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Parent page: Design Variants
The Variant Manager is a document-based user interface that allows you to view, create, and manage design variants of your PCB design project. To access the Variant Manager, right-click the project entry in the Projects panel and select Variants or choose Project » Variants from the main menus of the schematic or PCB editor.
To add a new variant, use the Add Variant button located at the top-left of the Variant Manager when the Variants tab is active. An additional variant column with a default title will appear in the grid area as shown in the image below. All the cells of the new column will be empty, where an empty cell indicates that this component is Fitted and unchanged from the base design.
To change variant options, use the Properties panel in its Variant mode, which can be accessed by right-clicking the column header of the required variant and selecting Properties.
Define a meaningful name for the variant using the Name field.
If Fabrication Variants need to be generated from the design, enable the Allow variation of fabrication outputs option. If an output job has a variant nominated for a fabrication output, and that variant does not have the option enabled, the job's variant name will be displayed in red. Note that the red variant name is simply a warning flag, and the variant-specific output files will still be generated.
If Paste Mask outputs need to be generated for a design that includes variants with 'Not Fitted' components, enable the Allow variation for paste mask option. These components will no longer have Paste Mask included on their pads.
Right-click on a cell, then choose Properties to open the Properties panel that displays the details of the chosen Component/Group. The Component Parameters of the variant can be edited as needed.
The parameters can also be viewed and edited by selecting a component in the grid and then expanding the Parameter region that appears at the bottom of the grid.
Each component in the base design can be configured to be:
Changing the state of a component in a design variant can be done by clicking the component cell in the variant column and accessing the cell drop-down that offers three choices:
Alternate Part – this option allows a different (alternate) part to be selected. Use the Replace dialog (which is a modal dialog version of the Components panel) to select the required alternate part. Once that part is chosen, the cell displays the alternate part's ID.
Individual parameters can be varied for a fitted or alternate component by typing in a new parameter value in the Properties panel. Click the cell of a component in the required variant column, and use the column of the selected variant in the Component Parameters region of the Properties panel in its Component for variant mode to type in a varied parameter value. For the Footprint parameter, click the cell drop-down to select a footprint if multiple footprint models are assigned to the component. A parameter value different from the base design will be shown in yellow, and the component cell in the grid area will show the component name.
If a library component that is used as an Alternate Part has had parameters changed in the library, then you can bring those changes directly into the variant definitions in your project. Select the Update Values from Library command from the right-click menu of the Parameter region at the bottom of the Variant Manager or in the Component Parameters region of the Properties panel when the required alternate component is selected in the main grid area to bring any parameter changes made to a library component.
Browse to and locate the component in the source library via the Replace dialog and click OK to open the Update Project Variants From Library dialog. All parameters are listed on the left of the Update Project Variants From Library dialog – if required, any parameter can be deselected to exclude it from the update process. On the right of the dialog, the target Project Variant can be changed (Project Variant To Update). This will default to select the variant that was selected when the Update Values from Library command was activated. Click OK to complete the update process.
You can clone a variant using the Clone command. Right-click in the header of the variant name column and then choose the Clone option. A new column with the same data and name (appended with "Copy") will be added. You can use the Rename option to name the new column a suitable title.
To delete the variant, select the header, then use the icon. The ability to delete this or all variants is also included in the right-click context menu as shown below. A dialog opens for confirmation before the deletion occurs.
To facilitate the management of a large number of design variants, the Variant Manager also allows you to create groups of components from a chosen schematic sheet, sheets referenced by a chosen sheet symbol, or a chosen component class with a functional-based view of component variations. For each group, you can define one or more ‘options’, which essentially reflect some variation of one or more components in the group. Variants themselves can then be created based on these defined groups and options, with support for creating a hierarchy of variants. When it comes time to make a change, editing a value within a group option is instantly reflected in all variants that use that group option.
The workflow of working with groups is the following:
Using the drop-down menu of the Add Group button, select a schematic document, sheet symbol, or component class for which a group should be created.
A new group will be listed in the left-hand pane of the Variant Manager, while the components of the selected group will be listed on the right.
Use the Add Option button to add an option for the currently selected group. An additional option column with a default title will appear in the grid area. All the cells of the new column will be empty, where an empty cell indicates that this component is Fitted and unchanged from the base design.
Assign a meaningful name for the newly created option by changing the default name. Click the option's column header to select it and then click the Rename button at the bottom of the grid area or right-click the header and select Rename to access the dialog to enter a new name.
Using the component cells in the column of the required option, configure the component variations. The process is the same as when defining component variations for a variant.
Add further options for the selected group by right-clicking in the grid area and selecting Add Option. Configure the new option as required.
In the Variants tab of the Variant Manager, the components for which a group was created will be shown under the appropriate entry in the grid area. Using the drop-down of the cell for a group entry, select an option created for this group on the Groups tab. Variations configured for the components in this group will be applied.
To clone an option of a variant group, on the Groups tab, right-click in the <New Option> column heading then choose Clone. A new column with the same data and name (appended with "Copy") will be added. You can use the Rename option to name the new column a suitable title.
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