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Parent page: Version Control and Design Repositories
The best way of working from a known set of source files is to store the design project in a controlled environment, such as a Version Control repository. This is important because the only way of ensuring the outputs come from the correct source files is to:
In Altium Designer, such a repository is referred to as a Design Repository. Owned by the design team, the Design Repository contains a high-resolution view of the history of the design process and is the primary collaboration tool used by the design team.
The Design Repository becomes the central repository from which multiple team members can check data in and out, all the while maintaining a complete revision history of all changes made to the design. A design is therefore stored as a series of versions of its constituent project and source documents, building a progressive picture of the intent of a designer over time. By using a version-controlled Design Repository, you have the integral assurance that no revision of a design is ever lost, allowing for safe collaboration on the same design between members of a team that can be geographically dispersed in their locations. The very nature of the version control system provides an audit trail for the design. Full accountability arises through transparency of whom changed what, in which source document, and when. The system can support multiple version-controlled Design Repositories with the link to a particular repository being established by the version control link within the project folder.
The version control software – used to implement the repositories themselves – is supported in the following ways:
For each registered, or rather connected repository, the following information is presented:
Creation of new Design Repositories from within Altium Designer is performed from the Data Management – Design Repositories page of the Preferences dialog. Click the button and choose SVN from the associated drop-down menu. The Create SVN Design Repository dialog will appear. Use this to give the repository a meaningful name, specify a default checkout path, and specify the location for the repository. If a folder is specified that does not currently exist, it will be created for you.
With all settings specified as required, click OK. The repository will be created at the nominated location and a connection to that repository from Altium Designer made. An entry will appear for it in the listing of Design Repositories back on the Data Management – Design Repositories page of the Preferences dialog.
Related page: Altium Concord Pro – Local Version Control Service
When using self-managed Altium Concord Pro as your managed content server, and if applicable, SVN repositories can be created through the server's local Version Control service, or external repositories (SVN or Git) can be connected to. Together, all repositories are centrally managed through the VCS page (Admin – VCS) of the server's browser interface.
The properties required depend on whether you are creating a new repository using the local VCS service, or linking to an existing, external repository:
A linked, external Design Repository is distinguished in the list of repositories by its External property being ticked ().
Design Repositories defined through Concord Pro are populated to the client automatically during sign-in, so users do not have to worry about URLs, protocols, passwords, etc. A repository is configured once, on the server, and shared with the intended users as required.
In a collaborative environment, one or more Design Repositories may already have been created in a location accessible by multiple users. In this case, you do not need to create a new repository – re-inventing the wheel as it were – rather you simply need to connect to the required existing repository. This is also the case if you have removed a repository from your list of repositories, and want to add it back in again.
To connect to an existing repository, on the Data Management – Design Repositories page of the Preferences dialog click on the button and choose SVN from the associated drop-down menu. The SVN Design Repository dialog will appear. Enter a name by which to refer to the repository from within Altium Designer, specify a default checkout path, and specify the repository access method and path to the root folder of the repository. You can also specify a particular sub-folder within the repository.
With all settings specified as required, click OK – a connection will be made and the repository will be ready for use.
The Data Management – Design Repositories page of the Preferences dialog offers no controls for creating a new Git repository, or connecting to an existing one. However, you can effectively connect to an existing repository of this type by other means (that are the traditional technique favored by the Git user-ship). To do so:
Altium Designer will recognize that the project is under version control in a Git-based repository, and provide VCS-related statuses, and commands/ functions to work with the files (including Commit (to local working Git repository) and Push (from local Git repository to remote Git repository)).
You can also edit the properties of a Design Repository at any time. For example, you might want to change the name of the repository, as displayed and referenced within Altium Designer. Or you might want to edit the connection, perhaps to link to a different repository. To do this, select the entry for the repository in the listing of repositories (on the Data Management – Design Repositories page of the Preferences dialog), then click on the button. The SVN Design Repository dialog (or Git Repository dialog) will appear, from where you can make changes as required.
To disconnect from a Design Repository, select its entry in the list and click the button. The repository is removed from the list of connected Design Repositories. The repository itself is not deleted, it simply becomes disconnected from the system. To use a repository again, connect to it.
Once defined, the connected nature of a VCS-based Design Repository simplifies the ability to either add a project to that repository, or open an existing project from that repository. Instead of having to remember the path or drill down in a browse menu to select the repository, you simply choose the required repository from a convenient listing of all Design Repositories you are currently connected to, and that are activated for use.
Adding a Local design project (not currently under version control) to a Design Repository is a straightforward process. With the project open, use the Add Project Folder To Version Control command from either the Projects panel or Storage Manager panel. The Add to Version Control dialog will appear. The field at the top of this dialog presents a drop-down listing of all connected and activated Design Repositories. Select the repository required.
The folder hierarchy within the chosen Design Repository is presented to you in the Folders region of the dialog. Either specify an existing folder into which to add the design files, or create a new folder using the New Folder button. In the latter case, a folder will be added at the specified position within the repository's folder hierarchy, named after the source folder containing the project.
When creating a new Version-controlled project, the Repository field in the Create Project dialog presents a drop-down listing of all connected and activated Design Repositories. Select the repository required.
Related page: Management of Projects
Whether creating a new managed project, or making an unmanaged project (Local or Version-controlled) available to a managed content server, the resulting project is stored in a Design Repository. As part of the respective interface used to create/make available, the repository can quickly be selected from a list of defined repositories.
Equally straightforward is the ability to open a Version-controlled design project that resides in a Design Repository. Use the File » Checkout command – the Check Out dialog will appear. Use the Check out from field to choose the required repository from a drop-down listing of all connected and activated Design Repositories.
The folder hierarchy within the chosen Design Repository is presented to you in the Folders region of the dialog. Use this region to specify the exact folder that is to be checked out from the repository.
Use the Check out to field to specify where the nominated folder content is to be checked out to. This is your local sandbox area.
To work on a managed project – essentially checking out as a local working copy – first ensure that you are signed into the managed content server in which the project resides. Then use the File » Open Project command. The Open Project dialog will appear. The server will appear in the Locations region of the dialog, distinguished by the icon, and appearing with the name given to that server. Click on this entry to list the managed projects therein. Only those managed projects that have been shared with you (you have permission to access) will be listed, and from across all managed Design Repositories shared with you. Choose which managed project to open from the server and click . Once opened, the project will appear under an entry for your server, in the Projects panel.
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