Altium Designer Documentation

NFS_AD17_0_AV3_0Additional Vault-related Enhancements & Improvements_AD

Created: August 22, 2016 | Updated: December 14, 2017

Altium Designer 17.0 delivers a number of additional performance-related enhancements and improvements, related to working with an Altium Vault. These are not large enough to warrant their own documented pages and so are summarized here. However, they collectively make a big impact in your day-to-day usage of the Altium Vault.

Humanly-Readable Naming for Folder and Item Types

Internal naming for folder and item types in an Altium Vault has been replaced with humanly-readable naming, enabling you to see more readily what type of entity you are dealing with. The following sections list those folders and items that can be manually created in Altium Vault 3.0, through Altium Designer's Vaults panel.

Folder Types

  •  Generic Folder
  •  Components
  •  Footprints
  •  Symbols
  •  Binary Files
  •  3D Models
  •  Simulation Models
  •  Managed Schematic Sheets
  •  Layerstacks --- new in this release
  •  Schematic Templates
  •  BOM Templates --- new in this release
  •  Output Jobs
  •  Scripts --- new in this release
  •  Altium Designer Preferences
  •  Datasheets --- new in this release
  •  Project Catalog
  •  Draftsman Templates --- new in this release
  •  Project Templates --- new in this release

Content (Item) Types

  •  Component
  •  Footprint
  •  Symbol
  •  3D Model
  •  Binary File
  •  Simulation Model
  •  Managed Schematic Sheet
  •  Layerstack --- new in this release
  •  Schematic Template
  •  Project Template --- new in this release
  •  Component Template
  •  BOM Template --- new in this release
  •  Outputjob
  •  Script --- new in this release
  •  Altium Designer Preferences
  •  Datasheet --- new in this release
  •  PCB Assembly Data
  •  PCB Fabrication Data
  •  PCB Project Design
  •  Draftsman Document Template --- new in this release
  •  Draftsman Sheet Template --- new in this release

Streamlined Access to an Altium Vault

The Data Management - Vaults page of the Preferences dialog has been updated to streamline connection to an Altium Vault. The previously available Add Vault button has been changed to Sign In. Clicking this will access the same Connecting to Altium Vault dialog as that accessed when using the DXP » Sign in to Altium Vault command.

Once signed in to your Altium Vault, the button will change to Sign Out.

Streamlined sign-in to your Altium Vault.
Streamlined sign-in to your Altium Vault.

For those requiring the legacy functionality - perhaps you have legacy vault technology (Satellite Vault, Personal Vault, etc), or you have more than one Altium Vault to which you can connect - you can still connect to these, by clicking the drop-down arrow at the right of the button, and choosing the Add Vault (legacy) entry on the context menu. This gives you access to the Connect To Vault dialog.

Remember that while you could connect to multiple Altium Vaults, you can only be signed in to one at any given time.

Accessing legacy vault connection functionality.
Accessing legacy vault connection functionality.

Signing into an Altium Vault from Different Computers

Support has been added for signing into an Altium Vault, using the same credentials, but from different computers. Now, if you attempt to sign in to a vault that you are already signed into from another computer - either through Altium Designer, or the vault's browser-based interface - a pop-up dialog will alert you to this. You can choose from two options offered in the dialog:

  • Terminate existing session - close the existing session that you have on the other computer, and continue to login to the vault from the current computer.
  • Start new session - login to the vault from the current computer by using an additional connection license, and thereby keep logged into the vault from the other computer as well.
You will only be able to login from the current computer as well, provided you have enough Vault Connector licenses remaining.

In addition, and for an Administrator of your Altium Vault, there is the provision to kill a session from the Users - Sessions page of the vault's browser interface. Use this to terminate an existing session, and thereby free up a Vault Connector license. The Identity Address column reflects the IP address of the computer from which a connection to the vault is being made.

As an Administrator for your Altium Vault, you have the ability to terminate a session for any user currently signed into that vault.
As an Administrator for your Altium Vault, you have the ability to terminate a session for any user currently signed into that vault.

If a user is logged into the vault from the same computer upon which that vault is installed and running, the Identity Address entry will appear as ::1.

Export of Data from Vaults Panel

Support has been added to export data from grid views within the Vaults panel, to a csv- or xls-formatted file. Examples of where this functionality is available, include:

  • Component Items grid (both Classic and Component views).
  • Items grid.
  • Linked models grid in the Preview aspect view (for a selected Component Item).
  • Search results grid.
  • Item grid in the Where-Used aspect view.
  • Item grid in the Children aspect view.

Simply right-click within a grid and choose the Operations » Export Data command from the context menu. The Select columns for data export dialog will appear. Use this to determine the data you wish to export. The dialog contains all possible columns for the grid, with those that are currently displayed in the panel enabled for export by default. After clicking OK, the standard Windows Save As dialog will appear. Use the dialog to define where, and with what name, the exported file is to be saved. Use the Save as type field to choose the format of file - either a Comma-Separated Values file (*.csv), or a Microsoft Excel file (*.xls).

Progress of the export is displayed in the Export Data dialog. Once successfully exported, use the Explore button to quickly explore to the export folder. Alternatively, use the Open button to open the exported file directly.

An example of exporting data regarding to the linked models for a selected Component Item, to an Excel-formatted file.
An example of exporting data regarding to the linked models for a selected Component Item, to an Excel-formatted file.

Improved SVN Version Control Support

Support for Subversion VCS has been greatly improved in this release through delivery of a new extension: VCS Provider - SVN.

The VCS Provider - SVN extension.
The VCS Provider - SVN extension.

This extension, which is installed by default, delivers a better implementation of version control functionality, through the use of SharpSVN. This implementation has full support for Unicode (multi-byte) characters in file names. This for example, allows you to add files to your SVN VCS repository that include Russian characters in their names.

The new system also means there is nothing to set in the Data Management - Version Control page of the Preferences dialog, other than to enable the SVN - Subversion provider option.

Roll over the image to show the difference in the Data Management - Version Control page when the new version control extension is

installed (default), and removed (giving the previous system).
Roll over the image to show the difference in the Data Management - Version Control page when the new version control extension is
installed (default), and removed (giving the previous system).

If you require to use the older Subversion VCS functionality, based on use of the SVN executable (svn.exe), you can effectively roll back to this implementation by removing the VCS Provider - SVN extension from your installation.

Creation of a Shell Component from a Part Request

You can now create a shell Component Item from a Part Request, giving the assigned Librarian a starting point with which to craft the required vault component.

Detail of an example Part Request, to be created by an assigned Librarian.
Detail of an example Part Request, to be created by an assigned Librarian.

From the Part Requests folder, right-click on the part request of interest - which is available to the originator of the request, and the applicable assigned Librarian (or all users assigned to the Librarians role, if the request is not yet assigned) - and choose the Operations » Create Component command from the context menu. A new Component Library file - CmpLibFromPartRequest1.CmpLib - will be opened as the active document, and the following information from the Part Request will be imported into the component's definition:

  • Component Type.
  • Parameters.

Quickly generate a shell component definition using information from the Part Request - giving the Librarian a starting point.
Quickly generate a shell component definition using information from the Part Request - giving the Librarian a starting point.

Vault Folder Naming Scheme Inheritance

The Item Naming Scheme defined for a parent vault folder will now be inherited by its child folders by default. This can of course be overridden with a manually-set naming scheme for a child folder at time of creation, or anytime thereafter.

When creating a child folder, the naming scheme entry will initially be bold-grey, to highlight that it will be inheriting that scheme from its immediate parent. Simply run with that scheme, or change it using a different scheme from the drop-down field, if required.

Item naming scheme inheritance from the parent folder - roll over to see the created child folder.
Item naming scheme inheritance from the parent folder - roll over to see the created child folder.

If an Item Naming Scheme has been defined for a components folder, and that folder also has a Component Template assigned to it, with a defined Item Naming Scheme also, then the folder scheme will take precedence ONLY if the Allow Override option has been enabled for the scheme, within the template file.

Validation Checking of Component Naming

Additional smarts have been added to validate the IDs of components that are being created by multiple users for release to an Altium Vault, and thereby prevent duplicated Item ID issues. Now, when a user creates a Component Item, the assigned Item ID is 'locked', preventing another user from using that ID, even if the first user has not, or does not, release that component. If other users change the Item ID manually as part of their component definition - to one that is currently used by an existing Item (or an intended-to-be-created Item), the ID will simply be changed for the next available, unused ID, in accordance with the applicable naming scheme.

A locked Component Item ID will be released automatically after 30 minutes, if no release has taken place within that time.

As an example, consider user Desmond Igner, who is in the process of creating a vault component, with Item ID CMP-00215:

User Desmond Igner, creating a new vault component, with automatically assigned ID CMP-00215.
User Desmond Igner, creating a new vault component, with automatically assigned ID CMP-00215.

And a second user - admin admin - who is also creating a new vault component. This user would have been given a designated ID that was available, but has manually changed the Item ID to CMP-00215.

User admin admin is also creating a new vault component, and has manually changed the ID to CMP-00215.
User admin admin is also creating a new vault component, and has manually changed the ID to CMP-00215.

Because the ID CMP-00215 has been locked for the first user, when the second user attempts to release, the system detects the clash and adjusts the ID to the next available. In this case CMP-00218, which means some other users are also creating components components with reserved IDs CMP-00216 and CMP-00217.

The system detects the clash in IDs, and resolves it by changing the ID when it comes to user admin admin releasing.
The system detects the clash in IDs, and resolves it by changing the ID when it comes to user admin admin releasing.

Preventing Deletion of a Component Item if a Revision in Use

If any revision of a Component Item has been used in a design, then that Component Item can no longer be deleted from the vault. Now, when you attempt to delete one or more Items, using the Delete Item command from the right-click context menu, you will still get the Confirm Delete Item dialog, but upon clicking OK, the Delete Item Errors dialog will appear - alerting you to any of the chosen Items that could not be deleted because they are in use.

An option to control this behavior is available from the Vault's browser-based interface. The Permissions page of the Settings area of the interface (ADMIN » SETTINGS) provides a single option that allows Vault Components to be deleted from the Vault, even if they have been placed on a design document.

If a revision of a Component Item is placed within a design, that Item cannot be deleted from the source Altium Vault.
If a revision of a Component Item is placed within a design, that Item cannot be deleted from the source Altium Vault.

Searching for Components using Footprint Data

You can now conduct a search for components in your Altium Vault using footprint data. The following data is searchable:

  • Footprint Name (its Comment attribute).
  • Footprint Description.
  • Footprint Item-Revision ID.

Data can be presented in the resulting search results by enabling the respective columns in the Select Columns dialog (access by right-clicking on a data column header and choosing Select Columns from the context menu).

The data columns are named with a suffix, to cater for components that reference multiple footprints - FootprintName1/FootprintDescription1/FootprintRevisionID1, FootprintName2/FootprintDescription2/FootprintRevisionID2, FootprintName3/FootprintDescription3/FootprintRevisionID3, and so on. A component can reference any number of footprint models, and typically 3 footprints when satisfying the IPC requirements for different density levels (L (least or minimum copper), M (most, or maximum copper), and N (nominal, or median copper)).

An example vault search, using footprint description data.
An example vault search, using footprint description data.

Footprint data can also be presented when viewing components in a Components-type folder, and setting the view to Components View, rather than Classic View (click the  button, then choose View » Components View from the menus). Again, enable the required columns through the Select Columns dialog.

Browsing components in a Components-type folder, set to Components View, and with footprint-related data included for presentation.
Browsing components in a Components-type folder, set to Components View, and with footprint-related data included for presentation.

Support for Switching between Advanced and Simple Lifecycle Management Modes

You can now switch an existing lifecycle definition from using the Advanced style of lifecycle management (states, state transitions, and stages) to using the Simple style of management (states and state transitions only). When you enable the Simple option, the Confirm Merge States dialog will appear. Use this dialog to determine how to handle the switch as follows:

  • Click Yes - all defined states (and state transitions) across Stages 1, 2, and 3, are merged into a single flat listing of states.
  • Click No - all defined states (and state transitions) in Stages 2 and 3 are deleted. Only those states (and state transitions) in Stage 1 (the left-most stage) will remain in a single flat listing of states.

Switch style of lifecycle management - from Advanced to Simple - with control over how the states (and state transitions) in other stages are handled.
Switch style of lifecycle management - from Advanced to Simple - with control over how the states (and state transitions) in other stages are handled.

 

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