Altium Designer Documentation

Managed Layer Stacks

Modified by Jason Howie on Sep 23, 2020

Parent page: Server Items

Altium Designer, in conjunction with your managed content server, caters for the ability to create and manage Layerstack Items in that server. Such Items can be created:

  • Through Direct Editing.
  • Through release of the current stack definition, in the Stackup Editor.
  • By uploading the relevant Layer Stackup file (*.stackup) to a revision of a target Item.

Once a Layerstack Item has been created (and data released/uploaded into a revision of it), and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, it can be reused in future board-level design projects.

Folder Type

When creating the folder in which to store a Layerstack Item, you can specify the folder's type. This has no bearing on the content of the folder - releasing a layer stackup will always result in a Layerstack Item. It simply provides a visual 'clue' as to what is stored in a folder and can be beneficial when browsing a server for particular content. To nominate a folder's use as a container for Layerstack Items, set its Folder Type as Layerstacks, when defining the folder properties in the Edit Folder dialog.


Specifying the folder type - its intended use - gives a visual indication of the content of that folder when browsing the server.

Another important aspect of the parent folder is the Item Naming Scheme employed for it. This defines the format of the unique ID for each Item created in that particular folder. Several default example schemes are available, utilizing the short-form code for either the folder type (ALS - Altium Layerstacks) or the content type (ALS - Altium Layer Stack):

  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} - for example, ALS-001-0001.
  • $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{A00} - for example, ALS-001-A01.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} - for example, ALS-001-0001.
  • $FOLDER_TYPE_CODE-001-{A000} - for example, ALS-001-A001.

Using a default naming scheme, the software will automatically assign the next available unique ID, based on that scheme, having scanned the entire server and identifiers of existing Items. This can be a great time-saver when manually creating Layerstack Items.

A custom scheme can also be defined for a folder, simply by typing it within the field, ensuring that the variable portion is enclosed in curly braces (e.g. STACK-001-{0000}).


The Item Naming Scheme of the parent folder is applied to the Unique ID for each Item
created within that folder.

The Item Naming Scheme employed for the parent folder can be changed at any time. The modified scheme will then be applied to any subsequent newly-created Items within that folder.

Item Type

When creating the target Layerstack Item in which to store your layer stack definition, ensure that its Content Type is set to Layerstack, in the Create New Item dialog. If you are creating the Item in a Layerstacks type folder, this Item type will be available from the right-click context menu when creating the Item.


Creating a Layerstack Item within a Layerstacks folder - the correct Content Type is available on the context menu.

When defining the Layerstack Item, in whose revisions layer stack data is released, be sure to specify the type of lifecycle management to be used for the Item, and the naming scheme employed for its revisions, respectively.

Lifecycle management and revision naming features are not supported in Altium 365 Standard. As such, this functionality will not be available when connected to an Altium 365 Workspace with this level of access to Altium 365.

Control over which Item types can use a particular lifecycle definition or revision naming scheme, can be defined and enabled at a global level from within the Content Types dialog, when defining each schema. The default schemes assigned for use by a Layerstack Item are: Generic Lifecycle and 1-Level Revision Scheme, respectively.

Once a layer stack definition has been released into the initial revision of a Layerstack Item, these schemes cannot be changed for that particular Item.

Specify the required schemes in the Create New Item dialog, using the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming Scheme fields respectively.

If the option to control use of lifecycle definitions and revision naming schemes per content type is enabled for any definitions/schemes, and the Layerstack Item type is not set to use a particular definition/scheme, then that definition/scheme will not be available in the applicable drop-down list.


Selecting the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming schemes for a manually created Item.

Observing standard revision naming schemes and lifecycle definitions, across the various types of design item in a managed content server ensures smooth, consistent management of those items.
It is a good idea to add a Name and Description as part of the Item's definition. This information is used when searching the server and enables quick identification of what a Layerstack Item offers.

Releasing a Layer Stack Definition

So far, we've discussed the support for a Layerstack Item in the server, in terms of related folder and item types. Releasing an actual layer stack definition into the revision of such an item can be performed in a couple of ways.

Direct Editing

A layer stackup definition can be edited and released into the initial revision of a newly-created Layerstack Item, courtesy of the server's support for direct editing. Direct editing frees you from the shackles of separate version-controlled source data. You can simply edit a supported Item type using a temporary editor loaded with the latest source direct from the server itself. And once editing is complete, the entity is released (or re-released) into a subsequent planned revision of its parent Item, and the temporary editor closed. There are no files on your hard drive, no questioning whether you are working with the correct or latest source, and no having to maintain separate version control software. The managed content server handles it all, with great integrity, and in a manner that greatly expedites changes to your data.

When you create a Layerstack Item, you have the option to edit and release a layer stackup definition into the initial revision of that item, after creation. To do so, enable the option Open for editing after creation, at the bottom of the Create New Item dialog (which is enabled by default). The Item will be created and the temporary Stackup Editor will open, presenting a .stackup document as the active document in the main design window. This document will be name according to the Item-Revision, in the format <Item><Revision>.stackup (e.g. ALS-0008-1.stackup).


Example of editing the initial revision of a Layerstack Item, directly from the managed content server - the temporary Stackup Editor provides the layer stackup document with which to define your layer stack.

Use the document to define the layer stackup as required. For more information, see Defining the Layer Stack.

There are three relevant controls when direct editing, readily available from the Quick Access Bar (at the top-left of the main application window):

  •  - Save Active Document. Use this button to save any changes made to the document. This allows you to save current changes, should you wish to come back at a later stage to make further changes before ultimately releasing to the managed content server.
  •  - Save to Server. Use this button to release (effectively save and release) the defined layer stack document to the managed content server, storing it within the initial (planned) revision of the target Layerstack Item. The Edit Revision dialog will appear, in which you can change Name, Description, and add release notes as required. The document and editor will close after the release. The layer stack document, *.stackup, will be stored in the revision of the Item.
  •  - Cancel Editing. Use this button if you wish to cancel editing. The document and editor will close, and nothing will be released to the target Layerstack Item.

The Save (Shortcut: Ctrl+S) and Save to Server (Shortcut: Alt+Ctrl+S) commands are also available from the main File menu.

The released data stored in the server consists of the layer stackup definition, defined in the Layer Stackup file (*.stackup). In the Explorer panel, switch to the Preview aspect view tab to see the layer stackup.


Browse the released revision of the Layerstack Item, back in the Explorer panel. Switch to the Preview aspect view tab to see the layer stackup information.

Saving the Current Layer Stack

You can also save the current layer stackup defined for the active board design, to your managed content server, directly from within the Stackup Editor (from within the PCB, Design » Layer Stack Manager). To do so, choose the File » Save to Server command from the main menus. The Choose Planned Item Revision dialog will appear - use this to choose the next planned revision of an existing Layerstack Item, or create a new Layerstack Item on-the-fly.

If creating a new Layerstack Item, be sure to disable the Open for editing after creation option (in the Create New Item dialog), otherwise you'll enter direct editing mode.

After clicking OK, the Edit Revision dialog will appear, in which you can change Name, Description, and add release notes as required. Click OK when ready - the release will proceed, with the resulting layer stackup definition, stored in the revision of the target Layerstack Item, available for preview through the Explorer panel.


Saving the layer stackup currently defined for the active board design, to a planned revision of a target Layerstack Item in the active managed content server.

Uploading a Stackup File

You can also upload a Layer Stackup file into the revision of a Layerstack Item. This can be performed in a couple of ways.

Upload Menu

A Layer Stackup file can be uploaded by right-clicking on the required Layerstack Item in the Explorer panel, and choosing the Upload command from the context menu. The Create New Revision dialog will appear, in which you can change Name, Description, and add release notes as required. Use the Sources region of the dialog to load the required Layer Stackup file. This can be performed by dragging and dropping the file from Windows Explorer, onto the region. Alternatively, click the  button - the Add Files dialog (a standard Windows open-type dialog) will appear. Use this to browse to, and open, the required file (*.stackup).

If the Item has no planned revision, upload will be to the next planned revision, created on-the-fly as part of the upload process.

Manually specifying the Layer Stackup file to be uploaded to the target Layerstack Item.

Once the desired file is dropped in, or selected and the Open button clicked, an entry for it will appear back in the Sources region. Proceed with the upload by clicking the OK button. The uploaded file will be available on the Details aspect view tab for the Item Revision, in the Explorer panel. Switch to the Preview aspect view tab to browse the stackup itself.

The uploaded file is listed on the Details aspect view tab for the revision of the Layerstack Item.

Drag and Drop from Windows Explorer

A Layer Stackup file can also be uploaded by dragging the selected file from a source folder in your Windows Explorer, and dropping onto the required target Layerstack Item in the Explorer panel. The Create New Revision dialog will appear, with the dragged file listed in the Sources region. Modify Name (which will be the file name, including extension) and Description (which will be in the format Uploaded from <FileNameandPath>, Size <FileSize>, Created on <FileCreationDate>), and add any Release Notes as required, and then click the OK button.

If the existing Layerstack Item has no planned revision, upload will be to the next planned revision, created on-the-fly as part of the upload process. If you drop the dragged file away from an existing Item, a new Layerstack Item will be created. The Create New Item dialog will appear. The Name of the item will be the file name, including extension. The Description will be in the format Uploaded from <FileNameandPath>, Size <FileSize>, Created on <FileCreationDate>. Change these as required. The Item ID will be in accordance with the Item Naming scheme defined at the folder level. If the folder has no naming scheme defined, naming will follow the $CONTENT_TYPE_CODE-001-{0000} scheme.

Uploading a Layer Stackup file using the drag and drop method.

Reusing a Managed Layerstack Item

Once a layer stackup has been released to a managed content server, and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, that layer stackup can be reused in future board-level design projects.

When you are signed in to your managed content server, you are free to manually choose a revision of a Layerstack Item. To do so, choose the File » Load Template From Server command from the main menus. The Choose Item Revision dialog will appear (essentially an incarnation of the Explorer panel) - use this to load layer stackup data from a revision of a target Layerstack Item in the server.


Accessing the command to load a desired revision of a Layerstack Item into the Stackup Editor.

If you do not sign in to your managed content server you can still work with Altium Designer (under your valid Altium Designer License), but you will not be able to access your organization's managed content server, or any other services it provides. You will therefore not be able to reuse any managed Layerstack Items. You will only be able to use file-based stackup definitions defined locally.
The File » Load Template command will also remain available, should you need to use a local (unmanaged) stackup file.

Re-releasing a Layerstack Item

At any stage, you can come back to any revision of a Layerstack Item in the server, and edit it directly. Right-click on the revision and choose the Edit command from the context menu. Once again, the temporary editor will open, with the layer stackup definition contained in the revision opened for editing. Make changes as required, then commit the release of the document into the next revision of the item.

Right-clicking on the top-level entry for an Item itself, will edit the latest revision of that Item.


Accessing the command to launch direct editing of an existing revision of a Layerstack Item.

Updating a Layerstack Item

If you need to change the layer stackup stored in a Layerstack Item, and you have the updated Layer Stackup file, you can upload that file to that Item - the new file will be stored in the next revision of that Item.

Downloading a Layer Stackup File

Downloading the Layer Stackup file stored in a revision of a Layerstack Item can be performed from the Explorer panel in the following ways:

  • By right-clicking on that revision and choosing the Operations » Download command from the context menu. The file will be downloaded into a sub-folder under the chosen directory, named using the Item Revision ID. The file can be found in the Released folder therein.
Access the Download command from the top-level entry for a Layerstack Item itself, to download the Layer Stackup file stored in the latest revision of that Item.
Click the Explore button in the Download from Server dialog, to quickly explore to the download folder.
  • By selecting the file for the Item Revision, on its Details aspect view tab, right-clicking, and choosing the Download command from the context menu. Nominate the target folder to receive the file, in the subsequent Choose destination folder dialog.

Opening a Layer Stackup File

To open a Layer Stackup file that is stored in a revision of a Layerstack Item, select that file - on the Details aspect view tab for the revision - then right-click and choose the Open command from the context menu. The file will be opened within Altium Designer.

Soft Deletion

When using an Altium 365 Workspace as your managed content server, flexible functionality is available for removing a Layerstack Item directly from within Altium Designer, from the Explorer panel. Right-click on the Item's entry in the panel and choose the Delete Item command from the context menu. The Delete Items dialog will appear, in which to confirm the deletion. The action is actually a 'soft delete', whereby the Item will be moved into the Trash area of the Workspace. The Trash is essentially a recycle bin into which any managed item within your Workspace can be moved (through a soft delete action). It is isolated from the rest of the Workspace.

With the soft-delete facility, you are able to delete an item that is currently being used.
Multiple Layerstack Items can be deleted in a single action. Select all required Items using standard multi-select controls (Shift+click, Ctrl+click), then right-click and choose the Delete Items command from the context menu.

Soft deletion of a Layerstack Item. The Item will be moved to the Workspace's Trash area.

To proceed with the deletion, click the  button. The item will be removed and a Deletion Summary dialog will confirm successful deletion. If there was an issue with deletion, this will be flagged to you.

All items deleted in this manner can be found on the Trash page of the Workspace's browser interface. Note that you can only view items that you have personally soft deleted. Administrators will be able to see the full content of the Trash page - so all items that have been soft deleted.

Things to consider in relation to a soft deleted item:

  • The item will not be available from your design software, or from within the Web interface.
  • Anywhere the item was being used will reflect that the item has been deleted.
  • An item can be restored, or permanently deleted from the Trash page, provided you have editing rights. Permanent deletion is only possible provided it is not being used by a parent item.
Note that if you have soft deleted an item - moving it to the Trash - you can create a new item with that same name again. If you were to subsequently restore the original item, and the original name is taken, an integer suffix will be used, to keep its name unique within the Workspace.

 

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