Altium Designer Documentation

Generic Components

Modified by Susan Riege on Jan 13, 2021
Note that this feature is available only to a beta focus group.

To expedite the process of laying out the early stages of a design, Altium has introduced the concept of standard, basic Generic Components, which can quickly be placed in a design without the need to find and choose a specific manufacturer part from the available component sources. Generic components are intended as placeholders that are easily replaced by a suitable component later in the design process – they also can be considered as virtual or parametric components.

Access and Placement

When Altium Designer is connected to an Altium 365 Workspace, the provided Generic Components can be accessed from the Components panel and are exposed when the All option is selected in the Categories panel – or from the top drop-down menu when the panel is in its narrow mode. Click on a Generic Component tile to attach the component to the cursor for placement in the active schematic.

Since Generic Components must not be used in a final design, they will cause a compiler violation when placed in a schematic. The level of that violation – a Fatal Error by default – is determined in the Violations Associated with Components section of the Error Reporting settings in the Project Options dialog (Project » Project Options).

Select a placed Generic Component to access its properties in the Properties panel, which provides only those settings and parameters that are relevant to this type of component. The available parameters are determined by the related Component Template (Resistors in the example shown here). Parameter values can be manually entered, or selected from a drop-down menu list that offers values sourced from all the available components of that type.

Replacing a Generic Component

When a design has progressed to the point where a Generic Component can be replaced with a specific physical component, invoke the Replace Component dialog by selecting the ellipsis menu in the Design Item ID field of the Properties panel. Note this also can be done from the Item Manager or through the project's ActiveBOM document.

Parameter values that have been applied to the Generic component (here, power and resistance values) are automatically used as search terms in the Replace Generic Component dialog, allowing you to choose a suitable replacement component from the filtered results – in the example case here, two component entries fit the search criteria.

Note that the component replacement logic also supports multiple selections. When a number of generic components are selected for replacement via the Properties panel, the manufacturer component chosen in the Replace Generic Component dialog will replace all of those selected components.

Creating a Generic Component

Generic Components are automatically created through the addition of a Symbol model reference to a Managed Component Template, as is the default case for the templates that apply to basic passive components such as Resistors and Capacitors. Note that support for Component Templates is not included with an Altium 365 Standard level of access.

To create the availability of a generic LED component for example, open the LED Component Template for editing, add a suitable default Symbol model parameter reference, and then save the edited template back to the Workspace (Save to Server). The specified Symbol model could be an existing symbol, one that has been cloned and edited from another symbol, or a custom symbol that has been created from scratch.

The presence of a symbol model in the updated template causes a LED Generic Component tile to be added to those available in the Components panel (when All component categories are selected). Note that the Symbol's Pin, Line and Border primitives – effectively its outline – are colored red to indicate that a Generic Component is in place.

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