made and the differences detected are listed in the Compare Components dialog.
Example comparison of two revisions of a footprint. The source libraries are not opened in the design space – previews of the footprints are included here to show the differences that actually exist.
The footprint is divided up into square cells and each cell has been analyzed for the differences. Cells where differences exist are shown in full color, with the differences highlighted. The layer tabs show how many primitive objects have differences for each layer that was compared, and clicking on a tab allows you to browse the differences more thoroughly.
When comparing two revisions of Managed Schematic Sheet Items, after clicking Compare a graphical comparison is made and the differences detected are listed in the Differences panel. The SchDoc documents for the two revisions are opened within the design space – by displaying them side by side in the design editor window, you can peruse the differences graphically. Clicking on a top-level folder for a detected difference will highlight that difference on both documents simultaneously.
Example comparison of two revisions of a Managed Schematic Sheet Item.
When comparing two revisions of Schematic Template Items, after clicking Compare a graphical comparison is made and the differences detected are listed in the Differences panel. The SchDot documents for the two revisions are opened within the design space – by displaying them side by side in the design editor window, you can peruse the differences graphically. Clicking on a top-level folder for a detected difference will highlight that difference on both documents simultaneously.
Example comparison of revisions of two different Schematic Template Items.
When comparing two revisions of a PCB Fabrication Data Item, PCB Assembly Data Item, or PCB Project Design Item, the results of the comparison will be presented in the Compare Project Revisions dialog. This will simply be a comparison of the generated file structure, and a check of the files within that structure. Color-coded options are used to show files that have changed, or not changed, and those that have been added, or removed. Enable/disable to toggle the display of these entries.
Example comparison of two revisions of a PCB Assembly Data Item.
Ability to Clone Workspace Content
The Explorer panel provides the ability to clone a variety of Workspace Items. So rather than creating that required component, domain model, schematic sheet, or template from scratch, you can simply clone it. Direct Editing ensures any required changes – to a copy of the source data from the original Item Revision – is a streamlined affair, with the resulting changes released into an initial revision of a new Item of the same type. Done and dusted in record time, you can quickly expand your Workspace content without facing a blank canvas.
The following content types can be cloned:
- Simulation Model
- Component Template
- Managed Schematic Sheet
- Schematic Template
- Project Template
- Draftsman Document Template
- Draftsman Sheet Template
The command to clone one of the supported content types is accessed from the Explorer panel in the following ways:
- By right-clicking over the entry for the source Item-Revision, and choosing the Operations » Clone command from the context menu.
- By selecting the entry for the source Item-Revision and using the Ctrl+D keyboard shortcut.
The Clone command is available throughout the Explorer panel, wherever the applicable Item-Revision is presented, including:
- The main Item listing within a folder.
- Children aspect view tab (when viewing a Managed Schematic Sheet Item).
- Where-used aspect view tab (when viewing a Component Item, Symbol Item, Footprint Item, Simulation Model Item, Component Template Item, or Schematic Template Item).
- Preview aspect view tab (when viewing a Component Item, Managed Schematic Sheet Item, or Schematic Template Item).
Once the required source Item-Revision has been located, and the Clone command launched, the process flow is as follows:
- A direct editing session is launched, with a copy of the source document – stored with the chosen Item-Revision – opened in the associated (and temporary) editor. For a Project Template Item revision, the temporary editable copy of the project will be opened in the Projects panel, ready for editing.
- Make changes as required.
- Save the document locally.
Click the button on the Quick Access Bar, to save the document to the Workspace (shortcut Ctrl+Alt+S). For a Project Template, choose the Save to Server command, available from the right-click context menu for the project's entry in the Projects panel. Alternatively, use the Save to Server control next to the document entry in the Projects panel. The Create New Item dialog will appear. By default, the clone Item will adopt the same revision naming and lifecycle definition schemes as the original Item, and will be created in the same folder. These properties can be changed if required. Be sure to give the new Item a Name and Description.
- Once the Item properties are set as required, click OK. The new Item and its initial revision will be created, the document released, and the temporary editor closed. Browse the fruits of your cloning labor back in the Explorer panel.
Accessing a Parametric View of Your Components
Components type folder supports two viewing modes – the Classic View and the Components View. The latter, which is the default view for this folder type, allows you to browse the parametric data associated with all components in the current folder. What's more, you can set up the view exactly how you like it for different folders of components, and those configurations will remain between sessions.
To toggle between these two viewing modes, browse to a Components folder in the Explorer panel, click the button at the top-right of the components listing, and choose either the View » Classic View, or View » Components View command from the associated menu.
Access the Components View for a Components-type folder, presenting the components in terms of their parametric data. Hover over the image to see the result of switching back to the Classic View.
Take a look at the following sections for more information on working with the Components View.
Each column in the view corresponds to a specific parameter. Configuration of which columns are displayed – so which parametric 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 parametric data is presented in the Components View.
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.
Components 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
Parameters 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 parameters already sorted by a specific column, Shift+Click on another column to 'sub-sort' by the content of that column.
Showing only the Latest Item Revisions
Over time, the content in your Workspace may undergo changes as they evolve, with each change resulting in a new revision to accommodate the modified data. When browsing Items, it is typically only the latest revision that is required. All other previous revisions tend to become a level of noise, cluttering the designer's field of view. To alleviate this, the Explorer panel defaults to show only the latest revisions of Items.
To display all revisions of Items in the Explorer panel, click the control, at the top-right of the Items region of the panel, and disable the Show only latest option from the associated menu.
By default, the Explorer panel shows only the latest revisions of Items. Hover over the image to see an example of the command disabled.
Showing Hidden Revisions
Related page: Defining Lifecycle Definitions for a Workspace – Controlling Item Revision Visibility and Applicability
For an Item Revision entering a lifecycle state that has its Visible in Vault panels attribute disabled, that revision will, by default, not be displayed in the Explorer panel. And if it is the latest revision of the Item, then the entire entry for that Item will effectively be hidden from view. This visibility state – defined at the state level – can be overridden globally for all Items.
To display all Item Revisions that are currently not visible, click the control, at the top-right of the Items region of the panel, and enable the Show Hidden Revisions option, on the associated menu.
Displaying hidden Item Revisions while browsing content in the Explorer panel. Hover over the image to see the result.
Controlling Parameter Visibility when Placing Components
When placing components directly from the Explorer panel, control over the visibility of parameters associated with those components – or more specifically, their values – is performed from within the properties dialog for the parent folder.
Right-click on the parent folder and choose the Properties command. The Edit Folder dialog will appear. Enable the Configure Parameters Visibility on Add option on the right-hand side. The parameters, taken from all components in the folder, will appear listed in the region. Use the Visible On Add checkbox associated with each parameter to control its visibility, when a component that has that parameter is placed on a schematic sheet.
Determine, at the folder level, which parameters should be visible when components that use them are placed in a design.
Copying Component Parameter Information to the Clipboard
Parametric information for a revision of a component can be copied to the clipboard for subsequent use elsewhere in the design, or for pasting to an external application (such as Microsoft Excel). When browsing the Preview aspect view tab for a Component Item revision, select the required parameters – in the Parameters region of the view – and either use the Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut or right-click in the region and use the Copy command on the context menu.
Copy a Component Item revision's parametric information to the clipboard, for use elsewhere as required.
Export of Grid Data
The Explorer panel supports the export of data from grid views, to a csv- or xls-formatted file. Examples of where this functionality is available include:
- Component Items grid (both Classic and Component views).
- Items grid.
- Linked models grid on the Preview aspect view tab (for a selected Component Item).
- Search results grid.
- Item grid on the Where-used aspect view tab.
- Item grid on the Children aspect view tab.
Right-click within a grid and choose the Operations » Export Grid command from the context menu. 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 the file – either Comma-Separated Values Files (
*.csv) or Excel Files (
An example of exporting data – the linked models for a selected Component Item revision – to an Excel-formatted file.
Changing a Released Component Type On-the-Fly
It is possible to change the component type for one or more components after release to a completely different type, on-the-fly. In the Explorer panel, select the component revision(s) that you want to change, then right-click and choose the Operations » Change component type command from the context menu. The Choose component type dialog will appear from which you can select the new component type.
An example of changing the component type for selected revisions of Component Items that have already been released – with the wrong type to begin with, to underline the feature!
Your Workspace provides you with flexible functionality for removing content from that Workspace directly from within Altium NEXUS, from the Explorer panel. This allows you to quickly delete:
- Folders of content
- One or more specific items
To delete a folder or project, right-click on that folder's entry in the panel and choose the Delete Folder command from the context menu. To delete a specific item, right-click on that Item's entry in the panel and choose the Delete Item command from the context menu. The Delete Items dialog will appear, in which to confirm the deletion. The action is actually a 'soft delete', whereby the folder/Item will be moved into the Trash area of the Workspace. The Trash is essentially a recycle bin into which any Item within your Workspace can be moved (through a soft delete action). It is isolated from the rest of the Workspace.
Example soft deletion of a Component Item, along with its associated Symbol and Footprint Items. All Items will be moved to the Workspace's Trash area.
To proceed with the deletion, click the button. The item will be removed and a Deletion Summary dialog will confirm successful deletion. If there was an issue with deletion, this will be flagged to you.
All items deleted in this manner can be found on the Trash page of the Workspace's browser interface. Note that you can only view items that you have personally soft deleted. Administrators will be able to see the full content of the Trash page – so all items that have been soft deleted.
Things to consider in relation to a soft-deleted item:
- The item will not be available from your design software, or from within the browser interface.
Anywhere the item was being used will reflect that the item has been deleted.
Example of a soft deleted component being flagged as such elsewhere in the software.
An item can be restored, or permanently deleted from the Trash page, provided you have editing rights. Permanent deletion is only possible provided it is not being used by a parent item (on a managed schematic sheet, or within a design).