Altium Designer 17 and the Ever-Changing World of PCB Design Software

Mark Forbes
|  Created: February 21, 2017  |  Updated: September 25, 2020

announcement of altium  new release

The big news from Altium’s point of view is Altium Designer®, an exciting new release of our professional PCB design software. Coincidentally, the release of version 17 occurs at a very newsworthy time with the announcement of a major acquisition in the EDA industry.

Altium as a company has always focused on the needs of the PCB design engineers, how to make their job of design easier, and providing a truly unified set of tools that are consistent from concept to manufacturing release. We targeted the improvements introduced in Altium 17 directly at the needs of the PCB designers and engineers — you — who are actually going to be using the product. What a concept!

Altium Designer 17 PCB Design Software Makes Your Life Easier

Yeah, yeah…how?

First of all, we’ve added some thoughtful innovations into PCB layout. For a long time, autorouting technology has been available, but you, the users, were quite clear that you didn’t like the ugly routes the software chose, the way the final layout looks, and most of all how you had to spend so much time completing some layouts that you might as well have done it from scratch.

So, we listened and we fixed it. With our new ActiveRoute® technology, you get the benefits of an assisted router for those jobs where it can relieve you of the tedium of routing all those nets to the connectors, breaking out a large BGA, or any other “batch” routing. But unlike autorouters, you are still in complete control, instructing the tool where to route and how. And, with the ability to route on multiple layers, it’s very fast.

produces high-quality, hand-routed looking designs that you can take pride in. Features like track glossing, allowing you to optimize the quality and length of the routes, and dynamic selections where you can group and edit objects, give you complete control to instruct the router and tweak anything you need to.


The new routing improvements can be especially useful when designing with flex and rigid-flex technology. With the explosion of wearable technology, these features are right on time with your growing needs.

Altium ® makes producing the manufacturing drawings much simpler, and also synchronizes with the PCB documents. This means that you can quickly create the manufacturing documents. Even more important, it means that you don’t have to re-create them if there are changes or variants: they are automatically updated. You spend more time creating and less time documenting.


Version 17 also adds a dynamic copper feature. With this, you can save time modifying your copper polygons with easy-to-use editing modes and customizable borders. To help you control signal integrity with ever-increasing edge rates, we’ve added complete control over drill hole properties to allow easier backdrilling.


While these are the main additions in 17, you can check all of the improvements, additions, and enhancements on our website.

Altium 17 shows quite clearly that our tools are aimed at making your job easier, not how well they can be integrated into an enterprise sale.

How About this Stir-Up of the EDA Industry?

I’m sure you are well aware of the announced purchase of Mentor Graphics by Siemens…a Leviathan gobbling up a giant. While acquisitions always leave some turmoil in their wake, especially within the companies that are merging, it’s difficult to predict what will happen with the PCB design software from Mentor/Siemens. Siemens has said that they will retain the Mentor Graphics brand and Oregon headquarters.

There is no way to predict what will transpire with this union, but it’s certainly reasonable to conclude that since Mentor has been moving more-and-more toward the very large enterprise accounts. Siemens shares that same philosophy and Mentor will be part of Siemens Digital Factory Division, which has software encompassing all aspects of product design, test and manufacturing. With all that emphasis on the enterprise, where does that put their desktop PCB solution, aimed at the individual and small groups?

Will this cause their products to be even less oriented toward the needs of the people actually using the software, and more toward an integrated enterprise solution? Time will tell, but the trend certainly shows a more concerted effort to sell to the person in “the big corner office” than the person using the tool in the “corner of the lab”.

What Does All this Mean to You…the User?

Altium quite simply provides you with all the tools necessary to take a new product concept through the entire design and into production. Beyond that, the tools are designed to let you concentrate on the design…not the process, freeing you to create. With a truly unified design environment, you have the same interface, commands, and workflow from beginning to end.

This latest release provides even more PCB Design tools aimed directly at facilitating your job of designing electronic products using a unified environment with a consistent look and feel.

Now is a great time to download the new Altium 17 for a free test drive. Do it today!

About Author

About Author

Mark Forbes graduated from Bradley University with a BS in Electrical Engineering and has been in the EDA industry for over 30 years.

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