An essential part of any design process is reviewing its progress and validity at key development stages, whether this takes the form of collaborative peer discussions or rigid sign-off mechanisms. Inherent in that process, at whatever level, is providing access to all relevant project data, files, comments, visual representations and feedback tools needed by the target reviewer(s).
Altium NEXUS provides this capability in a highly flexible form through the application of review Process workflows that are hosted by the NEXUS Server and accessed in the NEXUS (client) design space.
► See An Overview of the Workflow Process for more information on Processes and their Workflows.
The process workflows incorporate interactive Forms that are presented to the user as they progress through the process flow steps, and provide the opportunity to comment, attach files, view design documents, and much more. Review processes may be started by any NEXUS user that has access to the project, and are assigned to other users (Team members) or groups of users (team Roles).
On the NEXUS server side, an administrator works with processes as diagram-based flows where the user forms and steps incorporated into the flows are fully customizable. This allows for very specific processes, say, that target established company review requirements, to be constructed (and enforced) if required. Any number of workflow processes can be created.
► See Defining a Process Workflow for more information.
The NEXUS server offers three default review processes that may be accessed as supplied or used as the basis of more advanced custom processes:
In all the above cases both the review submitter/approver (Initiator) and reviewers (Assignees) are guided through the process flow by a sequence of user interface Forms. The requirements and options in each of the process flow steps are determined by the matching Process entry in the NEXUS server, which is in turn managed by the server Administrator – who is also able to both initiate and cancel a review process.
A review typically takes the form of three sequential stages:
All stages in a review are represented by a matching Task in the software's Tasklist panel, which prompts each user that action is required and provides information on completed tasks. Selecting a pending Task will activate that stage of the review.
A review process is initiated from the File » Project Activities menu in the NEXUS design client. The review will initially apply to the currently active project.
Taking the Ad Hoc Review process as an example, in its default unmodified format, the opening form dialog allows the submitter (
Bruce in the below example) to specify the project that will be reviewed and which users are assigned to complete the review feedback stage.
The entry fields and menus in the Ad Hoc Review dialog are:
AUTOmode adopts the process name as the basis of the active process name (the Activity title). A custom name may be entered in its place.
The following Prepare review data form dialog allows you to specify particular design data resources and add attachments. Note that any form text highlighted in blue is an active link to that source data. The dialog also includes a descriptive flow diagram of the process under the Diagram tab, which also indicates your current position in the flow steps.
Notable options in the form dialog are:
At this point the active
Prepare review data Task is closed in the Tasklist panel since the review submission stage is complete – note that the NEXUS user at this point is the review process submitter (Initiator). The ongoing review process is shown in the panel's Activities listing with an active status. Click the button to ensure that you see the latest Activities status.
To view the progress status of the active review process, select its entry in the Activities list to display the current data and the annotated flow diagram (Diagram tab).
With the review process configured and submitted by the Initiator, the activity will automatically generate Tasks to be completed by those specified as Reviewers. When a Reviewer (say,
Garry Smith in this example) then signs in to NEXUS the Tasks area will show an assigned
Provide review feedback task.
Selecting this Task will activate the Review stage of the process flow for the Reviewer, who in this example case is a member of the
Engineering role group. The following Provide review feedback form dialog offers the relevant project data (as specified by the review submitter), the opportunity to include comments and file attachments or perform a Web Review, and the requirement to submit a feedback Vote.
Notable options in the Provide Review feedback dialog are:
Note that any text highlighted in blue is an active link to that source data. Select the button to complete the review process – this is indicated in the Tasklist panel which will close (remove) that active task.
When all specified Reviewers have completed the review feedback tasks assigned to them, the active Review process moves to its summarize/close stage. A
Summarize review task is generated for the user assigned to assess the review activity – in this case,
Bruce, the same user that submitted (initiated) the review. Note that for this user, the review process is shown in an active state in the Tasklist panel under Activities. For reviewers, the activity is now closed because their contribution tasks have been completed.
Summarize review task in the Tasklist panel will move the review flow to its final stage, as presented in the Summarize review form dialog.
The notable inclusions in this form are:
Clicking the dialog's button will close off the active Design Review process. Note that with the more advanced Design Review processes that are available, further steps such as specifying a completed/rejected conclusion or instigating a design Rework task are included in the assessment stage.
To examine the completed Design Review, refresh the Activities entries in the Tasklist panel (), check the Show Closed option in the menu and select the closed task from the list. The following dialog includes a summary of the review information (under the Data tab) and the process flow diagram (Diagram tab) with the progress state highlighted – which is
Competed, as you would expect.
Design Review processes, as ultimately presented to a user through in the Altium NEXUS design client, are developed and edited in the NEXUS Server by a designated Administrator. The versatility of the flow step elements and UI Forms that combine to form a Design Review process workflow allow reviews to be created that satisfy a wide range of specific needs.
Some of the further options that can be applied to the steps and forms are:
Exception) so it will be bypassed in the flow, for them.
As previously outlined, any number of review processes can be created and made available to the NEXUS design space, and these can be developed for review levels ranging from informal feedback input from peers to company ratified formal review processes that feed into other company systems (such as PLM).
► See Defining a Process Workflow for detailed information on creating custom processes.