Part Requests

Modified by Jason Howie on Aug 12, 2019

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 company 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 NEXUS, 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 information 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).

This functionality is provided through the Altium NEXUS Server (or legacy Altium Vault) and is available to those using Altium NEXUS 1.0 or later.

Nominating Your Librarians

First things first, you'll need to specify which role (or roles) should be used to fulfill the role of Librarians for your organization. In essence, you are configuring a set of users of your managed content server, that can be assigned to a part request. This is performed on the Admin - Settings - Vault - Part Requests - Librarians Role page of the Server's browser-based interface. It is from here that you will specify the role(s) to use for Librarian.

You must be signed in as an Administrator for your managed content server, in order to see the Admin area of the interface.

The Librarians Role page of the Admin - Settings area provides the interface for specifying which existing role(s) should be used as Librarians for the
Part Request feature.

Start typing the name of an existing role into the Librarian's Role field to pop-up a list of matching roles. Select the required role from this list.

Management of roles for the managed content server is performed from the Roles page of the Server's browser interface - part of the Team area. For more information, see Managing Users.

Choose a currently defined role to fulfill the Librarians role, as required.

Typically a single existing role would be specified for use as the Librarians role, but multiple roles can be chosen for assignment, especially if your company's librarians are gathered into more than one role. With the required role(s) assigned, be sure to click the  button at the top-right of the page.

The members of the nominated role will be the set of Librarians that can be assigned to, and work on, part requests.

The members of the role assigned to the Librarians role, will be the librarians that can handle part requests.

Creating Part Requests

Part Requests can be created and browsed from the following two places:

  • Through the Part Requests page of the Server's browser-based interface.
  • Directly within Altium NEXUS, through the Explorer panel.
Initially, a part request is visible to the original requestor, and all members of the nominated librarian role(s). Once the request has been assigned to a particular librarian, only the requestor and that librarian will see it, and receive notifications about it.

Requesting from within Altium NEXUS

Part Requests can be created and maintained within Altium NEXUS, through the Explorer panel.

Adding a Request

If the search for a managed component is unsuccessful, the  button will become available, above the results window on the Search tab of the Explorer panel. To add a new part request click this button and choose the New Request command from the subsequent menu. The New Part Request dialog will appear, in which to define the request.

Adding a new part request directly from within Altium NEXUS, through the Explorer panel.

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 (,).
The Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers fields are the two key pieces of information with which the assigned librarian can find the correct part(s) being requested. Hence the reason they are the only two mandatory fields. All other information is a bonus and/or allows your input on what certain attributes of the component should be (for example parameters, and component type).
  • 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.
While there are five default states in which a request can find itself, you are free to customize these states, or add more, to suit company requirements. For more information see Customizing States.
  • 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's role(s).
This field should typically be left unspecified, unless a librarian is creating the request and knows who should work on the part from the outset. Initially all librarians will see the request, and then one can step forward to assign the request to themselves. Librarians can also pass the request between each other, for example if another has a little additional bandwidth to accommodate the request.
  • Component Type - this field can be used to specify the type of component being requested. Your managed content server supports the following explicit component types: Capacitor, Resistor, Inductor, Transistor, Diode, LED, Crystal & Oscillator, Fuse, Transformer, Sensor, Connector, Switch, IC, Amplifier, Memory, Processor, Interface, Power Supply.
  • 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.
Files of any format can be attached, without limitation. Files up to 2GB in size are supported.
  • 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.
  • 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.

It is also possible to add a new part request based on a chosen manufacturing part result of a supplier search. To do so, from the Search tab of the Explorer panel, click the  button and choose the New From Supplier Search command from the subsequent menu. The Add Supplier Links dialog will appear - search for the required part, then click the OK button.

Access the Add Supplier Links dialog, and search for the part you'd like to use as the basis for your new part request.

The New Part Request Prepared From Supplier Search dialog will appear, with the following fields filled with information from the chosen part:

  • Manufacturer
  • Manufacturer Part Numbers
  • Description
  • Attachments - all of the part's documents will be listed here (as listed in the Documents section, in the detailed region of the Add Supplier Links dialog). Local copies of the documents are used, having been downloaded to the following location: \Users\<ProfileName>\AppData\Local\Temp\.
  • Parameters - all of the part's parametric data (as listed in the Parameters section, in the detailed region of the Add Supplier Links dialog).

Use the options and controls in the dialog to supply as much additional information as possible (e.g. Required To Date, and Component Type) and/or change the prefilled information as required. Once all information is defined as required click the OK button to effect creation of the request.

Example of a part request prepared from a supplier search. You can then add information, or tweak the imported information, as required.
Hover over the image to see the addition of information for Required To Date and Component Type.

New part requests can also be added - using the  button and its associated commands - while viewing existing part requests through the Explorer panel's dedicated Part Requests folder.

Requesting from the Browser Interface of the Server

Part Requests can be created and maintained through the Part Requests page of the Server's browser-based interface.

Adding a New Request

To add a new part request, click the  button at the top-right of the page. The page will change to present the new part request form, as shown in the following image, and detailed thereafter.

Adding a new part request through the managed content server's browser interface. Hover over the image to see the form presented to receive the details of the request.

Use the controls on the page 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 (,).
The Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers fields are the two key pieces of information with which the assigned librarian can find the correct part(s) being requested. Hence the reason they are the only two mandatory fields. All other information is a bonus and/or allows your input on what certain attributes of the component should be (for example parameters, and component type).
  • Request Id - an ID is automatically generated with, and assigned to, the request, enabling users to easily track the request's progress.
  • State - this field is used to specify the status of the request. The options are Opened: New, Opened: In Progress, Closed: Completed, Closed: Rejected, or Closed: Cancelled.
For a new part request, leave this field at Opened: New. While there are five default states in which a request can find itself, you are free to customize these states, or add more, to suit company requirements. For more information see Customizing States.
  • Required By Date - use this field to specify the date by which you need the component(s) to be ready. Clicking within the field will pop-up a calendar window, with which to specify the required date.
  • Assign to - 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's role(s).
This field should typically be left unspecified, unless a librarian is creating the request and knows who should work on the part from the outset. Initially all librarians will see the request, and then one can step forward to assign the request to themselves. Librarians can also pass the request between each other, for example if another has a little additional bandwidth to accommodate the request.
  • Component Type - this field can be used to specify the type of component being requested. Your managed content server supports the following explicit component types: Capacitor, Resistor, Inductor, Transistor, Diode, LED, Crystal & Oscillator, Fuse, Transformer, Sensor, Connector, Switch, IC, Amplifier, Memory, Processor, Interface, Power Supply.
  • Parameters - this area can be used to add a set of specific parameters required for the part(s). Click Add 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.
  • Description - this field can be used to give a rich description of the part (typically taken from the manufacturer datasheet).
  • 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. Either click  to locate the file(s) through a standard dialog, or drag and drop the file(s) onto the indicated area.
Files of any format can be attached, without limitation. Files up to 2GB in size are supported.
  • Parts 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 Add 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.

Once all information is defined as required - and essentially the Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers (which are mandatory) - click the  button at the top-right of the form, to effect creation of the request.

With the request saved, the full details of the request will be presented.

Example of information supplied as part of a new part request. Hover over the image to see the result of saving - full details for the example newly-added part request.

Notice that in addition to the information supplied previously, the following is displayed:

  • Request Id - the system-assigned title for the request, in the format PR-n (where n is the next integer identifier available).
  • Comment - use this field to comment on the request. This allows for bi-directional communication between the requestor and the librarian. For example, the requestor may change something since original submission, and needs to flag the librarian working on the part. Or perhaps the librarian requires additional information, or confirmation on some aspect of the part. With the comment written, click the  button to submit it. Any comment will appear in the History region of the page, and also in the information stream when viewing the part request in the Explorer panel.
  • History - a running stream of events related to this 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 done from two places.

Explorer Panel (Altium NEXUS)

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.

The number next to the Part Requests folder name indicates how many requests there are.
For a designer/engineer, the folder will present entries for only those parts they have actually requested. For a librarian, they will see part requests specifically assigned to them, as well as part requests that have yet to be assigned to a particular librarian.

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 dialo g 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.

By default, all data is shown. Toggle presentation of a data column by clicking the  control, to render it hidden (the control will become ).

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.

Alternatively, change the ordering in the Select Columns dialog. Drag and drop an entry to the required new position within the list, or select it and use the  and  buttons.
With the exception of the column containing the icon for the part request, the width of a column can be modified by clicking and dragging the right-hand separator (in that column's header).

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.

A hierarchy of groups can be created, by nesting the column headers. Within the grouped columns region, use drag and drop to redefine the grouping 'sort order' as required, with the left-most header entry being the top of the hierarchy.

An example of customized grouping (by the Assignee and Component Type columns).

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.

To remove sorting for a column, Ctrl+click on its header.

Like an Excel spreadsheet, the part requests can be further filtered by the contents of each column. To do this, click the small funnel (filter) icon, that appears at the right-hand side of a column header (). A menu will appear containing an entry for each value present in that column. Click on an entry to reduce the list to only include part requests with that value.

When a column filter is applied, the filter icon is displayed in blue (), indicating that there is filtering applied based on that column. Filtering can be applied to multiple data columns. Each 'column filter' becomes an ANDed condition in the overall filter. A textual representation of the filtering currently in effect will be presented at the bottom of the region.

An example of column filtering in action.

To clear filtering for a column, choose the (All) entry from the filtering drop-down. To clear filtering completely, click the  control, at the far right of the textual representation of the filter. To disable the filter, uncheck the check box to the left of its textual representation. To enable again, check the check box.
A history of just used filters is available. Click the drop-down button to the right of the textual representation of the current filter to display the history. This button will display when at least one previous filter has been applied.

To further customize the current filter, click the  button, to the far right of the textual representation of the filter, to open the Filter Editor dialog. Use this dialog to create more sophisticated and complex filters as needed.

Additional Operations

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 NEXUS 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.
  • 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.
Commands are also available from this right-click menu to create a new part request - either from scratch, or from a supplier search. These would typically be used by the designer/engineer requiring a missing part, but could also be used by a librarian to kick off a new part directly.

Part Requests Page (Server Browser Interface)

From the Part Requests page of the managed content server's browser interface, you can centrally browse all part requests that you have initiated (Requestor) or assigned part requests (Librarian).

Main summary listing of Part Requests - access this at any time by clicking on the Part Requests entry in the navigation tree.

Each part request at this summary level is listed in terms of the following supplied information:

  • ID.
  • Date - the date the request was created.
  • Description.
  • Manufacturer.
  • Manufacturer Part Numbers.
  • Created by - the original author of the request (the Requestor).
  • Assignee - the Librarian who is currently working on the part request.
  • State - the state in which the request currently sits.
Use the top-left drop-down field to switch between viewing All States (default) to viewing all part requests in a particular state. Use the search field to quickly find a part request, based on Created By, Assignee or Description fields. Part requests can be sorted by any column possessing the  control - click on the control, or the column name.

You can access the detailed page for a part request by clicking on its ID.

Accessing the detailed page for a part request, from the main Part Requests page.

Editing a Part Request

To edit a part request, access its detailed page, then click the  button at the top-right of the page. Notice also, that a Comment field is available. This is specifically for adding some explanatory text in relation to any modification to the request. This is separate to the Commenting feature available outside of editing the request.

Accessing the form with which to edit an existing part request.

Make changes as required, then click . To back out without making changes, click .

Notifications

Upon creation of a part request, the requestor, members of the Librarian role, and Server administrators, will receive notification in their message stream, on the Stream page of the managed content server's browser interface (and summarized on the Home page of that interface).

Once a specific librarian has been assigned to a request, only that librarian, and of course the original requestor (and Server administrators), will receive notifications generated in relation to that request.

The relevant parties receive notification of part request creation, and any updates, through the Stream and Home pages of the Server's browser interface.

Only part request creation and update events are presented. Comments made as part of a modification will also be displayed as part of the update entry, but bi-directional commenting (outside of an edit) are only visible when viewing the detailed page for a request in the browser interface, or in the information stream for that request, when viewed in the Explorer panel.
In addition to the these event notifications, email notifications will also be received - providing the Email Notifications feature is enabled. This is performed by an Administrator, on the Email Notifications page (Admin - Settings - Email Notifications) of the Server's browser interface.

Customizing States

Once the request for a new part has been submitted, there are a number of states that that request can ultimately enter. By default, the following states are provided:

  • Opened States - states in which the request is currently still 'alive':
    • New
    • In Progress
  • Closed States - states in which the request has been considered resolved and therefore 'closed':
    • Completed
    • Rejected
    • Cancelled

To accommodate the requirements of different organizations, states are customizable. You can:

  • Edit the names of the default states.
  • Add additional states (named as required).
  • Change the ordering of states (how states will appear on the relevant State drop-down menu when creating/editing a part request).

This is configured by an Administrator on the Custom States page (Admin - Settings - Vault - Part Requests - Custom States) of the Server's browser interface.

The Custom States page of the Admin - Settings area provides the interface for customizing the states used in the Part Request feature.

Make changes as follows:

  • To edit the name of an existing state, click on its name. The Custom State Name pop-up window will appear in which to do so.
  • To add a new state, click the add new control, associated with the type of state (opened or closed). Use the Custom State Name pop-up window to give the state the required naming.
  • To change the order of the states, use the Move Up ()  and Move Down () controls, as applicable (and where available).
  • To remove a state, click its associated Remove control ().
With the required states defined, be sure to click the  button at the top-right of the page.

 

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