Free-File Storage

Modified by Jason Howie on Jul 1, 2019
All Contents

Parent page: Server Items

Altium Designer, in conjunction with your managed content server, caters for the ability to store free files in a special Item type - the Binary File Item. Such Items can be created to accommodate one or more files of any format. This allows you to effectively take advantage of the server's secure nature, and underlines the server as being the perfect place to store anything, including your source binary files together in a single Item.

And facilitating the streamlined flow of data files, bi-directional drag-and-drop functionality is provided, enabling you to quickly move files between folders in your server, and folders in your Windows Explorer.

Folder Type

When creating the folder in which to store a Binary File Item, you can specify the folder's type. This has no bearing on the content of the folder - uploading will always result in Binary File Item. It simply provides a visual 'clue' as to what is stored in a folder and can be beneficial when browsing a server for particular content. To nominate a folder's use as a container for Binary File Items, set its Folder Type as Binary Files, when defining the folder pro perties in the Edit Folder dialog.

Specifying the folder type - its intended use - gives a visual indication of the content of that folder when browsing the server.

Another important aspect of the parent folder is the Item Naming Scheme employed for it. This defines the format of the unique ID for each Item created in that particular folder. Several default example schemes are available, utilizing the short-form code for either the folder type (ABC - Altium Binary Catalog) or the content type (ABF - Altium Binary File):

  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} - for example, ABF-001-0001.
  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{A00} - for example, ABF-001-A01.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} - for example, ABC-001-0001.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{A000} - for example, ABC-001-A001.

Using a default naming scheme, the software will automatically assign the next available unique ID, based on that scheme, having scanned the entire server and identifiers of existing Items. This can be a great time-saver when manually creating Binary File Items.

A custom scheme can also be defined for a folder by typing it within the field, ensuring that the variable portion is enclosed in curly braces (e.g. BINFILE-001-{B000}).

The Item Naming Scheme of the parent folder is applied to the Unique ID for each Item
created within that folder.

The Item Naming Scheme employed for the parent folder can be changed at any time. The modified scheme will then be applied to any subsequent newly-created Items within that folder.

Item Type

When creating the target Binary File Item in which to store your source file(s), ensure that its Content Type is set to Binary File, in the Create New Item dialog. If you are creating the Item in a Binary Files type folder, this Item type will be available from the right-click context menu when creating the Item.

Creating a Binary File Item within a Binary Files folder - the correct Content Type is available on the context menu.

When defining the Binary File Item, to which the source file(s) are uploaded, be sure to specify the type of lifecycle management to be used for the Item, and the naming scheme employed for its revisions, respectively.

Control over which Item types can use a particular lifecycle definition or revision naming scheme, can be defined and enabled at a global level from within the Content Types dialog, when defining each schema. The default schemes assigned for use by a Binary File Item are: Generic Lifecycle and 1-Level Revision Scheme, respectively.

Once a file has been uploaded into the initial revision of a Binary File Item, these schemes cannot be changed for that particular Item.

Specify the required schemes in the Create New Item dialog, using the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming Scheme fields respectively.

If the option to control use of lifecycle definitions and revision naming schemes per content type is enabled for any definitions/schemes, and the Binary File Item type is not set to use a particular definition/scheme, then that definition/scheme will not be available in the applicable drop-down list.

Selecting the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming schemes for a manually created Item.

Observing standard revision naming schemes and lifecycle definitions, across the various types of design item in a managed content server ensures smooth, consistent management of those items.
It is a good idea to add a Name and Description as part of the Item's definition. This information is used when searching the server and enables quick identification of what a Binary File Item offers.

Uploading Files

So far, we've discussed the support for a Binary File Item in the server, in terms of related folder and item types. Uploading one or more files into the revision of such an item can be performed in a couple of ways.

Upload Menu

File(s) can be uploaded by right-clicking on the required Binary File Item in the Explorer panel, and choosing the Upload command from the context menu. The Create New Revision dialog will appear, in which you can change Name, Description, and add release notes as required. Use the Sources region of the dialog to load the required file(s). This can be performed by dragging and dropping the file(s) from Windows Explorer, onto the region. Alternatively, click the  button - the Add Files dialog (a standard Windows open-type dialog) will appear. Use this to browse to, and open, the required file(s).

If the Item has no planned revision, upload will be to the next planned revision, created on-the-fly as part of the upload process.

Manually specifying the files to be uploaded to the target Binary File Item.

The chosen file(s) will be added, and listed, in the Sources region of the dialog. If you need to adjust the content of the list, add additional files, or select and remove files (click the  button) as required.

The Sources area supports selection of multiple files using standard multi-select techniques (Ctrl+click, Shift+click, and click-and-drag).

Once the desired file list is ready, proceed with the upload by clicking the OK button. The uploaded fileset will be available on the Details aspect view tab for the Item Revision, in the Explorer panel.

Uploaded files are listed on the Details aspect view tab for the revision of the Binary File Item.

Drag and Drop from Windows Explorer

One or more files can also be uploaded by dragging the selected file(s) from a source folder in your Windows Explorer, and dropping onto the required target Binary File Item in the Explorer panel. The Create New Revision dialog will appear, with the dragged file(s) listed in the Sources region. Modify Name (which will be the file name, including extension (for multiple files, entries will be separated by a semi-colon)) and Description (which will be in the format Uploaded from <FileNameandPath>, Size <FileSize>, Created on <FileCreationDate> (for multiple files, entries will be separated by a semi-colon)), and add any Release Notes as required. If you need to add additional files, this can be done by clicking the  button, and browsing for the file(s), or by dragging and dropping file(s) onto the Sources area. If you need to remove files, select them in the list and click the  button.

If the existing Binary File Item has no planned revision, upload will be to the next planned revision, created on-the-fly as part of the upload process. If you drop the dragged file(s) away from an existing Item, a new Binary File Item will be created. The Create New Item dialog will appear. The Name of the item will be the file name, including extension (for multiple files, entries will be separated by a semi-colon). The Description will be in the format Uploaded from <FileNameandPath>, Size <FileSize>, Created on <FileCreationDate> (for multiple files, entries will be separated by a semi-colon). Change these as required. The Item ID will be in accordance with the Item Naming scheme defined at the folder level. If the folder has no naming scheme defined, naming will follow the $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} scheme.

Once the desired file list is ready, proceed with the upload by clicking the OK button. The uploaded fileset will be available on the Details aspect view tab for the Item Revision, in the Explorer panel.

Uploading files using the drag and drop method.

Reuse with New Document Defaults

As part of your Altium Designer Preferences, you are able to define New Document Defaults - the default template documents used when creating a new project or document of a particular type. This is performed from the System - New Document Defaults page of the Preferences dialog. A default template document can be file-based, or from a connected managed content server.

To add a document default from the active server, click on the New documents default cell for the required document kind, click the  button at the far right, then choose the From Server entry on the context menu. The Choose item revision for template dialog will appear, from which to browse for, and choose, the required Item Revision. However, if you try to browse to your usual template Items, you will find the folder seemingly empty - even though you know they exist.

Example of trying to choose a revision of a Schematic Template Item for use as a new document default - the folder of templates is empty!

What you need to do instead is upload the required template document into the revision of a Binary File Item, and then use that for the new document default. The quickest way to do this is to download the revision of the real Item, by right-clicking on the required Item Revision and choosing the Operations » Download command from the context menu:

Download the required revision (typically the latest) of the real Item - here, a Schematic Template Item.

Then upload it to a new Binary Item (that you create manually to accommodate it):

Then upload that document to the initial revision of a new Binary File Item.

Now when you try to define a new document default from the active server, you can browse for the Binary File Item, and the preferences entry will populate accordingly.

Successful use of a Schematic Template Item as a new document default, through the Binary File Item that contains it.

A new document default based on a server Item will be used when connected to that server (active or not).
If reuse of a managed Item type is automatic, such as Schematic Templates, then to use the nominated default (server-based) template document you must be connected to the server, but not actively signed into it. Once signed in to that server, and where such template Items exist, they will automatically be presented to you when creating a new document of that type, overriding whatever is set on the System - New Document Defaults page.

Updating a Binary File Item

If you need to change the file(s) stored in a Binary File Item, upload the required new file(s) to that Item - the new file(s) will be stored in the next revision of that Item.

Downloading Files

Downloading the file(s) stored in a Binary File Item can be performed from the Explorer panel in the following ways:

  • By right-clicking on the required Item Revision and choosing the Operations » Download command from the context menu. All files stored in that revision will be downloaded into a sub-folder under the chosen directory, named using the Item Revision ID. The files can be found in the Released folder therein.
Access the Download command from the top-level entry for a Binary File Item itself, to download the files stored in the latest revision of that Item.
Click the Explore button in the Download from Server dialog, to quickly explore to the download folder.
  • By selecting the required file(s) for the Item Revision, on its Details aspect view tab, right-clicking, and choosing the Download command from the context menu. Nominate the target folder to receive the file(s), in the subsequent Browse For Folder dialog.

Opening a File

To open a file that is stored in a revision of a Binary File Item, select that file - on the Details aspect view tab for the revision - then right-click and choose the Open command from the context menu. The relevant application (or Altium Designer itself) will be used to present the file, where applicable to do so.

 

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