Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

Altium Online Store

Buy any Altium Products with few clicks or send us your quote to contact our sales


Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool


    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use


    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience

    Altium Online Store

    Buy any Altium Products with few clicks or send us your quote to contact our sales


    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Octopart: Navigating the Complex Landscape Component Data with Confidence

    Judy Warner
    |  November 20, 2020
    Man pushing pcb component

    Judy Warner: Why do component data, pricing, and availability always seem to take up so much of an electronics engineer's time?

    Sean Rothwell: There are so many places that data might live, especially pricing and market availability, so if you're an engineer looking for a part to use in a design, there's a good chance you're going to be bouncing around from site to site checking different distributors and manufacturers. Then there's the hurdle of technical specifications. The specs on one site may be correct, but those on another site might also contradict them. Now, the engineer has to spend time understanding which specs are accurate or choose another component. These factors all add up to a potentially time-consuming part of the design process.  

    Warner: What are the specific resources and tools that Octopart offers to help address these problems?

    Jane Fischetti: Octopart as both a product and a business has focused on democratizing part data. In other words, we exist to make accurate part data available to everyone, and we make ease of use of that part data a priority. To that end, we have created a search engine that's specifically designed to offer an understanding of all the different ways someone might search for a part--whether by specifications, part number, or phrases. The data returned by our search engine includes feeds from hundreds of distributors for tens of millions of parts. That way, engineers can find just about any bit of part data they could possibly want all in one location, wherever they're working through our site, API, or our integration with Altium products.  They can use our BOM tools and part notifications to easily source, purchase, or simply follow component inventory levels and pricing.    

    Warner: Are there any unique challenges that have arisen out of our current global health crisis? If so, how is Octopart rising to meet this challenge?

    Rothwell: Early on in the pandemic, there were fears of shortages as factories worldwide shut down. We've seen the effect that shortages have had on the industry before, but this was unprecedented; we had no idea what to expect. It became clear to us that our role as a hub for part data meant that we could help avoid potential disruptions by expanding the data available through Octopart and making it easier to access. As a result, we've since added lifecycle data from a number of trusted distributors and manufacturers, as well as rolled out our newest version of our API, which includes a free option and a self-service sign up process so that there is an offering that fits the need of everyone wanting to access this data, from a single engineer to an enterprise-sized team. We've also experienced the explosive growth of our team over the past few months, which has enabled us to develop and launch useful updates faster than ever.  

    Warner: Many engineers are concerned about the reliability of the component data. Since Octopart isn't a manufacturer of parts, what steps do you take to ensure data reliability?

    Fischetti: This is a great question and something we spend a great deal of time working on solving. Our best weapon in the fight against bad part data is our "Part Data Czar" Geof Lipman (official title: Director of Operations, Part Data). Geof works with a team of engineers to build tools to ensure that the data on Octopart is both accurate and robust. Geof and his team interface with part manufacturers to secure data straight from the source. So while we aren't ourselves a manufacturer, we always strive to get data from as close to the source as possible.

    Warner: Based on your users' feedback, what are some of the most important and useful tools and resources you provide to your customers?

    Jane: It would have to be our search engine. As mentioned before, we've put a lot of work into search algorithms to return relevant results no matter how a person searched for a part. Not only can a user instantly search millions of parts by specification or description, but the information that's returned is normalized. In other words, the data displayed on Octopart comes from hundreds of different sources. Before anything is displayed to a user, that data is parsed and normalized to make the data consistent and readable no matter what format in which the data arrived.

    Warner: Octopart has a widely used API. What are some novel implementations of ways design engineers can benefit from using your API?

    Fischetti: We've heard from many users about how they've integrated our API into their inventory, manufacturing, and engineering systems. Beyond powering the component search panel in Altium tools, Octopart also powers part search and part data for numerous manufacturers, distributors, and industry websites.

    Warner: Where do you see component sourcing solutions heading in the next five years?

    Fischetti: We believe that our users want customizable, bespoke experiences where they have full control over how and where they access our data.  They want visibility to the global component marketplace so they can make smart decisions for their business instantaneously. We see organizations continuing to focus on lean inventory management.  They need to maximize their profitability and still meet their delivery requirements.  We also see continued pressure on design engineers to speed up their design cycles.  They need to get from a concept to manufacturing at breakneck speed. Our tools can help increase efficiencies for those companies managing JIT inventory, as well as making it easy for engineers to locate the parts they need in stock and within budget to get their designs to production faster. 

    About Author

    About Author

    Judy Warner has held a unique variety of roles in the electronics industry for over 25 years. She has a background in PCB Manufacturing, RF and Microwave PCBs and Contract Manufacturing, focusing on Mil/Aero applications. 

    She has also been a writer, blogger, and journalist for several industry publications such as Microwave Journal, PCB007 Magazine, PCB Design007, PCD&F, and IEEE Microwave Magazine, and an active board member for PCEA (Printed Circuit Engineering Association). In 2017, Warner joined Altium as the Director of Community Engagement. In addition to hosting the OnTrack Podcast and creating the OnTrack Newsletter, she launched Altium's annual user conference, AltiumLive. Warner's passion is to provide resources, support, and advocate for PCB Design Engineers worldwide.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home