The number of design components available to an engineer when capturing their next design can vary from a few hundred scattered across individual symbol and model libraries, through to hundreds of thousands, stored in a dedicated company parts database. But no matter how many components are available to hand, there will always be more that aren't, and that need to be created and added for reuse.
For a small design house, an engineer will simply change 'hats' and become the Librarian - whipping up required components that are missing from their design arsenal. However, for a larger organization that employs a dedicated library department to grow and maintain the design components - accessible to all engineers and designers in that organization - it makes sense to submit requests for new (missing) components to that department. Providing an elegant solution to this, Altium NEXUS, in conjunction with your NEXUS Server, offer the Part Requests feature.
An engineer can simply put in a request for one or more parts to be created, and get notified when that request has either been completed, and the component(s) made available, or rejected (and why). The requestor supplies as much key information to support their request as possible (manufacturer and part number(s), description(s), any relevant datasheet (PDF or URL)). Stub Component Items can even be created that the librarian can then run with (and finish off).
This document takes a look at the part requests feature from the server perspective, including configuration settings, starting a request and viewing a request. For information on using the feature from within Altium NEXUS see Part Requests.
This document looks at the legacy Part Request feature and functionality. Part Request functionality based on Workflows is enabled by default, but should you wish to use this legacy approach, you can. To do so, enable the Legacy Part Requests Active option, on the Admin - Settings - Vault - Legacy Part Requests page of the server's browser interface. Once this is done, an additional page - Legacy Part Requests - will appear as part of the server's browser interface.
Nominating Your Librarians
First things first, you'll need to specify which role (or roles) should be used to fulfill the role of Librarians for your organization. In essence, you are configuring a set of users of your NEXUS Server that can be assigned to a part request. This is performed on the Admin - Settings - Vault - Legacy Part Requests - Librarians Role page of the server's browser interface.
You must be signed in as an Administrator for your NEXUS Server in order to see the Admin area of the interface.
The Librarians Role page of the Admin - Settings area provides the interface for specifying which existing role(s) should be used as Librarians for the Legacy Part Request feature.
If you installed your NEXUS Server with sample data, then the sample role Librarians will already be prefilled into the Librarian's Role field - remove if required. Start typing the name of an existing role into the field to pop-up a list of matching roles. Select the required role from this list.
Management of roles for the NEXUS Server is performed from the Roles page of the server's browser interface - part of the Team area. For more information, see Managing Users.
Typically a single existing role would be specified for use as the Librarians role, but multiple roles can be chosen for assignment, especially if your company's librarians are gathered into more than one role. With the required role(s) assigned, be sure to click the button at the top-right of the page.
The members of the nominated role will be the set of Librarians that can be assigned to, and work on, part requests.
The members of the role assigned to the Librarians role, will be the librarians that can handle part requests.
Creating Part Requests
Part Requests can be created and maintained through the Legacy Part Requests page of the server's browser interface.
Initially, a part request is visible to the original requestor, and all members of the nominated librarian role(s). Once the request has been assigned to a particular librarian, only the requestor and that librarian will see it, and receive notifications about it.
Adding a New Request
To add a new part request, click the button at the top-right of the page. The page will change to present the new part request form, as shown in the following image, and detailed thereafter.
Adding a new part request through the server's browser interface. Hover over the image to see the form presented to receive the details of the request.
Use the controls on the page to supply as much information as possible:
Manufacturer - this is a mandatory field to indicate to the librarian who actually makes the part.
Manufacturer Part Numbers - this is a mandatory field indicating to the librarian the specific part number(s) of the parts you need them to make. Multiple part numbers must be separated by a comma (,).
The Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers fields are the two key pieces of information with which the assigned librarian can find the correct part(s) being requested. Hence the reason they are the only two mandatory fields. All other information is a bonus and/or allows your input on what certain attributes of the component should be (for example parameters, and component type).
Request Id - an ID is automatically generated with, and assigned to, the request, enabling users to easily track the request's progress.
State - this field is used to specify the status of the request. The options are Opened: New, Opened: In Progress, Closed: Completed, Closed: Rejected, or Closed: Cancelled.
For a new part request, leave this field at Opened: New. While there are five default states in which a request can find itself, you are free to customize these states, or add more, to suit company requirements. For more information see Customizing States.
Required By Date - use this field to specify the date by which you need the component(s) to be ready. Clicking within the field will pop-up a calendar window, with which to specify the required date.
Assign to - this field shows which librarian is currently working on the request. The drop-down field lists all server users who are part of the nominated Librarian's role(s).
This field should typically be left unspecified, unless a librarian is creating the request and knows who should work on the part from the outset. Initially all librarians will see the request, and then one can step forward to assign the request to themselves. Librarians can also pass the request between each other, for example if another has a little additional bandwidth to accommodate the request.
Parameters - this area can be used to add a set of specific parameters required for the part(s). Click Add and use the subsequent fields to provide a name and value for the parameter. If no parameters are specified, the librarian will likely fall back to addition of the parameters in a related datasheet for that part, in accordance with organizational policy.
Description - this field can be used to give a rich description of the part (typically taken from the manufacturer datasheet).
Attachments - this area can be used to attach any useful files related to the requested part, for example a PDF datasheet, an image, or a document. Either click the Choose File button to locate the file(s) through a standard dialog, or drag and drop the file(s) onto the indicated area.
Files of any format can be attached and can be up to 2GB in size.
Parts List - use this area to specify any existing Component Item(s) in the server, which you have created as temporary stub components. Click Add and browse for the required Item accordingly. The librarian can then run with this to fulfil the request. If no stub part exists, the librarian will simply create a new Component Item in the server, along with requisite domain model Items.
Once all information is defined as required - and essentially the Manufacturer and Manufacturer Part Numbers (which are mandatory) - click the button at the top-right of the form, to effect creation of the request.
With the request saved, the full details of the request will be presented.
Example of information supplied as part of a new part request. Hover over the image to see the result of saving - full details for the example newly-added part request.
Notice that in addition to the information supplied previously, the following is displayed:
Request Id - the system-assigned title for the request, in the format PR-n (where n is the next integer identifier available).
Comment - use this field to comment on the request. This allows for bi-directional communication between the requestor and the librarian. For example, the requestor may change something since original submission, and needs to flag the librarian working on the part. Or perhaps the librarian requires additional information, or confirmation on some aspect of the part. With the comment written, click the Add Comment button to submit it. Any comment will appear in the History region of the page, and also in the information stream when viewing the part request in Altium NEXUS through the Explorer panel.
History - a running stream of events related to this request.
Viewing Part Requests
At any time, a user can view the part requests that they were responsible for initiating (Requestor), or are responsible for working on (Librarian). This can be performed from the Legacy Part Requests page of the server's browser interface.
Main summary listing of Part Requests - access this at any time by clicking on the Legacy Part Requests entry in the navigation tree.
Each part request at this summary level is listed in terms of the following supplied information:
Date - the date the request was created.
Manufacturer Part Numbers.
Created by - the original author of the request (the Requestor).
Assignee - the Librarian who is currently working on the part request.
State - the state in which the request currently sits.
Use the top-left drop-down field to switch between viewing All States (default) to viewing all part requests in a particular state. Use the search field to quickly find a part request, based on Created By, Assignee or Description fields. Part requests can be sorted by any column possessing the control - click on the control, or the column name.
You can access the detailed page for a part request by clicking on its ID.
Accessing the detailed page for a part request, from the main Legacy Part Requests page.
Editing a Part Request
To edit a part request, access its detailed page, then click the button at the top-right of the page. Notice also, that a Comment field is available. This is specifically for adding some explanatory text in relation to any modification to the request. This is separate to the Commenting feature available outside of editing the request.
Accessing the form with which to edit an existing part request.
Make changes as required, then click . To back out without making changes, click .
Upon creation of a part request, the requestor, members of the Librarian role, and server administrators, will receive notification in their message stream, on the Stream page of the server's browser interface (and summarized on the Home page of that interface).
Once a specific librarian has been assigned to a request, only that librarian, and of course the original requestor (and server administrators), will receive notifications generated in relation to that request.
The relevant parties receive notification of part request creation, and any updates, through the Stream and Home pages of the server's browser interface.
Only part request creation and update events are presented. Comments made as part of a modification will also be displayed as part of the update entry, but bi-directional commenting (outside of an edit) are only visible when viewing the detailed page for a request in the browser interface, or in the information stream for that request, when viewed in Altium NEXUS's Explorer panel.
In addition to the these event notifications, email notifications will also be received - providing the Email Notifications feature is enabled. This is performed by an Administrator, on the Email Notifications page (Admin - Settings - Email Notifications) of the server's browser interface.
Once the request for a new part has been submitted, there are a number of states that that request can ultimately enter. By default, the following states are provided:
Opened States - states in which the request is currently still 'alive':
Closed States - states in which the request has been considered resolved and therefore 'closed':
To accommodate the requirements of different organizations, states are customizable. You can:
Edit the names of the default states.
Add additional states (named as required).
Change the ordering of states (how states will appear on the relevant State drop-down menu when creating/editing a part request).
This is configured by an Administrator on the Custom States page (Admin - Settings - Vault - Legacy Part Requests - Custom States) of the server's browser interface.
The Custom States page of the Admin - Settings area provides the interface for customizing the states used in the Legacy Part Request feature.
Make changes as follows:
To edit the name of an existing state, click on its name. The Custom State Name window will appear in which to do so.
To add a new state, click the add new control, associated with the type of state (opened or closed). Use the Custom State Name window to give the state the required naming.
To change the order of the states, use the Move Up () and Move Down () controls, as applicable (and where available).
To remove a state, click its associated Remove control ().
With the required states defined, be sure to click the button at the top-right of the page.