When I was first presented with the idea of creating a marketplace where electronic designers could trade and reuse hardware and software designs, scripts or tutorials, and collaborate and exchange their valuable IP, it sounded like a pretty daunting task and a little overwhelming.
However, we have made a great deal of progress on this journey and I would like to share with you some information about a significant milestone towards our objective.
For a marketplace to exist, value-owning organizations first need to be adequately represented within the system. This will allow their administrators to properly manage their presence and activities within the Altium ecosystem.
I’ve been managing something called the AdminConsole project for a while now. It is intended to solve this problem and it is now at a stage where some of its aspects can be shared and discussed with the wider Altium community.
The AdminConsole represents an organization’s account dashboard. Its aim is to provide administrators of an organization with the tools necessary to manage all aspects of their presence within the Altium ecosystem. It’s going to replace the old Altium Account Manager (which is functional but limited), so my initial efforts were directed towards re-implementing most functionality presented there, such as managing organization details, users, groups, licenses, allocating licenses to groups and licenses activation. In the process, I have revisited these features from the usability and productivity point of view. In AdminConsole all this information is presented in a form of lists, which can be grouped, filtered and sorted, allowing you to quickly browse, search and alter it.
AdminConsole consists of few different views, such as Account, Users, Groups, Licenses and Plans. These names quite obviously represent the function of the view. Account represents information about your organization, such as name, postal and billing address; Users is the place where you can manage users within your organizations; Groups is where you can setup groups, including the administrator group, members of which become account administrators, and allocate license to the groups; Licenses is where you can view all your Altium Designer or P-CAD licenses.
User list with grouping, sorting and filtering capabilities
There is a new section within AdminConsole called ‘Plans’.
AltiumLive plans is a new concept that is still being precisely defined. Ultimately, they will let you control access to certain features of AltiumLive, such as using Satellite Vaults or reporting and voting for the bugs in BugCrunch.
AdminConsole allows you to manage these plans.
Something else you don’t see in the current Account Manager is a Home view. This is a quick overview of your Altium account which represents information visually in the form of pie-charts, and gives summary information about the activation status of the users, plan management, amount of license seats, etc.
A notification area, accessible in every view, draws the attention of the account administrator to issues that may need to be resolved in a timely manner. For example, if AltiumLive plans or software licenses are about to expire, the AdminConsole notifications panel will reflect this information and prompt an administrator to take action.
Home view and notification area
This is only a quick walk-through of the AdminConsole functions and features. Once all the details are worked out, introduction videos and the full AdminConsole documentation will be made available.
The initial release of AdminConsole will be just the first step towards providing a tool for managing your organization’s profile in AltiumLive. There are number of features I’m considering for subsequent updates of AdminConsole, and this is where I’d ask you to share your thoughts and ideas as to the features themselves and their importance so that I am better able to prioritise and adjust their development.
Single-click payment process
I am considering automating the process of renewal of licenses and plans and the purchasing new assets, and integrating these processes within our online transaction services. I like to think of AdminConsole as a place where account administrators will be able to manage all aspects of their relationship with Altium, and from that perspective an ability to order or renew licenses and plans without needing to pick up the phone and call an Altium sales and support center is a must-have feature. However implementing this feature will require a significant effort, and I’d like your feedback on how critical it would be for your organization in order to define its priority.
Enterprise level installation management
This feature would allow you to manage Altium Designer and additional software installations (such as Satellite Vaults) for individual users, and give a list of plug-ins for individual installations. Using this feature, an administrator would be able to force certain plug-ins to be installed for all users within organization or a group. Although the ability to manage individual installations and plug-ins in the context of an entire organization through AdminConsole sounds very powerful in concept, I would like to get a sense of how important and useful it is for you to be able to manage installations from a central place?
Enterprise level preferences management
This feature would allow administrators to manage cloud-based preferences, such as System, Schematic, PCB or FPGA settings for individual users within an organization. How important is it for your organization to be able to manage these settings for anyone in your team using AltiumDesigner, and would it help the productivity of that team?
I am considering presenting statistical information about access to AltiumLive by individual users, as well as statistics about the usage of on-demand licenses, and displaying a time-line representing the lifecycle of individual licenses and plans in a visual way. License statistics are already accessible through Altium Account Manager. How valuable is this information for you and what kind of statistics would you find useful?
I’m excited about all of these features, both from the point of view of continuing to bring substance to AltiumLive in order to provide more benefits to Altium customers, but also the implementation challenges they present. Resources available for this project are finite however, so part of the reason for this blog is to try to get a sense of how relevant these features are for you in order to prioritise development. And this is where I’d like to engage with you. Perhaps certain areas do not make that much difference in your opinion, or you may think of some other aspect of managing your organization’s profile that has not been picked up by my radar.
We have already run AdminConsole some way through the beta testing process, however it has been deferred due to the changes required in our back-end infrastructure. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments - more work still needs to be done before the AdminConsole beta continues, and your feedback at this stage can have a great influence on this release and the further updates to come.
I look forward to hearing what you think.
About the Author
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