Altium Designer Documentation

Data Acquisition

Modified by Jason Howie on Jan 22, 2021

Parent page: Altium 365 Workspace

Altium facilitates the ability for an organization to copy the content they need from a source server, and deliver it to a second target server - a process referred to simply as Server Data Acquisition. This allows you, for example, to quickly obtain data from your Workspace (hosted on the Altium 365 infrastructure platform) and deliver it to your on-site server.

By acquiring design content, ownership is placed firmly in the hands of the receiving server team, who are free to make modifications and maintain the content - in their server - as they desire moving forward. And by keeping a link between the acquired data and its original source, intelligent handling of the data can be performed, including notification when the source of any copied content is updated. So for example if, down the track, a change is made to a revision of a design item in the source server, the target server has the ability to update to that revision, resynchronizing with the 'mother ship' as it were. And no matter if additional releases have been made to an item in the target server, there is always the possibility to revert to a previous revision from the source server - all by keeping a link back to the item's original source, or Origin.

Data Acquisition is delivered as a service through the Altium 365 infrastructure platform.

Data Acquisition - Conceptual Overview

The following image provides a higher-level, graphical illustration of the data acquisition concept. The principles of data acquisition depicted are the same, regardless of the type of data being acquired.


The concept of server data acquisition.

Items that can be Acquired

The following Item types can be acquired from a source server, into a target server, using the Data Acquisition feature:

  • 3D Model
  • Altium Designer Preferences
  • Component
  • Component Template
  • Datasheet
  • Footprint
  • Managed Schematic Sheet
  • Output Job
  • Schematic Template
  • Script
  • Simulation Model
  • Symbol

Things to take into consideration when acquiring data:

  • Only data Items in a released state in the source server can be acquired.
  • Only the chosen revision of a source Item is acquired, and not all revisions that may exist for that Item.
  • When acquiring a revision of a source Component or Managed Schematic Sheet Item, all linked child Items will also be acquired:
    • Component Item - applicable revisions of following linked child objects: Symbol Item, Footprint Item(s), 3D Model Item(s), Simulation Model Item, Datasheet Item(s), Component Template Item.
    • Managed Sheet Item - applicable revisions of following linked child objects: Component Item(s), Symbol Item(s), Footprint Item(s), 3D Model Item(s), Simulation Model Item(s), Datasheet Item(s), Component Template Item(s), Schematic Template Item.
  • The lifecycle of an acquired source Item revision will assume the initial 'post-release' state, as determined by the assigned lifecycle definition for the target Item. Any lifecycle history for the source Item revision will simply be ignored.
  • If a child Item of a chosen source Component/Managed Schematic Sheet Item can not, for whatever reason, be acquired, then acquisition of that chosen Component/Managed Schematic Sheet Item will not proceed.
A child Item Revision that is used by multiple parent Items - for example a shared Symbol Item or Footprint Item - is only acquired once, and not for each parent Item Revision that is acquired.

Acquisition User Interface

Related page: Using the Content Cart

Acquisition is performed using the Content Cart dialog. Access to this dialog is made from within the Explorer panel. While browsing the source server from which you wish to obtain data, right-click on an Item Revision that you wish to acquire, and choose the Operations » Add to Content Cart command from the context menu. You can add one or more selected Item Revisions, or even a folder of Items (which will load the cart with the latest revision of all Items in that folder).

You can access the Content Cart from various aspect views within the Explorer panel, including the Where-used and Children aspect views. It can also be accessed from the Search Results window.


The Content Cart dialog - command central for acquiring data from a source server.

Use the Content Cart to acquire all the data content you need. The process of acquiring data Items from a source server is straightforward, and can be summarized in the following steps:

  1. The source server is automatically determined, based on the residence of the Item Revision you have specified to acquire. Select the required target server from a listing of other servers your instance of Altium Designer is currently connected to.
  2. The original Item Revision is listed in the main grid. Any number of additional Item Revisions can be added to the cart. To do so, click the Add More Items control at the top-right of the dialog and choose the Select entry to access the Choose Item dialog (an incarnation of the Explorer panel). From here you can browse the source server for more Items, adding either one at a time, or in batch-style using standard multi-select tools. Alternatively, choose the Add manually entry to access the Add new items dialog. This dialog allows you to paste an external list of items that you require (one item per line), and which can then be searched for within the source server, using a chosen search criteria (GUID, Item ID, Name, or MPN). Select and remove Item Revisions from the list (click the  button) if you decide they are not to be acquired after all.
  3. Click the Change Settings control at the bottom-right of the Content Cart dialog to access the Content Cart Structure dialog. From here you can define default options for each of the Data Item types supported for acquisition by the feature. This involves specifying a default folder in the target server, as well as default Lifecycle Definition, Item and Revision Naming Schemes, and a starting index. You also have the option to add a note, which can provide useful information about the acquisition to others, when browsing your acquired content.
  4. Once the desired source Items have been chosen, click the  button. This prepares the target server for acquisition, checking the status of the chosen Item revisions involved (in case they have been acquired previously), the parent-child links, and proposing the action required which, for new acquisitions, will be Transfer new revision and item. While the previously specified default acquisition options are applied during this preparation phase, properties of proposed target Items can be modified on an individual basis, as and if required. To do so, select an Item in the list and click the  button.
  5. With preparation complete, clicking on the  button will proceed with the acquisition. An initial confirmation dialog will appear - click Yes to proceed with transfer of the content between source and target servers. A secondary confirmation dialog will confirm the result of the acquisition - browse the acquired Items in the target server through the Explorer panel.
Use the options in the Content Cart Structure dialog to modify default acquisition settings in-line with schemes employed (and preferred!) for those Item types in the target server. By default, these settings are defined to acquire each Item type in a distinct folder under a root folder, referred to as the name of the Content Cart. The default name is in the format Content Cart - <Current Date> - <Current Time>, and is reflected in the Content Cart dialog. This can be changed to a more meaningful name as required. Alternatively, you can choose a folder in the target server, into which content on the Cart is to be delivered. This can be an existing folder, or a completely new one, created on-the-fly. The acquisition settings in the Content Cart Structure dialog are coarse-level defaults - properties at the individual Item-level can be defined if needed, giving finer-level control.
If an Item Revision has already been acquired, and the source Item has not been re-released since that acquisition, its Status will be Already Exists to reflect this. Since there is no action to be taken, the Action field will display as Nothing to do.

Acquired data points back to its original source. This ancestral link information can be seen by changing the aspect view tab for the target Item revision to its Origin aspect view tab.

Acquisition Mechanics

Engineers are curious by nature. Off-the-shelf functionality through black-box delivery is great, but knowing 'what' is being done is only half the picture to an Engineer. To really satisfy their curiosity, they need to dive deeper and see 'how' something is done. This section gives a little more insight into the basic procedural flow employed by the data acquisition feature, and the general scenarios encountered when managing data acquisition.

Basic Procedural Flow

The following image takes a closer look at the mechanics of acquiring data from a source server. It illustrates the procedural flow involved, to essentially copy a chosen revision of a source item between the nominated source and target servers.


The mechanics of acquiring data from a source server and transferring it to a target server.

As can be seen, the procedure essentially boils down to three distinct stages, ensuring that the data is transferred between servers whilst maintaining its integrity:

  1. Download - the chosen revision of the source item (in the source server) is first downloaded.
  2. Modify & Retarget - the data is automatically modified to suit defined local preferences (local to the target server), while reliably preserving acquired value.
  3. Release - the data is released into the the target server (in this case into a new revision of an existing target item). The target revision maintains a link to its origin, a pointer to its ancestor source item revision.

Managing Acquired Data

In the previous section, the basic flow of acquisition was seen. To effectively manage the acquisition of data, the relative history of both the source and acquired items is tracked, so that the relevant acquisition actions are available to the designer through the acquisition management interface.

The following sections take a look at the general scenarios encountered when managing data acquisition. In each case, the state of the acquired data - in terms of target Item and any revisions - is compared with its original source Item and its revisions.

Completely New Acquisition

In this scenario, no revision of the source Item has been acquired previously. A source Item revision is to be acquired into the initial revision of a new target Item. The the new target Item and revision is created as part of acquisition setup.


Scenario 1 - acquiring data into the initial revision of a new target Item.

Acquisition of a Later Revision

In this scenario, a revision of the source Item has been previously acquired. The source Item has subsequently been modified, leading to a later revision being available. In this case, a new revision of the existing target Item would be created, to acquire the later source Item revision.


Scenario 2 - acquiring a later revision of a previously acquired source Item.

Already Exists

In this scenario, the latest revision of the source Item has already been acquired - there is nothing further to acquire.


Scenario 3 - desired source Item revision already acquired, nothing to do.

 

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