Altium Designer, in conjunction with your managed content server, supports Managed Projects – enabling a dispersed design team to collaboratively work on projects that are centrally stored and managed through that Server. Related to this, comments added to an area or object in a Managed Project's schematic or PCB document do not modify the document itself. This allows all working on a document to comment and review the design (or part thereof) in real-time – analogous to the Comments feature of Google Docs.
This commenting feature facilitates strong review and collaboration processes. Due to the server nature of comments (they are stored on the Server and do not touch the design document in any way) they become invaluable when:
You want to point out some issues in a document, without physically merging and getting conflicts.
You want to add a comment which will became visible to everybody instantly, prior to committing your working copy.
You want to have a list of notes for you current design, that are attached to areas of the document and could be closed as the design matures (similar to a to-do list).
If using a previous version of the design software, or if signed into version 1.0 of the Altium NEXUS Server, the older Comments panel GUI will be seen.
Before you can start using the commenting feature, ensure that you are signed in to your managed content server, have opened a Managed Project, and are working on either one of its schematic documents, or its PCB document. This is done using the File » Open Managed Project command. Only those projects currently shared with you will be available for selection.
For more information on support for Managed Projects from the managed content server perspective, see Managed Projects.
Adding a Comment
There are three commands available for adding a comment:
Place » Comment for Area (Ctrl+Alt+A) – allows you to make a comment that relates to a defined rectangular area on the active document.
Place » Comment for Point (Ctrl+Alt+P) – allows you to make a comment related to a particular point on the active document.
Place » Comment (Ctrl+Alt+C) – allows you to make a comment that relates to a single selected component on the active document.
Place » Freehand comment (Ctrl+Alt+R) – allows you to make a comment that relates to a custom, free-hand area drawn on the document. This command features automatic context identification, so that if you draw a shape around a component, the comment will be bound to that component.
Note that the Place » Comment command will only present on the menu when a component is selected on the schematic or PCB document. When the comment is made, a rectangular bounding line is drawn around the component, encompassing its symbol (including pins) and designator.
► Use these links to access the corresponding command documentation pages for Schematic, or for PCB, respectively.
Launch one of these commands, and define the point, rectangular, or free-hand area for the comment where applicable. The Comments panel will appear, ready to enter a new comment. Type your comment, then click the control beneath. The comment will be committed, appearing in the panel. For point, area and component type comments, the comment will also appear in the document editor, linked to the point, area, or component, by a reference line.
Example comments overlayed on a child schematic sheet of a Managed Project. The Comments panel reflects all comments for the sheet.
An avatar is included for a comment, as well as the user's name – this is sourced directly from the avatar defined for the user in the Server.
Using Freehand comment Mode
When using the Freehand comment feature (Place » Freehand comment, Ctrl+Alt+R) – that allows you to add comments to a document by freehand drawing – the comment entry is automatically added to the Comments panel, which will contain context information as follows:
If you draw a freehand shape around a component, the comment will be tagged with the string <UserName> commented on <ComponentDesignator>.
If you draw a freehand shape anywhere else on the document, the comment will be tagged with the string <UserName> commented on <DocumentName>.
Click on the entry for the comment in the panel to access the standard field for editing the comment (Edit).
Example of using the Review Mode commenting feature.
Working with Comments
The following points relate to working with comments and the Comments panel:
When a comment is added, it is seen instantly by all other users that have that same Managed Project and document open.
The Comments panel will track the entire thread of a specific comment, whereas only the latest comment in that thread is displayed in the document view.
Within a comment thread on the Comments panel, 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 panel.
The active/selected comment on the Comments panel is highlighted. In the document editor, the area/point/component that is the focus of the active/selected comment is zoomed and centered in the main design window (where applicable). For a point, area or component type comment, its associated reference line is also displayed.
You can move a comment around in the document editor, only in terms of the location in which the text is displayed. The initial defined point or area cannot be modified. The reference line extends from that point/area to the text area.
You can collapse a comment in the document view by clicking on the small triangle at the top-left of the textual area.
To reply to a comment, select that comment in the Comments panel and click the button. Type your text in the field provided, then click the Reply control to commit. To exit without replying, either click the Cancel control, or click away from the thread. In the latter case, a warning dialog will appear, alerting you that all unsaved data will be lost. If you are sure you want to stop editing, click Yes.
A comment can be edited or deleted, through the panel only, using the Edit and Delete controls respectively, that present once the comment is selected. Note that these controls 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, type your text in the field provided, then click the Update control to commit. To exit without replying, either click the Cancel control, or click away from the thread. In the latter case, a warning dialog will appear, alerting you that all unsaved data will be lost. If you are sure you want to stop editing, click Yes.
Resolving and Reopening Comments
To resolve a comment, select it, then click the drop-down arrow of the button, and choose the Resolve option from the menu. The comment will be removed from the panel and the document view.
Resolving a comment essentially closes it, removing it from both panel and document view.
Resolved comments can still be displayed on the Comments panel. To do so, click the control at the top-right of the panel, and switch from Active to Resolved in the Comments section. All comments that have previously been resolved will be displayed on the panel. You also have the ability to resurrect comments that have been resolved. To do so, click the button associated to a resolved comment you want to bring back. The comment will be reinstated, both on the panel and in the document editor.
Accessing previously resolved comments, and reinstating (re-opening) a resolved comment.
The Comments panel can display only the comments associated with the active document, or all comments, across all schematic and PCB documents in the Managed Project. To do so, click the control at the top-right of the panel, and switch between Project and Document in the Context section.
Switch context between viewing comments for the active document only, and all comments across the source documents in the project.
Controlling Comments Display in the Editor
The display and appearance of comments is controlled from the Document Comments region, on the Data Management – Servers page of the Preferences dialog. Controls are provided independently for comments displayed on schematic and PCB. To turn off display of comments in the document editor – relying on just the Comments panel – disable the respective Show Comment Threads option.
Visibility of comments in the document view can also be controlled directly from the Comments panel. To do so, click the control at the top-right of the panel, and switch between Visible and Hidden in the Visibility on canvas section.
Other controls in the region relate to the look and feel of the comment, and its reference line respectively.
Control the appearance of comments in the editor as part of your Altium Designer preferences.