Altium NEXUS Documentation

PLM Integration

Последнее изменение: Rob Evans; 17.06.2021

The Altium NEXUS Server can be hooked up to one or more PLM instances, with direct support for Windchill®, Arena® PLM, Oracle® Agile™ PLM and Siemens Teamcenter® (with additional setup). The interface configuration is performed through the NEXUS Server's browser interface, with most configurations defined within an XML-based configuration file (uploaded to the Server). With the interface set up and working, features and functionality are provided when working in the following distinct areas:

  • Library (components) – catering for the uni- or bi-directional synchronization of your components, component parameters, and part choices, between your NEXUS Server and your PLM instance. Configuration allows you to specify which parameters are mastered in which system. In addition, Item parameters enable you to update properties in the NEXUS Server (configurable per field), without having to formally release a new revision of that Component Item. A dedicated Part Request workflow is also available that supports the automatic creation of a Component in your PLM instance, and also the propagation generated PLM part numbers back to components in NEXUS.
  • Design (projects) – a dedicated Project Creations workflow is available that supports the automatic creation of part numbers in your PLM instance, and then propagation of these as Server Parameters of the NEXUS Managed Project. Such parameters can be used in special strings (e.g. for sheet border annotations). You have the ability to publish your design to your PLM instance, as part of running the Project Releaser in the Altium NEXUS design client. The publishing operation uses a publishing template – defined as part of the PLM instance integration configuration – to control how data should be propagated to the PLM. And if you're publishing for the first time and part numbers (on the PLM side) are not yet associated with the managed project, those part numbers will be created in the PLM and associated with the project as part of that initial publication. You also have the ability to define component entries for NEXUS managed components in the PLM instance, as part of the publishing operation (optional, based on configuration). And you'll always be able to see exactly what has been created, such as part numbers in the PLM instance, as part of the process workflow's history (History tab).

PLM Support

The Altium NEXUS Server provides direct support for the following PLM systems:

  • Windchill PLM (11.0 M030)
  • Arena PLM
  • Oracle Agile PLM
  • Siemens Teamcenter®, with additional integration setup.
  • Generic PLM – the NEXUS Server also offers a Configuration Generator that creates a generic PLM configuration by analyzing the data model of the current NEXUS Server installation.
In situations where it is not possible to connect between the NEXUS Server and a company enterprise system, component data exported from that system may be imported into the NEXUS Server using its supplied CSV Import command line tool.

Connecting to Your PLM Instance

Connection to your PLM instance is performed from the Admin – PLM Integration page of the NEXUS Server's browser interface. This involves uploading the applicable XML-based configuration file and publishing template, and enabling/configuring synchronization of your PLM components with those in the NEXUS Server.

To create a new PLM interface instance, click the  button. As many instances can be defined as required, to interface your Altium NEXUS Server to various different PLM instances. For example, your components might reside in one PLM instance, with the generated output from released design projects in another, or perhaps different divisions are using different instances (of the same or differing PLM system). Each instance must be uniquely named, have a configuration file and one or more defined publishing templates. To test the connection for a defined instance, click the  button – see Connection Validation below.

Sample configuration files and publishing templates are provided as part of the installation – click on the sections below for more information:

Sample configuration files are provided through the Add new instance view – under the Configuration tab, click the Download sample configuration link to obtain the zip file ConfigurationSamples.zip. This zip contains basic configuration files for Windchill, Arena and Agile PLM systems:

  • dm-Windchill-config-basic.xml
  • dm-Arena-config-basic.xml
  • dm-Agile-config-basic.xml
  • dm-Teamcenter-config-basic.xml (available when the Teamcenter PLM Addon license has been added to the NEXUS Server.)

 Sample configuration files are provided for use as part of the server installation.

The supplied configurations include a couple of representative component entity sections (for example; Capacitors and Diodes), where each of those includes a basic ToPLM and ToAltium attribute/parameter mapping sub section. Add to and edit a sample file to suit your company's PLM instance and requirements, create your own, or use the Configuration Generator to create a base configuration file that matches your server data model.

The sample configuration files contain detailed comments to help guide you in what to configure, and how.

Sample publishing templates are provided through the Add new instance view – click the  button under the Publish Template tab and then the Download sample configuration link in the Publish Template window to obtain the zip file PublishTemplateSamples.zip. This zip contains the following files:

  • dm-Windchill-publish-template-basic.xml
  • dm-Arena-publish-template-basic.xml
  • dm-Agile-publish-template-basic.xml
  • dm-Teamcenter-publish-template-basic.xml (available when the Teamcenter PLM Addon license has been added to the NEXUS Server.)

 Sample publishing templates are provided for use as part of the server installation.

Modify these to suit your company's PLM instance and requirements, or create your own.

In the sample files, the following areas are configured:

  • How to handle component creation and linkage on the PLM side during a publishing process (the 'BOM Strategy'). The following options are available:
    • LinkExistingOnly – link components that already exist in the PLM, but do not create components that do not.
    • CreateNewAndLink – link components that already exist in the PLM, and create and link those that do not.
    • LinkIfAllExists – do not create components that do not exist on the PLM side, link only if all components exist in the PLM.
By default, the sample files specify the option LinkExistingOnly. If nothing is specified, then CreatNewAndLink will be used.
  • Sets of Rules that define how and where release outputs are published to PLM:
    • Rules to process (parent) project data.
    • Rules to process source data.
    • Rules to process assembly data.
    • Rules to process fabrication data.
Multiple publishing templates can be defined for each PLM instance. When a template is selected as part of a publishing process, it will be stored (linked) with the project for further use.

When adding a new PLM entry from the  button, use the  button to browse to and then apply a suitably saved/modified PLM configuration.

Similarly, a compatible publishing template is added through the  button under the Publish Template tab. In the following Publish Template dialog use the  button to browse to and select the correct template file.

Add and configure the interface to your company's PLM system. With a valid connection, you can then publish project release data to the PLM system (using defined process definitions)
in accordance with an active publishing template for the instance, and also schedule synchronization of components between that PLM and your NEXUS Server.

The setup files for an Agile PLM instance also support the Agile Change Order workflow, which is enabled in the Publishing Template file and configured in the Configuration file. When a NEXUS process such as Publish with PLM is run, the NEXUS process workflow will offer the option of instigating a Change Order workflow in Agile, using an existing Change Order or not using a Change Order at all. Note that subsequent PLM updates to the project will require an Agile Change Order.

Rather than using the supplied configuration files to create a new enterprise system instance, the NEXUS Server's internal configuration generator may be used to create a custom configuration that derives its structure from the server's data model. The generator requests connection information (PLM type and URL), and then interrogates the NEXUS Server for registered component types (Capacitors, Diodes, etc) and their matching Component Templates to construct a base configuration file – click on the following expanding section for more information:

A custom configuration feature is available from the Generate configuration link on the Add new instance page, opened from the  button.

In the Generate Configuration dialog select the type of enterprise system that will be connected to – either one of the available PLM types (Windchill etc) or a Custom type – then its remote URL. Select the button to create a new dm-configuration.xml file that may then be saved and then added to the new PLM instance from the  button.

The generator creates the configuration to match the data model of the current NEXUS Server installation, so for example, Component Types that are registered in the server are added as entity types in the configuration file (dm-configuration.xml). Each entity section has matching ToPlm and ToAltium sections and mapped parameters sourced from the matching component template (if available). Also included are project publishing sections to map the release package elements to the enterprise system.

All sections in the generated configuration include TODO comments that highlight areas to add or change for compatibility with your server/PLM configuration. For more information on editing the configuration file to work with your server/PLM setup, see the explanatory comments included in the supplied sample configuration files.

A method of testing or confirming how PLM component data will be imported into the NEXUS server is to use the CSV Import tool, which transfers component data from a comma-delimited CSV file to the server under the control of its XML configuration file. Both the configuration file and source CSV file can be edited as needed for testing purposes.
When a configuration file has been edited and then re-uploaded to the PLM instance, make sure that you test (validate) the connection to detect any problems that may have been introduced – see below.

Connection Validation

The NEXUS Server offers a comprehensive PLM Instance connection validation check, which is available from the button in the Add/Edit Instance page. This will perform a range of configuration compatibility checks and immediately report the results.

When the connection validation report is run, the server analyses the current configuration and publishing template settings for compatibility with both the NEXUS Server and target enterprise system data. Configuration issues such as path errors, unmatched component type definitions and parameters, invalid Lifecycle or Revision settings are detected and reported in the following Configuration Validation Report dialog.

If configuration errors are reported – resulting in an overall ERROR status (Status) – these will need to be addressed before the new instance can be created. A WARNING status, which indicates issues such as NEXUS Server components types that are not included in the configuration, or specified attributes that are not available on the enterprise system side, allows the configured instance to be saved and used.

The reported errors and warnings may be then corrected in the applied configuration/publishing files, and/or by making changes in the settings of the server or enterprise system. Be sure to click the  button once your instance is defined successfully. That instance will appear in the current listing of connected instances, back on the main PLM Integration page of the interface.

When a configuration file has been edited and then re-uploaded to the new instance, use the  button again to detect any problems that may have been introduced.

Component Synchronization

Synchronization of components between the Altium NEXUS Server and the connected enterprise system instance – or to be more specific, their parametric data – is based on the LibSync process workflow. The LibSync process is predefined in the NEXUS Server and not accessible (or editable) from the server's Admin - Processes page. However as a workflow based process, the results of its synchronization action may be viewed and any errors handled.

Using the synchronization process involves the following:

  • Configuring the synchronization setup for each component type, which in practice is:
    • Determining the direction of synchronization (to the server, or to the PLM).
    • Determining which component types are involved, and where new components are to be created.
    • Configuring the mapping or parameter attributes.
  • Configuring the Part Choices data mapping, if applicable.
  • Performing the synchronization.

The first two item groups above are handled in the configuration file used for the connected enterprise system instance (such as a PLM). The synchronization itself can be performed on-demand, from the PLM Integration page of the NEXUS Server's browser interface, and/or can be scheduled – automated synchronization at periodic intervals, defined when configuring the connection to the PLM instance.

Configuring Synchronization

Within the configuration file, the connectivity with the enterprise system instance is defined between the Instance tags as a specified Driver type and a target URL. When the Configuration Generator has been used to create the configuration file, the included Driver and URL references are those entered in the Generate Configuration dialog during the generation process.

<Instance>
    <Driver>[Driver Type]</Driver>
    <Url>[PLM API URL]</Url>
</Instance>
  • When the Arena® PLM driver is specified in the configuration file, an additional entry is available to accommodate the Arena workspaces that are available for an Arena user account. The optional multi-digit ID reference attribute is added to the Instance section between context tags, as shown in the below example.
    • <Instance>
          <Driver>Arena</Driver>
          <Url>https://api.arenasolutions.com/v1/</Url>
          <Context>12345678</Context>
          <!-- If a workspace ID is not defined, the PLM instance will work with Arena's default workspace for that account. -->
          <!-- The server will report an error if another PLM synchronization session is attempting to use a second workspace from the Arena user account. -->
      </Instance>
  • When the connected system is PTC Windchill PLM, it may be necessary to add a configuration line to enable the units of measure for Value readings.
    • <Instance>
          <Driver>Windchill</Driver>
          <Url>URL</Url>
          <EnableUOMRead>true</EnableUOMRead>
      </Instance>

In the following Schema section of the configuration file, you define a section for synchronization mapping for each dedicated part type. On the NEXUS Server side, this is the component of type altiumType – its value is one of the type parameters options that can be seen in the Component Type dialog in the NEXUS design client space. On the PLM side, a part is created of type plmType, as determined by its value in the PLM space.

The section is declared as an Entity in the file, an example of which might be, for capacitors:

<Entity altiumType="Capacitor" plmType="Capacitor">
  .
  .
</Entity>
The plmType value may vary, depending on the particular PLM instance you are using.

Within the Entity, two sections are used to control and configure synchronization from the NEXUS Server to the PLM instance, and the PLM instance to the NEXUS Server – allowing for uni- or bi-directional synchronization. Use the following sections, in conjunction with the comments available in the sample configuration files, to learn more. Ultimately, what gets defined in the configuration file will vary, depending on your specific needs, and also the (PLM) attributes that have been defined in the connected enterprise system instance.

This section is used to control and configure synchronization from the NEXUS Server to the PLM instance in the form:

<ToPlm sync="true">
  .
  .
</ToPlm>
To disable synchronization in this direction, set sync="false".

Within the ToPlm section, the following sections are defined:

  • How new components are created in the PLM instance – between the tagset <CreateInfo> and </CreateInfo>. One example might be choosing an item naming scheme defined in the target enterprise system, and specifying an item numbering prefix:
<CreateInfo>
    <Numbering name="Electrical">
        <Fields>
            <Field name="Code" value="120"/>
        </Fields>
    </Numbering>
</CreateInfo>
 
  • Filtering to limit which components in the NEXUS Server are synchronized with the PLM – between the tagset <SourceCriteria> and </SourceCriteria>.
This is essential if you have say, 6000 capacitors in your NEXUS Server, but only want a folder of 85 ceramic capacitors to be synchronized. You could specify a particular folder be involved (e.g. with the entry: <Folder>Components/Capacitors/Ceramic</Folder>). You can optionally use other criteria to narrow the filter even more, based on parameter values – all such criteria filters should be joined by AND.
  • A listing of attributes (parameters) that should be passed for the components from NEXUS Server to PLM – between the tagset <Attributes> and </Attributes>. An example of this is:
<Attributes>

<!-- Name/Comment from NEXUS will be passed to PLM field Name 'as is' -->
<common:Attribute>
	<common:Key>name</common:Key>
	<common:Value>${parameter.Name}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

<!-- Number generated on PLM side will be propagated to NEXUS -->
<!-- as PlmPartNumber parameter (note: any parameter name can be used)-->
<common:Attribute attributeType="item" primaryKeyOrdinal="1">
	<common:Key>number</common:Key>
	<common:Value>${parameter.PlmPartNumber}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

<!-- NEXUS component description will go to PLM field Description. Value will be prefixed with 'Extended' -->
<!-- Description on NEXUS side is a revision level parameter -->
<common:Attribute attributeType="revision">
	<common:Key>description</common:Key>
	<common:Value>Extended ${parameter.Description}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

<!-- This attribute will not be pushed to PLM component as part of library synchronization -->
<!-- It is being used to pass values during project publish with BOM -->
<common:Attribute>
    <common:Key>refDes</common:Key>
    <common:Value>${parameter.LogicalDesignator}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

<!-- RoHS field in PLM will be set to 'YES' -->
<common:Attribute>
	<common:Key>RoHS</common:Key>
	<common:Value>YES</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

</Attributes>
  • The part number that gets created on the PLM side (PlmPartNumber) is the primary key for linking the components on either side, and will be propagated back to the NEXUS Server component.
  • Parameters such as component Reference Designators (refDes) only apply when a project with a BOM document is published, since the designator parameter is not involved in component synchronization.
  • Note that there is the notion of Item parameters (attributeType="item"). These parameters, such as the PlmPartNumber parameter above, are added to the parent Component Item in the NEXUS Server and available to its revisions. They do not cause a new revision of a Component Item to be created if their value is changed. This is in contrast with Revision parameters (attributeType="revision"). These parameters, such as the Description parameter above, cause a new revision of a Component Item to be created if their value is changed.

This section is used to control and configure synchronization from the PLM instance to the NEXUS Server in the form:

<ToAltium sync="true" mode="createAndUpdate">
  .
  .
</ToAltium>

The optional mode statement determines how component data is synchronized from the enterprise system to Concord Pro. The default mode (createAndUpdate) allows new components to be created in the server and also existing server components to be updated, whereas the alternative updateExisting mode allows only existing server components to be updated.
To disable synchronization in this direction, set sync="false".

Within the ToAltium section, the following sections are defined:

  • How and where new components are created in the NEXUS Server – between the tagset <CreateInfo> and </CreateInfo>.
<CreateInfo>
    <!-- <ComponentTemplate>TODO component template Revision ID</ComponentTemplate> -->
    <RevisionNamingScheme>1-Level Revision Scheme</RevisionNamingScheme>
    <LifecycleDefinition>Component Lifecycle</LifecycleDefinition>
    <Folder>Components/Inbox/Capacitors</Folder>
</CreateInfo>


When a component entry is created in the server, the Component Template associated with the target NEXUS Server folder (Components/Inbox/Capacitors in the above example) will be used, if one has been specified. This will also define the Item Naming Scheme used for a created component, overruling one that has been specified in the target server folder – conversely, if the folder does not define either a template or a naming scheme, the synchronization will fail.

Also note that in the sample configurations, a default revision naming scheme (1-Level Revision Scheme) and lifecycle definition (Component Lifecycle) are defined to be used – these are overruled if a component template is associated with the target server folder.

A component target folder specified in the configuration file will overrule the Default Folder setting in a Component Template.

If a specific component template reference is added in the configuration (for example; CMPT-00001), this template will be used instead of a template associated with the target server folder. Its settings will overrule any parameter settings in the configuration file (such as the lifecycle definition, etc), with the exception of a defined target Folder.

<CreateInfo>
    <!-- A specified Template overrules other CreateInfo settings, except the target Folder -->
    <ComponentTemplate>CMPT-00001</ComponentTemplate>
    <RevisionNamingScheme>1-Level Revision Scheme</RevisionNamingScheme>
    <LifecycleDefinition>Component Lifecycle</LifecycleDefinition>
    <!-- A specified target Folder overrules that defined in an applied Template -->
    <Folder>Components/Inbox/Capacitors</Folder>
</CreateInfo>


Note that the specified template will apply to newly created server components only. This approach is particularly useful for managing the importation/synchronization of proprietary component parameters from an external system into the NEXUS Server. In this case a tailored Component Template can be applied to interpret incoming parameter data, set suitable default values, specify unit data types, and also to specify the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming scheme for the newly created server components.

If a parameter is specified with an item attribute type (dynamic) in the configuration file and that parameter exists in the applied Component Template, the component parameter value will not be updated during component synchronization. For that parameter to behave in a 'dynamic' way during component synchronization (where a Value update does not cause a new revision), the parameter reference will need to be removed from the applied Component Template.
  • Filtering of data retrieved from the enterprise system (PLM) instance – between the tagset <SourceCriteria> and </SourceCriteria>. A filter statement might restrict the component data received from the PLM to those created by a specific author (as illustrated in the supplied example configuration), or to component items that have a particular attribute Value (Business Unit = Engineering_RD), as shown below).
<SourceCriteria>
    <ns2:Attribute>
        <ns2:Key>Business Unit</ns2:Key>
        <ns2:Value>Engineering_RD</ns2:Value>
    </ns2:Attribute>
</SourceCriteria>

  • A listing of attributes (parameters) that should be passed for the components from the PLM to the NEXUS Server – between the tagset <Attributes> and </Attributes>. An example of this is:
<Attributes>

<!-- Name field from PLM will be passed to name/comment field in NEXUS -->
<common:Attribute attributeType="revision">
	<common:Key>name</common:Key>
	<common:Value>${attribute.name}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

<!-- Description field from PLM will be passed to Description field in NEXUS on revision level -->
<!-- Revision level attributes will cause new revision to be created in case parameter value is changed -->
<common:Attribute attributeType="revision">
	<common:Key>Description</common:Key>
	<common:Value>${attribute.description}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

<!-- Number field from PLM will be passed to PlmPartNumber field in NEXUS on revision level  -->
<!-- Note: any attribute name can be used -->
<common:Attribute attributeType="revision" primaryKeyOrdinal="1">
	<common:Key>PlmPartNumber</common:Key>
	<common:Value>${attribute.Number}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

<common:Attribute attributeType="item">
	<common:Key>DynamicCONTS</common:Key>
	<common:Value>Will not cause revision update if changed ${attribute.LastModified}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>

</Attributes>

Note that the part number on the PLM side (PlmPartNumber) is the primary key for linking the components on either side, and is propagated back to the NEXUS Server component.

Notice also, that there is the notion of 'dynamic' parameters (attributeType="item"). These parameters, such as the DynamicCONTS parameter above, are Item-level parameters. They are added to the parent Component Item in the NEXUS Server, and available to its revisions. They do not cause a new revision of a Component Item to be created if their value is changed. This is in contrast with 'strong' parameters (attributeType="revision"). These parameters, such as the Description parameter above, are revision-level parameters. They cause a new revision of a Component Item to be created if their value is changed.

The section for defining Part Choices data mapping is found at the end of the sample (or a generated) configuration file. Note also that synchronization of Part Choice data is unidirectional – from the enterprise system to the NEXUS Server only.

Along with Entity declarations within the configuration Schema is an additional section for defining component Part Choice data mapping from the enterprise system (PLM) to the NEXUS Server. This is a global definition that specifies the component manufacturer and part number attributes used in the enterprise system.

When Part Choices synchronization is enabled in the configuration file (sync="true"), the Value of the specified attributes is transferred from the PLM component item to the created/updated Server component. As a global definition for all defined component entities, the Part Choice data will be propagated to a server component whenever it is encountered in the PLM component dataset.

An example entry for the Part Choices mapping in a configuration file – where the PLM system attributes are MFR1 (Manufacturer Name) and MPN1 (Manufacturer Part Number) – might be:

<PartChoices>
    <ToAltium sync="true">
    <MfrMappings>
        <MfrMapping>
            <MfrName>MFR1</MfrName>
            <MfrPartNumber>MPN1</MfrPartNumber>
        </MfrMapping>
    </MfrMappings>
    </ToAltium>
</PartChoices>


Part Choice data synchronization supports multiple part choice data entries found in the PLM component item. These additional attributes need to be specified in the configuration file mapping as another pair of attribute definitions, for example: MFR2 and MPN2 as shown below:

<MfrMappings>
    <MfrMapping>
        <MfrName>MFR1</MfrName>
        <MfrPartNumber>MPN1</MfrPartNumber>
    </MfrMapping>
    <MfrMapping>
        <MfrName>MFR2</MfrName>
        <MfrPartNumber>MPN2</MfrPartNumber>
    </MfrMapping>
</MfrMappings>


Enterprise systems that have native/built-in manufacturer part choice functionality, such as Arena PLM, do not require mapped parameters in the configuration file. In this case, the acceptance of Part Choice data is simply enabled in the related configuration section.

<PartChoices>
    <ToAltium sync="true"/>
</PartChoices>
When Part Choice data is imported into a Server component item it will not duplicate or replace an existing Part Choice that has been manually entered, and will otherwise be added as a new, additional Part Choice for that component – which will be updated by subsequent synchronization runs.

The PTC Windchill PLM system provides an optional PartsLink module that allows parts to be classified in groups. Part Classifications specified in Windchill also can include associated Attribute/Value pairs to provide further definition within that Classification. The PartsLink system allows specific component types to be targeted easily and quickly and is supported by the NEXUS Server's PLM Integration for bidirectional synchronization and read/write access.

In a NEXUS Server configuration instance for Windchill, a PartsLink Classification is created in Windchill by specifying a binding attribute in the ToPLM section in the format as shown in the below example:

<common:Attribute>
	<common:Key>Classification</common:Key>
	<common:Value>102-Capacitor</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>


In the above case, the Key/Value pair defines a Classification named 102-Capacitor. This may have an associated classification Attribute created in Windchill by specifying a name and value parameter (here, Capacitance) – note that multiple Attributes can be applied to a single Classification:

<common:Attribute>
	<common:ClassificationName>102-Capacitor</common:ClassificationName>
	<common:Key>Capacitance</common:Key>
	<common:Value>${parameter.Value}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>


In the configuration's ToAltium synchronization section, the data sourced from Windchill can be filtered for a desired part Classification within the <SourceCritera> tagset by specifying its ClassificationName.

<SourceCriteria>
	<ClassificationName>102-Capacitor</ClassificationName>
</SourceCriteria>


To source all parts that comply with a matching Classification Attribute value (say, all 10uF Capacitors), the <SourceCriteria> section should include configuration attribute settings that define a ClassificationName and its associated classification Attribute key and Value.

<SourceCriteria>
	<common:Attribute>
		<common:ClassificationName>102-Capacitor</common:ClassificationName>
		<common:Key>Capacitance</common:Key>
		<common:Value>10uF</common:Value>
	</common:Attribute>
</SourceCriteria>


To extract a specific Classification Attribute value from Windchill, source the Value parameter from the specific Attribute name associated with a ClassificationName.

<common:Attribute attributeType="revision">
	<common:ClassificationName>102-Capacitor</common:ClassificationName>
	<common:Key>Value</common:Key>
	<common:Value>${attribute.Capacitance}</common:Value>
</common:Attribute>


Within Windchill itself, a PartsLink Classification is defined by creating a binding attribute that can be applied to a part type. A part Classification Attribute is then added to a defined Classification class.

 

Component entries in Windchill will incorporate their defined Classification and any specified Classification Attribute parameters, which are in turn are available to the NEXUS PLM component sync process.

When a component entry is synchronized from Windchill to the NEXUS Server and PartsLink interaction has been specified in the server's PML configuration, Windchill's Configuration Attributes for that part will propagate to Altium NEXUS.

  • The Parameters, Attributes and Values included in a configuration file are case-sensitive.
  • Other than the common inclusion of a primary sync key (such as PlmPartNumber), it is not recommended to include the same component attribute/parameters in both the ToAltium and ToPlm sections of a configuration file. Bi-directional synchronization occurs in that order (from PLM to Altium first), so the PLM data will always dominate in this situation.
  • Note that synchronization of Part Choice data is unidirectional – from the enterprise system to the NEXUS Server only.
  • Refer to the example configuration and publishing fiiles for information on setting up integration with your enterprise system.

Performing Component Synchronization

Component (library) synchronization can be performed as a manual or timed process, from the Sync action button of a PLM instance entry on the PLM Integration page or as an automated cycle specified in the instance setup, respectively. Click the  control associated with the PLM instance that you wish to synchronize. The synchronization process will proceed through the LibSync workflow, in accordance with the settings defined in the associated configuration file.

The control changes to  . If you want to stop the synchronization process, click this control. A confirmation window will appear, where you can click  to cancel the synchronization – all components already synchronized will remain so, but no further synchronization beyond that point will occur.

Component synchronization in progress between the NEXUS Server and the indicated PLM instance.

Synchronization will involve only those components that have been modified since the last synchronization was run (i.e. their timestamp is later than the last synchronization date), and which pass the synchronization criteria in the configuration file. This is referred to as Incremental Synchronization.

When component synchronization is run, the LibSync process moves through its predefined Workflow until it completes or encounters an error. Refresh the browser (F5) to show the current state of the sync process. To monitor or review the LibSync process, select the Synchronization status tab and choose the Closed listing option – if a process is still running it will show in the Active listing. The button, available to Administrators, can be used to download a detailed record of all listed synchronization activities in a comma-delimited CSV file format (Synchronisation status.csv).

The view’s sub-tabs provide the following information:

  • Diagram – a graphic representing the process workflow, with its current step position highlighted (Competed or the error/failure state).
  • Data – an information summary of the process action, including the success or failure of its steps and a link to the logged process report – see below..
  • History – a time log of the main server synchronization events listed in sequence.

The LibSync process results are also available in the Process Management page (Admin » Processes) under the Browser tab.

The details of the selected LibSync event shown under the Data sub-tab includes a link to the system log file (PLM [date-number].log) for the event.

If a LibSync process fails, a Handle errors task is created with associated error data including summary information and process diagram. Current action tasks are available in the Tasks Management page, accessed from the Tasks option on the main menu.

Scheduled Synchronization

You also have the ability to schedule automated synchronization. To do so, edit the PLM instance (from the main PLM Integration page, click on its name, or the associated control), select the Component Synchronisation tab and enable the Synchronize PLM Components with server on schedule option. Use the Synchronize every controls to set up the automated sync schedule as required. The system is very flexible and allows you to:

  • Set up scheduled synchronization every 15/30/45/60/75/90 minutes.
  • Set up scheduled synchronization every x hours.
  • Set up scheduled daily synchronization, to be performed at a nominated time.

The schedule you define will be reflected back on the main PLM Integration page, in the Sync scheduled column.

 Setting up a synchronization schedule.

To set up scheduled synchronization requires you to provide valid user credentials (for your PLM system). The credentials should have already been registered when setting up the PLM instance, but if not, click the  button and enter your User name and Password into the subsequent PLM Credentials window. Without valid credentials, scheduled synchronization will remain in the OFF state. On-demand synchronization will also not be possible.

You can also run the synchronization process on-demand. Click the  button and choose which mode of sync you need:

  • Incremental – in this mode, only those components that have been modified since the last synchronization was run (i.e. their timestamp is later than the last synchronization date), and that pass the synchronization criteria in the configuration file, will be included in the sync, with changes propagated accordingly. This is the default mode, and is the same mode that is run by clicking the  control for a PLM instance on the main PLM Integration page.
  • Full – this mode forces a full synchronization. All components that pass the synchronization criteria in the configuration file will be included in the sync, with changes propagated accordingly.

Process Workflows

The following process definitions (and underlying workflows) are available, in support of PLM integration:

These process definitions cannot be activated and used as is. Each of these is therefore more like a 'template' – edit to suit your company's requirements, name, and save as a new process definition, which you can then activate and use, along with all other definitions in the respective process theme.
  • Part Requests process theme:
    • Part Request with PLM Part Create – supporting the automatic creation of a Component in your PLM instance, and then propagation of the generated part number back to the component in NEXUS. The workflow diagram is shown below.

One important thing to note is that when you modify this sample definition to create your own, you must specify the PLM instance into which parts are to be created. Select the Create Part in PLM entity in the workflow diagram and choose the PLM instance from the drop-down menu associated with the PLM Instance field. This menu lists all currently defined PLM instances (as defined on the PLM Integration page of the interface).

► See Creating and Managing Processes for more information on working with process workflows.

  • Project Activities process theme:
  • Publish to PLM (User selects) – publish of released managed project outputs to the integrated PLM instance, where the user is able to select exactly which outputs get published. The workflow diagram is shown below.

  • Project Releaser with Publish – publish to the integrated PLM instance as an additional stage of the Project Releaser. The workflow diagram is shown below.

  • Project Creations process theme:
    • Project with initialise in PLM – supporting the automatic creation of part numbers in your PLM instance, and then propagation of these as Server Parameters of the NEXUS Managed Project. The workflow diagram is shown below.

Accessing PLM-related Processes

The following sections highlight where to access activated PLM-related processes. And since the samples cannot be used directly as supplied, the following were created from them for the purpose of illustration:

  • PR with PLM Part Create – created from the sample process definition: Part Request with PLM Part Create.
  • Publish to Company PLM – Choose Data – created from the sample process definition: Publish to PLM (User selects).
  • Project Releaser with Publish to Company PLM – created from the sample process definition: Project Releaser with Publish.
  • Create Project with PLM Initialise – created from the sample process definition: Project with Initialise in PLM.
Remember that Administrators for the Altium NEXUS Server can start a new instance of any activated process definition – directly from the corresponding process theme tab within the Processes area of the NEXUS Server's browser interface – by clicking the  control.

Part Requests

Access from within the Altium NEXUS client from the Explorer panel, after having conducted a search, from within the Details pane of the Manufacturer Part Search panel, or from the link at the bottom of the component listing in the Components panel.

From the Altium NEXUS Server's browser interface, the activated process definition can be accessed from the Part Requests page, by clicking the  button at the top-right of the page.

The following example shows briefly the creation of a new part in the Altium NEXUS Server, followed by the automatic creation of a corresponding part in your PLM instance. The generated part number is then propagated from the PLM instance back to the component in the NEXUS Server, as an Item parameter – meaning that a new revision of the NEXUS component is not needed to be released. For this example, the process definition being used is PR with PLM Part Create – derived from the sample definition Part Request with PLM Part Create.

The information provided here will be similar for the different supported PLM systems. What will vary will be the configuration file that you may change to suit your company needs, and also if you have modified the workflow for the process definition used to create the part.
  1. Start the Part Request process, and fill out the subsequent form – detailing the initial request – as required. In the image below, the request is being submitted through the Part Requests page of the NEXUS Server's browser interface, and a single part is being requested.

  1. The new part request will be shown as an active process on the Part Requests page, with its current state reflected in the main entry, and also in the diagram for its underlying workflow.

  1. Once the required user has taken (or has been assigned) the task to work on the request, they ultimately create the requested part(s). Each component created (and/or chosen) to satisfy the request is added to the Components field of the task. The added components will automatically be created in the PLM. In the image below, a single component – CMP-007-00038 – has been created and added. Ensure that the Next step field is set to Completed and click the  button.

You may be requested to provide login credentials for the PLM system specified in the Part Request process workflow.

  1. The process workflow will continue, with the specified component created in the PLM instance. Once the process has run to completion, you can see the generated PLM part number on the processes' Data tab. Be sure to switch the filter (top left) to viewing Closed processes.

Administrators can use the button to download a detailed record of all listed Part Requests in a comma-delimited CSV format.
  1. Back in the NEXUS design client, browse to the created component in the Explorer panel, and switch to its Preview tab view. In the parameters region, notice that an additional parameter has been added – PlmPartNumber – whose value is the number for the corresponding created part in the PLM.

Note that the parameter has been added to the component, but its revision remains the same – there was no re-releasing of the component. This is because the parameter is an Item-level parameter – added to the Component Item itself, and available in all of its revisions.

Project Activities

Standard Publishing Processes

On the design side, standard publish to PLM processes (with or without user selection) can be accessed from within Altium NEXUS from the Project » Project Activities sub-menu for the active project.

Project related processes are also accessible from the Project Activities context sub-menu, accessed by right-clicking on the entry for the design project in the Projects panel.

From the Altium NEXUS Server's browser interface, the active process definitions can be accessed from the Project Management view by clicking the  button.

Publishing with the Project Releaser

The process for publishing to a PLM instance as part of the Project Releaser can be accessed from within the NEXUS design client from the Project » Project Releaser sub-menu for the active project.

Release related processes are also accessible from the Project Releaser context sub-menu, accessed by right-clicking on the entry for the design project in the Projects panel.

The Project Releaser will appear, with an additional stage – 7: Publish to PLM. In addition, a command is available from the menu associated with the  button – Prepare & Release & Publish to PLM – should you wish to run the Project Releaser without stopping to review the generated data, and execution report.

If you are using the sample process definition – Project Releaser with Publish – to create your own definition, the stage name presented on the design client side is Publish to PLM by default. The composite command on the Project Releaser  button dropdown menu also incorporates this name: Prepare & Release & Publish to PLM.

However, you have the ability to change how this (and the description tip associated with the stage) is presented to users. The fields to do this are available in the underlying workflow for the process, when the Start element (of type Start Release) is selected. These fields are:

  • Action name – the name of the post project release action, which is the name of the stage presented as stage 7 in the Project Releaser. An entry for this field is mandatory if there are tasks defined in the process workflow. This name will also be used for the menu command, in the format Prepare & Release & <Action name>.
  • Action description – description of the post project release action, which is presented to the user in the Project Releaser as the tool tip for the stage 7 entry.

 Default settings for the Start element in a workflow based on the sample process definition Project Releaser with Publish, and the presentation in the Project Releaser.

The following image shows these fields changed in the underlying workflow, and the resulting impact on the entries in the Project Releaser.

 Changed settings for the Start element when used in a workflow to publish to PLM through the Project Releaser.

If you run the Project Releaser with the standard Prepare command, after reviewing and releasing the data, the  button will be presented at the Execution Report stage. Click this to continue the underlying workflow for the process, to publish to the PLM. The Login Credentials dialog will appear. Enter the Username and Password for your PLM instance, and select the PLM Template you want to use (which appears in the form <PLMInstance>:<PublishingTemplate>).

If you chose to use the Prepare & Release & Publish to PLM command, you will ultimately be presented with the Login Credentials dialog directly. The Project Releaser will not pause at the Execution Report stage, and no  button will be presented.
Note that your PLM instance login credentials are only required for the first time you publish to that instance. These will then be stored with the NEXUS Server. After that, any publishing of that project to that same PLM instance will proceed directly, in accordance with the defined workflow and chosen publishing template.

Click on the Diagram tab to see the underlying workflow for the process.

Click the  button to proceed with the publishing process, in accordance with that workflow.

If you're publishing for the first time and part numbers (on the PLM side) are not yet associated with the managed project, those part numbers will be created in the PLM and associated with the project as part of that initial publication. You also have the ability to define component entries for NEXUS managed components in the PLM instance, as part of the publishing operation – to get a BOM of components within the PLM (optional, based on the publishing template defined and used when publishing the project to the PLM instance).

Check the status of the publish to PLM process through the NEXUS Server's browser interface by selecting the Activities view from within that project's detailed view -- when the project has been opened from the Projects view. Select the Opened view option to see the status while the process is running, and the Closed activities option to access status information when the process has completed.

You can see exactly what has been created, such as part numbers in the PLM instance, under the process workflow's Data tab.

Project Creations

On the design side, access from within Altium NEXUS from the main File » New » Project in <server> sub-menu.

From the Altium NEXUS Server's browser interface, the activated process definition can be accessed from the Projects view by clicking the  button.

And also when Cloning a project, accessed from the  menu button in the Projects view.

The process workflow will proceed, with a dialog to enable you to define the project, in terms of its name, description, type, and any Project Template Item that should be used in its creation. After clicking Start, the Login Credentials dialog will appear. Enter the Username and Password for your PLM instance, and select the PLM Template you want to use (which appears in the form <PLMInstance>:<PublishingTemplate>). Then click Submit to proceed with the workflow.

The relevant part numbers will be automatically created for the project in your PLM instance, and then propagated back to the NEXUS Server as Server-level parameters of the NEXUS Managed Project. These parameters will be available to use as special strings – access from the Properties panel with a placed text string selected in the design editor. Server parameters defined for the project can also be viewed on the Server Parameters tab of the Project Options dialog (Project » Project Options).

The following example shows briefly the creation of a new managed project, with initialization in the PLM. The process is invoked from the Altium NEXUS design client using the Create Project with PLM Initialise definition – derived from the sample definition Project with Initialise in PLM.

The information provided here will be similar for the different supported PLM systems. What will vary will be the configuration file and publishing templates that you may change to suit your company needs, how the target PLM is configured, and also if you have modified the workflow for the process definition used to create the project.
  1. After launching the process (File » New » Project in <server> » Create Project with PLM Initialise) a dialog appears (named after the process definition) with which to define the project. For this example, we'll just call the project Example_Project_with_PLM_Init, give it a description, and leave all other fields – including those on the Advanced tab – unchanged.
  2. With the project defined, click the button. The Login Credentials dialog appears. Since this is a new project, you need to supply your PLM login credentials, and nominate the PLM instance and associated publishing template to be used. The example here uses a Configuration file and associated Publishing Template (as requested) for an Arena PLM.

With the credentials supplied and PLM instance and publishing template chosen, click the button.

  1. The process will proceed to completion (assuming no errors occur) as can be seen in the Tasklist panel, under the closed Activities listing – check the Show closed option from the associated button menu. Select the Activity entry for more information about the completed process and its data set.
Note that The Data tab provides relevant data including the part numbers created for the various project entities. The PLM part numbers correspond to the Items created in PLM that will be populated with release data when the project is published to PLM -- such as when a Project Releaser with Publish (to PLM) process is run.

The completed process and its related information can also be viewed in the NEXUS Server browser interface by selecting the Activities view from within that project's detailed view -- when the project has been opened from the Projects view. Select the Closed activities option (top right) to access status information for the completed process.

  1. Within the Altium NEXUS design client, the new project is apparent in the Projects panel, scheduled for commit to the Git-based Versioned Storage design repository in the NEXUS Server – right-click on project entry and use the Save to server command to do so. You can then add source documents and design away. When you come to publish, the project is already linked to the relevant parts in the PLM instance.

From the Server Parameters tab of the Project Options dialog, or under the project's Parameters listing in the Explorer panel, you can see the part numbers assigned in the PLM instance that relate to the relevant project entities that can be released/published.

How the PLM parameter names relate to project release packages is specified in the PLM configuration file, which in turn is determined by the name and numbering attributes required by the PLM system.

When you place a Schematic text string, the PLM parameters associated with the project will be available as special strings:

Additional Setup for Teamcenter PLM Connections

Siemens Teamcenter® PLM integration requires additional setup that is not managed automatically by the Altium NEXUS Server installer. There are two levels of setup needed, depending on the integration features required. The first level enables Component Synchronization and is also a prerequisite for the second level, which enables Project Publish/Initialization. Nevertheless, it is recommended to perform both setup levels.

Note that an Altium NEXUS Teamcenter PLM Addon license is required for Teamcenter connectivity integration.

For more information about synchronization with Teamcenter, refer to the related configuration and publishing example files that become available when this server license has been added.

Component Synchronization with Teamcenter

The following steps will enable Component Synchronization between the NEXUS Server and the Teamcenter PLM. The setup is also required for enabling project-related processes, such as publishing an Altium project to Teamcenter.

Libraries required to enable the Teamcenter driver

Obtain the Teamcenter installation files, which will be named Tc11.2.0a_win64 or similar for Teamcenter 11, for example. Once the archive is unpacked, extract the following Java files from the folder Tc11.2.0a_win64\soa_client.zip\java\libs:

fccclient.jar
TcSoaBomStrong_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaBomTypes_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaCadStrong_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaCadTypes_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaClient_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaCommon_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaCoreStrong_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaCoreTypes_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaQueryStrong_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaQueryTypes_11000.2.0.jar
TcSoaStrongModel_11000.2.0.jar

If you’re using Teamcenter 12, then the list will be shorter, as some of the library files have been unified:

fccclient.jar
TcSoaBomStrong_12000.3.0.jar
TcSoaCadStrong_12000.3.0.jar
TcSoaClient_12000.3.0.jar
TcSoaCommon_12000.3.0.jar
TcSoaCoreStrong_12000.3.0.jar
TcSoaQueryStrong_12000.3.0.jar
TcSoaStrongModel_12000.3.0.jar
TcSoaStructureManagementStrong_12000.3.0.jar

Load the folder with extracted files (your Teamcenter Libs Folder collection) on the machine that hosts the Altium NEXUS Server. This should be a location that has no read-restrictions, such as the root of partition the C drive – in this example, C:\TeamcenterLib.

It’s important that the folder contains only those .JAR files from the list above. Loading the entire contents of the soa_client.zip\java\libs source into the target folder will cause undesired behavior due to conflicts with other NEXUS Server dependencies.

It is recommended to copy these files from the Teamcenter installation directory into a separate location.

Set a system environment variable named ALTIUM_EXTERNAL_LIB which points to the Teamcenter Libs Folder location in the previous setup step (C:\TeamcenterLib for example). Make sure that extracted .JAR files are directly within the folder pointed to by the ALTIUM_EXTERNAL_LIB variable (and not for example, in the %ALTIUM_EXTERNAL_LIB%\soa_client\ folder).

Further steps

You can now continue with the Project-related PLM Processes section below, or proceed to the Finalize and Test Setup section if you only require the Component Synchronization capability.

Project-related PLM Processes

Note that a NEXUS Server license that enables Processes support is required to perform Project Publishing,

In order to enable project-related activities (such as project publish or initialization of project structure in PLM) from the NEXUS Server to the Teamcenter PLM, all the steps described in the section above should be completed.

In addition, the following is required:

Install the FMS Client Cache (FCC) on the machine that hosts the NEXUS Server. The FMS Client Cache is a part of the Teamcenter Client Communication System (TCCS) that transfers files between the client machine and the Teamcenter Server – this system is provided by Siemens. Thoroughly follow the Teamcenter installation instructions, including the installation of external dependencies for TCCS itself, such as the Java and Visual C++ redistributables appropriate for the version of Teamcenter. The appropriate system variables also need to be set up, as described in the Teamcenter Windows Client Installation manual in the 'Where to find system requirements' section.

Configure system-level (not user-level) environment variables as follows:

  • Set FMS_HOME to the directory that holds the TCCS installation, for example C:\Program Files\tccs
  • Set LOG_VOLUME_LOCATION to a log directory path, such as C:\temp\logs\%USERNAME%
  • Add %FMS_HOME%\lib to the PATH variable

Do not start FCC manually! The NEXUS Server itself manages starting and stopping FCC. If FCC is running when you attempt to perform an activity such as publishing a project to PLM, the process will fail.

You can ensure that FCC is offline by running the following command in the Command Prompt: "%FMS_HOME%\bin\fccstat" -status

It should report 'FCC Offline'.

Finalize and Test Setup

Using the Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell as an Administrator, perform the iisreset command to restart the NEXUS Server. This is to make the Server aware of changes made to the environment variables. Note that the Server also may be reset from the Restart command in the Windows Internet Information Services Manager interface – example.

To test if the Component Synchronization setup is successful, navigate to the PLM Management page in the server's browser interface (Admin » PLM Integration), select Add Instance, upload a Configuration XML for Teamcenter, select Test Connection, and then provide valid Teamcenter user credentials. A Configuration Validation Report should then appear, and you can continue with the configuration of the PLM Instance.

To test if the Project-related Processes setup is successful, add a Publish Template to your PLM Instance setup and perform a connection test (Test Connection). A Configuration Validation Report should appear and contain a Publish template XXX checks section – there should not be an error saying; Environment variable 'XXXXXX' not set. Publish to PLM is not available.

Troubleshooting

If you have completed the setup but the system is still reporting errors such as Teamcenter driver not configured or Environment variable 'FMS_HOME' not set or Unable to verify FCC Siemens Teamcenter service, then there is likely to have been a setup problem. Check the following:

  • Make sure the environment variables are created at a system (not user) -level – example .
  • Make sure there are no typographical errors in the folder names or variables.
  • The error Unable to verify FCC Siemens Teamcenter service can be caused by not having the correct Visual C++ Redistributables installed. Generally, Teamcenter 11.x requires VC++ 2012 and Teamcenter 12.x requires VC++ 2017. Go to this Microsoft page to download the latest update of the respective version.
  • The iisreset command can sometimes fail to correctly propagate new environment variables. In this case a complete system restart may help.

If you encounter the following error while performing a synchronization or publish operation: Error message: The proxy could not locate or start an FMS Client Cache instance. If you are in multi-user environment on Windows platform, check if you have enabled FMS_WINDOWS_MULTIUSER..:

  • Note that setting the FMS_WINDOWS_MULTIUSER variable does not help in this situation.
  • The reported error is probably because you are trying to interact with the Teamcenter instance using the browser or the dedicated client from the machine that hosts the NEXUS Server itself, or you are using the same Teamcenter user credentials for both your actual Teamcenter interaction and for the Altium-PLM integration. Such situations should be avoided.
    • There should be a separate Teamcenter user (credentials) provided for the PLM Integration – ideally one that is not actually used by any physical user.
    • Avoid communicating with the Teamcenter server (by web or dedicated client) from the system where the NEXUS Server is running.
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