Parent page: Working with Vault Components
The number of design components available to an engineer when capturing their next design can vary from a few hundred scattered across individual symbol and model libraries, through to hundreds of thousands, stored in a dedicated company parts database. But no matter how many components are available to hand, there will always be more that aren't, and that need to be created and added for reuse.
For a small design house, an engineer will simply change 'hats' and become the Librarian - whipping up required components that are missing from their design arsenal. However, for a larger organization that employs a dedicated library department to grow and maintain the design components - accessible to all engineers and designers in that organization - it makes sense to submit requests for new (missing) components to that department. Providing an elegant solution to this, Altium Designer, in conjunction with the Altium Vault, offer their Part Requests feature.
An engineer can simply put in a request for one or more parts to be created, to a member of a librarian-nominated role, and get notified when that request has either been rejected (and why), or processed, and the component(s) made available. The requestor supplies as much key information to support their request as possible (manufacturer and part number(s), description(s), any relevant datasheet (PDF or URL)). Stub Component Items can even be created that the librarian can then run with (and finish off).
Nominating Your Librarians
First things first, you'll need to specify which role (or roles) should be used to fulfill the role of Librarians for your organization. In essence, you are simply configuring a set of users of your Altium Vault, that can be assigned to a part request. This is performed through the Vault's browser-based interface.
With administrative rights to your company's Altium Vault you can simply sign in, click on ADMIN at the top-right of the page, and choose the SETTINGS entry from the associated menu (which provides all browser-based functionality accessible to Admins). Then, use the available navigation tree for the Settings area of the interface to locate and open the Librarians Role page (under the Vault\Part Request area of the structure). It is from here that you will specify the role(s) to use for Librarian.
The Librarians Role page of the ADMIN - SETTINGS area provides the interface for specifying which existing role(s) should be used as Librarians for the Part Request feature.
Start typing the name of an existing role into the Librarian's Role field to pop-up a list of matching roles. Select the required role from the this list.
Choose a currently defined role to fulfill the Librarians role, as required.
The members of the nominated role will be the set of Librarians that can be assigned to, and work on, part requests.
The members of the role assigned to the Librarians role, will be the librarians that can handle part requests.
Creating Part Requests
Part Requests can be created and browsed from the following two places:
- Through the PART REQUESTS page of the Vault's browser-based interface.
- Directly within Altium Designer, through the Vaults panel.
Requesting through the Vault's Browser-Based Interface
Part Requests can be created and maintained through the PART REQUESTS page of the vault's browser-based interface.
Create and manage requests for new parts through the PART REQUESTS area of the Vault's browser-based interface.
Adding a New Request
To add a new part request, simply click the button at the top-right of the page. The page will change to present the new part request form, as shown in the following image, and detailed thereafter.
Adding a new part request through the Vault's browser interface.
Use the controls on the page to supply as much information as possible:
- Manufacturer - this is a mandatory field to indicate to the librarian who actually makes the part.
- Manufacturer Part Numbers - this is a mandatory field indicating to the librarian the specific part number(s) of the parts you need them to make. Multiple part numbers must be separated by a comma (,).
- Request ID - an ID is automatically generated with, and assigned to, the request, enabling users to easily track the request's progress.
- State - this field is used to specify the status of the request. The options are
Opened: In Progress,
Closed: Rejected, or
- Required By Date - use this field to specify the date at which you need the component(s) to be ready. Clicking within the field will pop-up a calendar window, with which to specify the required date.
- Assign to - this field shows which librarian is currently working on the request. The drop-down field lists all Vault users who are part of the nominated Librarian's role(s).
- Component Type - this field can be used to specify the type of component being requested. The Altium Vault supports the following explicit component types: Capacitor, Resistor, Inductor, Transistor, Diode, LED, Crystal & Oscillator, Fuse, Transformer, Sensor, Connector, Switch, IC, Amplifier, Memory, Processor, Interface, Power Supply.
- Parameters - this area can be used to add a set of specific parameters required for the part(s). Simply click Add and use the subsequent fields to provide a name and value for the parameter. If no parameters are specified, the librarian will likely fall back to addition of the parameters in a related datasheet for that part, in accordance with organizational policy.
- Description - this field can be used to supply additional information for the request, including URLs to manufacturer websites, device family information, package information, and so on.
- Attachments - this area can be used to attach any useful files related to the requested part. For example a PDF datasheet, an image, or a document. Either click Browse to locate the file(s) through a standard dialog, or drag and drop the file(s) onto the indicated area.
- Parts List - use this area to specify any existing Component Item(s) in the Vault, which you have created as temporary stub components. Click Add and browse for the required Item accordingly. The librarian can then run with this to fulfil the request. If no stub part exists, the librarian will simply create a new Component Item in the Vault, along with requisite domain model Items.
Once all information is defined as required - and essentially the Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers - click the button at the top-right of the form.
With the request saved, the full details of the request will be presented.
Example of information supplied as part of a new part request.Hover over the image to see the result of saving - full details for the example newly-added part request.
Notice that in addition to the information supplied previously, the following is displayed:
- ID - the system-assigned title for the request, in the format PR-n (where n is the next integer identifier available).
- Comment - use this field to comment on the request. This allows for bi-directional communication between the requestor and the librarian. For example, the requestor may change something since original submission, and needs to flag the librarian working on the part. Or perhaps the librarian requires additional information, or confirmation on some aspect of the part. With the comment written, click the button to submit it. Any comment will appear in the History region of the page, and also in the information stream when viewing the part request in the Vaults panel.
- History - a running stream of events related to this request.
Viewing Existing Part Requests
To return to the summary listing of your existing part requests (Requestor) or assigned part requests (Librarian), click on the main PART REQUESTS tab.
Main summary listing of Part Requests - access this at any time by clicking on the main PART REQUESTS tab.
Each part request at this summary level is listed in terms of the following supplied information:
- Date - the date the request was created.
- Manufacturer Part Numbers.
- Created by - the original author of the request (the Requestor).
- Assignee - the Librarian who is currently working on the part request.
- State - the state in which the request currently sits.
Requesting through the Vaults Panel
Part Requests can also be created and maintained within Altium Designer, through the Vaults panel.
Adding a Request
If the search for a Vault component is unsuccessful, the button will become available, above the results window on the Search tab of the Vaults panel. To add a new part request, simply click this button, and choose the New Request command from the subsequent menu. The New Part Request dialog will appear, in which to define the request.
Adding a new part request directly from within Altium Designer, through the Vaults panel.
Use the options and controls in the dialog to supply as much information as possible, as discussed previously for creation through the browser interface. Once all information is defined as required - and essentially the Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers (which are mandatory) - click the OK button to effect creation of the request.
It is also possible to add a new part request based on a chosen manufacturing part result of a supplier search. To do so, from the Search tab of the Vaults panel, click the button and choose the From Supplier Search command from the subsequent menu. The Add Supplier Links dialog will appear - familiar to anyone who has used the Linking to Supplier Data feature to add supplier links to a schematic component. Simply search for the required part, then click the OK button.
Access the Add Supplier Links dialog, and search for the part you'd like to use as the basis for your new part request.
The New Part Request Prepared From Supplier Search dialog will appear, with the following fields filled with information from the chosen part:
- Manufacturer Part Numbers
- Attachments - all of the part's documents will be listed here (as listed in the Documents section, in the detailed region of the Add Supplier Links dialog). Local copies of the documents are used, having been downloaded to the following location: \Users\<ProfileName>\AppData\Local\Temp\.
- Parameters - all of the part's parametric data (as listed in the Parameters section, in the detailed region of the Add Supplier Links dialog).
Use the options and controls in the dialog to supply as much additional information as possible (e.g. Required By Date, and Component Type) and/or change the prefilled information as required. Once all information is defined as required click the OK button to effect creation of the request.
Example of a part request prepared from a supplier search. You can then add information or tweak the imported information as required. Hover over the image to see the
addition of information for Required By Date and Component Type.
For both the originator of a part request (Requester) and the user(s) defined in roles associated to the Librarian role (Librarians), requests are presented through the Vaults panel using a dedicated Part Requests folder.
Example Part Requests in the Part Requests folder, as seen by the requester (Jason Howie) and the librarian assigned to work on those requests (Simon Entist).
To edit an existing part request, either double-click on its entry in the upper region, or select it and choose the Edit command from the region's right-click context menu.
The right-click context menu for the upper region also contains the following useful commands when working with part requests:
- Operations » Create Component - this command allows you to quickly create a shell Component Item from the part request, giving the assigned Librarian a starting point with which to craft the required vault component. The requisite CmpLib document used to define the component is opened within Altium Designer (CmpLibFromPartRequest1.CmpLib), with information from the part request taken as applicable (component type and parametric data). Simply complete the component's definition, add domain models, and release.
Quickly generate a shell component definition using information from the Part Request - giving the Librarian a starting point.
- Close » Completed - can be used (typically) by the librarian to quickly mark the part request as being complete, without having to open the request for editing.
- Close » Rejected - can be used (typically) by the librarian to quickly reject the part request, without having to open the request for editing.
- Close » Cancelled - can be used by the librarian (or requestor) to quickly cancel the part request, without having to open the request for editing.
Selecting a request in the upper region will display an information stream in the lower region. This information provides a running summary of any event occurring in relation to that request, including any comments made by the requestor or librarian. Each entry in the stream consists of the following elements:
- Created At - the date and time at which the event took place.
- Created By - the user responsible for the event (either the requestor, or a librarian).
- Description - an entry that consists of an auto-generated message, along with any comment included by the requestor/librarian.
Upon creation of a part request, the requestor, and members of the Librarian role, will receive notification in their message stream, on the STREAM page of the Vault's browser-based interface (and summarized on the HOME page of that interface).
The relevant parties receive notification of part request creation, and any updates, through the STREAM and HOME pages of the Vault's browser interface.
In addition to the event notifications presented to relevant users on their STREAM page of the Vault's browser-based interface, email notifications will also be received - providing the Email Notifications feature is enabled and configured (and the relevant Vault users have their emails supplied as part of their user definition). Two types of notification are supported - Part Request Created, and Part Request Properties Change.
Example email notifications for part request creation and properties change.
Once the request for a new part has been submitted, there are a number of states that that request can ultimately enter. By default, the following states are provided:
- Opened States - states in which the request is currently still 'alive':
- Closed States - states in which the request has been considered resolved and therefore 'closed':
To accommodate the requirements of different organizations, states are customizable. You can:
- Edit the names of the default states.
- Add additional states (named as required).
- Change the ordering of states (how states will appear on the relevant State drop-down menu when creating/editing a part request).
This is configured by an Administrator through the Vault's browser-based interface. Simply sign in, click on ADMIN at the top-right of the page, and choose the SETTINGS entry from the associated menu (which provides all browser-based functionality accessible to Admins). Then, use the available navigation tree for the Settings area of the interface to locate and open the Custom States page (under the Vault\Part Request area of the structure). It is from here that you will customize the states for the part request feature as required.
The Custom States page of the ADMIN - SETTINGS area provides the interface for customizing the states used in the Part Request feature.
Make changes as follows:
- To edit the name of an existing state, simply click on its name. The Custom State Name pop-up window will appear in which to do so.
- To add a new state, simply click the add new control, associated with the type of state (opened or closed). Use the Custom State Name pop-up window to give the state the required naming.
- To change the order of the states, simply use the Move Up () and Move Down () controls, as applicable (and where available).
- To remove a state, simply click its associated Remove control ().