Altium Designer Documentation

Draftsman Improvements

Modified by Rob Evans on Oct 24, 2018

New Drawing Objects

The Draftsman editor offers a number of new free-form geometric shape objects for adding additional diagrammatic information to drawings.

  • Arc (By Center) – an Arc shape that is defined by a specified center point, a radius and arc angle.
  • Arc (3 Points) – an Arc shape that is defined by (two) specified arc end points and one arc radius point.
  • Region – a closed polygon shape with fill options.

Arc (By Center)

This center-referenced Arc object is placed in a drawing from the Place » Arc (By Center) command, or by selecting its icon button () from the drawing objects dropdown menu in the workspace Active Bar.

Altium Designer includes an Active Bar at the top pf each editor’s workspace that provides shortcut buttons for object placement commands.

A small triangle shape in the lower area of a button indicates that a dropdown menu is available for accessing other related commands. Click and hold the button to open its menu.

To assist repeated object placement, the button icon and function will actively change to show the last used menu option.

The Arc (By Center) placement steps are:

  • First click – set the center point of the arc circle.
  • Second click – set the radius (size) of the arc circle and the starting point (angle) of the arc.
  • Third click – set the end point (angle) of the arc. Press Esc or right-click to complete the object – right-click will also exit the Arc placement mode.

Once placed, select the Arc in the drawing workspace to access its attributes in the Properties panel, where the Arc’s line style and its shape geometry can be viewed and edited.

An Arc can be edited graphically by dragging its node points, or moved by selecting the Arc shape and dragging it to a new location – or by selecting and dragging its radius node.

Select one of the Arc end nodes to change the Arc’s start/end angle, or the arc center node to change the radius. Alternatively hold the Ctrl key while dragging any of the three arc nodes to change their location.

Arc (3 Point)

The three-point Arc variant is placed in a drawing from the Place » Arc (3 Point) command or by selecting its icon button () in the workspace Active Bar. The placement steps are:

  • First click – set the start point of the arc.
  • Second click – set the end point of the arc.
  • Third click – set the radius of the Arc circle. Press Esc or right-click to complete the object – right-click will also exit the Arc placement mode.

Select the Arc in the drawing workspace to access its attributes in the Properties panel, where the Arc’s line style and its shape geometry can be viewed and edited.

The Arc can be graphically edited in the workspace by dragging nodes, as outline above for the center point Arc.

Region

A polygon Region shape is placed in a drawing from the Place » Region command or by selecting its icon button () in the workspace Active Bar. The placement steps are:

  • First click – place the first Region vertex.
  • Subsequent clicks – place additional vertices to form the desired polygon shape.
  • Right-click – finalizes the shape and exits the Region placement mode. Alternatively, press Esc to finalize the shape and remain in Region placement mode.

The Region shape can be graphically edited in the workspace by dragging its nodes. Select the Region to access its attributes in the Properties panel, where the Region's line and fill style can be viewed and edited.

Line options

By default, the polygon Region perimeter is formed by straight lines between each vertex point, however the editor offers four other line shape options that can be selected during placement.

When placing a new vertex, select Shift+Spacebar to cycle through the following line options:

  • 90° corner.
  • 45° corner.
  • Curved 90° corner.
  • Curved 45° corner.
  • Direct/straight line (default)

Press the Spacebar to toggle the corner direction of a line during its placement.

The alternative line options place a defined angle or curve between the previous vertex and the cursor (representing the next vertex location), which allows more sophisticated polygon shapes to be constructed.

Line to Arc conversion

Further shaping of a Region is available through the conversion of the lines between vertices to Arcs.

The Arcs are formed by angle-based curved lines, and are configured in the Styles section of the Properties panel, when in Region mode. The panel section presents a tabular list of each vertex in the Region shape, in their placed order, including their (X/Y) locations and associated line arc angles. Each entry may be manually edited to update the rendered Region shape.

To include an Arc curve in a selected Region object, enter the desired angle under the table’s Arc Angle column for a given vertex. The angle entry will define the curve radius of the connection line between the selected vertex and the next vertex.

The resulting curve shape corresponds to the arc segment of an equivalent circle, through the specified angle. Enter a negative angle to invert the arc curve.

Drawing object Preferences

The default settings for the Arc and Region objects are available in Altium Designer's Preferences dialog, opened from the button located in the upper right of the GUI. Select Draftsman – Defaults in the dialog navigation tree.

Bookmarks panel

Draftsman now includes a Bookmarks panel which offers a convenient way to navigate and manage multi-sheet drawing documents. The panel presents an expandable tree view of the document structure hierarchy, not unlike the Projects panel, and includes all document sheets and the primary view objects within those sheets.

Open the Bookmarks panel from the  button menu, located in the lower-right corner of Altium Designer's GUI.

Within the tree view, click the symbol associated with each sheet to expand and collapse its contents. The sheet object listing includes Draftsman view type objects, but not secondary drawing objects such as Dimensions, Callouts, graphic shapes, etc – in other words, it includes objects that have a Title property.

The Bookmarks panel provides active navigation capabilities, where the sheet or drawing object selected in the tree is brought into focus in the drawing workspace – an object selected in the tree is also selected in the drawing view, which zooms to fit that object.

The tree view selection is also bi-directional, so its selection will change in response to sheets or objects that have been selected in the workspace. When a sheet or object has been selected by either approach, the Properties panel (if open) will automatically offer the property and option settings that apply to the selected object.

Bookmark object entry names

The presented name for each view object included in the Bookmarks panel list is determined by the state of its Title property.

  • When an object’s Title is enabled in the Properties panel (its associated visibility icon is set to ), the object’s Bookmarks tree entry is its Title.
  • When an object’s Title is disabled in the Properties panel (), the object’s Bookmarks tree entry is its object type name, with its view angle property as a suffix (where applicable) – for example Board Assembly View – Top.
  • If an object’s Title property is blank and enabled in the Properties panel (), the object’s Bookmarks tree entry is the object name with the view suffix, as above.

Panel functions

Additional features for managing document sheets are included in the Bookmarks panel, such as the ability add and remove sheets and change their positional order in the Draftsman document structure.

The series of function buttons at the top of panel are used to manage the view and structure of the document sheets:

  • Set the style of document page view using the Single/Continuous buttons, where the option sets the workspace to show a single sheet at a time, and the button enables a continuous display mode that shows all sheets in a scrollable sequence.
  • Click the Add button () to add a new document sheet to the end of the tree list. The Delete button () removes the currently selected sheet from the tree list, or if a drawing object is selected, removes that object from the sheet.
  • Use the Up () and Down () buttons to move the currently selected sheet up or down one level in the tree list order. The sheet and its object contents will change position accordingly, and the sheet is renamed to match its new position in the tree.

Further options are available via the right click context menu for a sheet or object in the tree.

  • Use the sheet right-click options to delete the selected sheet or add a new sheet to the document, or access its properties in the Properties panel – which will open if not already active.
  • Use the object right-click options to delete the selected object, or access its properties in the Properties panel – which will open if not already active.

The Bookmarks panel also supports drag and drop techniques for changing the sheet position order in a Draftsman document. Click, drag and drop a sheet entry to another location in the tree to move the sheet and its object contents to the new position.

When completed, the sheets are automatically renamed in the tree to match their altered order position, and the drawing view will update to display the new sheet order.

Embedded Board Array support

The Draftsman editor now supports PCB document Embedded Board Arrays, allowing Draftsman documents to provide drawing details of multiple boards placed as a panel array.

When a panelized (embedded array) version of a board design is opened as the file source for a new Draftsman document, the board design data is correctly interpreted by Draftsman as a board array. Choose the project’s board array design as the source from the Document drop down menu in the New Document dialog (File » New » Draftsman Document) , or for an existing Draftsman document, select the board array PCB file from the PCB Document menu in the Source section of the Properties panel when in Document Options mode (no drawing object selected).

 

Placed drawing views such as Assembly, Fabrication and Drill Drawing views will extract design data from the source board array PCB file.

Note that when a component is selected in an Assembly view, the Component Display Properties settings in the Properties panel will apply to that component on all board representations within the array.

Document and Sheet Properties

The options presented in Draftsman's Properties panel have been expanded to include Document Options, which provides settings for the overall document and where applicable, the individual document Sheets.

This Properties panel Document Options view is an amalgamation of the previous Draftsman Document Options and Sheet Properties dialogs, and offers a convenient, single location for accessing all drawing document settings. The view is presented in the Properties panel by default, and is shown when drawing objects are not selected in the workspace – click in free space within a drawing Sheet to deselect all objects.

Property settings such as those on the Page Options tab can apply to the currently selected drawing Sheet or all Sheets in the Draftsman document. Select the button at the top of the Properties panel to constrain a Page Options settings change to the current Sheet/Page, or the button to allow an option change to affect all Sheets/Pages in the document.

– See Draftsman Properties panel page for more detailed information.

– See the New User Interface page for information on GUI changes in Altium Designer.

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