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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
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.