Design projects can quickly become complicated as they evolve, and frequently contain a large number of design documents of varying complexity and amounts of data. While this can present document navigation challenges, a project and its constituent documents is normally navigated through the Projects panel or Storage panel. These panels also offer direct access to high-level management functions such as document comparison and Version Control.
Altium Designer also provides a visually orientated project navigation aid – Design Insight – that presents selectable previews of a project's contents, available from the Projects panel. The primary advantage of using a preview-based navigation approach is that it avoids the need to open each document to ascertains its contents. This makes the task of finding the right document simple and fast, and provides a quick, visual approach to gaining an overview of a project.
Accessed in the Projects panel, an intuitive and visual aid to project navigation is available with Project Insight, which is part of Altium Designer's Design Insight feature. Activate the Project Insight overview by checking the Enable Project Insight box on the System – Design Insight page of the Preferences dialog.
Project Insight allows you to preview all of the documents and navigate to a particular document in any project that is open in the Projects panel. Hover over the Project icon – if managed, if unmanaged – in the panel to gain 'insight' into a project's constituent design documents. Navigate to and open a specific document by clicking on its preview image.
Documents appear in the Project Insight overview in the order they were added to the project. To view the order that files were added, enable the Show document position in project option on the System - Projects Panel page of the Preferences dialog. A number will appear next to the document entries in the Projects panel – refresh the view by closing and reopening the panel.
The Design Insight preview function also applies to individual document entries in the Projects panel – as a Document Insight. Activate the Document Insight preview by checking the Enable Document Insight box on the System – Design Insight page of the Preferences dialog.
As with the Project Insight feature, hover the cursor over a document icon – such as for a schematic – to view a preview graphic of the document. Click on the image to open the document in its editor.
The Connectivity Insight option provides a preview of the connected Net/Pin relationship between objects and project schematics. Within a schematic, hover over a Component object to preview its sub-parts, a Sheet Symbol to preview its child sheets, and a Net to see its connectivity within the project structure. Enable this Design Insight feature by checking the Enable Connectivity Insight option on the System – Design Insight page of the Preferences dialog.
Altium Designer also provides an extensive range of features that assist in previewing and navigating through the object relationships within design projects, as outlined below.
After compiling a project (select the Compile… from the right-click context menu of the project name) a detailed, interactive Component/Net object hierarchy is available in the Projects panel.
Navigate through the structure in the panel to find a Component or Net of interest, and then double-click on the object to show the instance(s) of that object in the project's schematic documents. Use the options on the System - Navigation page of the Preferences dialog to specify the object highlighting behavior (Zoom, Dim, Select, etc).
Project object navigation is also available in the Navigator panel, which provides a detailed hierarchical structure of design objects and their associated data. The System-Navigation preference settings determine the object highlighting behavior of both the Project and Navigator panels.
► See the Navigator panel for more information.
The connectivity navigation option shows the connection relationships of an object selected in the Projects panel. Double click on an entry, such as Net, in the panel's object hierarchy list to highlight its interconnections in the schematic.
The preview feature is enabled by the Connectivity Graph option in the Highlight Methods section of the System – Navigation page of the Preferences dialog. Select the additional Include Power Parts option to also see the connectivity of power objects that are associated with the selected object.
Schematic-to-PCB crosslinking is supported when navigating within documents, as enabled and configured in the Cross Select Mode section of the System-Navigation preferences. When the project is compiled and all documents available, selecting an object in a schematic will highlight and select that object in the PCB document – as specified by the preferences.