Altium NEXUS Documentation

Sharing Design Snapshots

Modified by Jason Howie on Jul 17, 2020

Parent page: Global Sharing

As part of its support for Global Sharing, the Altium 365 platform provides the ability to upload and store 'snapshots' of your designs for viewing and sharing on a permanent basis. This can be useful for an on-the-fly design review, sharing a particular design milestone, or even to stimulate contextual discussion. Invited stakeholders can view a snapshot of a design project from any web browser, anywhere in the world. And this functionality is delivered through the platform, but outside of an Altium 365 Workspace - so all that's needed is registration with AltiumLive to gain access.

To register with AltiumLive - and hence gain access to the Altium 365 Platform Interface - use the direct URL: https://365.altium.com, then click the Register control at the bottom.
You can also view and share your electronic designs and CAM manufacturing data through your Web Browser using the free web-based Altium 365 Viewer. The key difference is that viewing of a design using Altium 365 Viewer (on the altium.com/viewer web page) is time-limited - available for the duration of your browser session or available to anyone with a shared link for a period of 48 hours. No downloads, no installations and no registration required. You can even embed Altium 365 Viewer on your own website - taking the viewing experience literally to your own domain!

Uploading Your Designs

A static design snapshot is created by uploading a design to the Altium 365 platform. This is performed from the Uploads page.

The Uploads page presents only design snapshots that you have personally uploaded. To access design snapshots that have been shared with you by others, go to the Shared with Me page of the interface.
You can also share a snapshot of your design directly from within Altium NEXUS (requires Altium NEXUS 20.1 or later) with one or more specific people - by email invitation. The project itself is packaged into a Zip archive using Altium NEXUS's Project Packager, then uploaded to the Altium 365 platform. Recipients will have access to view the design snapshot through the Shared with Me page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface. The person who originally shared the design snapshot - uploading it permanently to the Altium 365 platform - will be able to access that snapshot from the Uploads page of the interface.

You can upload a design by:

  • Dragging and dropping your CAD design (in a Zip archive), or an individual design file, to the indicated area on the page.
  • Clicking the choose from your computer text (in the upload area on the page) and using the Open dialog that appears to browse for the CAD design (in a Zip archive), or an individual design file.
  • Clicking the  button, choosing the type of design you want to upload, then using the subsequent Open dialog that appears to browse for the CAD design (in a Zip archive), or an individual design file.

Example design snapshots. In the top part of the image, a user who performed the uploading sees those snapshots on their Uploads page. In the bottom part of the image, a user sees snapshots that have been shared with them on their Shared with Me page.

Supported CAD Formats

In terms of design files, the following CAD design tools are supported, along with the file formats that can be uploaded to the Altium 365 platform:

  • Altium NEXUS - Schematic (*.SchDoc, *.Sch) and PCB (*.PcbDoc, *.Pcb) documents.
  • Autodesk® EAGLE™ - Schematic design archive (*.sch) and PCB design archive (*.brd) documents.
You can upload EAGLE design files saved with EAGLE version 6.4.0 or later. These are XML-format in nature; EAGLE binary-format design files cannot be uploaded directly. For these older, binary version design files, it is advised to save them in this later (XML) format through your EAGLE software before attempting to upload to the Altium 365 platform.

What Do I Upload?

In terms of CAD designs, you can upload a full design (in a Zip archive) or an individual design file (schematic or PCB document). When uploading a Zip file, the following considerations apply:

  • For Altium NEXUS based designs, the Zip archive must contain a single PCB design project only.
  • For EAGLE based designs, the Zip archive must contain a single PCB design only (so .sch and .brd files for a single design only).
  • All unsupported file formats in the uploaded Zip archive will be ignored. This means you can literally just Zip your full project folder and upload it.
For Altium NEXUS based designs, the project file is used to obtain the ordering of schematic source documents. If the project file is not included in the Zip archive, a default is created and the schematic documents are added without any rules.
For a PCB design project in Altium NEXUS, quickly obtain a Zip archive of the project by using the Project Packager.

With Zip archive or individual file chosen (or dropped), the main viewing area will reflect that upload is in progress. The processing time will depend on the size of the data being uploaded. The following image shows an example upload of a snapshot of the Bluetooth_Sentinel design. The upload is processed, a tile added to the page, and then the preview processed for display (of the board in 3D).

An example design upload being processed.

If the upload fails - typically because a single file is uploaded that is in a non-supported format - the main viewing area will reflect this also with the alert:

Viewing a Design Snapshot

Access to view an uploaded design snapshot in the Altium 365 Platform Interface's integrated Viewer - which opens in a separate browser tab - can be made in the following ways:

  • The person with whom you shared the uploaded design snapshot will receive an email invite to access that snapshot through Altium 365. Once they click the  button in the email they will be taken to the Altium 365 Sign In page (unless already signed in to the platform, or their AltiumLive account). Upon signing in, they will be taken to the Viewer, with the shared design snapshot loaded.
If the person does not have an AltiumLive account, they will need to register for one first - a link is provided on the Altium 365 Sign In page.

Accessing the design snapshot from the email invite received by the user with whom the snapshot was shared.

  • Any design snapshot that you have personally uploaded will be available from the Uploads page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface. To open in the integrated Viewer, select the design snapshot of interest, click the button within its tile, then choose the Open command from the associated menu. Alternatively, double-click directly on the tile (or click on the name of the upload).

Accessing the design snapshot from the Uploads page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface (only when you were the one to have uploaded it).

  • Any design snapshot that has been shared with you, will be available from the Shared With Me page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface. A design snapshot is denoted by the  icon within its tile. To open in the integrated Viewer, select the design snapshot of interest, click the  button within its tile, then choose the Open command from the associated menu. Alternatively, double-click directly on the tile (or click on the name of the upload).

Accessing the design snapshot from the Shared With Me page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface.

Viewer Features

Once your design (or single file) is uploaded, you can browse it. The integrated Viewer used to present the data contained in a shared design snapshot offers a range of capabilities that allow detailed access to the design's data and layout. Full functionality is, of course, best enjoyed by having a full design uploaded.

The integrated Viewer provides an immersive and interactive experience for reviewing the source schematic and PCB documents in your shared design snapshot. Shown here is a schematic - hover over the image to see the PCB.

The top-left corner of the interface reflects the name of the design snapshot being viewed. Clicking on the Uploads entry above this will take you back to the Uploads page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface.
  Note that variants are not supported. If a shared design snapshot includes defined variants, only the base design will be presented for viewing.

Working with a Document

The pane on the left-hand side of the interface presents all schematic source documents and PCB document(s). Click on a document entry to have it loaded within the main viewing area of the interface.

The left-hand pane presents the schematic and PCB documents for your design project and is where you come to select which document to analyze next.

The following common controls are available when inspecting a document (schematic or PCB):

  • Hold the right mouse button and drag to pan.
  • Use the mouse wheel to zoom.
  • Click the  button to access a menu of view-related commands.
  • Use the  and  buttons at the top of the far-right pane to switch between display of properties and comments respectively.
Not available when viewing the PCB document in 3D.
  • Use the  cluster of buttons to add comments - to an object, to an area, or free-hand, as required. For more information, see Comments.
Commenting is not available when viewing the PCB document in 3D.
  • Click the  button to access the Sharing window, from where you can share the design snapshot with others, by email invite.
  • Click the  button to download the design snapshot currently being viewed into a Zip archive.

The following additional controls are available when inspecting a PCB document specifically:

  • Click the  control to switch to the 3D view of the board. To switch back to viewing the board in 2D, click the  control.
  • In 2D view, click a layer entry at the bottom of the view (on its color swatch) to toggle display of that layer On or Off. Click on a layer entry away from its swatch to make it the active layer - bringing it to the foreground. Click the  button to access a menu of layer related controls - for showing and hiding layers, and for setting the layer name length.
  • In 2D view where objects overlay each other, such as when they occupy the same 2D space on different layers, clicking on the layout will open a listing of collocated objects so the desired object may be selected. As you move the mouse over an entry in the list, the potential object is highlighted, so that you can see exactly what will be selected.
  • In 3D view, hold the left mouse button and drag to alter the viewing angle.

A PCB document is, by default, presented in 3D viewing mode, as shown here. You can quickly switch to 2D viewing mode- hover over the image to see. Note that in 3D viewing mode, you cannot select objects, nor make any comments.

When inspecting a schematic document that is part of a hierarchical design project, the rendered document display itself can provide interactive navigation between the levels in the project structure hierarchy: Double-click on a sheet symbol object to load the target schematic document; Double-click on a sheet entry object within a sheet symbol to be taken to the corresponding port on the target child schematic below; Double-click on a port object to be taken to the corresponding sheet entry of the sheet symbol in the parent schematic above. Hover the mouse over any object to see a pop-up information summary, or hints for optional actions.

Cross-Probing

The Viewer supports cross-probing between schematic and PCB documents.

Cross-probing only works provided the relevant source and target documents are both open in separate Viewer instances (on separate browser tabs). Just access the design snapshot again for another instance. It can be useful to have the browser tabs separated and docked side by side on your desktop. In addition, the PCB Viewing mode must be 2D.

Click to select an object on a schematic source document to have the corresponding object selected on the PCB document, and vice-versa. The following are examples:

  • Schematic Part <--------> PCB Component
  • Schematic Pin <--------> PCB Pad
  • Schematic net (e.g. click a Wire/Port/Power Port) <--------> PCB net (selects all track in that net)

The relevant object(s) on the target document will be zoomed and centered (where possible) within the main viewing area of the interface.

An example of cross-probing in action. Here, the part U3 is selected on a source schematic document. Hover over the image to see the result of the cross-probe, whereby the corresponding component U3 is selected on the PCB document.

The last object you choose is the one displayed/highlighted. Cross-probe filtering is not cumulative.

Object Properties

Along with hover summary information associated with a selected design object (when viewing a schematic), the Viewer also provides a more comprehensive data listing for that selected object in its Properties pane, which is presented on the right-hand side.

Make the Properties pane active by clicking the  button at the top of the pane.

The Properties pane presents a detailed listing of the properties for the currently selected object.

Comments

The Viewer supports commenting of your design documents (for a schematic document, and a PCB document when being viewed in 2D). A comment is a user-added note that is assigned to a specific area of the view, and may be replied to by other users. Comments promote collaboration between the key stakeholders with whom the design snapshot has been shared. Comments are accessed through the Comments pane.

Make the Comments pane active by clicking the  button at the top of the pane.

A comment markup, which defines where or what the comment note applies to, is added by selecting one of the available types from their respective controls located at the top of the main viewing area:

  • Comment on an object - click the  control and then click on an object on the active document being reviewed to automatically create a comment area that applies to that object.
  • Comment on area - click the  control and then hold the left mouse button and drag to define an area that the comment will apply to.
  • Freehand comment - click the  control and then use the mouse to draw line shapes on the document. Hold the left mouse button and drag to create a freehand line, and then repeat as needed.

When a markup has been placed, a comment icon ( on a schematic,  on a PCB) will appear next to it in the view, along with a bounding rectangle, and a blank text window will open on the Comments pane, ready for your comment note. Type your comment, then click the  button beneath. The comment will be committed, appearing in the pane.

Hover over a comment icon to access a pop-up with information showing the original comment that started the thread. Click the icon to toggle selection of that comment in the pane, and display of the bounding rectangle in the view. On a schematic document, the active comment icon is red (), while a non-active comment icon is black (). On a PCB document, the comment icon is white (), irrespective of whether it is the active comment or not.
Comments made within the Viewer are not shared with Altium NEXUS. They are only seen by stakeholders with whom the design snapshot has been shared, and whom are using the Viewer to inspect that snapshot. In addition, comments made by different parties to the design snapshot are not updated in real-time. You will need to refresh the browser page (or close and re-access the design snapshot), to manually update comment threads with any changes.

Example comments overlayed on a child schematic sheet of a project. Hover to see an example comment on the PCB.

The following points relate to working with comments and the interface's Comments pane:

  • The Comments pane presents comment threads across all documents in the uploaded design snapshot. Comments in the pane are grouped by document, with the latter listed in alphabetical order.
  • The Comments pane will track the entire thread of a specific comment, whereas only the first comment in that thread is displayed in the view - hover the cursor over the comment icon to see this.
  • The number of posts in a particular comment thread are reflected on the Comments pane, next to the  icon.
  • Within a comment thread on the Comments pane, the latest reply is always added to the bottom of that thread. Where multiple comment threads are present in a document, the latest thread is presented at the top of the pane.
  • The active/selected comment on the Comments pane is highlighted. In the view, the markup that is the focus of the active/selected comment is zoomed and centered in the view (where applicable). For all types of comment markup, a bounding box is placed around it.
  • To reply to a comment, select that comment on the Comments pane and click the  control at the bottom. Type your text in the field provided, then click the  button to commit. To exit without replying, click the  button.
  • A comment can be edited or deleted, through the Comments pane only, using the Edit and Remove commands respectively - with the comment selected, these are available from the menu associated to the  control. Note that these commands will only be available for a comment that you yourself have made - you cannot edit or remove a comment made by another user. If you edit an existing comment, make your changes then click the  button to commit. To exit without replying, click the  button.
  • To resolve a comment select it, click the  control, and choose the Resolve command from the menu. The comment will be removed from the Comments pane and the main view.
  • Resolved comments can still be displayed on the Comments pane. To do so, click the  control at the top-right of the pane, and enable the Show resolved comments option. All comments that have previously been resolved will be displayed on the pane.
  • You also have the ability to resurrect comments that have been resolved. To do so, click the  control at the top-right of the pane, and ensure the Show resolved comments option is enabled. Select the comment you want to resurrect, click the  control, and choose the Unresolve command from the menu. The comment will be reinstated, both on the Comments pane and in the main view.

Sharing a Design Snapshot with Others

From any document view within the integrated Viewer click the  button to access a window with which to share the design snapshot with others, by email invite.

The design snapshot currently being viewed can be shared with others as required.

A design snapshot can also be shared from within the Shared with Me page (or Uploads page if you originally uploaded it) of the Altium 365 Platform Interface. Selecting a design snapshot tile will present various controls and commands. Click the  control and choose the Share command, or click the  button (at the top-right of the page), to access the Sharing window.

Downloading a Design Snapshot

From any document view within the integrated Viewer click the  button to download the design snapshot currently being viewed into a Zip archive.

A design snapshot can also be downloaded from within the Shared with Me page (or Uploads page if you originally uploaded it) of the Altium 365 Platform Interface. Selecting a design snapshot tile will present various controls and commands. Click the  control and choose the Download command, or click the  button (at the top-right of the page), to download the snapshot as a Zip archive.

Deleting a Design Snapshot

You can delete any design snapshot that:

  • You have personally uploaded to the Altium 365 Platform Interface, and is currently presented on the Uploads page of the interface.
  • Has been shared with you, and is currently presented on the Shared with Me page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface.

To do so, select the design snapshot tile, click the  control, and then choose the Delete command. What happens depends on where the snapshot is being deleted from:

  • Uploads page - a warning window will appear alerting you to the fact that the item will be permanently deleted from the Altium 365 platform. Click the  button to effect the deletion. Since the snapshot will be removed from the platform completely, it will also be removed from the Shared with Me page of all people with whom it was shared.

Any design snapshot that you have personally uploaded can be deleted. This affects access for everyone - since the snapshot is removed permanently from the Altium 365 platform, all other collaborators will lose their access to it.

  • Shared with Me page - a warning window will appear alerting you to the fact that you will lose access to the item, but other collaborators will continue to have access to it. Click the  button to effect the deletion.

Any design snapshot that has been shared with you can be deleted. This affects your access to it only - other collaborators retain their access to it.

 

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