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 c ompany 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 Designer, 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 informat ion 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 document takes a look at the part requests feature from within Altium Designer, including starting a request and viewing a request. For information on using the feature from within your managed content server see Part Requests
(Altium 365 Workspace), or Part Requests
(self-managed Altium Concord Pro).
Creating Part Requests
Part Requests can be created and maintained within Altium Designer, 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.
Adding a Request
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. The drop-down list will include all types currently defined on the Data Management - Component Types page of the Preferences dialog.
- 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 and can be up to 2GB in size.
- 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.
New part requests can also be added - using the
button and its associated command - while viewing existing part requests through the Explorer
panel's dedicated Part Requests
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 performed from the Explorer panel. 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 dialog 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
buttons. Note that only visibly-enabled entries may be moved.
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 column).
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, when hovering over that 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.
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 Designer 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.
- Operations » Export Data - this command allows you to export the data from the upper region. The Select columns for data export dialog will appear. Use this to determine the data you wish to export. The dialog contains all possible columns for the grid, with those that are currently displayed in the panel enabled for export by default. After clicking OK, the standard Windows Save As dialog will appear. Use the dialog to define where, and with what name, the exported file is to be saved. Use the Save as type field to choose the format of file - either Comma-Separated Values Files (*.csv), or Excel Files (*.xls).
- 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.
A command is also available from this right-click menu to create a new part request. This 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.