Altium NEXUS Documentation

Components

Modified by Tiffany Cullen on Aug 6, 2020

The Components panel provides direct access to all available server-based Managed Components and file-based Library Components in Altium NEXUS.

The panel sources components from a connected managed content server and any open or installed Library files. The panel offers full details of the selected component (Parameters, Models, Part Choices, Supplier data, etc.,), component comparison, and for Managed Components, a filter-based parametric search capability for specifying target component parameters.

The Components panel uses the basic search engine functionality and view that is applied in the Manufacturer Part Search panel. While the Manufacturer Part Search panel harnesses the Altium Parts Provider service and focuses on the component manufacturer and supplier data searches, the Components panel is populated with ready-to-place components from your managed content server and file-based library sources.

Panel Access

To open the Components panel, select View » Panels » Components from the main menu or the Components option from the  button menu at the lower right of the main screen. Using a responsive design configuration, the panel layout will dynamically adapt between full screen (wide) mode and its narrow docked mode where the Categories/Filters options collapse to menus.

From within a Schematic document, use the PP keyboard shortcut to open the Components panel. From within a PCB document, use the PC keyboard shortcut.

Hover over the image to see the two iterations of the Components panel: the first being in expanded mode, which elicits different features, with the second being in compact mode.

The panel’s Categories pane (or the drop-down menu in docked mode) lists any installed/open libraries and all available Managed Components under the All category entry. When the panel is in its wide mode, click the Categories list icon () (or the « icon) to collapse or expand the display of the column, and use the button (top right) to toggle the visibility of the component Details pane. When sifting through the Categories pane, the Up/Down and PgUp/PgDn keyboard shortcuts may be used to walk through the list. The Left/Right keyboard shortcuts may be used to open and close the individual branches.

Libraries Menu

File-based Libraries Preferences

The file-based (non-managed) library menu options provides you the ability to set preferences, perform searches, and migrate filed-based library content. To access these options, select the library menu  button at the top right of the panel.

Select the File-based Libraries Preferences command to open the Available File-based Libraries dialog, where you may view controls to add or remove libraries, install libraries, and specify library search paths. The Available File-based Libraries dialog has three tabs and are described in the following sections. 

File-based libraries are searched in the order they appear in the Available File-based Libraries dialog – in the order of the tabs, then in the order of the libraries listed within each tab. Searching occurs when the list is interrogated as part of model-link verification, for example, when compiling the project, synchronizing, or running a simulation. Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to define the search order of the libraries listed in that tab.

Project Tab

This tab lists all of the libraries that are part of the active project (the project currently selected in the Projects panel).

To add a library to the project, click the Add Library button. A dialog will open in which you can browse to and select a library file that you want to add to the project.

The following types of library files are supported as project libraries:

  • Integrated Libraries (*.IntLib)
  • Schematic Libraries (*.SchLib)
  • Database Libraries (*.DbLib)
  • Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib) - only viewable if the Footprints option is enabled from within the Libraries menu.
  • PCB3D Model Libraries (*.PCB3DLib)
  • Sim Model Files (*.Mdl)
  • Sim Subcircuit Files (*.Ckt)
  • SIMetrix Model Libraries (*.LB)
  • Ibis Model File (*.IBS)

Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to define the search order of the libraries.

As a new library is added to the list, its corresponding entry also appears under the associated sub-folder in the Projects panel as a document belonging to that project.

Installed Tab

This tab lists all of the installed libraries. This list is an environment setting. Any libraries added to the list will be available for all projects and the list is persistent across design sessions. Project libraries can be added to this list but are not initially part of it.

Click the Install button then select Install from file to open a dialog in which you can select the desired library you want to add to the list. The Install from server option is detailed in the Adding Content Server Folders to the Libraries Panel sectionh of this document.

The following types of library files are supported as installed libraries:

  • Integrated Libraries (*.IntLib)
  • Schematic Libraries (*.SchLib)
  • Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib)

Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to define the search order of the libraries.

Search Path Tab

This tab lists all libraries that have been found along the Library Search Paths for the project. These paths are defined in the Search Paths tab of the Project Options dialog. Click the Paths button to open the Search Paths tab to define further search paths or modify existing ones as required.

Use the Refresh List button to update the search paths and ensure that the library list is current.

Libraries in this tab are searched in the order they appear. Click the Paths button to define the order.

Search paths can be defined to a specific file or to a folder, including sub-folders. Keep in mind that searching a large number of folders containing a large number of files can be slow. It is also important to remember that making a large number of libraries available when those libraries are accessed over a network can slow the performance of the software.

Access to 'unmanaged' file-based Libraries is disabled by default in Altium NEXUS. To enable unmanaged integrated/database libraries in the Components panel, check the Legacy.UnManagedLibraries option in the Advanced Settings dialog, which is accessed by clicking the Advanced button in the System – General page of the Preferences dialog.

When you do not know which library contains the component or if it is even available, you can search for it. To search for a component, click the Search button at the top of the panel to open the File-based Libraries Search dialog.

The searching process can be summarized as follows:

  • Searching is performed by defining Filters that are applied to all libraries that can be searched according to the current search Scope settings.
  • The Scope includes the type of libraries to search. Only one type can be searched at a time. 
  • The Scope defines which libraries will be searched: either the libraries the software currently has access to (Available libraries) or all libraries within a folder (Libraries on path).
  • When searching libraries on a path, the target is a specific folder and can also Include Subdirectories.
  • You also can search within the search results by setting the Scope to Refine last search


Setting the Search Filter

The Filters region is used to define text strings that are to be applied to searching. There are three regions to configure:

  • Field – this is the attribute of the component that is to be searched. It can be any component or footprint attribute including the Name, Description, Comment, Footprint, or any parameter that has been added to a component. 
  • Operator – defines how a match is determined. This can be when the value equals, contains, starts with, or ends with. Note that equals requires an exact string match so it should only be used when you are confident that the search string is correct and complete.
  • Value – the characters to be searched for in the chosen Field matched according to the chosen Operator.

Setting the Scope

There are essentially two approaches to searching:

  • Libraries currently available – that is the list of libraries shown in the drop-down at the top of the Libraries panel.
  • Libraries stored in a specific folder along with sub-directories if the option is enabled.

Searching will return all items of the chosen search type (Components/Footprints/PCB3D Models) found in all libraries that fall under the defined Scope (Available Libraries/Libraries on path on the specified search path). For example, if you want to find a component that you think is in a library within specific folders on the hard disk and that library was not currently listed in the Available File-based Libraries, you would define the search as follows:

  1. In the Scope region, set Search in to Components and select Libraries on path.
  2. In the Path region, set the Path to point to the folder containing the library document that you want to search.
  3. Click Search.

The Query Results entry will only be displayed if the corresponding browse mode option for the panel is enabled. For example, if the search was conducted for Components, ensure that the Components browse mode option is enabled in order to view the Query Results.

The Categories grouping for managed components is derived from the ComponentType parameters associated with each component. To specify or change a component's type on-the-fly, right-click on its entry then select the Operations » Change Component Type option from the context menu to open the Choose component type dialog.

Components that have been Acquired from the Manufacturer Part Search panel to your managed content server will be assigned a Component Type as part of the acquisition process.

When viewing managed components, the Filters pane is populated by selected filter options based on the current search and available parameters. Note that filters are only supported for server-based Managed Components. Use the Filter Search field to find a specific parameter filter, and in the panel's narrow/docked mode, click the  to pop out the Filters as a panel extension.

Footprints

Setting the Browse Mode for Library Types

The types of libraries shown in the drop-down list will change, depending on the panel browse mode selected. For instance, Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib) will not be present in the drop-down list if the Footprints option is disabled in the Libraries Menu. Enable to the Footprints option to display installed or used footprint libraries including *.PcbLib library types and footprints from IntLib libraries.

When the Footprints option is enabled in the Libraries Menu, the Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib) will be available in the list, meaning the (*.Pcb) document does not have to be the active document in order for this entry to be seen. The Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib) file(s) will be listed under the Project and Installed tab of the Available File-based Libraries dialog regardless of whether the Footprints option is enabled or not.

Components List

Within the component listing grid itself, the content that is included in the list is managed by:

  • Setting the component listing sort order – click a column heading to sort the component listing by that column data. Click the heading again to reverse the sort order.
  • Setting the order of the displayed columns – drag and drop a column heading to a new position.
  • Specifying which parameter columns are shown – right-click in a column header and choose Select Columns to open the Select Columns dialog then toggle a parameter column’s visibility and move its positional order with the Up/Down buttons.
  • Grouping the list by column data – right-click in a column header, select the Enable Columns Grouping option then drag a column header (e.g., Footprint) into the grouping space at the top of the list. The list entries will be collected under each unique parameter (e.g., type of footprint) from the specified grouping column.
    When using Grouping to collate components in the listing, there is a limit of 10,000 entries that can be accommodated.
  • Filtering the listing by a specific column entry – select  in a column header to display a list of its unique parameter entries then select an entry to constrain the listed components to those that include the specified parameter (e.g., a footprint type code). Select the All option to reset the filter. Select (Custom) to open the Filter Editor dialog in order to further refine the filtering in the selected column.

Displaying Columns

There are various manners in which you may display the contents within the Components panel. When right-clicking on the names of each column (Name, Description, Footprint) you may select from the following options, depending on how you wish to display the components:

  • Best Fit - merges the contents from the Name and Descriptions columns together so they are closely placed, with no excess room between each column.
  • Best Fit All Columns - merges the contents from all columns together so they are closely placed, with no excess room between each column.
  • Clear Sorting - used to undo the sorting of columns.
  • Enable Columns Grouping - allows you to drag column headers by a specific column, allowing you to change the order of the Name, Description, and Footprint columns.
  • Select Columns - opens the Select Columns dialog, which allows you to select other columns you would like visible in this section.
  • Apply Column Visibility to Child Categories -in cases when the selected category has a child categories, use this command to ensure the possibility of pushing column visibility settings from parent categories to child categories.

Component Search and Functions

Searching for components

To search for available components in the Components panel, enter a phrase in the Search field and/or use the panel's Categories and Filters selections to narrow the component listing to your specific needs. Filters are supported for Managed Components only, and as in the Manufacturer Part Search panel, the Components panel supports unit-aware (text to number) search filters.  The search functionality prioritize results according to the entered search criteria.

The Search function allows you to select then edit or add to an active Search string. Click the 'active' search string to enter it into the Search field. You can re-use or edit that search from the Search field.

The Search field also supports for searching with wildcards, denoted by an asterisk (*) in the string.

The Find Similar Components dialog provides the possibility to define search preferences based on the selected component.

The Find Similar Components dialog is used to define your search preferences based on the selected component. The final search results will depend on the selected component type, be it managed or unmanaged components, and your server connection status. For example, managed components will often display more parameters than a unmanaged component. To specifically gather components and parameters that are the same or different from the one selected, the drop-downs may be utilized to select SameAny, or Different choices. 

The dialog can be accessed by right-clicking on a listed component, then selecting Find Similar Components.

The Apply Column Visibility to Child Categories command allows you to push the column visibility settings of the parent category to all child categories. The command is accessed by right-clicking on a selected category that has at least one child category then selecting Apply Column Visibility to Child Categories.  When the command is clicked, the column visibility and order of the child category(ies) will be the same as the selected parent category.

Placing Components

A selected component is placed on a schematic by dragging and dropping, by selecting Place from its right-click context menu, by using the button in the Details pane, or by using the Enter hotkey.

The parametric search capability of the panel's Filters relies on suitable component parameter data being passed from the server that hosts the Managed Components. As a result, the Filter functionality may be disabled when the software is connected to an older Altium server product. To enable the Filter for previous server versions, check the ComponentSearch.LegacyAFS.Filters option in the Advanced Settings dialog, which is accessed by clicking the Advanced buttion in the System – General page of the Preferences dialog.

Filtering Through Components

The panel Filters options can be tailored your needs by selecting particular parameter types as Favorites, which then shift to the top of the list for the current component Category. Hover to the right of a parameter filter’s name and click the  icon to set the filter as a Favorite. Favorite filter settings apply to and are saved for individual component Categories.

To reset your favorites to the five default parameters, right-click then choose Reset Favorite Parameters.

For Managed Components, the right-click menu offers options to edit the component through the Single Component Editor (Edit) and perform component management functions such as component creation and cloning, or editing the selected component's Part Choices and Type (Operations).

Additional information options in the component Details pane include: viewing a model image, viewing online datasheets (References) live Supplier information (Part Choices), seeing where the part has been used in Managed Projects and Managed Sheets (Where Used), and through the right-click menu, the ability to copy selected or all component parameter data (technical details) in a tab-delimited format, and resetting favorites.

The Where Used drop-down only displays information when signed into an Altium 365 Pro account.

You may use custom filtering feature to further refine filtering in the Components panel. The feature is available by clicking the filter () icon in the header, then selecting (Custom). This will open the Filter Editor dialog, which allows you to define the condition, operator, value, operator type, etc., for which you want to filter results.

Where Used

The Where Used drop-down tracks where a particular component is located. You may select the Project, Management Sheets, or All buttons to view the particular project, managed sheet, or both, in which the given component has been used. Information regarding the date and time of placement is available, as well as information regarding the soft delete feature, in the case that the component has been deleted.

Operating as a 'soft delete', the removal process provides increased options and information as you proceed, including relevant links to source items for review purposes. Items can be deleted by users who have editing rights to those items and can be restored from within the Altium 365 Workspace. In the Workspace, deleted items are moved to a dedicated Trash location where they can be retrieved (Restore) by users who have editing rights to the deleted items, or completely removed (Permanently Delete) by server Administrators or the owner of those items.

Component Data Caching

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. The cache builds up component data over time and may be cleared (for all servers) using the Clear Cache option that is available under Known Servers in the Data Management – Servers page of the Preferences dialog. Component data caching is available in new Altium server products only.

Caching behavior will only present cached components from the currently connected Workspace server(s), such as Altium Concord Pro, meaning certain cached data may be disabled. This behavior may be managed from the Data Management - Servers page of the Preferences dialog.

Part Choices List

Edit the Part Choices List associated with a managed component by selecting the Operations » Create/Edit PCL option from the entry’s right click menu.

Use the following Edit Part Choices dialog’s button to open the Add Part Choices dialog, which will automatically search for part manufacturers by the selected component's Name parameter. Deselect the predefined search term to manually search for alternatives – functionally, the dialog is a modal version of the Manufacturer Part Search panel.

Part Choice entries in the list can be ranked by selecting an appropriate star icon level, where the list will automatically be reordered with the highest-ranked manufacturer choice at the top.

A Part Choices List is carried with the component wherever its data is applied, such as in a Schematic design, BOM document, Output Report and so on.

Note: With the currently available Altium Server platform, Part Choice rankings are not saved.

Right-click Menu

  • Place <component> - use to place the selected component.
  • Find Similar Components - use to open the Find Similar Components dialog to set up search criteria to find components similar to the selected component.
  • Edit - click to edit the component through the Single Component Editor. If the current component type is different from the template that is currently being used, the Change component type dialog will open. Use the dialog to change the component type of the selected component.
  • Navigate to <object> - click to navigate to the selected component in the Explorer panel.
  • Operations - use to access a drop-down of additional functions as described below.

  • Submit Request - use to access the active part request process definitions. If no active process definitions are available for the Part Requests process theme, the Submit Request button will be grayed out (not available). You may need to sign out of the server and back in again or restart Altium NEXUS to refresh.
  • Create - click to open the Create new component dialog to select the type of component when adding a new component.
  • Download - click to download the selected component(s) to a zipped Integrated Library Package.
  • Clone - click to clone (copy) the selected component. The component editor opens in the Single Component Editor mode.
  • Change Component Type - click to open the Choose component type dialog to specify the ComponentType parameter associated with a managed component.
  • Create/Edit PCL - use to create or edit a Part Choices List associated with a managed component.
  • Full Item History - click to open the component editor to view the full history of the selected component.

Compare Feature

The Compare feature allows you to compare parameters of two selected parts. This feature is accessed by selecting two components (parts) in the grid region with the  icon enabled (blue). The Selected Component Details region opens to the right of the grid region. The upper region (region 1 in the image below) displays an image, the name, description, and price of the selected parts side-by-side. Click the Datasheet button to open the manufacturer's datasheet (if available) for the associated component. Click the Place button to place the component in the design workspace. The component will appear floating in the workspace; click to place the component in the desired location. You can continue to place additional components or right-click or Esc to leave placement mode and return to the Components panel.

The lower region (region 2 in the image below) displays a side-by-side view of the components' parameters, with differences highlight in red text for easy comparison.

The Compare feature is also available when the Components panel is in compact mode, though works a tad differently. This feature is accessed by selecting two components (parts) in the grid region. The Selected Component Details region opens below the grid region. The upper region displays the name, price, and view of the components' parameters, with differences highlighted in red text for easy comparison. The lower region displays a side-by-side view of the components' Symbols and Models

The Compare feature and functionality also is available in the Manufacturer Part Search panel.

Editing Component Symbols and Footprints

The symbol and footprint of a given component can now be hidden within the Models section of the Details pane, which is accessed by clicking Info button in the upper right. Once hidden, the symbol and footprint will be replaced with clickable links that revert the hidden items to their original view. Also included is the ability to scale the size of the displayed models. For both the symbols and footprints, click and drag the lower perimeter of the model area to resize the image.

Note that ability to hide and rescale the model views is also available in the Details pane of the Manufacturer Part Search panel.

The ability to edit a footprint is made available when accessing the Components panel from within a Schematic Library (.SchLib) file, so long as valid and linked footprints are already present.

Component Selection Dialogs

The search engine and view used in the Components panel is also applied in other Altium NEXUS applications where a component choice is made. The component search functionality is included in these (modal) dialogs, along with an OK confirmation button and minor variations in the available action commands. The dialog is typically called Component Search.

  • ActiveBOM document – the Components search view is used when changing a managed component to an alternative component. Right-click on a listed component item and select Change [component name] from the context menu to open the Replace Component dialog.
  • Item Manager – the Components search view is used when manually choosing a managed component to replace the current component. Right-click on a listed component item and select Choose manually from the context menu to open the Replace Component dialog.
  • Variant Management – the Components search view is used when choosing an alternate component project variation. Select an Alternate part as a Component Variation, then Choose in the Edit Component Variation dialog to open the Replace Component dialog.
The ability to share Components panel settings between installations has been added through the use of DXP preference files.

Right-click Menu

The right-click pop-up menu for the panel provides the following commands:

  • Place [ComponentName/FootprintName] – use to place the currently selected component or footprint onto the active schematic or PCB document.
  • Find Similar Components - click to open the Find Similar Components dialog, where you may set up search criteria for the Find Similar Component process. 
  • Edit - use to edit the given component within the Single Component Editor.
  • Navigate to [ComponentName] - use to open the chosen component in the Explorer panel, where you may access detailed Item information and manage the revision and lifecycle settings for the Items well as where-used and supply chain detail, amongst other options.
  • Operations - use this command to access the sub-menu of commands listed below.
    • Submit Request - use this to formally submit a part request for the chosen component. For information now how to use or enable this options, see the Requesting a New Managed Part page.
    • Create - use to open the Create new component dialog, where you may create a new component. Once added, the component will be displayed in the Projects panel, and the Single Component Editor will open.
    • Download - use to download and save a copy of the chosen component onto your device.
    • Clone - use to create a copy of the selected project via the Single Component Editor.
    • Change Component Type - use to open the Choose component type dialog, where you may alter the component's type, add a subtype, or merge component types, amongst other options.
    • Create/Edit PCL - use to access the Edit Part Choices dialog, where you may create or edit the part choices list associated with the managed component.
    • Full Item History - use to access a detailed view for the currently selected component, opened as a new tabbed view within Altium NEXUS. The Item View provides a highly detailed view of the Revision and Lifecycle history of a specific Item, as well as showing all of the elements that make up that Item. The view also includes a Timeline. Use the Timeline to examine the exact time and date of any change made to the Revision level or Lifecycle State of that Item and who made the change.
  • Refresh - click to quickly refresh the panel. The current component selection will be saved. 
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