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    Understanding Rules And Constraints

    David Haboud
    |  September 27, 2018

    This webinar will discuss how Altium Designer supports your design process with hierarchical rules and constraints. Knowing how to define design guidelines enables you to create first pass designs without having to memorize every requirement.

    Why use Rules and Constraints?

    Every logical schematic design defines requirements for your physical PCB. Satisfying these requirements requires understanding and consistency throughout the entire design process. How do you validate every requirement while maintaining accuracy?

    There are many challenges to requirement adherence, but we will focus on three challenges and how we will be able to overcome them with Altium Designer.


    1. Requirement Interactions


    Schematic/Logical Requirements

    PCB/Physical Requirements





    Rule Hierarchy

    Conflicting Scope

    2. Error Resolution


    Seeing Errors Early


    Associated Design Aspects


    Fixing Errors While Avoiding New Ones


    3. Validation and Proof


    Requirement Compliance


    Requirement Visibility





    Overview of Rules and Constraints Key Benefits and Capabilities


    1. Define scope, category, and prioritization of design constraints
    2. Validate and report logical and physical design requirements
    3. Automate and resolve DFM and electrical checks

    Electrical and Design Rules

    Define logical and physical requirements.

    Enables rule, constraint, and check hierarchy.

    5 Steps to Rule Creation:

    1.Create New Rule

    2.Name Rule

    3.Define Scope

    4.Set Value

    5.Adjust Priority


    Rules and Constraint Hierarchy

    Visualize Scope and Priority

    Organize requirements

    Add/remove items quickly

    Traceability and reproducibility

    Save/share hierarchy


    Rule Wizard

    Quick, guided rule and constraint creation

    Rule type visibility


    Real-time Design Guidance

    Automation to ensure requirement adherence

    Stops you from making mistakes

    Eliminates need to remember all requirements manually


    Design Rule Check Options (DRC)

    Configure rule checks

    Online – real-time as you design

    Streamline usage

    Batch – executed on DRC

    Utilize “Used On”


    PCB Rules and Violation Panel

    Traceability and navigation of existing issues

    Violation visibility

    Run individual and batch DRC

    Waive unavoidable violations

    For example, an edge connector failing to meet board outline clearance

    Validation Reports

    Proof of logical and physical requirement adherence for formal release

    Traceability of existing issues

    Violation recording

    Easily shareable


    Questions and Answers

    Below are the top asked questions for the webinar. Questions focusing on specific support questions and feature requests are omitted.

    Q: Can we create rule templates?
    A: You can import and export RUL files and share them with your team to ensure everyone is using the same rules and constraints. You can save them with Altium Vault and Altium NEXUS Server to ensure your rules are in a centralized location for everyone.

    Q: What are the filters other than 'room' that can be used for localized rules?
    A: You can define the scope of rules with pad name, net, classes, and just about any design aspect.

    Q: Where can we get access to the Query functions?
    A: You can find the Query Language Reference on our documentation page following the link:


    Q: Did you have to do anything to get the trace to neck down when it entered the room?
    A: The rule hierarchy and scope I created in the webinar allow automatic neck-down of the trace as it enters the room with the custom query: TouchesRoom(‘BGA_Area’).



    We discussed the requirement adherence challenges and how rules and constraints help resolve those challenges. You can review below the functionality in Altium Designer and the challenges they address in turn. Properly using rules and constraints allows you to meet and validate all requirements easily without having to manually keep track of everything necessary for a successful design. You are able to prevent, navigate, and correct errors in real-time and benefit from design automation to give you a helping hand.

    Requirement Interactions

    Define scope, category, and prioritization of design constraints.

    Electrical and Design Rules

    Rules and Constraint Hierarchy

    Rule Wizard


    Error Resolution

    Automate and resolve DFM and electrical checks.

    Real-time Design Guidance

    Design Rule Check Options (DRC)


    Validation and Proof

    Validate and report logical and physical design requirements.

    PCB Rules and Violations Panel

    Validation Reports

    About Author

    About Author

    David Haboud is a Product Marketing Engineer at Altium. He studied electrical engineering with an emphasis in computer architecture and hardware/software design at the University of Southern California. David began his career as an embedded software engineer in the aerospace industry and has always strived to make it easier for hardware and software engineers to communicate. During his tenure as an embedded software engineer, he focused on firmware development and data acquisition for auxiliary power units. In his spare time, David hosts and performs in improvisational and stand-up comedy nights in San Diego, California.

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