Altium Designer Documentation

Schematic Improvements

Modified by Rob Evans on Dec 14, 2020
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NOTE: This page is a work in progress and will continue to be updated.

Along with the new Schematic features and enhancements outlined below, this release offers a substantial boost in performance and stability thanks to the newly revised schematic engine, the universal component data model, automatic handling of object UniqueIDs, and the revised compilation and rendering of multipart components.

Automatic Sheet Numbering

Automatic sheet numbering can now be applied to the schematic sheets, with the values displayed in the Projects panel. Drag and drop the sheets in the panel to change the numbering. The feature can be disabled in the Sheet Numbering for Project dialog, or under the Options tab in the Project Options dialog (in the Netlist Options section).

Net Name Identification

Both Logical and Physical nets associated with a schematic Wire are now shown when the cursor is hovered over that wire.

This particularly applies in hierarchical designs, where a nets can have a name that is local to a schematic – a Logical net name. The Physical name of a net is its actual netlist assignment, and that used for connectivity in the PCB.

Global Net Highlighting

The net connectivity throughout a design can now be highlighted in all schematics by holding the Alt key when selecting a net by clicking on a wire (Alt+Click). All schematic instances of the net are highlighted, while other objects are dimmed, to visibly indicate the signal/power propagation in the design using one simple action.

Net highlighting is cleared by clicking in free space, and its behaviour is determined by the Highlight Methods settings on the System - Navigation page of the Preferences dialog. Note that unchecking the Dimming option will disable the net highlighting feature.

Updated Properties Panel for Wire Objects

Due to advances in the format and compilation of the Altium Designer data model, schematic Wire objects have now evolved from a simple graphical object to a more advanced form that can be directly associated with electrical parameters. As a result, the Wire mode of the Properties panel has been updated to provide an expanded set of options and a wider range of information.

The new additions include a General section for net parameter options and information, and a Parameters section that lists the User Parameters, Rules and Net Classes associated with the Wire's assigned net. In its current form the panel's included parameters mirror those of a Parameter Set that has been added to the Net – parameters for the given net may be added, edited and removed in Properties panel when either the attached Parameter Set is selected or one of the net's Wires is selected. Note that the panel also detects when the net associated with a selected Wire has a Differential Pair Directive attached.

  • Along with the net's Logical/Physical identification, the panel's General area also allows you to quickly assign a power or high-speed Signal Integrity design rule to the currently selected net.
  • Note that the featues offered by Wire mode of the Properties panel will be expanded in following software releases. 

Page References for Off Sheet Connectors

The Schematic editor's Cross References feature that identifies the locations of interconnected Ports also now adds the positional page/grid references for interconnected Off Sheet Connectors. For both types of schematic connection objects, the existing Reports » Port Cross Reference » Add To Project command adds a cross reference parameter based on the target sheet name and a positional grid reference.

Improved Connectivity Insight Accessibility

The Altium Designer Connectivity Insight functionality (part of the Design Insight feature) displays an instant view of the connection relationships within a PCB design project. Shown as a document tree with optional schematic previews, the selectable elements provide a quick and visual way to navigate through a project's connectivity structure.

In its default setup condition, the Connectivity Insight feature displays:

Adding to this capability is a new hover feature enabled by holding the Ctrl+Alt keys, which opens a selectable tree view when the cursor is over any object belonging to a signal net. Note that this hover feature is disabled if the Document Tree – Mouse Hover option is checked (enabled) in the Design Insight Preferences.

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