Altium Designer Documentation

New in Altium Designer

Modified by Phil Loughhead on Mar 5, 2021

Altium Designer 21 Improvements

This page details the improvements included in the initial release of Altium Designer 21, as well as those added in subsequent updates. Along with delivering a range of improvements that develop and mature the existing technologies, each update also incorporates a large number of fixes and enhancements across the software based on feedback raised by customers through the AltiumLive Community's BugCrunch system, helping designers continue to create cutting-edge electronics technology.

You have the choice to continue with your current version, update your current version, or install Altium Designer 21 alongside your current version to access the latest features. Your current version can be updated from within the software in the Extensions and Updates view. If you prefer to install Altium Designer 21 alongside your current version, visit the Altium Downloads page to download the installer then choose New Installation on the Installation Mode page of the installer.

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Altium Designer 21.2

Released: 04 March 2021 – Version 21.2.0 (build 30)

Release Notes for Altium Designer Version 21.2


Altium Designer 21.1

Released: 12 February 2021 – Version 21.1.1 (build 26)

Release Notes for Altium Designer Version 21.1

Welcome to Update 1 for Altium Designer 21. This update to Altium Designer continues to deliver improvements and enhancements to the software's core technologies, while also addressing many of the ideas raised by customers through the AltiumLive Community's BugCrunch system.


Schematic Capture

Simplified Replacement of Generic Components

Generic Components are basic components that can quickly be placed in a design without the need to find and choose a specific manufacturer part from the available component sources. Use them as placeholders that can easily be replaced by a suitable component later in the design process. They also can be considered virtual or parametric components.

The Design Item ID field in the Generic Component mode of the Properties panel has been changed to a Replace button. The Replace button functions the same as the in the previous Design Item ID field and was changed to more clearly define the function. Clicking Replace opens the Replace Generic Component dialog in which you can select the desired component. After selecting then clicking OK in the Replace Generic Component dialog, the generic component on the schematic will be replaced with the selected component.

A read-only Comment field has also been added to the Generic Component mode of the Properties panel. The field defaults to displaying the ComponentType value, with other parameter values being appended as they are defined.

Configuring the footprint for a Generic Component

Generic components can be used as placeholder components and the properties can be defined as the design progresses. To help with this process, a list of all of footprints available in the connected Workspace can now be accessed.

The list of available footprints includes:

  • The footprints in the currently connected Workspace
  • Footprints used in other components with the same ComponentType

Other Generic Components interface updates include:

  • Clicking on a Generic Component tile in the Components panel now opens the list of all available components of that type.
  • Clicking on the button within a Generic Component tile in the Components panel invokes the placement mode – hover over the tile to expose this button.

Learn more about Generic Components.

Working with Schematic Templates

When selecting a local schematic sheet template (Design » Sheet Templates » Local), the Choose another file option has been renamed Load From File in order to clarify the function of the command.

Cross Reference Parameter Visibility

A visibility icon ( ) has been added to the CrossRef parameter for the Port and Offsheet Connector objects. Enable/disable the icon in the Properties panel for each object as your needs dictate. The image below shows the visibility icon enabled for the CrossRef parameter of a port that is selected on the schematic sheet.


PCB Design

Rigid-Flex 2.0 with Enhanced Layer Stack Management

Rigid-Flex 2.0 brings support for all current types of rigid-flex PCB design. The first step was the object-level improvements to board regions and bending lines that were recently released. This update sees the addition of the Board view mode in the Layer Stack Manager, which greatly simplifies the definition and organization of the various substacks needed in a rigid-flex design.

Key improvements in Rigid-Flex 2.0 include:

  • The new Board view mode in the Layer Stack Manager, giving a Z-plane view of the organization of the various substacks (available once Rigid-Flex mode is enabled in the Layer Stack Manager)
  • Defining overlapping flex regions (often referred to as bookbinder rigid-flex)
  • The definition of a flex section that overlays a rigid region
  • The ability to select specific layers within a substack, using the Shift+Click shortcut
  • Drag and Drop, and right-click Insert/Copy/Paste commands to create a new substack from the selected layers/substack
  • Defining the flex-to-rigid intrusion distance for any substack (set the Material Usage to Individual)

The Layer Stack Manager's new Board view gives an excellent Z-plane representation of the overall board structure. Because many rigid-flex designs use the same substack configuration in different regions of the board, commands have been included to quickly replicate an existing substack in a new location. Select a substack, then right-click to insert a copy of that substack before or after any of the existing substacks, or copy and paste the substack to a new location (displays the Insert Selected Layers dialog).

As well as selecting a substack, you can also select specific layers within a substack and copy/paste these to a new location. Hold Shift as you click on a layer to select an individual layer. Continue to Shift+Click on other layers to build up the set of selected layers. Alternatively, Shift+Click on the first layer you require, then move straight to the last layer and Shift+Click to select it; all layers in between will also be selected.

You can then drag and drop the selected set of layers horizontally in the Board view to create a new substack of those layers or right-click and use the commands in the context menu (as demonstrated in the video below).

The Board view feature is in Open Beta. Enable the PCB:RigidFlex.SubstackPlanning option in the Advanced Settings dialog to access the feature.

New 3D View Mode Command

To complete the set of pre-defined 3D views available, Flipped Isometric View has been added to the selection of views in 3D view mode. Use the View » 3D View Control » Flipped Isometric View menu command or the Ctrl+Num0 shortcut keys.


Data Management and Design Collaboration

Collaborator Notification Improvements

The Collaboration Bar and user notifications have been updated to provide additional status information between designers working on the same project where 'soft locks' are applied to documents being edited. The lock is associated with the designer that first modifies a document, and this can be overridden by other designers. The current collaboration status is indicated in both the Projects panel and on the Collaboration Bar, which now shows collaborating users in separate viewing and editing groups.

The user interface updates also include information and action dialogs that pop up when key collaboration events occur, such as when you are attempting to make local changes to a document that is being edited (is in a modified state) by another user. This condition is likely to create a version conflict, so the dialog offers the choice of reverting your local changes or ignoring (overriding) the remote soft lock. This dialog replaces the previous Edit Document dialog.

The view for two designers working on the same document.

See Collaborators Visualization and Conflict Prevention for more information.

Note that collaboration notifications can be disabled by unchecking the Enable Conflict Prevention Notifications option under the General tab in the Project Options dialog (Project » Project Options).

Comparing The Gerber Files Between Two Releases

A common ready-for-release test used by many designers is to compare the Gerber files generated from the current release with the Gerber files from the previous release. This can be achieved in the Project Releaser once the project has been prepared for release. The Comparison is performed in Altium 365. Your default web browser will open your Company Workspace and display the results.

Learn more about the Gerber Comparison feature.

Working with Templates

When a template has been set as the default on the Data Management - Templates page of the Preferences dialog, it now displays as My Default versus Default, in order to distinguish it from system defaults.

Local and server templates can now be accessed and selected for multi-board schematic documents.


Circuit Simulation

Components and Models

The browsing of Local and Generic simulation libraries has been merged to simplify working with simulation sources and generic components. This change is reflected in the user interface with the removal of the Generic button from the Source selection options in the Sim Model dialog. Both local library types now can be accessed when the Local option is selected.

Analyses

More circuit objects are now available as sweep variables for the DC Analysis. Objects such as resistors are included for selection in the drop-down variable list, but not capacitors and inductors.

The Simulation engine now supports the sdt, ddt and LTspice delay functions for Transient Analysis.

Plots and Results

The collected Simulation result entries in the Simulation Dashboard panel can now be renamed and a description added.

A Plot Number field has been added to the Add Output Expression dialog, which allows you to choose the plot in which the simulation data will be displayed.

Learn more about Mixed-signal Circuit Simulation and recent simulation user interface updates.


Altium Designer 21.0

Released: 11 January 2021 – Version 21.0.9 (build 235) - Hot Fix
Released: 17 December 2020 – Version: 21.0.8 (build 223)

Release Notes for Altium Designer Version 21.0

Enhanced Document Commenting

In conjunction with the recent updates made to Commenting features in an Altium 365 Workspace, Altium Designer now offers a parallel set of revised and enhanced Commenting capabilities when connected to an Altium server.

 

Commenting in the design space has been notably improved in terms of graphics, usability and relevant information, and remains backward compatible with previously placed comments. Comments are now placed directly from within the Comments panel, include a preview screen capture, offer freehand drawing capabilities, the mention/assignment of team members, and flexible visibility and filtering options.

 

Read more...

Schematic Editor Productivity Improvements

New and improved tools simplify the task of analyzing the connectivity in a schematic project. Hover the mouse over a net to examine both the logical (schematic) and the physical (PCB) net name; Alt+Click on the net to highlight that net throughout the project; and Alt+Double+Click on the net to display a tree of all sheets that the net is on, then click to check out that net on one of those sheets.

  • Simplified net analysis and improved net details.
  • Automatic sheet numbering in the Projects panel.
  • Page references for Off Sheet connectors.

Read more...

Design Collaborator Visualization and Conflict Prevention

To fulfill the need for real-time document sharing status and control in an Altium design editing environment, a series of updates to both the Altium design and server platforms has introduced a new system for visualizing and reacting to the current status of shared design documents.

 

The system allows you to see, in real-time, who is viewing or editing a shared document, and is enabled by the free flow of document sharing data between design clients via an Altium Workspace (required). The visualization for collaborators is realized through a series of new status icons, a Collaborators Bar and additional file locking logic.

 

Read more...

Generic Components

This release introduces the concept of standard Generic Components, which can quickly be placed in a design without the need to find and choose a specific manufactured part.

 

Generic Components are intended as placeholders that are easily replaced by parameter-matched real-world components later in the design process.

Read more...

SPICE Simulation User Interface Updates

Following on from the recent introduction of an advanced new SPICE Simulation engine for Altium Designer, which delivered improved speed, solution convergence, accuracy and reliability, this new release focuses on user interface improvements to the software's mixed-signal SPICE Simulation workflow.

 

The Simulation interface updates include a new intuitive Simulation Dashboard panel, a revised Sim Model dialog and general interface updates. The new Simulation workflow (based on the Simulation Dashboard) is offered as an alternative to the existing approach based on the Analyses Setup dialog. Also included is a comprehensive range of ready-to-use Simulation Generic components.

 

Read more...

New Design Rules Editor

The new design Rules Editor offers an alternative approach to viewing, creating and managing the design constraint rules used for PCB layouts. Provided as a document-based user interface, the reimagined Rules Editor coexists with the existing Rules and Constraints Editor, but takes a design-orientated rather than rule-orientated approach to PCB design rules and constraints.

 

Accessed from within the existing Rules and Constraints Editor, the new Rules Editor takes a simplified, more intuitive approach to the creation of design rules by avoiding query-based rule scoping, integrating multiple rules by object type, automatically deducing and applying rule priority, and more...

 

Read more...

New PCB Length Tuning Patterns

This release sees extensive improvements to the PCB editor's length tuning technologies with the introduction of new Trombone and Sawtooth tuning patterns. These new tuning patterns are rendered within a tuning sleeve, making it easy to slide the pattern along a route and around corners.

 

Read more...

Improved Interactive Dragging

Via dragging behavior has been improved with the introduction of Gloss Effort controls for both the net under edit and any Neighbor nets. Differential pair dragging has also been improved, pairs now remain coupled regardless of the dragging direction, and via pairs also remain coupled during dragging.

 

Read more...

Rigid-Flex Design Improvements

This new release includes significant improvements to the process of working with Rigid-Flex board designs in Altium Designer. Along with a large number of bug fixes and enhancements, this next stage of development in Altium's Rigid-Flex technology – Rigid-Flex 2.0 – delivers functional improvements in the following areas:

  • The ability to build the Board Shape up by interactively defining the individual Regions in Board Planning Mode. Read more....
  • Simplified definition of Bending Lines. Read more....
  • Improved editing of the Regions and Bending Lines in the Properties panel.
  • Coming soon - realistic stack-up visualization in the Layer Stack Manager.

Additional Enhancements and Improvements

Along with the major updates listed above, a key focus for this release has been polishing and improving the existing feature set. Based on forum feedback and Altium's BugCrunch system, there are numerous additional enhancements in this release. A few of these improvements include:

  • Component Pin to Multiple Pad Mapping is now available in the Single Component Editor, using the new Pins panel.
  • Alternate schematic component symbols can now be given a user-defined name.
  • Additional options for the PCB Component Clearance design rule – you can now exclude components without a 3D Body from being checked, as well as choose to have clearance checked using the component boundary.
  • Internal planes can now use the same pouring algorithm as polygons placed on a signal layer, giving improved shape definition and pad/via connections.
  • Embedded Board Arrays now support array placement at any angle.
  • New PCB Special String For Layer Thickness.
  • Quick Routing and Quick Differential Pair Routing Tools for more responsive interactive routing.
  • Updated ODBᐩᐩ Setup Dialog - giving better control of how mechanical layer data is merged into the outputs.
  • A new rectangle object has been added to the PCB Editor's Place menu.
  • Simpler process of placing a Graphic on the PCB, via the new Place » Graphic command.
  • Numerical keypad support for 3D View Move and Rotate actions.
  • Mechanical Layers can now be included in the 3D - ideal for annotating the 3D image.
  • New Export command to output the 3D PCB as an image - with user control over the format and image resolution.

Read more...


 

 

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