Altium Designer Documentation

New Features and Updates Summary

Modified by Susan Riege on Jun 18, 2020

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Project Sharing

In support of Altium 365's Global Sharing paradigm, Altium Designer now supports the ability to share your design projects with others, anywhere around the world, directly from within the software, which complements the ability to share designs from within the browser-based Altium 365 platform. You can share the live design or a static snapshot of the design at a particular point in time. Controls for sharing a design can be found in the Share dialog, which is accessed by clicking at the top-right of the main application window.

If you share a project with a person outside of the team, the Sharing Outside of the Workspace dialog will open.

For full information regarding sharing your designs, refer to Sharing a Design from within Altium Designer.

Data Management Enhancements

Updated User Access Area

The User Access drop-down at the top-right of the main design space has been updated to make the controls more concise for users' particular needs.

Click the drop-down arrow to the right of or your avatar () to access the drop-down. You can use to sign out. When you are signed out, the User Access displays as . Use the arrow to open the drop-down then select Sign In to open the Sign In dialog.

To the left of your image is the current server information. If you are not connected to a server, this area displays as . To connect to a server, click this to access a drop-down in which you can select a server to which you want to connect. If you are already connected to a server, you also can click this area to connect to a different server.

Use the Profile link to open your profile page at https://accounts.live.altium.com.

You can use Licenses and Extensions and Updates to open the respective pages as in previous versions.

Use Custom connection to open the Sign In dialog in order to sign in to a custom server.

Component Database to Server Data Synchronization

When a Component Database Library has been migrated to an Altium 365 Workspace, the data in the library's source database may now be synchronized to the Workspace-based components using Altium Designer's new Components Synchronization feature. The automated synchronization is set up in a Components Synchronization Configuration document that provides a flexible interface for creating a synchronization profile, which can be configured to suit a range of database sources and parameter mapping requirements.

The feature extension is enabled by checking the Components Synchronization option in Altium Designer's Configure Platform page, available from the button in the Extensions & Updates view. When signed in to your Altium 365 Workspace, select File » New » Components Synchronization Configuration in Altium Designer to create a synchronization document. When fully configured, the synchronization profile can be run manually or set as an independent scheduled task.

► See Component Database to Server Data Synchronization for more information.

Added Confirmation Dialog When Moving Folders 

A confirmation dialog now displays when dragging and dropping folders in the Explorer panel. The dialog helps prevent accidental broken folder structures.

Components Panel Refresh Command Now Displays Current Record

The Components panel has been improved to display the saved Component selection upon launching the Refresh command.

Added Ability to View System Folders for All Connected Servers

A new Explorer.ShowSystemFolders Preference Name in the Advanced Settings dialog has been added. When this option is enabled, system folders will be visible for all connected servers when browsing server content through the Explorer panel.

Dynamic Compiler Improved

The dynamic compiler has been improved to more efficiently handle project compilation and increased memory management when multiple projects are open.

Improved Document Options Dialog

The Document Options dialog that provides controls to set the options for the active component document has been updated and improved.

Added 'Configure Parameters Visibility on Add' Option to Edit Folder Dialog

A Configure Parameters Visibility on Add option has been added to the Add Folder and Edit Folder dialogs. When this option is enabled, you can configure the component's parameter's visibility after adding. This option is only available for the Components Folder Type.

Specific Panels Hidden by Default

The Storage Manager, Messages and Output panels are now hidden by default.

Values Added to Snapping Distance

The Snapping Distance field in the Document Options mode of the Properties panel now includes a drop-down from which you can choose the required relative value.

Added Command to Insert New Sheet

A command has been added to the Tools menu that allows you to insert a new sheet after the sheet on which the cursor is located when the command is run.

Draftsman Enhancements

Added Rectangular Shape for the Board Detail View

An option has been added that allows a rectangular shape to be selected when placing a Board Detail View in a Draftsman document from the Place menu, Active Bar, right-click context menu, and Drawing Views toolbar. You can also select the previous default circle shape.

Added Show Silkscreen Drop-down in Board Assembly View

A Show Silkscreen option has been added to the Properties region of the Board Assembly View mode of the Properties panel.

Use the drop-down to select from the following:

  • None - select to not show the silkscreen
  • With Components - select to show the appropriate silkscreen overlay with components on the drawing (Top or Bottom overlay, depending on View Side setting).
  • Without Components - select to show the appropriate silkscreen overlay without components on the drawing (Top or Bottom overlay, depending on View Side setting).
  • Use the color selection button to specify the graphic overlay color.

Variant Support Added to Board Realistic View

Variant support has been added to the Board Realistic View. The Variation field of the Board Realistic View mode of the Properties panel can be used to define the variant.

Variation Option 'All Variants' Renamed 'No Variations'

In order to "match" the Projects panel, [All Variants] has been changed to [No Variations] for all Draftsman Variation options, where used.

    

Dimensioning Added to Arcs and Circles

Dimensioning tools have been updated to recognize the centers of arc segments and circle quadrants.

Added Multi-Selection Capability When Dragging a Vertex

When dragging a vertex, you can now use multi-selection functions, which allows you to move all objects at once.

Added Ability to Edit All Drill Symbol Sizes

The ability to alter the Symbol Size of all selected symbols has been added to the Drill Symbol Configurations dialog.

Improved Display of Hole Tolerances in the Drill Table

The display of hole tolerances in the Drill Table has been improved. The Drill Table now displays empty fields as blank (versus None) and both positive and negative tolerances, even if either one is 0.

Current Grid Added to the Status Bar

The current grid has been added to the status bar as shown below.

Added Schematic Sheet Templates

The ability to use schematic sheet templates in Draftsman has been added. Specify the location of your templates using the Templates Location field, on the Draftsman - Templates page of the Preferences dialog.

All templates that are located in the folder specified will be available in the Page Options region of the Properties panel in Document Options mode. Use the Template drop-down in the Page Options region when Template is selected in the Formatting and Size region to select the desired template.

Updated Drill Table Symbols

The Drill Table symbols used in Draftsman fabrication drawings are now the same as those used in PCBs. This is available by enabling the Sync Symbols with PCB option in the Drill Symbol Configurations dialog.

Added Ability to Place *.svg Formatted Graphics

Draftsman now supports graphics in *.svg formats when placing graphics in Draftsman documents.

Added Board Information to Document Parameters

Board information has been added to the Parameters tab of a Draftsman document. The added parameters include BoardWidth, BoardHeight, BoardArea, ComponentsArea, and BoardDensity.

Expanded List of Standard Scales

The list of standard scales for a Draftsman document has been expanded to include 5:1 and 5:2.

Improved Grid Snapping for All Draftsman Objects

Grid snapping has been improved for all Draftsman objects. Snapping is now available for Draftsman objects and also has been implemented when dragging objects.

Added Snap Dimensions to Component References

The ability to snap dimensions to component references has been added to the Draftsman editor. 

Library Migrator Enhancements

Added Refresh Button

A refresh button () has been added to the Library Migrator. When clicked, the information for component types, component templates, revision naming schemes, and lifecycles will be updated (refreshed).

Library Splitting Button Active on Sub-categories

The Library Splitting button is now accessible when a sub-category is selected in the Library Migrator that opens the Library Splitting dialog in which you can set custom library grouping options.

Layer Stack Manager Improvements

Updates to the Etch Formula

In previous versions, the Etch had to be entered as a negative value for etching to occur in the correct direction. To simplify the process of setting the etch value, the Etch formula has been rearranged so that the Etch is now entered as a positive value.

Previously, the formula was:

Etch = 0.5 ( W2 - W1 ) / T

In Altium Designer 20.1, the formula is now:

Etch = 0.5 ( W1 - W2 ) / T

Previously the Etch formula was displayed in the image area of the panel. The formula now displays when the cursor is positioned over the question mark symbol as shown below.

Calculate Impedance Profiles When in Multi-thread Mode

The ability to calculate impedance profiles when in multi-thread mode has been added.

Added the Ability to Select Material for Surface Finish

The ability to select the material for Surface Finish has been added. To select the material, click in the Material column of the Surface Finish to open the Select Material dialog in which you can choose the desired material.

Same Measurement Units in the Layer Stack and Select Material Dialog

When a measurement unit is selected in the Layer Stack, the same measurement unit is displayed in the Select Material dialog by default.

Routing Improvements

Altium's dedicated routing technologies development group continues to build and improve the interactive routing engine.

Improvements to interactive routing and push and shove include:

  • Dramatically improved performance of routing-related operations in the presence of complex shapes, both as objects present in the PCB, or the shape of the PCB itself.
  • The introduction of smarter rules analysis for determining complex routing boundaries created by unusual rule combinations, such as large pad-to-pad clearances, has improved the router performance in these situations.
  • Improved support for pushing at user-created points where the routing changes widths.

Importer Enhancements

Added New KiCAD Importer

The new KiCAD Importer allows you to import KiCAD Design files using the Import Wizard. The KiCAD importer can be installed from the Software Extensions region on the Purchased tab of the Extensions & Updates page.

Refer to the Extending Altium Designer page for detailed information regarding installing/updating extensions.

The following files can be imported:

  • KiCAD Pro files (*.pro)
  • KiCAD sch files (*.sch)
  • KiCAD lib files (*.lib)
  • KiCAD kicad_pcb files (*.kicad_pcb)

Variant Information Imported with Mentor Design Files

When importing Mentor Expedition Designs and Libraries files using the Import Wizard, variant information is now also imported.

ECAD-MCAD Improvements

This release sees substantial improvement in the support for passing PCB designs back and forth between Altium Designer and your favorite MCAD design software.

This support includes:

  • Bi-directional transfer of complex board shapes with cutouts
  • Bi-directional transfer of placed components as 3D models
  • MCAD to ECAD transfer of native components
  • ECAD to MCAD transfer of native components (Creo only)
  • Support for rigid-flex PCBs (SOLIDWORKS only)

Supported MCAD Software

The following MCAD platforms and versions are currently supported:

  • Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2019, 2020
  • Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020
  • PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.X , 5.X, 6.X

Learn more about ECAD-MCAD CoDesign

Additional Updates

ODB Setup Dialog Enhancements

Options have been added in the ODB Setup dialog that allow you to select the unit of measurement in the generated file(s). In the Units region, select either Inches or Millimeters.

Additionally, options have been added that allow you to select the file compression of the generated output file(s). The options can be found in the File Compression region and include None.zip, and .tar/.tgz. 

Added Ability to Add Creepage Distance Rule to a Schematic

You can now use the Creepage Distance rule in schematic documents. The rule now displays in the Choose Design Rule Type dialog after choosing Rule from the Parameters region of the Properties panel in Parameter Set mode.

Added Objects to PCBLIB Right-click Place Menu

In a PCB library document (*.PcbLib), the right-click Place menu now includes the same objects as using Place from the main menus.

Added the Ability to Select Layers When Exporting to AutoCAD from a PCB

The Export to AutoCAD (PCB) dialog has been enhanced to allow selection of specific layers when exporting DXF/DWG files to AutoCAD from a PCB. Use the new Layers region to choose the desired layers by enabling the Include field.

Standard Components Now Included in the Pick & Place File

Standard (no BOM) components are now included in the Pick & Place file, which helps to support fiducials.

Graphical Mode Option Grayed-Out When No Options are Available

The Mode drop-down in the Graphical region of the Components mode of the Properties panel is not accessible (grayed-out) if only Normal mode is available.

Colored Values Added to ActiveBOM Revision Status

The Revision Status column of an ActiveBOM now displays 'Up to date' status in green text and 'Out of date' in red text.

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