Prioritize Precision Querying in Circuit Board Design Software

Altium Designer
|  Created: August 17, 2018  |  Updated: June 5, 2020

Use Query Builder to find your bypass caps

There is nothing worse than losing your car keys when running late to an important meeting. Car keys are small and remembering where you put them becomes impossible given the projects taken on in the interim. They could be anywhere. These days it is possible to use RF devices to locate your keys. Having user-friendly technology keeps stress levels low.

Working with a complex circuit design within EDA tools can pose the same problem. With thousands of parts and sheets of design blocks, location of parts placed a few days back could get tricky. Having selection filters able to sort on simple parameters helps keep the design flowing. Intelligent selection filters keep the process nimble and your flow unbroken.

Without nimble tools the process slows as selection filters return vague results or refuse to work. We’ve all been there. Pesky defects are plaguing production progress and the teams are looking to you to find the problem. Inspecting the boards visually is coming up with no leads. Analyzing the fault you suspect one circuit block. Pulling up the layout the process stalls when your search engine locks up.

Work is Stalled With Finicky Filters That Contradict One Another

Selection filters fail to operate concurrently and the entire process backslides. Closing filters where progress was happening to go back into settings menus means starting over. More clunky steps are required to set other filters and the amount of clicks becomes ridiculous.

Finally all the filters are reset and the selection fails to occur. Looking at support blogs reveals that a re-boot is required to effect the changes. When that doesn’t work, support blogs give instructions for register edits. Having to dive into the registers seems extraordinary in order to set selection filters. Not only that but being in an mode unknown to the user causing selection filter commands to grey out.

Query finds TQFP footprint

Use a filter that finds ICs by footprint

Sophomoric Re-Boots and Foolish Regedits Are Needed

Reading blogs to find out the tools are in mysterious modes incompatible with selection filters sinks confidence in the tool. Getting out of the mode requires a re-boot. After rebooting many steps are required to set filters in several settings environments and the day stretches into afternoon.

To set the changes the tool requires numerous re-boots. Stepping through the solution the tool also requires register edits to the computer. Edits to the registers is getting into IT skill level and the task at hand slips away. Selecting parts or nets to edit their features and get the design on track becomes a distant thought with all these re-boots and register edits.

Graduate to Intelligent Selection Tools With Beneficial Filtering

Having selection filters logically scope topics for search would be ideal. Having selection tools that narrow scope and drive to discovery is even better. Narrowing topics for a part, a net, or a layer and narrowing choices by intelligent filtering would move design flow. Debugging would proceed with filters driving to the precise area of the design.

Using the filters concurrently with environment settings would assist the process of narrowing the search. There would be no need to back out of menus losing progress with honing filter parameters. Instead menus could be opened concurrently and commands updated in tandem. Re-boots and register edits would be a thing of the past. IT skill sets would remain with the corporations IT department while engineers and layout folks could put their talent to use with functional EDA tool filtering!

Query for U18

Use a filter with precision queries to find a small IC

Altium’s Query Builder and Query Editor Produce Precise Results

Altium Designer 18 provides an intelligent and progressive Query Builder that allows the user to build expressions. A Query Editor is available from the Panels button in the lower right corner of the unified environment. Filters and operators are tailored for Schematic, PCB, Library, System, and Operators. The language contains functions, keywords, and syntax. 

The user enters a string and the Query Helper offers selections to help complete the expression. Using functions and keywords, an expression is built. Once built the expression may be checked for syntax with solutions offered to continue until it is correct. The result is an expression that logically scopes and precisely finds the query.

Clicking inside a keyword and pressing F1 automatically opens a page on Altium’s website. The website page discusses the keyword and describes its use within the tool. This is where the user may discover menu command paths for application while within the tool. By having access to command paths while setting the query allows filtering to complete with success.

The Query Builder evolves to build a favorite set of expressions for the user. Common sets of objects are targeted helping to develop muscle memory for the next time a query is built. Altium Designer 18 has built an intelligent selection filter tool. It provides logical operators to build expression useful in finding each and every detail of your design on demand.

Circuit Studio provides the tools you need to get your design done intelligently. Stop spending time learning how to edit your computer registers and turn to a tool that keeps you focused on design skills.

If you have more questions about using a logical query expression, talk to an Altium expert. 

Start the journey to switch over to Altium Designer today.

About Author

About Author

PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.

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