Altium Designer Documentation

MCAD CoDesigner

Modified by Tiffany Cullen on Jul 10, 2020

Parent page: PCB Panels

The MCAD CoDesigner panel is used to Push and Pull design changes between the ECAD and MCAD design environments.

Summary

The MCAD CoDesigner panel is used to Push and Pull design changes back and forth between Altium Designer and your supported MCAD design software.

Design changes are not transferred directly between the ECAD and MCAD environments. Both design environments connect to an Altium managed content server that supports MCAD CoDesign, such as Altium Concord Pro, which holds a tool-neutral snapshot of the design. This approach allows designers on both sides to continue to edit their design files, and Push and Pull the updates when they are ready. The tool-neutral snapshot holds details of the objects that are supported, not the entire board design.

For more detailed information about the MCAD CoDesigner panel, visit the More about ECAD-MCAD CoDesign page.

Panel Access

The MCAD CoDesigner panel is available in the PCB editor. Enable the panel via the  button, or use the View » Panels » MCAD CoDesigner menu command.

  • To use the MCAD CoDesigner panel you must be signed in to an Altium managed content server that supports CoDesign.
  • The panel is delivered by the MCAD CoDesigner extension, which is part of the default software installation. If the panel is not available in the PCB editor, refer to the Extending Altium Designer page to learn how to install an extension.

If you are signed in to your Altium account and are attempting to open the MCAD CoDesigner panel but you are not currently connected to a server (workspace), the panel will present a list of known servers, which you may choose from to connect and ultimately view the contents of the panel. The MCAD CoDesigner panel can only interface to one server at a time.

If you are not signed in to your Altium account nor connected to a server, the MCAD CoDesigner panel will ask you to sign in and register to a server to view the contents of the panel.

You may select Sign in to open the Sign In dialog, where you may sign in to your Altium account. Select Register to be redirected to the Altium 365 registration page, where you may register or sign in with your AltiumLive credentials.

An iteration of the browser-based Altium 365 Platform Interface that details information about the MCAD CoDesigner opens if Learn more is selected from the panel when not signed in to your AltiumLive account.

If attempting to open the MCAD CoDesigner in a project that does not reside in the Workspace that you are currently signed in to, a message stating Managed Project must belong to the Active Workspace will appear, indicating that in order to use the panel, you must first sign into the appropriate Workspace.

Panel Features

The panel is used to transfer design changes between Altium Designer (the ECAD software), and your supported MCAD design software.

  • Design changes created in either environment are transferred to the target environment by performing a Push. A message can be included to explain the nature of the change, this message is displayed in the CoDesigner panel in the target environment.
  • When a change is Pushed an alert message will appear at the top of the CoDesigner panel in the target environment, as shown in the image above (the MCAD designer has just pushed a change regarding the location of J2). Click View Changes to display a list of changes (Change List).
  • Click on an individual change in the Change List, that change will be highlighted in purple on the board. (link to show this)
  • Individual changes can be viewed and accepted, or discarded.
  • You can check for outstanding changes at any time by performing a Pull. If changes are pending the alert message will appear, as shown in the image above.

Push

At any point in the design process, changes can be transferred from Altium Designer to the MCAD environment by clicking the Push button.

Pushing a change from Altium Designer to the MCAD software. Left image shows the message being posted, right image shows the Push complete.

As part of support for ECAD-MCAD CoDesign in Altium Designer, you can also share a project with a Mechanical Engineer at the time of pushing the PCB to your Workspace and, in doing so, invite that person into your Workspace Team (if not already a member). For more information, see Specifically Inviting an MCAD User.

  • If the project is already shared in your hosted Workspace with a user who has the Mechanical Engineers role assigned, you will see Push as the only option on MCAD CoDesigner panel. If the project has not been shared yet, the button will display Push and Share. When this is clicked you will be able to send an invitation to the mechanical engineer.

Design changes are Pushed and Pulled between the ECAD and MCAD domains through a dedicated panel.

Pull

The Pull button is used to check for MCAD design changes, and initiate the process of bringing them into Altium Designer.

  • Whenever the MCAD designer performs a Push, their change message automatically appears in the Altium Designer MCAD CoDesigner panel, as shown in the image above on the left.
  • To check at any time if there are changes pending, click Pull. If there are changes pending the change message will appear in the Altium Designer MCAD CoDesigner panel, as shown in the image above on the left.
  • Click the View Changes button to display a list of changes, as shown in the image on the right. Each change is a difference between the data in the PCB file, and the data pushed by the MCAD software.
  • Enable the checkbox for each change you wish to accept. Right-click in the Change List to access a context menu where all changes can be enabled or disabled.
  • Click the Apply button to apply those changes to the PCB.

Post

  • When Post is clicked:
    • The working copy of the modified PCB file is automatically saved if it is currently unsaved.
    • The changes are written to your managed content server.
    • The Posted message is displayed in the message thread of the source editor's CoDesigner panel.
    • The target editor's panel will display a message that there is a change pending the next time they open their working copy of the design file, as shown in the image above on the right.

Working with the Change List

  • Each difference detected between the current design and the snapshot stored on the managed content server is detailed as a Change in the Change List.
  • A Change does not have to be accepted. If a change is ignored it will appear in the Change List again, the next time an update is performed in that direction. Be aware that if you choose to ignore a change, for example moving a mounting hole, and you then perform a Push of your design changes, the ignored change may be overwritten since in your version the mounting hole still has the old location. The MCAD designer can avoid losing their change by not accepting your mounting hole move.
  • A single design change, such as changing the location of a component, can become multiple changes in the Change List. When a PCB component is moved there are MCAD changes to the location of: the component, the shapes that component makes on the Component Overlay, and the shapes that component makes in the top and bottom copper layers. Related changes should all be applied together.
  • The list may include changes that cannot be applied in the target environment. In this situation the change will be displayed but the checkbox will be unavailable, indicating that this difference cannot be resolved.
  • Where possible, the selected change is highlighted in the workspace when you click on it in the Change List. The animation below shows examples of this.


Click on a change to highlight the before and after states of that change.

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