The world has turned the corner from linear to organic. The need for global editing within versatile environments continues to grow. It used to be I could keep one file in my office drawer to collect bills for the month. When I got paid, it was a simple matter to list the bills, add them up, and write the checks. These days, bill paying goes much quicker on the computer. But I’ve had to adapt to different steps on each utility website and sometimes a step is missed.
Managing my funds takes place in multiple environments with different interfaces. Although the days of ambiguous error messages are gone, the fear remains that instructions I give will appear to be acknowledged when in fact they are not. This is the same in my PCB editors - how do I know if an order or command I’ve issued isn’t transferred completely over to layouts, footprints, or schematics? Commanding order of my objects within design software should be clear.
Menu Surfing Ends Up in Part Wipeout
To add part features to a PCB layout requires the ability to annotate. For years, the menus to accomplish this task are convoluted and imprecise. Sometimes following one path yields different results than you’d expected. Then you back up to follow another path. Bam you’re able to type data into the parameters field, save your work, and hit “OK.” You arrive in the original properties window and find that nothing you’d updated is there.
You then get onto some of the blogs only to find long, detailed manual operations are required to perform the simple task of adding information to a part.
You open another document to make a list of the operations from the blog...yes, there are that many instruction steps! And you read through the awkwardly-formatted blogs to be sure you don’t miss one of the command steps in the menu. You methodically move your way through the instructions finally having success. It has been a time sink, and you wonder isn’t there a better way?
Annotating Parts Requires Endless Menu Dives
Parts hold detailed information about their functionality. The information about a part needs to be captured into the symbol within the schematic and PCB design tools. When moving from schematic to PCB layout, intricate information about the part is needed to capture those same details into the fabrication drawing. The fabrication drawing is a description of how the assembly and its components will come together accurately to manufacture the printed circuit assembly.
It is frustrating when I open the symbol to add characteristic information only to find the part parameters did not update. It is misery to have information about the parameters necessary for layout fail to instantiate into the symbol. Additionally, there is no space to add other details such as tolerance and value, or any number of annotations required to describe the part.
The last thing I want to be worried over when I’m three weeks into a design is whether or not my component information updated properly. With parts information so readily available via supplier databases and cloud storage, why is it that information and library management is still such a pain? And furthermore, why can’t the information be found from a quick shortcut instead of six menus?
Elegant consistent interfaces are needed for global editing
Global Editing Catches the Wave
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could perform parts editing wherever you are in the project? Being able to annotate each component relative to its respective quirks is great when the tool is intuitive. An intuitive tool would give me interfaces for each editing function that follow the same steps for updating. And the editor would be universally accessible for any of the tools, be it schematic, PCB layout, or the parts library.
Flexible global editing is possible with Altium Designer 18 framework
Having global editing would include the ability to quickly find, filter, select, and change any and all of the intricate properties associated with a part. Changing parameters would be intuitive and applicable for the respective part. Intuitive interfaces for editing within the same framework would allow changes where needed and no need to address properties not suited to the component at hand. The framework is there to enable your design process rather than the tool forcing steps not needed for your particular part update.
Flexible global editing is available in Altium Designer 18. With common interfaces across all editors, learning one framework for finding and updating information particular to your design is possible. Finding intricate and unique characteristics for the millions of parts is possible with versatile selection tools, accessible from a common environment.
If you’d like to know more, talk to an Altium Expert to discuss next steps.
About the Author
PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.More Content by Altium Designer