Altium Designer Documentation

Managed Altium Designer Preferences in an Altium Vault_AD

Created: 31.07.2017 | Updated: 31.07.2017

Altium Designer, in conjunction with the Altium Vault, offers the ability to release Altium Designer's current Preferences to the Altium Vault as a version-controlled and lifecycle-managed reusable Item.

The released Managed Preferences, stored as a Revision of that Item, can be reloaded from the Vault into Altium Designer at any time, or loaded by other Altium Designer users to adopt a standardized configuration. In addition, the Vault based Managed Preferences can be added to an Environment Configuration, which will assign those preferences to Altium Designer User groups (Roles) to constrain their design environment to the specified Preference settings.

The range of preference settings that are included when the Preferences are released to the Vault is determined by the options selected during the release process, which allows the creation of a tightly defined, reusable Managed Preferences revision. When that revision is subsequently loaded into Altium Designer from the Vault, only the specified options (or section of options) will be replaced, leaving all other Preference options intact.

In Altium Designer, only users that have been assigned Vault administrator rights can release Preferences to the Vault and manually load Managed Preferences from the Vault.

Release Preferences to the Vault

The current Altium Designer Preferences (DXP » Preferences) can be released to a target Item in the Vault via the Release To Vault option in the Preferences dialog’s Save drop down menu. Select the Choose option in the following Link Preferences to Vault Item dialog to navigate to and select an Altium Designer Preferences target Item in the Vault.

In the subsequent Choose Item dialog, select a target folder for the release or create a new folder (as outlined below). Within the folder choose an existing preferences Item as the target, or use the Add an Item link or the right-click context menu to create a new Altium Designer Preferences Item as the target – the release must target an Item in its initial Planned state.

Release target Folder

If an appropriate target folder for the release Item does not already exist in the Vault, right-click in a suitable location in the dialog's Vault Folders area and then select the Add Subfolder » Other Folder Type option from the context menu. In the following Edit Folder dialog, select the Altium Designer Preferences Folder Type, set the Folder Name, Description and optionally, the applied Item Naming Scheme.

The Altium Vault installation is (optionally) preconfigured to include a range of common folders, but specifically named Preferences folders are simple to create.

The selected Item Naming Scheme will define the default naming arrangement applied to new Items created in that folder. Accept the default offered by the Edit Folder dialog or choose from one of the predefined naming schemes available in the Item Naming Scheme drop down menu – or create your own custom naming scheme.

– See A Word About the Item ID for more information.

Release target Item

When creating a new Item as a target for the released Preferences (from the Add an Item link or right click options), the Create Item dialog will offer all property settings for the new Item, most of which will be preset to suitable defaults – note that the new Item ID will follow the scheme defined by the host folder. Use the Comment and Description fields to enter information that will help with quick identification of the Managed Preferences Item when searching the Vault.

The accessibility of the Item to Vault Users and user groups (Roles) can be defined at this point through the dialog's Sharing options, or configured later after the Item and its revisions have been created. Select the Item Sharing link to open the Permissions for New Item dialog, and Revision Sharing link to open the Premissions for New Item Revision dialog – by default, the Sharing settings applied to the Item will also apply to its Revisions.

– See Item Sharing below for information on defining Sharing through the Vault browser interface.

The default settings for the Item Revision Naming Scheme and Lifecycle Definition in the Create Item dialog should suit most situations, but can be changed through their respective drop down menu () options (when options are available), or the scheme/definition itself edited via the browse button ().

The Revision and Lifecycle setup can be changed to suit your needs.

The default settings for Item Revision Naming Schemes and Lifecycle Definitions that are applied to new Vault Item Revisions can be set through the Data Management – Vaults page of the Preferences dialog (DXP » Preferences). For the selected Vault, use the drop down menu to open the Edit Revision Naming Schemes dialog or the Edit Lifecycle Definitions dialog to change the current settings.

– See Item Revision Naming Schemes for information on selecting and editing Revision Naming schemes.
– See Item Lifecycle Management for more information on choosing and editing Lifecycle Definitions.

Releasing Preferences

The newly created Altium Designer Preferences Item, which exists in a Planned Lifecycle State, is established as the target for the released preferences. It consequently populates the Link Preferences to Vault Item dialog when the Choose Item dialog is closed (OK).

The way in which the range of Altium Designer Preferences are released to the Vault Item is managed through the following Release preferences dialog, which offers three applicable modes for how preferences option groups (pages in the Preferences dialog) will be applied to Altium Designer when the Managed Preferences revision is loaded from the Vault:

  • Apply and Lock – The Preferences group will be loaded in Altium Designer as read only (un-editable) options – they will return to an editable state when the user is no longer signed in to the Vault.
  • Apply First Time – The Preferences group will be loaded in Altium Designer as initial settings, which can be edited by the User.
  • Do Not Apply – The Preferences group will not be loaded in Altium Designer, allowing the existing settings to remain.
The distinction between the two Apply modes (above) is most useful when the Managed Preferences will be added to an Environment Configuration, where the preferences will be automatically applied when a user signs in to the Vault.

The preferences modes can be set for individual option groups (pages) or entire preferences sections (for example, the PCB Editor section). The Apply options will set all preference groups to a nominated mode.

The Mode in which each group of Preferences is released will determine their accessibility when the Managed Preferences are later used.

The released Preferences are subsequently available, as an Item revision in a Released state, in the Altium Vault as reusable Managed Preferences.

Other released settings

Along with the standard set of Preference options, the release process will also include a useful range of Altium Designer settings that will be reinstated when the released Managed Preferences revision is (re)loaded in Altium Designer. The additional options and settings are added to the release under their own option headings, and can therefore be disabled or set to Lock/FirstTime modes as required.

The additional option settings include, but are not limited to:

  • User interface Customizations – menus, shortcuts, buttons etc.
  • Item Mananger Options – Item update settings.
  • View Configurations – layer colors and activation, custom display configurations.
  • Snippets folder settings – target folders for design Snippets

The additional Altium Designer settings released with Preferences can be seen and managed in the Release Preferences dialog, during the release process.

Apply Managed Preferences

Altium Designer Preferences that have been released to the Vault as Managed Preferences can be reused in two distinct ways:

1. By simply loading a Managed Preferences revision into Altium Designer to define the current state of the Preferences options – note that Vault administrator credentials are required.
2. By including a Managed Preferences revision as part of an Environment Configuration that is automatically applied to Altium Designer by the Vault-based Team Configuration Center.

Load in Altium Designer

To load a Managed Preferences revision from the Vault to Altium Designer, select the Load From Vault option from the Load drop down menu in the Preferences dialog, and then choose the desired Preferences Revision in the Vault Choose Item dialog. Note that only those preference options that were included in the Release Preferences dialog options (those set to Apply and Lock or Apply First Time) when the Managed Preferences revision was created will be applied to Altium Designer.

Preference options and/or sections that were set to Apply and Lock during the release, in the Release Preferences dialog, will be set to read only when the Managed Preferences are subsequently loaded in Altium Designer. This is indicated by the preferences symbol () displayed at the top of the referenced Preferences page – they will remain locked while the user is signed in to the Vault, for only that session.

Preference sections that have been released as Locked settings will be read only for the current session when reloaded in Altium Designer.

Add to an Environment Configuration

In a suitably licensed Altium Vault, the Vault-based Team Configuration Center allows Managed Preferences to be included as part of an Environment Configuration profile, which when applied to Altium Designer on a User Role basis, will constrain Altium Designer’s environment to those Preferences.

Applied Managed Preferences that include a set of New Document Defaults for example, will automatically load those preference options when an Altium Designer User signs in to the Vault as a member of the assigned Configuration Role. Ultimately, the User’s New Document Defaults are centrally determined by an Administrator of the Altium Vault, through an Environment Configuration defined in the Team Configuration Center.

To add a Managed Preferences revision to an Environment Configuration, first open the Vault browser interface and navigate to the Team Configuration Center page (ADMIN » CONFIGURATIONS). Select a Configuration Name to edit that profile, or use the  button to create a new Configuration.

The Vault's Team Configuration Center allows the definition of Environment Configurations that can be 'loaded' with Altium Designer configuration Items, such as Managed Preferences.

Item Sharing

A Managed Preferences Item will only be available to a User if it is specifically shared with them, or shared with a Role that includes that User.

To edit the sharing permissions for a Managed Preferences Item, right click on its entry (in the VAULTS tab) and select the Share option. Use the Add Users or Add Roles links for individual or group User sharing access, respectively.

...more information about Item Sharing.

In the selected Environment Configuration page (see above), configuration Items are added to the available categories through their associated button, which for the Preferences category will open a Vault Explorer dialog for choosing a suitable Managed Preferences revision. Navigate to and select the desired Preferences revision by activating its checkbox.

The selected Preferences revision will be added to the Configuration. You can view its included Preferences options groups by selecting the Show details info link, and delete the entry with the Remove link. Finally, save the Configuration to confirm the new addition.

Added Items, such as a Managed Preferences revision, will be applied to Altium Designer Users who are members of the nominated Roles.

The Configuration page will offer a warning if the added Preferences Item is not Shared with the Roles nominated in the current configuration. In that case the Sharing settings should be edited, as outlined above.

Load from an Environment Configuration

When an Altium Designer User, who is a member of a Role assigned to the Environment Configuration, signs in to the Vault, the Managed Preferences will be loaded in to Altium Designer.

The updating process may be accompanied by Windows confirmation dialogs.

Altium Designer’s existing Preferences settings will be replaced by those enabled in the Managed Preferences, as determined by the Preferences release options – those that were set Apply First Time or the read-only Apply and Lock option. Preferences that were set to Do Not Apply during release are unaltered in Altium Designer when the configuration is loaded.

If Preference options were set to Apply First Time when the preferences were originally released to the Vault, they will only be applied once when those Managed Preferences are subsequently loaded in Altium Designer by the Vault Configuration Manager. When the signed in User then changes those preference options, they will not be overwritten the next time the user signs in to the Vault.

When Altium Designer’s Preferences are currently defined by Managed Preferences loaded through an Environment Configuration, the Preferences dialog (DXP » Preferences) will indicate this with a configuration icon () and a reference to the loaded Configuration Name. Note that the Preferences management menus (at the bottom of the dialog) are disabled, with the exception of the Save commands.

Preferences that have been loaded from an applied Environment Configuration are indicated by a Configuration Name and Icon in the Preferences dialog.

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