Altium NEXUS Documentation

Altium NEXUS Server FAQs

Created: March 23, 2021 | Updated: September 3, 2021

Contents

All Contents

General

Can I use the Altium NEXUS Server for my components, but keep my design projects local?

You can use the Altium NEXUS Server to manage just your components, but this is not recommended. One of the Altium NEXUS Server's greatest strengths is managing everyday PCB work-in-progress, which includes the design data. When properly used, the NEXUS Server creates relationship links between all library and design content, facilitating such functionality as 'Where-Used'. This is extremely helpful when identifying duplicate, or errant parts, that may have been mistakenly used in one or more designs.

Is everything stored locally?

Yes, everything is local. Everything is behind your firewall, we don’t touch any of that. The only thing that does go out to the internet is the supply chain data and you don’t even need to necessarily use any of that. If you do want to go out and ping Digikey, Farnell, any of those guys, that’s the only kind of internet access that you would have. Everything else is local.

Can I host my server on a virtual machine or somewhere in the Amazon AWS?

Yes. It is up to you and your IT team to choose where the server will be located.

If our VPN network is slow, how does this impact workflow?

The workflow itself might not be too bad. When working with managed components, the initial browsing and searching might be a little slow, but once that data is cached, it will become easier. And for designs, when you go in and open a managed project you’re storing and working on it locally.

So, the day-to-day use of Altium NEXUS shouldn’t be terribly affected. Obviously, having a faster VPN would be better, but we have had people tell us that their VPNs aren’t that great, but they make it work fine because there's not a constant interaction with the NEXUS Server.

Can a non-Admin user change their own NEXUS Server access credentials?

Yes. While management of users by a non-administrative user is not possible, they are able to change the profile of their own user, where authentication of that user utilizes the NEXUS Server's Built In authentication service - including changing username and password. This is performed through the Edit User window, which is accessed by clicking on the active user area at the top-right of the browser interface and then choosing Profile from the associated menu.

When using Windows Domain authentication, usernames and passwords for users are typically changed by a member of the organization's IT department.

Can I connect to multiple Altium NEXUS Servers?

You can only be 'signed in' to one Altium NEXUS Server at any given time, since you are connecting to a platform of services, rather than to a single Server service. Typically an organization will have a single Altium NEXUS Server installation. However, if more than one Altium NEXUS Server is available, simply sign out of one and sign in to another, as required.

From Altium NEXUS, you can still sign in to a legacy Altium Vault (Vault 2.0 to 3.0), or connect to a legacy Altium Personal Vault:

  • Altium Vault - sign out of your active server, then use the Sign in dialog to sign in to the Altium Vault.
  • Altium Personal Vault - sign out of your active server, then use the Sign in dialog to connect to the Personal Vault. Remember that for a Personal Vault you are connecting, not signing in - so the Altium NEXUS GUI will not show you as being signed in to any server after successful connection to the such a vault.

Once you have signed in/connected to a target entity it will be listed in the Known Servers region, on the Data Management - Servers page of the Preferences dialog in Altium NEXUS.

While legacy Vault technologies can still be connected to, and used, there is no further development to these types of Vault. You will therefore not enjoy the current enhancements found in, and future improvements gained by, using the Altium NEXUS Server.

I'd still like to run my Altium Personal Vault, is this possible?

Absolutely. If you have a previous flavor of Vault running on the same PC ensure that the communication ports are unique. An Altium NEXUS Server uses the default port 9780 (same as for its Altium Vault predecessor), an Altium Personal Vault uses the default port 9680.

To make your Personal Vault a 'Known Server' in Altium NEXUS - on the Data Management - Servers page of the Preferences dialog - sign out of your active server, then use the Sign in dialog to connect to the Personal Vault. Remember that for a Personal Vault you are connecting, not signing in - so the Altium NEXUS GUI will not show you as being signed in to any server after successful connection to the such a vault. You can then sign back in to the server that was active previously, while continuing to enjoy connection to your Personal Vault.

While legacy Vault technologies can still be connected to, and used, they will not enjoy the current enhancements found in, and future improvements gained by, using the Altium NEXUS Server.

I cannot sign into the NEXUS Server, instead I get an error message about missing DLLs, what should I do?

The Altium NEXUS Server relies on a number of Microsoft runtime components for successful operation and access, in some situations these may not be present on the target machine. If you receive an error message about a missing library (DLL) when you attempt to sign in to the NEXUS Server, it indicates that there are missing Microsoft runtime components. Obtain and install the relevant Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable Package for your OS.

When I attempt to sign into the NEXUS Server I get the error message 'HTTP Error 503. The service is unavailable', what should I do?

This error can occur when the NEXUS Server is installed on a computer that is also running Microsoft Exchange Server. The installation of the Exchange Server can change the Internet Information Services (IIS) configuration in a way that conflicts with the NEXUS Server.

To resolve this, the following changes must be made to the applicationHost.config file:

<handlers accessPolicy="Read, Script">
...

<add name="kerbauth" image="C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\Bin\kerbauth.dll" preCondition="bitness64" />
<add name="WSMan" image="C:\Windows\system32\wsmsvc.dll" preCondition="bitness64" />
<add name="exppw" image="C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\ClientAccess\Owa\auth\exppw.dll" preCondition="bitness64" />
<add name="cafe_exppw" image="C:\Program Files\Microsoft\Exchange Server\V15\FrontEnd\HttpProxy\bin\exppw.dll"  preCondition="bitness64" />

...
</handlers>

For information about the ApplicationHost.config file, refer to this article.

For information on editing the file, refer to this article.


Licensing

What licensing is required?

Licensing for the NEXUS Server consists of two components:

  • Server License - enables the full set of NEXUS Server services for your organization. One server license is required per organization.
  • Client Access License - provides user access to NEXUS Server functionality. One Client license is required per user accessing NEXUS Server services.

Do I need to refresh my licensing if I upgrade my existing NEXUS Server installation to a later version?

Yes, please ensure that you refresh your NEXUS Server licensing. From the Admin - Licenses page of the NEXUS Server's browser interface, delete the existing licenses (Altium NEXUS Server and Altium NEXUS Server CAL) and then add fresh instances back in. This will ensure you have the latest licensing, incorporating any licensing-related feature changes in that later version of the NEXUS Server.

We don't have enough connections for our Altium NEXUS Server installation, what can we do?

Through the NEXUS Server's browser interface an administrative user can kill the session for a user, to forcibly free up a connection. This is performed from the Sessions page of the interface.

Alternatively, and offering a far better long-term solution, simply add more seats (connections), through purchase of additional Client Access Licenses (Altium NEXUS Server CAL).


Component Management

Is a managed component the same as a Unified Component?

Yes and No. It all depends whether the managed component has associated Part Choices defined for it or not. When a component is created and released, then referred to as a managed component, it simply represents the engineering, or design view of that component. It is, in essence, a container into which all information used to model that component in the Design Area is stored. This includes links to all requisite domain models (schematic symbol, PCB 2D/3D component, Sim, etc), as well as parametric information. It has great meaning to the designer using it in a board design, but is not meaningful outside of the design arena. To become a truly 'Unified Component', that unites the Design and Supply Chain areas, the component must be mapped to physical, real-world manufactured parts. This is done by specifying Part Choices for the component.

And it is this intelligent mapping of a component - from the traditional electronics design arena into the bigger 'product arena' as seen by the rest of the organization - that turns the humble managed component into a truly Unified Component!

What if I already have large libraries?

Altium NEXUS, in conjunction with the Altium NEXUS Server, provides a streamlined, simple process to quickly migrate your existing libraries to the Altium NEXUS Server - the Library Migrator. The GUI to this process presents an intuitive flow that takes initial selected libraries, and migrates them to your NEXUS Server instance. Catering for all types of libraries relating to older component management methodologies - SCHLIB, PCBLIB, INTLIB, DBLIB, SVNDBLIB - the Library Migrator is the perfect solution to quickly building your company's set of managed components, and the many benefits that such components enjoy (high-integrity, lifecycle management, centralized storage and management, where-used functionality, ease of design resuse).

The Library Migrator offers a minimalist Simple interface mode where the selected file-based component libraries are migrated to managed server components through a single step, while the migrator automatically takes care of type classification, the target source folder, parameter inclusion and value type, and the transfer of all relevant data. The interface is also available in an Advanced mode that provides a full preview of the proposed library migration, and access to its related data and settings. And while the migration is a single-click process by default, the migrator also offers advanced configuration options through the Properties panel for enhanced control over exactly how that migration is performed.

All information that is present in an original source library is migrated to the server-based managed components, including all referenced domain models (schematic symbols, PCB footprints, Simulation Models), parametric information, assigned part choices, datasheet files, etc . Component Templates are also created where necessary, and may then be refined and used for subsequent library migrations. If your original components have multiple PCB footprints defined, the Library Migrator will bring those models across and keep the current default footprint. And if you only work with PCB libraries – your only concern is PCB layout – then the Library Migrator supports migration of just those libraries, or it can be switched to a models only migration mode where specified models types are migrated from Integrated or Database libraries. Libraries that include multiple component types (monolithic libraries) are automatically detected and processed as well.

The graphical interface to the component migration process is the Library Migrator view, which is accessed by choosing the File » Library Migrator command from the main menus (from any document editor). For more information, see Streamlined Migration of Existing Libraries to Your Managed Content Server.

Can I restrict who can modify components in the NEXUS Server?

Yes, you can set different permissions for who can do what. You can create a librarian role and also say who can or can’t read (have access to) any folder. You can even create a sandbox folder that some engineers have access to if they want to create their own parts, but then the official released parts can go in a different folder that everybody has access to. So everything is very controllable.

For more information, refer to the page Controlling Access to Server Content.

Is there a way to download a snapshot of managed components for days when IT infrastructure might be down?

No, there is currently no way to acquire a local image of the Altium NEXUS Server.

When using the Components panel, the data for Managed Components are cached to the local machine from the Server. This provides an offline access mode for Managed Components when Altium NEXUS is not connected to the server, and therefore allows normal component browsing and placement, etc. Note that Filters are not enabled in this mode.

This condition is indicated by the 'Offline mode – cached data is being used' warning text in the lower bar of the panel’s component list pane.

Can I make a local library from the NEXUS Server?

Yes, there is a feature offered through the Content Cart that allows you to acquire components from your local Altium NEXUS Server into an Integrated Library (*.IntLib). And when placing components from such an Integrated Library, the actual links are back to the Component Items in the NEXUS Server. This gives you the ability to effectively use your company's managed components in an offline fashion, while ensuring the design still maintains a true connection to those components in the source NEXUS Server.


Design Management

Does Where-Used functionality rely on designs having been checked into the NEXUS Server's local Version Control Service?

The Altium NEXUS Server needs to be made aware of the existence of the design repository in which your design is stored.

A new installation of the Altium NEXUS Server provides a single Git-based design repository for accommodating all of your managed design projects – and that's it! This avoids any setup and complexity regarding the Server's local Version Control service. You have a single design repository – Versioned Storage – for all your designers to access and release into. As such, the VCS page of the Server's browser interface becomes purely informational – you cannot add a new repository, and the single Git repository cannot be modified in any way, nor deleted. Where-used functionality is inherently supported by the NEXUS Server's native Git design repository.

If you have upgraded your Server from Altium NEXUS Server 1.0 (or Altium Vault 3.0), then use of SVN repositories will also be enabled, so that you can continue to use your previous (and established) design flow. In this case, you can continue to create repositories through the local Version Control service (SVN-only), or connect to external repositories (SVN or Git). So, if you need your design repository to sit on a different server, or something like that, you can do that with an external repository - setup in the NEXUS Server so that the Server knows where it is. You can then take advantage of the Where-Used functionality.

When I make a change to a component, is it possible to make it only local to the design?

You can certainly do this. Making local design changes is very much a part of Altium NEXUS's core functionality. However, this is not recommended. If you were to update that component at some stage, using one of the update features in Altium NEXUS, it’s going to bring in the next revision from the Altium NEXUS Server, which would overwrite any local changes. So it would be far better to make changes to your managed components directly in the NEXUS Server.

Can I control which design violations need to pass before committing any revision to the NEXUS Server?

Yes, and this can all be configured through an Output Job Configuration file. The Validate Project stage of the release process is run automatically when one or more Validation-type reports are detected in assigned OutJob file(s). All defined validation output generators, defined in an Output Job file assigned to the data item being released, are run. This includes running any of:

  • Differences Report – using the comparator to determine if the source and PCB design documents are correctly in-sync.
  • Electrical Rules Check – checking the electrical/drafting validity of the captured source design.
  • Design Rules Check – checking the validity of the PCB document in relation to specified board-level design constraints.
  • BOM Checks - checking for possible violations associated with Design Items or Part Choices in the source BOM document (*.BomDoc), where available.
  • Footprint Comparison Report – comparing footprints on the board against their source library to ensure they are up-to-date, and matched.
  • Component State Checking - checking for components that are in restricted states. As part of configuration, you determine the action to be taken for each currently defined state, of each currently defined Lifecycle Definition in the target NEXUS Server; no action, a warning, or generate an error. The latter will prevent release of the design. In addition, running the check will generate a handy HTML-based report, allowing you to see at-a-glance which design components are not in valid states.
  • Environment Configuration Compliance Check – checking that only data items permitted through the environment configuration available for use by your assigned role (if applicable), are being used. This check can also ensure that all design items are sourced from an Altium NEXUS Server.
For an ERC validation check, you can define the maximum tolerated error level. So you might want to stop the release for any errors, while allowing it to continue if checks return warnings only. The ERC validation uses the checking defined in the Output Job only, and not the project-level ERC checking. In this way, you can define an even more restrictive/rigid set of checks to be passed, in turn ensuring even higher integrity of the design data released to the NEXUS Server.

Can the NEXUS Server prevent commits if certain validations have not passed via an Output Job file?

Yes, if your validation steps fail, then commit and release of the data into the NEXUS Server will not happen.

Can I import existing designs into the NEXUS Server?

You can move existing designs over into your Altium NEXUS Server, but you cannot currently move the existing subversion repository. If you want to move the design data, you have to pull it out and recommit it into the relevant repository in the Altium NEXUS Server. So you’d essentially lose history on those designs, and essentially be starting over, but you can pull that data out and move it back in.

You can also convert your components from older component management methodologies - or what we call unmanaged components - to managed components, with automatching capabilities provided through the powerful Item Manager.


ECAD-MCAD CoDesign

What is Altium MCAD CoDesigner and how does it differ from other ways of ECAD-MCAD data exchange?

MCAD CoDesigner allows you to exchange PCB data between electrical and mechanical engineers without performing manual operations on files. It works directly with ECAD and MCAD data since it’s built as a panel into Altium NEXUS on one hand and as a plugin to your MCAD software on another.

The main advantages, when compared to regular file exchange, are:

  • It works much faster than regular file import.
  • It allows transferring more data (components placed on MCAD-side, copper, silkscreen, etc.).
  • It simplifies the synchronization of changes significantly.

For a quick overview, see the product page.
You can learn more details in the Technical Documentation.

Which MCAD tools are supported?

The following MCAD platforms and versions are officially supported:

  • Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS® - versions 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021
  • Autodesk Inventor Professional® - versions 2020, 2021, 2022
  • PTC Creo Parametric® - 4.x, 5.x, 6.x, 7.x, 8.x
  • Autodesk Fusion 360®

Does it require any additional licenses to be purchased?

No.

Which types of PCB are currently supported?

The following types of board are currently supported:

  • Regular boards - with all supported MCAD tools.
  • Rigid-flex boards - with SOLIDWORKS and PTC Creo only at this time.
  • PCB Variants

Multi-boards are not currently supported.

Is it possible to use our native MCAD models of components?

Yes. First, CoDesigner allows you to place your key components on the MCAD side and to recognize them on the ECAD side (for all supported MCAD tools except Autodesk Fusion 360). Second, it supports the automatic placement of models directly from a data management system used on the MCAD side, for all components coming from the ECAD side (available for SOLIDWORKS and Creo only at this time).

 

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