Altium Designer Documentation

Project Templates in a Workspace Connected to Altium Designer

Created: May 12, 2021 | Updated: December 13, 2021

Parent page: Workspace Content Types

Altium Designer, in conjunction with your connected Workspace, caters for the ability to create and manage project templates (Project Template Items) in that Workspace. Such project templates can be created through Direct Editing.

Once a project template has been created (and data saved into a revision of it), it can be reused in the creation of future design projects.

Project templates can be created for PCB and Multi-board project types.

Project templates stored in the Workspace can include the common document and file types that make up a project, as well as additional reference documentation and configuration files.

Folder Type

When creating the folder in which to store project templates, you can specify the folder's type. This has no bearing on the content of the folder – saving a project as a template will always result in a corresponding Project Template Item. It simply provides a visual 'clue' as to what is stored in a folder and can be beneficial when browsing a Workspace for particular content. To nominate a folder's use as a container for project templates, set its Folder Type as Project Templates, when defining the folder properties in the Edit Folder dialog.

Specifying the folder type – its intended use – gives a visual indication of the content of that folder when browsing the Workspace.
Specifying the folder type – its intended use – gives a visual indication of the content of that folder when browsing the Workspace.

Another important aspect of the parent folder is the Item Naming Scheme employed for it. This defines the format of the unique ID for each Item created in that particular folder. Several default example schemes are available, utilizing the short-form code for either the folder type (PRJT – Project Templates) or the content type (PRJT – Project Template):

  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} – for example, PRJT-001-0001.
  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{A00} – for example, PRJT-001-A01.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} – for example, PRJT-001-0001.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{A000} – for example, PRJT-001-A001.

Using a default naming scheme, the software will automatically assign the next available unique ID, based on that scheme, having scanned the entire Workspace and identifiers of existing content. This can be a great time-saver when manually creating project templates.

A custom scheme can also be defined for a folder, simply by typing it within the field, ensuring that the variable portion is enclosed in curly braces (e.g. PRJ-TMP-{0000}).

The Item Naming Scheme of the parent folder is applied to the Unique ID for each Item created within that folder.
The Item Naming Scheme of the parent folder is applied to the Unique ID for each Item created within that folder.

The Item Naming Scheme employed for the parent folder can be changed at any time. The modified scheme will then be applied to any subsequent newly-created content within that folder.

Content Type

When creating a target Project Template Item in which to store your project, ensure that its Content Type is set to Project Template, in the Create New Item dialog. If you are creating the Item in a Project Templates type folder, this content type will be available from the right-click context menu when creating the Item.

Creating a project template within a Project Templates folder – the correct Content Type is available on the context menu.
Creating a project template within a Project Templates folder – the correct Content Type is available on the context menu.

When defining a project template, be sure to specify the type of lifecycle management to be used for the template, and the naming scheme employed for its revisions, respectively.

When connected to an Altium 365 Workspace, note that lifecycle and revision naming management is not supported with the Standard Subscription Plan. As such, this functionality will not be available with this level of access to Altium 365.

Control over which content types can use a particular lifecycle definition or revision naming scheme, can be defined and enabled at a global level from within the Content Types dialog, when defining each schema. The default schemes assigned for use by a project template are: Generic Lifecycle and 1-Level Revision Scheme, respectively.

Once a project has been saved into the initial revision of a Project Template Item, these schemes cannot be changed for that particular Item.

Specify the required schemes in the Create New Item dialog, using the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming Scheme fields respectively.

If the option to control use of lifecycle definitions and revision naming schemes per content type is enabled for any definitions/schemes, and the Project Template content type is not set to use a particular definition/scheme, then that definition/scheme will not be available in the applicable drop-down list.

Selecting the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming schemes for a manually created project template.
Selecting the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming schemes for a manually created project template.

Observing standard revision naming schemes and lifecycle definitions, across the various types of design content in a Workspace ensures smooth, consistent management of this content.
It is a good idea to add a Name and Description as part of the project template's definition. This information is used when searching the Workspace and enables quick identification of what a project template offers.

Saving a Project as a Template

Related page: Creating and Editing Content Directly through a Workspace

So far, we've discussed the support for a project template in the Workspace, in terms of related folder and content types. Saving an actual defined project into a revision of a Project Template Item can be performed in a couple of ways.

Direct Editing

A project can be edited and saved into the initial revision of a newly-created Project Template Item, courtesy of the Workspace's support for direct editing. Direct editing frees you from the shackles of separate version-controlled source data. You can simply edit a supported content type using the latest source loaded direct from the Workspace itself. And once editing is complete, the entity is saved (or re-saved) into a subsequent planned revision of its parent Item. There are no files on your hard drive, no questioning whether you are working with the correct or latest source, and no having to maintain separate version control software. The Workspace handles it all, with great integrity, and in a manner that greatly expedites changes to your data.

When you create a Project Template Item, you have the option to edit and save a project into the initial revision of that Item, after creation. To do so, enable the option Open for editing after creation, at the bottom of the Create New Item dialog (which is enabled by default). The Item will be created and the initial revision opened as a temporary editable project in the Projects panel (under an entry for the Workspace you are currently connected to). The project will be named according to the Item-Revision, in the format: <Item><Revision> (e.g. PRJT-0002-1).

Example of editing the initial revision of a project template, directly from the Workspace – the temporary editable project is opened in the Projects panel, ready for you to add documents and configure as required.
Example of editing the initial revision of a project template, directly from the Workspace – the temporary editable project is opened in the Projects panel, ready for you to add documents and configure as required.

Define project content and options as required, as befitting its use as a template from which future design projects will be fashioned.

When preparing the project for saving to the Workspace as a project template, it is worth noting that all major files in that project will become source files in the project template. This includes all design documents and the objects or content they contain, and other files held in the project’s host folder – including any common files that are unused. As such, it is worthwhile taking the time to review and fine tune the source project, so that the final project template will only contain the files, content and settings required for the desired template.

The advantage of this approach is that a template can contain, if required, a full set of common project files (including Output Jobs), and ratified project/document options, design rules, parameters, units settings, document title blocks, grid settings, and much more.

Documents that have been saved during the template editing process are located in temporary local storage, and are correctly included in the saved template revision.
A new project template can also be created using the Project command from the menu of the Add button or the context menu of the template grid on the Templates tab of the Data Management – Templates page of the Preferences dialog. After selecting the command, click OK in the Close Preferences dialog that opens to close the Preferences dialog and open the temporary editable project in the Projects panel. A planned revision of the new project template will be created automatically in a Workspace folder of the Project Templates type.

A valuable feature that becomes available when Altium Designer applies a Project Template to a new design, is the automated naming of the template’s constituent documents. This capability is enabled by including a special [ProjectName] syntax in the template document names, which will be replaced by the nominated project Name when the template is used for a new project.

So for example, if a schematic document in a project template is named [ProjectName].SchDoc, and that template is then used for a new Altium Designer project called Flux_Triangulator, then the schematic file created in the project will be named Flux_Triangulator.SchDoc. Note that the naming string can coexist with other characters, so a template document such as [ProjectName]_Top-Level-Structure.SchDoc will become a project document named Flux_Triangulator_Top-Level-Structure.SchDoc in a newly created project that has been named Flux_Triangulator.

To include the preprocessing name capability when creating a project template, simply edit the document names accordingly (Save As) before saving the project to the Workspace as a project template (or if just saving it locally). Alternatively, open the revision of an existing project template and edit the document names to include the [ProjectName] string, then save back to the Workspace into the next revision of that project template.

Example project readied as a template, and using the [ProjectName] syntax to facilitate automated document naming when that template is reused.
Example project readied as a template, and using the [ProjectName] syntax to facilitate automated document naming when that template is reused.

There are three relevant controls when direct editing, available from the right-click context menu for the project's entry in the Projects panel:

  • Save – use this command to locally save any changes made to the project. This allows you to save current changes, should you wish to come back at a later stage to make further changes before ultimately saving to the Workspace.
  • Save to Server – use this command to save the project to the Workspace, storing it within the (planned) revision of the target Project Template Item. The Edit Revision dialog will appear, in which you can change Name, Description, and add release notes as required. The project will close after the save. The project and all associated source files will be stored in the revision of the Item.

    A Save to Server control is also conveniently provided to the right of the project's entry, within the Projects panel itself.
  • Discard Local Changes – use this command if you wish to cancel editing and discard any changes made. The project will close and nothing will be saved to the target Project Template Item.

The saved data stored in the Workspace consists of the project file itself, the project structure file, and all associated source files. In the Explorer panel, switch to the Preview aspect view tab to see the template files.

Browse the saved revision of the project template, back in the Explorer panel. Switch to the Preview aspect view tab to see the template files.
Browse the saved revision of the project template, back in the Explorer panel. Switch to the Preview aspect view tab to see the template files.

Saving an Existing Project to the Workspace as a Template

While direct editing is the preferred approach for most design content that can be stored in a Workspace, when it comes to existing design projects you also have the ability to save a project directly to the Workspace, to be used as a template. The process is as follows:

  1. Open the existing design project within Altium Designer, ensuring that one of its source documents is open as the active design document.
  2. Make changes as required to ready the project for use as a template. It can be a good idea to create a dedicated project, with its content and configuration specifically arranged for use as a project template, but this is not essential. You can take an existing fully defined project and run with that, editing it at a later date to fine tune the template configuration and content.
  3. Choose the File » Save Project As Template to Server command from the main menus. A confirmation dialog will appear, letting you know where in the connected Workspace's folder structure, and with what name (that of the original project), the project template will be saved.
  4. After clicking OK, the project will be saved to the connected Workspace. An information dialog will inform you of the successful save.

Example of saving an existing project to the Workspace to which you are actively connected to.
Example of saving an existing project to the Workspace to which you are actively connected to.

If the required project to be saved to the Workspace resides in the Local Template folder (denoted at the bottom of the Data Management – Templates page of the Preferences dialog) and is listed under the Local entry of the template grid, it can be migrated to a new Project Template Item by right-clicking on it and selecting the Migrate to Server command. Click the OK button in the Template migration dialog to proceed with the migration process – as stated in this dialog, the original project file will be added to a Zip archive in the local template folder (and hence it will not be visible under the Local template list).

Reusing a Project Template

Related page: Controlling Access to Workspace Content

Once a project template has been saved to a Workspace, and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, that template can be reused in the creation of future design projects.

Through Altium Designer

When you are connected to your Workspace, the use of available project templates in Altium Designer is automatic. If there are saved revisions of project templates, then those available templates – shared with you – will be presented when creating a new project through the Create Project dialog.

Choose from the latest revisions of project templates, shared with you, when creating a new project. In this example, a new PCB project is being created, using one of the available Workspace project templates – PCB_TMPL_SIMPLE. Notice that some of the resulting new project's document names use the supplied project Name, courtesy of the template documents having been named using the [ProjectName] syntax discussed previously.
Choose from the latest revisions of project templates, shared with you, when creating a new project. In this example, a new PCB project is being created, using one of the available Workspace project templates – PCB_TMPL_SIMPLE. Notice that some of the resulting new project's document names use the supplied project Name, courtesy of the template documents having been named using the [ProjectName] syntax discussed previously.

If you do not connect to your Workspace you can still work with Altium Designer (under your valid Altium Designer license), but you will not be able to access that Workspace, or any other services it provides. You will therefore not be able to reuse any Workspace-based project templates. You will only be able to use file-based templates defined locally, and available from the templates folder specified on the Data Management – Templates page of the Preferences dialog (if the Template visibility option is set to Server & Local on this page).

Through the Workspace's Browser-based Interface

Saved revisions of project templates can also be reused directly through the Workspace's browser interface. When adding a new project – from the Projects page of the interface – the templates available to you will be listed in the subsequent window. All project templates available to you will be listed, and across all supported project types. The newly created project structure, which can be subsequently edited in Altium Designer, is based on the selected project template.

For more information, see Creating a New Project (Altium 365 Workspace), or Creating a New Project Through Concord Pro's Browser Interface (Concord Pro Workspace).

Re-Saving a Project Template

At any stage, you can come back to any revision of a project template in the Workspace, and edit it directly. From the Explorer panel, right-click on the revision and choose the Edit command from the context menu. Once again, the temporary editable project will be opened in the Projects panel, ready for editing. Make changes as required, then save the project into the next revision of the project template.

Right-clicking on the top-level entry for a project template itself will edit the latest revision of that template.

Accessing the command to launch direct editing of an existing project template revision.
Accessing the command to launch direct editing of an existing project template revision.

A project template can also be edited using the Edit command from the context menu of the template's entry on the Templates tab of the Data Management – Templates page of the Preferences dialog. After selecting the command, click OK in the Close Preferences dialog that opens to close the Preferences dialog and open the temporary editable project.

Downloading Saved Data

Download the data stored in a revision of a project template by right-clicking on that revision and choosing the Operations » Download command from the context menu. The project and associated source files will be downloaded into a sub-folder under the chosen directory, named using the Item Revision ID. The files can be found in the Released folder therein.

Access the Download command from the top-level entry for a project template itself, to download the project and source files stored in the latest revision of that template.
Click the Explore button in the Download from Server dialog, to quickly explore to the download folder.
The latest revision of a project template can also be downloaded using the Operations » Download command from the context menu of the template's entry on the Templates tab of the Data Management – Templates page of the Preferences dialog.

Opening a Project Template File

To open a file that is stored in a revision of a project template, click on that file – on the Preview aspect view tab for the revision. The file will be opened within Altium Designer.

Soft Deletion

When connected to a Workspace, flexible functionality is available for removing a project template directly from within Altium Designer:

  • From the Explorer panel – right-click on the project template's entry in the panel and choose the Delete Item command from the context menu.
  • From the Templates tab of the Data Management – Templates page of the Preferences dialog – right-click on the project template's entry in the dialog and choose the Delete command from the context menu.

The Delete Items dialog will appear, in which to confirm the deletion. The action is actually a 'soft delete', whereby the template will be moved into the Trash area of the Workspace. The Trash is essentially a recycle bin into which any content within your Workspace can be moved (through a soft delete action). It is isolated from the rest of the Workspace.

With the soft-delete facility, you are able to delete a project template that is currently being used.
Multiple project templates can be deleted in a single action. Select all required templates using standard multi-select controls (Shift+Click, Ctrl+Click), then right-click and choose the deletion command from the context menu.

Soft deletion of a project template from within the Explorer panel. The template will be moved to the Workspace's Trash area.
Soft deletion of a project template from within the Explorer panel. The template will be moved to the Workspace's Trash area.

To proceed with the deletion, click the button. The template will be removed and a Deletion Summary dialog will confirm successful deletion. If there was an issue with deletion, this will be flagged to you.

All content deleted in this manner can be found on the Trash page of the Workspace's browser interface. Note that you can only view content that you have personally soft deleted. Administrators will be able to see the full content of the Trash page – so all content that has been soft deleted.

Things to consider in relation to a soft deleted project template:

  • The project template will not be available from your design software, or from within the Web interface.
  • Anywhere the project template was being used will reflect that the template has been deleted.
  • A project template can be restored, or permanently deleted from the Trash page, provided you have editing rights. Permanent deletion is only possible provided it is not being used by a parent Item.
Note that if you have soft deleted a project template – moving it to the Trash – you can create a new project template with that same name again. If you were to subsequently restore the original project template, and the original name is taken, an integer suffix will be used, to keep its name unique within the Workspace.
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