The work involved in getting a product from concept to manufactured reality can sometimes involve quite an impressive number of individuals, each bringing their knowledge and expertise on-board, as part of the wider product development team. From the design team capturing the design, through to the various members of the supply chain – procurement, fabrication, assembly, test, etc – all these people work as a sort of 'closed community', behind the doors of that particular design project on which they are working. This very same activity is being performed day-in, day-out in numerous locations all over the world. Different companies, different design projects, but all with a single goal – to deliver a product into the hands of target users that will enrich the lives of the people using it (and of course, generate a pretty pound, dollar, yuan, or euro in the company’s direction for its efforts!).
Now just think of all that knowledge and experience that is constantly being drawn upon. "Bob's a whizz with high-speed designs!"..."Fred is a top-gun at complex, multi-layer board layout featuring FPGAs and microvias!"..."Jim can simulate with his eyes shut!" Wouldn't it be great if, instead of this experience and knowledge residing 'behind closed doors', or even in closed Forums, it could be pooled as a distinctive resource for the greater good of the electronics community? Well, that's exactly what Altium thinks and has stepped up to the plate as it were to do something about it, with its own, elegant solution - AltiumLive.
AltiumLive, in a nutshell, is the symbiotic partner to Altium Designer. Where Altium Designer offers the software solution to create your next innovative product, AltiumLive presents a web-based presence whose fundamental mission is to get organizations, their people, and their devices, connected.
AltiumLive Services at-a-glance
AltiumLive provides a place for electronics professionals to share ideas, engage in topics and discussions pertinent to electronics, to seek help and advice on any problems or difficulties – related to designing with an Altium solution, or otherwise. In essence, a self-perpetuating and self-sufficient community in which members of that community help each other and, in turn, themselves.
- Need help on an aspect or feature of the software? Swing on by the community Forums and elicit a myriad of targeted technical responses from your peers (and from Altium staff) in next-to-no-time.
- Want to read focused opinion articles on some deeply technical topic? Mosey-on-down to the community Blog and immerse yourself in a good technical read!
- Encountered a bug in the software and wish it could be speedily resolved? Report it within the community's BugCrunch system – a system with which the community can effectively determine the priority with which issues are fixed by Altium, through effective voting.
- Have a good idea for a new feature, or an enhancement to an existing one? Submit it for consideration in the community's Ideas system. The community can comment and vote for any ideas that grab their attention, helping to promote those ideas to the top of the 'pile', in terms of what the collective community would like to see implemented by Altium.
- Like a particular thread in a forum, interested in that pet bug someone entered in BugCrunch, or think a suggested feature or enhancement is a a cool idea? Why not follow those items of interest using your very own, customizable 'notice board' – the Wall – allowing you to keep up with what's happening in the AltiumLive community.
- Need some components, or a reference design to explore functionality? No problem, visit the Design Content area – a place where Altium users can browse, find, download and rate content (components and reference designs).
Also provided as part of the AltiumLive ecosystem is a dedicated area that allows administrators of an organization's Altium account to manage the users, licenses and other assets associated to that account, as well as defining the organization's profile –- which can be made public, for viewing by other organizations and their users, within the AltiumLive community. This area is known as the Dashboard.
Organizations can create their own custom presence within AltiumLive, through the use of detailed public profile pages. All organizations will have a public profile displaying the following details:
- Organization's name.
- Logo (optional upload).
- Description – brief description of the organization.
- List of users (optional display) – can be switched on/off.
An organization's profile is defined by a Group Administrator for that organization's Altium Account, through the AltiumLive Dashboard. The profile can be made public, for viewing by other organizations and their users, within the AltiumLive community.
Each user within an organization also has a personal profile page – presenting information from the basic (name, profile picture), to the professional (current position, experience, specialties, and example work). This personal profile page also lists recent activity for the user within the community, such as Blog posts, Forum threads, BugCrunch reports, Idea submissions, and Comments. A User profile displays the name of the organization to which that user belongs, with a link to the organization's profile page.
Becoming a Member of the Community
If your organization has an account with Altium, then you will automatically become a member of the AltiumLive community when a Group Administrator for that account adds you as a new user to that account. Your AltiumLive account credentials are sent to you in an email at that time.
If you do not have an account with Altium – for example you are not a user of Altium software – you can still join the party. Simply request to join the AltiumLive community from the live.altium.com/#signin page. Access this page by clicking the SIGN IN control at the top of any page while browsing the main Altium site (www.altium.com). In the New Users region, click Join. Then, on the subsequent page that appears, fill out your contact details and click Submit - account activation can take up to seven working days.
Armed with your AltiumLive Account credentials, access to the community is simplicity itself. Simply enter your credentials in the Existing Users section of the Sign In page (live.altium.com/#signin) and click the SIGN IN button.
Managing Your AltiumLive Profile
Once signed-in to AltiumLive, management of your profile – your personal AltiumLive profile – is performed from the My Profile page. Access this by clicking on your name (or profile picture), at the top of a site page. The page is essentially divided into five main areas, illustrated in the following image and summarized thereafter.
- Change Password – on signing-in, click this link to change the temporary password for your access to AltiumLive to a new, secure and more meaningful password. This action should also be performed whenever your password is reset, for example if you have clicked the Forgot Password link.
- Basic Information – enter here your first and last names. These will be used as your user name in the community. Also enter an email address by which you can be contacted (typically the same email address used as part of your account credentials), and a link to any applicable website as required.
- Altium Training – enter here any pertinent professional information, including your current position, experience and specialties. You can also add links to example work you have done, entered one link per line in the format
NameofProject # URLtoProject. Together, these pieces of information enable you to present yourself and your achievements to the wider AltiumLive community.
- Contact Information – enter here a contact phone and fax number. These are not displayed publicly within the community. Also choose the time zone that is applicable to your geographical location, and the specific country in which you reside. The latter will be used to display a corresponding flag for that country, alongside your username in the community.
- Profile Picture – this area of the page shows the profile picture currently being used to represent you visually to other members within the community. This can be changed at any time. Predefined images are available beneath, click on one to use it. Alternatively, upload your own picture (preferably a real photo, max size of 220x220px in JPG or PNG format), using the UPLOAD PROFILE PICTURE button.
Fields marked with an asterisk are required fields.
After making any changes to your personal AltiumLive profile, ensure to click the SAVE PROFILE DETAILS button at the bottom of the page, so that the changes are effected/stored.
Exploring AltiumLive Services
Once signed in to AltiumLive, you will be presented with the main AltiumLive community page. Links to the various systems and services available to your parent organization (and therefore to you), are available from this page, or from the Community drop-down menu in the page's banner area.
Main article: AltiumLive - Wall
AltiumLive offers the ability to 'follow' items of interest within the community. This social capability is facilitated by the AltiumLive Wall. The Wall is a customizable, personal 'notice board' that allows members to keep up with what's happening in the AltiumLive community.
Items that can be 'followed' include:
- Forum threads.
- BugCrunch reports.
- Other users/organizations.
Main article: AltiumLive - Content Store
Design Content is an area in AltiumLive dedicated to content – content that is invaluable for helping the designer learn about and work in Altium Designer. Content is available through four distinct store fronts:
- Unified Components – board-level, unified components for Altium Designer. These unified components are from a range of manufacturers, each component includes the schematic symbol, a 2D footprint and a full 3D PCB model. Components are revision tracked and include multiple live links to on-demand supply-chain information. These components are created by Altium's Content Development Center and stored in an Altium Vault. A link is provided through to the collection within the vault,
- NanoBoard Example Designs – a wide range of working example designs for Altium's NanoBoards. The example designs include the FPGA and embedded projects and demonstrate a broad range of design challenges, including: TCP/IP, WiFi, mobile communications, video, audio, image processing, USB mass storage, file systems and much more.
- Reference Designs – a collection of larger and more sophisticated example designs to help designers explore and learn more about Altium Designer’s capabilities. Some of the examples include full PCB designs, including the NanoBoards, daughter boards and peripheral board designs. Others showcase aspects of Altium Designer's embedded and soft design capabilities.
- Template Designs – PCB design project templates for Altium Designer including: PCB design project templates for a number of board form-factors with board outlines, related connector components and managed sheets, signal harnesses, applicable design rules and 3D models. Template designs are revision tracked, managed design content, created by Altium's Content Development Center and stored in an Altium Vault.
Anyone can freely browse Design Content, however to download content you need to be signed in to AltiumLive. In addition, use of Vault-based content (Unified Components and PCB Templates) is controlled by Altium Designer and requires that the license being used has a current Subscription.
Engaging the AltiumLive community, users also have the ability to rate and comment on the various content items through User Reviews – helping to identify the usefulness and popularity of an item, which can then aid other users considering use of the same content.
Main article: AltiumLive - Forums
The AltiumLive Forums are the channels for Altium customers – and interested observers – from all walks of life to share tips, ask and answer questions, locate resources and help each other to get the most out of Altium solutions.
All members of the AltiumLive community can participate and engage fully on these Forums.
Main article: AltiumLive - BugCrunch
Software and bugs don't belong together, but even with the most rigorous testing they reluctantly walk hand-in-hand. Such bugs range from inconvenient, through annoying, and on to a more serious, 'prevents work' nature. As part of the AltiumLive community, a system is available to deal with bugs that you encounter in your use of Altium Design solutions – affectionately named BugCrunch.
With the BugCrunch system, you have the ability to report bugs for fixing. For each reported bug you will have the opportunity to vote, alongside other community members, to get that bug fixed. While all bugs found in the software should be (and indeed are) logged for resolution, BugCrunch gives you the ability, as a community, to express your feelings about different bugs, and collectively influence the 'fixing priority'. In other words, bugs will get fixed regardless, but with BugCrunch you have a say in which ones jump to the top of the queue.
Once a reported bug in the BugCrunch system is passed through to development, a fix is guaranteed. And although a specific timeframe for a fix cannot be given, those bugs accepted for fixing as part of BugCrunch will, through your community efforts, have preferential priority over other bugs, in terms of their resolution.
Main article: AltiumLive - Ideas
We all have opinions on how we think the software should behave or the feature set it should offer. Perhaps you've got a suggestion on how an existing feature in the software could be enhanced or improved. Or new functionality that you think would be a cool and useful addition. As part of the AltiumLive community, a system is available to gather these suggestions – simply named Ideas.
With the Ideas system, you have the ability to submit ideas for implementation. The community can comment and vote for any ideas that grab their attention, helping to promote those ideas to the top of the 'pile', in terms of what the collective community would like to see implemented by Altium.
Once an idea is passed into development by Altium, it's implementation is guaranteed in a future update to Altium Designer.
Presenting an area in which to discuss trends in both the industry and Altium solutions, AltiumLive offers a dedicated Blog. Here, you will find, and be able to comment on, blog entries including:
- Interesting articles that delve into a particular feature of Altium Designer, or a commentary on a particular technology out there in the industry.
- Announcements of updates to Altium Designer.
- Announcements of new content available through the AltiumLive Content Store.
- Insightful articles regarding solutions to features still under development – particularly engaging since your input can drive the direction of such solutions!
Main article: AltiumLive - Dashboard
The Dashboard is a dedicated area that allows administrators of an organization's Altium account to manage the users, licenses and other assets associated to that account, as well as defining the organization's profile – which can be made public, for viewing by other organizations and their users, within the AltiumLive community.
Account management of any type should never feel burdensome. With the AltiumLive Dashboard, being able to manage all aspects of an organization's account is both intuitive and expedient, and all from the one convenient location. The Dashboard will even notify of pending items requiring action, such as renewing that subscription that is about to expire – and enable renewal to be conducted right there-and-then, online and hassle free, allowing the organization to remain licensed with continuous subscription and access to all the benefits that that entails.
As a member of the AltiumLive community, you will have access to download Altium Designer and other solutions available from Altium, such as:
- Altium Vaults.
- Vault Migration Tool.
- Altium Designer Uninstaller.
- Private License Server.
- Altium Instrument Dashboard.
- Altium Designer Viewer.
Download is performed from the DOWNLOADS page (www.altium.com/products/downloads). Access to this page can be made by clicking the DOWNLOADS entry on the PRODUCTS menu.