Altium Designer Documentation

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Modified by Phil Loughhead on Feb 28, 2020

Altium Designer 20.0

Released: 25 February 2020 – Version: 20.0.13 (build 296) - Update 4 
Released: 14 February 2020 – Version: 20.0.12 (build 288) - Update 3
Released: 28 January 2020 – Version: 20.0.11 (build 256) - Update 2
Released: 24 December 2019 – Version: 20.0.10 (build 225) - Update 1
Released: 2 December 2019 – Version: 20.0.9 (build 164)

Release Notes for Altium Designer Version 20.0

This latest update to Altium Designer continues to deliver new features and enhancements to the software's core technologies, while also addressing many issues raised by customers through the AltiumLive Community's BugCrunch system. Along with delivering a range of new features that develop and mature the existing technologies, it also incorporates a large number of fixes and enhancements across the software as a whole, helping designers continue to create cutting-edge electronics technology.

It is not possible to update to Altium Designer 20.0 from an earlier version; a new installation is required. You have the choice to continue with your current version or to install Altium Designer 20.0 to access the latest features. You also can have both installed side-by-side and use the version that best suits your needs.
 

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Library Migrator Improvements

The Library Migrator has been substantially updated to provide a highly automated one-click solution for converting file-based component libraries to server-based managed components. Improvements include a completely revised user interface and the introduction of source library analysis processes that automatically detect component types and parameter content. Accessible in both Simple and Advanced modes, the migrator can be applied and configured to suit your exact library migration needs.

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Schematic Improvements

This release sees a number of improvements to schematics. Dynamic compilation removes the need for manual project compilation, and also lays the foundation for stronger interaction between the editors, such as Multi-board and ActiveBOM. The schematic editor graphics engine now uses DirectX, bringing smoother and faster panning and zooming, particularly on large and dense schematics. And the new Open All Schematic Documents and the Update Selected from Libraries commands will help improve your design efficiency.

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New PCB Design Rules

Two new PCB Design rules will help in the design of high-speed boards. Use the Creepage Distance rule to ensure the creepage distance across and through non-conductive board surfaces meets your design requirements. The new Return Path design rule checks for a continuous signal return path above or below the signals targeted by the rule. Using the return layers configured in the selected Impedance Profile, the return path can be created from fills, regions, polygons or plane layers.

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PCB Text String Improvements

In this release a number of improvements have been made to PCB Text objects, which allow you more precise control with defining text strings. Text justification functionality has been improved and text behavior has been changed to make the justification options predictable. There are also more practical options for positioning the string within its bounding box, when the bounding box has been interactively resized.

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Routing Improvements

This release introduces new features that improve the process of Interactive Routing, with an emphasis on support for high-speed design. The new push and shove engine brings support for pushing during curved routing, backed up by the updated glossing engine which can re-shape pushed routes into curved shapes. Features for reworking the existing routing have also been improved, supporting sliding any-angle and curved routing. During sliding you can use the new Interactive Sliding mode of the Properties panel, which has a number of options to control how sliding corners are constructed and how existing routes are handled. Bring these features together and you can now Snake Route - routing smoothly at any angle while cornering with curves. Use these improved routing capabilities with the new propagation delay based net length calculations to monitor the route length based on the time it takes for the signal to propagate, rather than measuring it as a physical length.

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Properties Panel Improvements

Other than minor updates, the Properties panel has remained the same for the most part since its inception in Altium Designer 18.0. We have taken this opportunity to give the panel a significant overhaul. One of the most anticipated improvements is the ability to access either the Properties panel or a dialog (depending upon your preference) to edit placed PCB and schematic objects. In addition, the panel layout has been optimized with new features and options for some objects. Additionally, a Part Choices region has been added to the panel for components that displays pricing, availability, and other information in one convenient place.

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Layer Stack Manager Enhancements

The Layer Stack Manager has also been enhanced with this release. Single and differential coplanar transmission line structures are now supported, with detailed user-control over the widths, gap and clearances. The high-speed impedance calculator built into the Layer Stack Manager has also been made more accurate with improved user-control over the shape properties of the routing, and additional fields to define the conductor surface roughness.

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PCB Component Shape Detection Improvements

In earlier versions of the PCB editor, the bounding box of a component was defined by the smallest rectangle that enclosed all of the component primitives - an approach that made it difficult to select and collision-check non-rectangular components. With this release the Component Courtyard layer can now be used to accurately define the component shape, when it is present this shape is used for selection and collision checking. 

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Multi-board Improvements

At Altium, we are constantly striving to make our software more comprehensive to help increase our users' productivity. In this release, there are a number of improvements and enhancements to functionality for multi-board projects. With Altium Designer 20.0, you can add a BomDoc to your multi-board project and generate a BOM for the entire assembly. This removes the need to generate individual BOMs for each PCB in the assembly. Additional improvements include new special parameters for the BOM, the ability to export Multi-board Assembly documents as PDF3Ds, as well as Bill of Materials output support.

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Importer Improvements

Altium Designer 20.0 includes several improvements to importers. These additions and enhancements create more efficient and inclusive importing. The Allegro, EAGLE, Mentor Expedition, OrCAD, and PADS importers have been enhanced to include new features and/or allow for layer mapping.

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Draftsman Enhancements

Draftsman enhancements in this release allow you to better define objects in a precise manner. One included feature is the ability to export Draftsman documents in .dxf format allowing for exports in a vectorial format. Additionally, a new separate Columns tab in the Properties panel for a Drill Table object helps to declutter the General tab of the panel. Also included in this release is the ability to define the row height for a custom table, which improves readability, as well as making the table object more customizable for your needs. 

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New Simulation Support

This release introduces a new era for circuit simulation capabilities through the introduction of an advanced new SPICE simulation engine developed by Altium. The replacement engine offers immediate performance benefits and provides a scalable foundation for future development in mixed circuit simulation in Altium Designer. The new simulation engine and its core algorithms offer a performance that is multiple times faster than before, coupled with vastly improved solution convergence, accuracy and reliability.

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Ability to Get a Viewer License

In Altium Designer 20.0, the ability has been added to use Altium Designer in Viewer mode when signed into your AltiumLive account and no active license is being used. The Altium Designer Viewer license can be used by anyone with an AltiumLive account and no other licenses or subscription is needed. The license can be activated from the License Management page.

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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 more than 40 additional enhancements in this release.

 

A few of these improvements include:

  • Updated the Smart PDF output to support project navigation from one schematic sheet to another.
  • Added BOM report output when no schematic is present.
  • Added a new option that allows you to enable/disable fractal (stacked) panels.
  • Added the ability to merge component types into a single, specified component type.
  • Improved the Components panel search results.
  • The Open Project dialog has been enhanced to help find projects and view detailed information without the need to open a project.
  • Added new command to add the .Designator special string to all footprints on the board, or in the library.
  • Added Relative Coordinate options to the PCB editor Jump to Location dialog in which you can choose to jump to an absolute location or an offset from the current location.
  • Added a Search field to the PCB Rules and Constraints editor.
  • New options in the Unused Pad Shape dialog allow you to apply changes to both pads and vias, and to reapply the command when additional pads or vias have been added to the board.
  • A new Copper Area option has been added to the Board Report dialog. Use this to report the copper area present on each copper layer in metric, imperial, or as a percentage.
  • Restored the ability to selectively set the transparency per PCB object-kind and layer.

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