Altium Designer Documentation

Managed Project Templates

Modified by Jason Howie on Oct 9, 2019

Parent page: Server Items

Altium Designer, in conjunction with your managed content server, caters for the ability to create and manage Project Template Items in that server. Such Items can be created:

  • Through Direct Editing.
  • By uploading the relevant project file (and associated source documents) to a revision of a target Item.

Once a Project Template Item has been created (and data released into a revision of it), and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, it can be reused in the creation of future design projects.

Project Template Items can be created for any of the project types supported for use in Altium Designer.

Managed Project Templates stored in the server 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 Template Items, you can specify the folder's type. This has no bearing on the content of the folder - releasing 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 server for particular content. To nominate a folder's use as a container for Project Template Items, 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 server.

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 server and identifiers of existing Items. This can be a great time-saver when manually creating Project Template Items.

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

Item 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 Item type will be available from the right-click context menu when creating the Item.


Creating a Project Template Item within a Project Templates folder - the correct Content Type is available on the context menu.

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

Control over which Item 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 Item are: Generic Lifecycle and 1-Level Revision Scheme, respectively.

Once a project has been released 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 Item 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 Item.

Observing standard revision naming schemes and lifecycle definitions, across the various types of design item in a managed content server ensures smooth, consistent management of those items.
It is a good idea to add a Name and Description as part of the Item's definition. This information is used when searching the server and enables quick identification of what a Project Template Item offers.

Releasing a Project as a Template

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

Direct Editing

A project can be edited and released into the initial revision of a newly-created Project Template Item, courtesy of the server's support for direct editing. Direct editing frees you from the shackles of separate version-controlled source data. You can simply edit a supported Item type using the latest source loaded direct from the server itself. And once editing is complete, the entity is released (or re-released) 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 managed content server 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 release 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 managed content server you are actively signed into). 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 Item, directly from the managed content server - 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 release to the server as a managed Project Template, it is worth noting that all major files in that project will be 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 released template revision.

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 releasing the project to the server as a Project Template (or if just saving it locally). Alternatively, open the revision of an existing Project Template Item and edit the document names to include the [ProjectName] string, then release back to the server into the next revision of that Item.

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 Project - use this command to 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 releasing to the managed content server.
  • Release to server (shortcut: Ctrl+Alt+S) - use this command to release the project (effectively save and release) to the managed content server, storing it within the initial (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 release. The project and all associated source files will be stored in the revision of the Item.
  • Cancel Edit - use this command if you wish to cancel editing. The project will close, and nothing will be released to the target Project Template Item.

The released data stored in the server 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 released revision of the Project Template Item, back in the Explorer panel. Switch to the Preview aspect view tab to see the template files.

Sending an Existing Project to the Server as a Template

While direct editing is the preferred approach for most design Items that can be stored in a managed content server, when it comes to existing design projects you also have the abiltiy to send a project directly to the server, to be used as a template. This requires that you have a planned revision of an existing Project Template Item, into which the project will be released. The process is simple, as follows:

  1. Create a new Project Template Item and initial planned revision, or have a planned revision of another existing Item, as required.
  2. Open the existing design project within Altium Designer, ensuring that one of its source documents is open as the active design document.
  3. 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.
  4. Choose the Project » Send to server as template command from the main menus.
  5. The Select or create project item for release dialog will appear. Use this to choose the target revision of the required Project Template Item (which must be in the Planned state).
If the target Project Template Item doesn't exist, you can create it through the Select or create project item for release dialog on-the-fly. If doing so, be sure to disable the Open for editing after creation option (in the Create New Item dialog), otherwise you'll enter direct editing mode.
  1. After clicking OK, the project will be released and stored in the revision of the Item.

Example of sending an existing project to the managed content server to which you are actively signed in. The release must be to an existing revision of a Project Template Item, and that revision must be in the Planned state.

Uploading a Design Project

You can also upload a design project into the revision of a Project Template Item. This can be performed in a couple of ways.

Upload Menu

A design project can be uploaded by right-clicking on the required Project Template Item in the Explorer panel, and choosing the Upload command from the context menu. The Create New Revision dialog will appear, in which you can change Name, Description, and add release notes as required. Use the Sources region of the dialog to load the required design project. This can be performed by dragging and dropping the project file, project structure file, and all associated source files from Windows Explorer, onto the region. Alternatively, click the  button - the Add Files dialog (a standard Windows open-type dialog) will appear. Use this to browse to, and open, the required files.

If the Item has no planned revision, upload will be to the next planned revision, created on-the-fly as part of the upload process.

Manually specifying the design project files to be uploaded to the target Project Template Item.

Once the desired files are dropped in, or selected and the Open button clicked, an entry for each will appear back in the Sources region. Proceed with the upload by clicking the OK button. The uploaded files will be available on the Preview aspect view tab for the Item Revision, in the Explorer panel.

The uploaded files are listed on the Preview aspect view tab for the revision of the Project Template Item.

Drag and Drop from Windows Explorer

A design project can also be uploaded by dragging the selected files (project file, project structure file, and all associated source files) from a source folder in your Windows Explorer, and dropping onto the required target Project Template Item in the Explorer panel. The Create New Revision dialog will appear, with the dragged files listed in the Sources region. Modify Name (which will be the file names, including extension - entries will be separated by a semi-colon) and Description (which will be in the format Uploaded from <FileNameandPath>, Size <FileSize>, Created on <FileCreationDate> - entries will be separated by a semi-colon), and add any Release Notes as required, and then click the OK button.

If the existing Project Template Item has no planned revision, upload will be to the next planned revision, created on-the-fly as part of the upload process. If you drop the dragged files away from an existing Item, a new Project Template Item will be created. The Create New Item dialog will appear. The Name of the item will be the file names, including extension (entries will be separated by a semi-colon). The Description will be in the format Uploaded from <FileNameandPath>, Size <FileSize>, Created on <FileCreationDate> (entries will be separated by a semi-colon). Change these as required. The Item ID will be in accordance with the Item Naming scheme defined at the folder level. If the folder has no naming scheme defined, naming will follow the $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} scheme.

Uploading a design project for use as a template using the drag and drop method.

Reusing a Managed Project Template Item

Related page: Controlling Access to Server Content

Once a project template has been released to a managed content server, 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 signed in to your managed content server, use of available Project Template Items in Altium Designer is automatic. If there are released revisions of Project Template Items, then only 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 Template Items, shared with you, when creating a new project. In this example, a new managed PCB project is being created, using one of four available managed Project Templates - PCB_TMPL_LITE (v.1). 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 there are no released revisions of Project Template Items in the server, or if you sign out of your server, then you will be able to use local, file-based templates.

If you do not sign in to your managed content server you can still work with Altium Designer (under your valid Altium Designer License), but you will not be able to access your organization's managed content server, or any other services it provides. You will therefore not be able to reuse any managed Project Template Items. You will only be able to use file-based templates defined locally.

Through the Server's Browser-based Interface

Released revisions of Project Template Items can also be reused directly through the server's browser interface. When adding a new project - by clicking the  button on the Projects page of the interface - the templates available to you will be listed in the Templates region of the subsequent Add Project window.

The region lists the latest revision of all Project Template Items available to you, and across all supported project types.

Choose from the latest revisions of Project Template Items, shared with you, when creating a new project through your managed content server's browser interface.

The newly created managed project structure, which can be subsequently edited in Altium Designer, is based on the selected Project Template.

Re-Releasing a Project Template Item

At any stage, you can come back to any revision of a Project Template Item in the server, 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 commit the release of the project into the next revision of the item.

Right-clicking on the top-level entry for an Item itself, will edit the latest revision of that Item.

Accessing the command to launch direct editing of an existing revision of a Project Template Item.

Updating a Project Template Item

If you need to change the design project stored in a Project Template Item, and you have the updated project files, you can upload those files to that Item - the new files will be stored in the next revision of that Item.

Downloading Released Data

Download the data stored in a revision of a Project Template Item 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 file can be found in the Released folder therein.

Access the Download command from the top-level entry for a Project Template Item itself, to download the project and source files stored in the latest revision of that Item.
Click the Explore button in the Download from Server dialog, to quickly explore to the download folder.

Opening a Project Template File

To open a file that is stored in a revision of a Project Template Item, click on that file - on the Preview aspect view tab for the revision. The file will be opened within Altium Designer.

 

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