Altium Designer Documentation

Management of a Specific Project

Modified by Jason Howie on Jan 22, 2021
All Contents

Parent page: Managed Projects

The Workspace provides an advanced, manufacturing-oriented CAD-centric view of the project, encompassed in the browser interface's Projects Management page. This management interface offers Design, Supply, Manufacture, and History view options:

  • Design - display and navigate source project design documents, view design object properties and place review comments. This view uses the Web Viewer interface to present your design across four distinct data sub-views, to show the source schematic(s), board in 2D, board in 3D and Bill of Materials respectively. This view is for the latest version of the source project data, rather than a specified release from that project, and so could be considered to be a work-in-progress (WIP) view. You can review both the base design and any defined variant thereof.
  • Supply - allows you to interactively examine work-in-progress (WIP) BOM data extracted from the design documents, including entries for Manufacturer and Supplier parts data derived from a project's populated ActiveBOM document.
  • Manufacture - view the releases for the project. Access is provided for opening the full release data, or a specific assembly package, which will be presented on a separate tab through a Manufacturing Portal. From this portal you can view and navigate the released file data, inspect the BOM, and view and comment on the snapshot of the design itself; the source for that released data. From either the Manufacture view, or through the Manufacturing Portal for a specific release, you'll have access to controls for downloading manufacturing data at various levels of granularity (from full data set(s) to individual generated output file(s)). A chosen release can also be sent - as a Manufacturing Package - directly to your manufacturer. You even have the ability to compare generated Gerber data between releases.
  • History - browse a progressive timeline of major events relating to the project, including its creation, commits, releases, clones and MCAD exchanges. Each time a supported event happens in association with the project, that event is added to the timeline as a dedicated tile with various actions supported where applicable.

The Projects Management page is opened by selecting the required project, clicking the  control above the listing of projects, and choosing the Open entry on the associated menu. Alternatively, double-click directly on the required project entry in the list. The page will open in a new browser tab.

Also available in the graphical view of the Projects page by selecting the tile for the required project, then clicking the  control and choosing the Open command from the context menu. When the Projects page is presented in its list view, click the  control at the far right of the entry for the required project and choose the Open command from the associated menu.

Accessing the CAD-centric Projects Management page for a project.

The Projects Management page can also be accessed from within Altium Designer. For the active managed project, use the Project » Show in Web Browser command, from the main menus. Alternatively, right-click on the entry for the project in the Projects panel and choose the Show in Web Browser command from the context menu. When browsing the project through Altium Designer's Explorer panel - configured in its default Project View rather than Classic View - access to the Projects Management page is made by clicking the   button.

The following sections take a closer look at the four views into the project design and its data, presented on the Projects Management page.

Design

Related page: Web Viewer

The Design view provides interactive visual access to the project's design documents, property data for objects within those documents, and the ability to collaboratively comment on definable document locations. This view is for the latest version of the source project data, rather than a specified release from that project, and so could be considered to be a work-in-progress (WIP) view. You can review both the base design and any defined variant thereof.

You'll be able to search, select, cross-probe, and inspect components and nets throughout the design and across the various sub-views as applicable. And when viewing the board in 2D, you can even take measurements.

The Design view utilizes Altium 365's Web Viewer functionality to provide an immersive and interactive experience for reviewing the source schematic and PCB documents in your design project. Shown here is a schematic - hover over the image to see the PCB in 3D.

Based on an advanced web graphics engine and interface - Web Viewer - you are provided with all the features needed to locate and visually inspect the design and its objects. The view also includes fully rendered 2D and 3D PCB layout views, object search, select and cross-probe capabilities, and tree-based design document navigation. It also provides an interface to the active Comments system - which dynamically interacts with the design space - and a comprehensive properties listing for any selected design object. Support is also provided for downloading a Zip archive containing a snapshot of the WIP design project, and for generating and downloading Zip archives of a PDF of the schematic prints and the PCB in STEP format.

See the Web Viewer page for more information on the Design view functions.

Supply

The Supply view allows you to interactively examine work-in-progress (WIP) BOM data extracted from the design documents. The main grid lists all unique BOM parts () in terms of the following information:

  • Item ID
  • Designator
  • Quantity
  • Name
  • Description

Select a BOM part entry to view its symbol, footprint and associated properties in the right-hand pane.

The Supply view enables you to examine the BOM data for the latest version of the source (WIP) project data.

When an ActiveBOM document (*.BomDoc) is part of the design project, each BOM part entry () will include the primary Manufacturer part () and Supplier part () information in a hierarchical view - select an entry to see further details in the side pane.

The Supply view contains hierarchical manufacturer and supplier part data, extracted when an ActiveBOM document is present in the design project. Shown here is the associated information for the selected manufacturer part. Hover over the image to see the information for the selected supplier part.

Use the Search field at the top-left of the grid to quickly find an entry of interest. You can search by any of the data columns for the BOM parts, as well as by Manufacturer Name/Part Number and Supplier Name/Part Number. Search is dynamic, with the grid filtered as you type.

When the design uses managed components, an indicator is used (to the left of the component designator entry) to reflect the revision status of that component:

 - Current (the latest revision of the component is being used).

 - Historical (a previous revision of the component, and not the latest, is being used).

Remember that the BOM in this view is for the latest version of the source project data, rather than a specified release from that project.
Projects that do not include part Manufacturer and Supply data (such as when an ActiveBOM document is not available) show BOM entries and data only.

Manufacture

The Manufacture view presents all project release packages that have been generated from the design space (see Releasing a Design), where each package incorporates the released Source, Fabrication and Assembly data.

Any and all of the data sets included in a release can be downloaded. Click the button associated to the release to access a window in which to define which of that release's data sets to download. After clicking the  button, a single Zip archive containing a folder for each included data set will be downloaded to your Web browser's default downloads folder.

Access is provided for opening a release, which will be presented on a separate tab through a Manufacturing Portal. From this portal you can view and navigate the released file data, inspect the BOM, and view and comment on the snapshot of the design itself; the source for that released data. You'll also have access to controls for downloading manufacturing data at various levels of granularity (from full data set(s) to individual generated output file(s)). A chosen release can also be sent - as a Manufacturing Package - directly to your manufacturer. You even have the ability to compare generated Gerber data between releases.

Use the Show hidden releases control to toggle the display of releases that contain one or more data sets in an inapplicable revision state (e.g. Deprecated, Obsolete, Abandoned states, and where such a state has its Allowed to be used in designs property disabled).
Lifecycle management is not supported in Altium 365 Standard. As such, revision states for the data sets and the option to Show hidden releases control will not be available when connected to an Altium 365 Workspace with this level of access to Altium 365.

The Manufacture view gives you access to the released data packages, with the ability to open a package for closer inspection through a dedicated Manufacturing Portal, and also to send a release to your manufacturer, as a Manufacturing Package.

Browsing a Release Package through the Manufacturing Portal

To open a release package for viewing, click on its associated  button to open the full release package. Alternatively click the  button and choose what to view - either the full release package (All Release) or a specific assembly (variant). An opened project release is presented in a new Manufacturing Portal browser tab.

Accessing the dedicated Manufacturing Portal tab, with which to more closely inspect a specific release of a managed project.

The Manufacturing Portal presents data for the release package across the following sub-views:

  • Files - presents an overview of the release package in terms of what data sets it contains (with an indication of their lifecycle states), server-side parameters and a preview of the board in 2D and 3D. The full release package can be downloaded from this page in a single Zip archive.

Expand the tree on the left to view the data sets involved in this release, and the data each contains. For the design source, this is the snapshot of the design with all source files used in the release of this particular package. For the fabrication and assembly data sets, this will be the output manufacturing data generated as part of the release. Download is supported at all levels of granularity - from the whole data set, to a particular folder/type of output, down to the individual file level. Hover over an entry and click  the button to start the download, or select an entry and click the  button within the main viewing area. For a data set or specific folder of output, a Zip archive will be downloaded to your Web browser's default downloads folder. For an individual file, that file (not zipped) will be downloaded.

  • Design Snapshot - this view applies the Web Viewer interface to provide interactive visual access to the design documents, property data for objects within those documents, and the ability to collaboratively comment on definable document locations. Standard review features include layer visibility selection and comment markup, as well as the ability to search, select, and inspect components and nets. You can even take measurements. Remember that you are not viewing the latest version of the source design data, but rather the snapshot of it, at the time when the design was released to create this specific release package.

See the Web Viewer page for more information on the Design Snapshot view functions.
  • Supply - this view provides a grid style listing of parts included in the design snapshot used to generate this release package, which when selected populate the side information pane with property data for that part. BOM data is extracted from the design source data or an ActiveBOM document if included in the project. In the latter case, each BOM part entry () will include the primary Manufacturer part () and Supplier part () information in a hierarchical view, as available from the ActiveBOM document - select an entry to see further details in the side pane.
All components for the base (non-varied) design are listed.

Use the Search field at the top-left of the grid to quickly find an entry of interest. You can search by any of the data columns for the BOM parts, as well as by Manufacturer Name/Part Number and Supplier Name/Part Number. Search is dynamic, with the grid filtered as you type.

In any of the three views:

  • Click the  button at the top-right of the view to access the Gerber comparison feature. Use the associated sub-menu to choose which release's fabrication data to compare against that of the current release (being viewed). Results will be presented in a dedicated Compare view, which opens in a seperate browser tab. See the next section for more detail.
  • Click the  button to send the release of the project to your manufacturer - as a Manufacturing Package. The Sending to Manufacturer window will be presented, in which to configure the content of the package, and to whom it will be sent. For more detail, see Sending a Manufacturing Package to Your Manufacturer.

Gerber Comparison

The Gerber comparison feature is currently in Beta - accessible only by those in the beta focus group.

Making a final check of your fabricated board data prior to sending out to the manufacturer is always a good thing. The Gerber comparison feature facilitates just that, with the ability to quickly check to ensure no differences in your fabrication output between released iterations of your design project. It provides a purely graphical, layer-by-layer comparison, highlighting areas with changes using a bounding box and a number.

The Gerber comparison feature can be accessed by:

  • Clicking the  button associated with a specific release of a project in the Manufacture view of the main Projects Management page. Choose which other release's fabrication data to compare against.

  • Clicking the  button at the top-right of the Manufacturing Portal tab, when viewing a specific release package for a design project. Choose which other release's fabrication data to compare against.

  • Clicking the  control at the top-right of a Project Released event tile in the History view of the main Projects Management page. Compare against the previous release's fabrication data, or select from all possible releases.

Once the comparison release has been chosen, the results of the comparison are presented in the Compare view, which opens in a seperate browser tab.

Depending on the number of differences that exist, it can take a while to generate the comparison data. You can either wait, or close the Compare view - an email will be sent to you once the data is ready to view. Click the  button in the email to access the Compare view again.

Example comparison of the generated Gerber data between two releases of a design project.

By default, the Compare tab of the view is presented, to instantly view the differences between the two released sets of Gerber data. Color coding is used to distinguish the older Gerber data (Red) from the new Gerber data (Green). Switch to view the Gerber data for either of the compared sets as required - the view switches to standard Gerber viewing mode, keeping the location and zoom-level the same.

Each detected difference is numbered. Click on an entry in the Differences pane to focus on that specific difference. Return to the full 'fit board' view by pressing R.

If you click on a layer that has no differences, you will be alerted to that fact in the main viewing window.

Sending a Manufacturing Package to Your Manufacturer

While you can download manufacturing data for a particular release of a managed project, then pass that over to your manufacturer, wouldn't it be cool if you could share that package directly with the manufacturer, in a way that was far more collaborative and interactive? This is exactly what you can do, and is one of the powerful, enticing aspects of the Altium 365 infrastructure platform. You can nominate which release of a project to send, configure its data content and then send that package - then referred to as a Manufacturing Package - to the required manufacturer. In essence, the package is shared with that manufacturer, who then receives an email invite to view the package directly through the Altium 365 Platform Interface (https://365.altium.com), courtesy of a dedicated Manufacturing Package Viewer.

The Altium 365 platform provides a dedicated Manufacturing Package Viewer - an element of the platform's Global Sharing support - which allows others to view a manufacturing package from any web browser - anywhere in the world - but outside of your Workspace, so that your designs themselves, and other valuable IP, are kept off limits. For more information, see Global Sharing and Manufacturing Package Viewer.

From within the Manufacture view of the Projects Management page you can send a specific release of the project to your manufacturer - as a Manufacturing Package - by clicking the  button associated with that release's entry.

The Sending to Manufacturer window will be presented, in which to configure the content of the package, and to whom it will be sent.

You can send (share) a specific release of a project directly with your manufacturer.

You need to define the content of the manufacturing package - the release data included in it. By default, the fabrication and assembly data sets will be added to the package already. To configure the package further, click the  button. In the subsequent pop-up window, enable the data sets that you want included (source design snapshot, fabrication and assembly data sets). To quickly enable all data sets for inclusion, enable the entry at the top of the listing.

You will not be able to send a manufacturing package to a manufacturer until at least one data set has been defined within that package (the Send button will remain unavailable - ).

You need to define which sets of data are to be included in the manufacturing package.

After enabling the data sets as required click the  button. Entries for those data sets will appear at the top of the Sending to Manufacturer window.

With the data content of the package specified, there are just four fields left to look at in the Sending to Manufacturer window:

  • Name - this will initially be that of the PCB Assembly itself. You can modify this as required.
  • Revision - this field provides a simple string-based attribute that can be used to differentiate various manufacturing packages created from the same release. Initially this will be prefilled with '1', but you can enter what you need here. Be aware that this field is not auto-incremented in any way.
  • Description - enter a description of what the package gives. This can help the manufacturer understand what it is they are getting in the package.
  • Manufacturer Email - use this field to enter the email of your manufacturer (clicking away from the field, or pressing Enter to add that email). Typically you might have a single manufacturing point of contact, who will run with the data supplied in the package to get your board fabricated and then assembled. However, you can add as many unique email addresses as required. To remove an added email click the cross at its right.

With the package defined, click the  button. The package will be shared with you (as the author of the package) and the specified manufacturer(s) and an entry for it will appear in the Sent region of the Manufacture view. The package will be named in the format Name.Revision.

After sending a manufacturing package an entry will appear for it back in the Manufacture view, in the Sent region.

Click the  control at the top-right of a sent manufacturing package tile to access the following commands:

  • Open - use this command to open the package within Altium 365's Manufacturing Package Viewer. The Viewer opens in its own browser tab and provides a summary overview of the design, with key board data, along with the ability to browse the structure of the shared data (and to download any individual file thereof as needed). You can also download the full package from this view. Fabrication, Assembly and Bill of Materials data sub-pages of the viewer are also provided, with the Fabrication and Assembly views ultilizing the Web Viewer interface, providing a powerful interactive experience and allowing for comments to be added by all users to which the package has been shared. The Fabrication view presents the Gerber data for the release.
  • Share - access a window with which to share the package with others, by email invite.
  • Download - use this command to download the package as a Zip archive.
  • Delete - use this command to delete the manufacturing package, moving it to the isolated Trash area of the Workspace. Click the  button in the confirmation pop-up to effect the deletion. This is a 'soft delete', the package can be restored or permanently deleted from the Trash area by the creator of the package, or an administrator of the Workspace.
When you delete a manufacturing package, access to it will also be removed from the Shared with Me page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface, for all people with whom it has been shared.

The manufacturer to whom you sent the package will receive an email invite to access that package 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 AltiumLive). Upon signing in, they will be taken to the Manufacturing Package Viewer, with the shared package loaded.

If the manufacturer 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 shared manufacturing package from the email invite that is received by the manufacturer.

Subsequent Access of a Manufacturing Package

Any manufacturing package that has been sent to you will be available from the Shared with Me page of the Altium 365 Platform Interface. A manufacturing package is denoted by the  icon within its tile.

Example manufacturing packages readily available from a users' Shared with Me page, once they are signed in to the Altium 365 Platform Interface.

Selecting a manufacturing package tile will present various controls and commands, as illustrated in the following image and detailed thereafter.

Select a manufacturing package on your Shared with Me page to access controls associated to it.

  • Open - open the package in the Manufacturing Package Viewer, which will open as a separate tab of the browser. Double-clicking on the package tile (or clicking on the name of the package) will also open it.
  • Share - access a window with which to share the package with others, by email invite.

If a package has been shared with a person who has not yet registered with AltiumLive, an entry for them will appear as Waiting.
  • Download - download the package as a Zip archive.
  • Delete - delete the package from your Shared with Me page. A warning window will appear alerting you to the fact that you will lose access to the package, but other collaborators will continue to have access to it. Click the  button to effect the deletion.

History

Related page: Project History

The History view provides a progressive timeline of major events relating to the project - its creation, commits, releases, clones and MCAD exchanges - with various actions supported where applicable.

To get the most out of this feature requires your project to be fully managed, by adding the project under the Workspace's own built-in VCS (Git). From the Workspace's browser interface, a new project is always created under this native VCS. From within Altium Designer, this is done using the Enable Formal Version Control option - when creating a new managed project, or making an existing unmanaged project available online (and where that project is not already under external version control). By doing so you will have access to the maximum functionality offered through, and by, the Workspace and the Altium 365 platform.

If your project is under external version control, you can effectively switch to Workspace's native VCS. What you can do is create a snapshot of your project - performed most efficiently and cleanly using Altium Designer's Project Packager. This disconnects it from external VCS and from the Workspace (if already made available there), after which you can then make it available to the Workspace again, but under the Workspace's VCS - starting afresh as it were. For detailed information on how to do this, see Moving from External VCS to Workspace Native VCS.

The History view presents a timeline of basic events that have occurred during the project's evolution.

The view can essentially be broken down into three key sections:

  1. Main trunk of the timeline. Direction of event chronology is from the bottom up. The first event - the creation of the project - will appear at the bottom of the timeline. Subsequent events appear above, with the latest (the most current event) appearing at the top of the timeline.
  2. Events. Each time a supported event happens in association with the project, that event is added to the timeline as a dedicated tile. Each type of event will have a different colored tile and will either be linked directly to the main trunk of the timeline, or have some additional icon next to it (as is the case for MCAD Exchange events). For Commit events design diffing is supported, showing basic information on what has changed between the current and previous commits (including files, components, nets, PCB structure, variants). For the following two event types, additional operations are accessible from the event tile:
    1. Commit event - ability to create a clone of the project using that version of the design, and also the ability to download a snapshot of that version of the design.
    2. Release event - the ability to open that release package for viewing through a manufacturing portal and the ability to download either the full release package or the snapshot of the version of the design that was used to create that release package. You can also access the Gerber comparison feature. Use the associated sub-menu to compare the Gerber data of the release with that of the previous release, or select from all releases that have been made for the project.
  3. Search. Click the  control at the top-right of the view to access a search field that facilitates basic searching of the project history. As you type your search string, filtering will be applied to the timeline to present only the events relevant to that search.
Whenever a supported event happens in relation to the project, that event will be detected and made available to the History view automatically. Notification will appear at the bottom of the view shortly after the event takes place - click the  control to update the timeline with the new event. A manual refresh is also provided, performed by clicking the  control at the top-right of the view.

 

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