Altium Designer Documentation

ShowMCADCollaborationWindow

Created: May 18, 2021 | Updated: May 25, 2021

Parent page: EDMD Commands

The following pre-packaged resources, derived from this base command, are available:


Applied Parameters: None

Summary

This command is used to access the MCAD IDX Exchange panel. The panel is the main interface for collaboration between the ECAD and MCAD domains using ProStep's Electrical Design, Mechanical Design (EDMD) standard for data exchange, that is based on XML protocol. This collaborative standard is often simply referred to by the name of the exchange file format - IDX (Incremental Design EXchange format). With this intermediate exchange file (*.idx), an electrical designer can export only changes to the board design that are needed (and of value) by the mechanical designer. Conversely, the mechanical designer can float change proposals back to the electrical designer, who can then import those changes back into their design.

For a high-level overview of this ECAD-MCAD collaborative functionality, see IDX Support.
Support for this standard of collaboration between ECAD and MCAD domains is available in Altium Designer, courtesy of the MCAD IDX Exchange extension. This extension allows you to incrementally exchange data between Altium Designer and mechanical CAD applications (such as SOLIDWORKS), using the ProStep EDMD exchange format. Functionality includes support for change requests, as well as the transfer of Cu geometry.

Access

This command is accessed from the PCB Editor by choosing the Tools » MCAD IDX Exchange command from the main menus.

The command is only available once the MCAD IDX Exchange software extension is installed in Altium Designer. This extension can be found on the Purchased tab of the Extensions & Updates view (click on the  control at the top-right of the design space and choose Extensions and Updates from the menu). You will need to restart Altium Designer to complete the installation.
The panel can also be accessed by clicking the  button at the bottom right of the design space then hoosing the MCAD IDX Exchange entry from the associated pop-up menu. Alternatively, use the View » Panels » MCAD IDX Exchange menu command.

Use

After launching the command, the MCAD IDX Exchange panel will be presented. To initiate collaboration, click the Export Baseline button. You will be presented with the Export EDMD Baseline dialog, which offers options including the export of copper objects.

Exporting copper makes the IDX files much bigger, and slower to process on the MCAD side. In addition, the EDMD technology does not support change detection for copper objects.

Tips

  • Altium Designer supports IDX format version 2.0 only.
  • When initiating collaboration from Altium Designer (creating the EDMD Baseline file), a collaboration folder will be created under the original board design project. The folder is named using the PCB document name, in the form <PCBDocumentName>.PcbDoc_EDMD. The folder will contain two files: AD_EDMD_State.xml and ECAD Baseline.idx.

  • The MCAD IDX Exchange panel provides controls for keeping changes synchronized between the ECAD and MCAD domains. Changes are proposed through EDMD Changes files:

    • If the mechanical designer has proposed some changes and sent them across in a new EDMD Changes file, the panel allows those changes to be received (imported) into the PCB design, for consideration.

    • If some changes have been made to the board, the panel can detect these changes (except copper changes) and list them, ready for export to an EDMD Changes file, that is subsequently made available to the mechanical designer.
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