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 in which to submit and gather these suggestions – simply named Ideas.
With the Ideas system, you have the ability to submit ideas for implementation. The community can then 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.
So while your using Altium Designer to create that next lucrative product, have a think about the features you regularly use. Do they let you fly at full throttle productivity-wise, or could they be improved further? Or is there anything missing that you used to have in the tool you've migrated from? Or something you've thought would shave critical time off of project timelines – if only it existed in the software!
Don't hold back, submit your thoughts and let your ideas percolate within the Ideas system. You may be pleasantly surprised at how popular your idea becomes, and how much interest (and votes) it attracts from other members of the community. After all, every feature in Altium Designer started off as an Idea!
Accessing the Ideas System
The Ideas system has its very own space within the wider AltiumLive community. Access can be made from anywhere within the AltiumLive site simply by clicking the Ideas link at the top of a page.
The Ideas system can be accessed by any member of the AltiumLive community.
How it Works
The system is divided over a series of three sub-sections, accessed by clicking on the following links within the Ideas banner space:
- New – this is a list of submitted ideas that have not yet been assessed and passed through to development. In this section you can comment on, and vote for, the ideas you feel are most important to you, and are passionate about getting implemented.
- In Development – this is a list of ideas that are currently being implemented by Altium's Development Teams for a forthcoming update to Altium Designer. So ideas listed here are actively going through the development process.
- Released – this is a list of ideas that Altium's Development Teams have implemented in the software. In other words, they've been 'released'!
Clicking the New link gives access to the New section of the system, which lists all submitted ideas that have not yet been assessed and passed through to the In Development stage. Ideas are listed 20 per page. Use the page controls available above or below the list to step or jump through pages of ideas accordingly. Alternatively, use the search feature (located at the right-hand side of the banner area) to quickly return a shorter list of ideas, relevant to (matching) your supplied search criteria.
Use the Sort By field to sort the list by either Date (most recently submitted idea presented first) or Popularity (idea with the most votes presented first).
Each idea entry is presented with a title and description, along with the name (and image/icon) of the community member submitting the idea, their geographical location (courtesy of a flag), their parent organization, and the date the idea was added to the system. Any tag words added when the idea entry was defined will also be listed – these are used to quickly filter idea reports according to a specifically-clicked tag.
Submitting a New Idea
To submit a new idea, simply click the Submit New Idea button. The New Report pop-up window will appear, with the category set ready to "Ideas". Enter a concise summary of the Idea in the Title field, followed by a more detailed description. Add also, any tags that will aid searching for this report in the future (see Filtering Reports using Tags). You can also add an attachment to the report, such as an image or a zip of a design project, for example. Should you wish only Altium to be able to see an attachment, rather than the whole AltiumLive community, simply enable the Is Private option.
Once defined, click the Submit button – your new idea will be added to the list of new ideas. If you decide not to proceed with submission, simply click the close cross at the top-right of the pop-up window.
Any member of the AltiumLive community can submit new ideas. Bear in mind that when you submit a new idea, your vote for it is automatically cast. A new idea can be submitted from any of the sections within the Ideas system.
Viewing a Specific Idea
Clicking on the title for an idea entry will access the detailed page for that specific idea. The following regions are presented:
- Summary Info – initially identical to that presented for the idea within the parent list view.
- Attachments – displayed if an attachment was added to the idea, and the Is Private option was disabled. A thumbnail image is provided alongside the name and size of the attachment. You are able to download the attachment and, if applicable, view it in a pop-up window.
- History – reflects key moments in the idea's life as it makes its way through the system. To begin with, there will be an entry for when the idea was submitted, and by whom.
- Who Voted – a collection of profile pictures, reflecting who has voted in support of the idea. A new idea will always have at least one vote, that of the originator, which is automatically cast at the time the idea is submitted.
- Comments – provides a listing of comments added to the report by community members. To add your own comment to an idea, simply click within the window of the Add New Comment section and type away. Then, commit the comment by clicking the Submit button. Your comment will be added to the bottom of the current list of comments for that idea.
Editing and Rejecting a Bug
For an idea that you yourself have originally submitted, the detailed page for that idea will have a couple of extra controls:
Edit – use this control to access the Edit Report pop-up window. You can modify the report's title and description, and add or modify tags as required. You can also change the category for the report, should you realize that it is actually a bug with an existing feature. If you decide not to proceed with modifying the idea, simply click the close cross at the top-right of the pop-up window.
Reject – use this control if you need to reject the idea. A pop-up window will appear, in which to select a reason for the rejection. Choose from either "A Duplicate" or "No Longer Valid". You can also add a comment, to further explain the idea's rejection in greater detail.
Voting for an Idea
Next to each idea entry in the list of new ideas (and also to the left of the Summary Info region at the detailed page level) you will notice a Vote button. Click this to vote for the idea. If the passion is truly there to get an idea implemented – if it's an idea for a feature that would greatly enhance your experience with the software – then casting your vote will help raise that idea's popularity. And the more popular an idea, the more likelihood of it being implemented sooner rather than later!
You can only vote once for any given idea, and this is reflected after casting your vote. The Vote button is replaced by the text "
You have already voted". This acts as a good visual indicator to see where you've already been, when browsing the pages of new ideas to see where to cast your next strategic vote.
Taking a look at the detailed page for the idea, you will see that your profile picture has been added to the Who Voted region. Again, visual confirmation that your vote has been cast, and a nod to the originator of who is supporting their 'cause'.
Similar to a political election campaign, you can actively garner support from other members of the AltiumLive community in a bid to increase the votes for an idea you would like to see implemented. The only difference being that rather than voting to get the idea elected, you are voting to get it accepted for implementation. So go forth into the community Forum and campaign to get your pet idea released.
How New Ideas are passed into Development
Altium will assess each idea in the New ideas list, after which one of two things will happen:
- It will be passed through to the In Development stage once it is assigned and a developer actively starts working on its implementation. Ideas that have garnered the most votes are typically passed first, since the community has deemed these more important and therefore first in line to be implemented. However, this may not always be the case, especially if an idea with a lower number of votes can be readily implemented more expediently within the time-frame of the next looming Altium Designer update.
- If, after careful consideration, Altium assesses that the idea is not valid – for example it's a duplicate, or there's not enough information supplied to understand what is being requested – it will not be passed through to the In Development stage. Rather it will be 'rejected'.
Ideas are typically rejected by Altium in accordance with point 2 in the previous section. But they may also be rejected directly by their originators. Either way, an e-mail will be sent automatically to the originator, informing them of the rejection.
Regardless of the source of their rejection, such ideas will disappear from the New ideas list. They are not, however, deleted. You can still find them using the system's search facility.
The voting information for a rejected idea is replaced with a note stating that either the idea has been rejected by Altium, or it has been rejected by the submitter.
The system has built-in rules for ensuring the level of 'idea-noise' is kept to a minimum. These are ideas that have been sat in the system with no activity for a period of 30 days. So nobody is voting on them, or even commenting on them. And if they're not getting attention, and especially if the only vote they carry is that of their original submitters, then it is reasonable to assume they are not popular ideas. Such ideas will be marked as having 'expired'. So if you really want an idea to gain popularity and make it through to development for implementation, generate activity around it, comment on why it should be implemented ahead of other ideas, and above all, cast your votes!
As with rejected ideas, expired ideas will disappear from the New ideas list. They are not, however, deleted. You can still find them using the system's search facility.
Ideas In Development
Clicking the In Development link gives access to the In Development section of the system. Listed here are those ideas that are actively being addressed by Altium's Development Teams. To put that another way, each idea in this list has been assigned to a developer, who is actively engaged in its implementation.
Use the Sort By field to sort the list by either Date (most recently submitted idea presented first) or Popularity (idea with the most votes presented first).
Taking a look at the detailed page for a specific idea entry shows that the voting information in the Summary Info region has been replaced with a note stating that the 'idea is in development and being implemented by Altium'. In addition, the History region now contains an entry for the date on which the idea was reviewed, and by whom. This is the point in time that Altium has assigned the idea for implementation by a developer.
The list of ideas in this section of the system is essentially the implementation task list for the forthcoming update of Altium Designer. It provides transparency over what ideas are actively being implemented – giving you a heads-up of what to expect in the next update of the software.
Clicking the Released link gives access to the Released section of the system. It is a list of all ideas implemented and released by Altium's Development Teams.
Use the Sort By field to sort the list by either Date (most recently implemented idea presented first) or Popularity (idea with the most votes presented first).
A Released idea is an idea that was accepted for implementation by Altium. Taking a look at the detailed page for a specific idea entry shows a note added to the left of the Summary Info region, essentially stamping the idea as Implemented. In addition the History region now contains an entry for the date on which the idea was implemented, and by whom (though this is not necessarily the same person that implemented the idea!).
Searching Idea Reports
Considering the entire Ideas system, and the fact that no idea report is ever deleted, the number of idea reports becomes considerable, and continues to grow. Having to manually wade through pages upon pages of reports, trying to find ideas of particular interest becomes a painstakingly-laborious task. To this end, the system has been fitted with a search facility, which can be found at the far right of the Ideas banner area.
Simply enter keywords for a search as required, then either press Enter, or click the button. The search facility is case-insensitive and should you wish to search for an exact phrase, simply enclose your search text in quotes (e.g. "PCB Back-Route for existing Tracks").
Double-click within the search field to select all currently entered text.
Searching is across the following report attributes:
- Name of the community user submitting the idea.
The matching text is highlighted in yellow.
The Show drop-down field above the results provides a range of filters to further refine the results by category (or current status of a report, if you prefer):
- All – returns all bug and idea reports matching the supplied search criteria, across the entire BugCrunch and Ideas systems.
- New – returns bug and idea reports matching the supplied search criteria, and which are currently sitting in the New section of the system.
- In Development – returns bug and idea reports matching the supplied search criteria, and which are currently sitting in the In Development section of the system These bugs/ideas are actively being fixed/implemented by Altium.
- Crunched/Released – returns bug and idea reports matching the supplied search criteria, and which are currently sitting in the Crunched section of the BugCrunch system, with a status of having been fixed by Altium, or in the Released section of the Ideas system, with a status of having been implemented by Altium.
- Rejected – returns bug and idea reports matching the supplied search criteria, with a status of having been rejected by Altium, or by the original submitter.
- Expired – returns bug reports matching the supplied search criteria, with a status of having expired (no activity within a 30 day period).
By default, a new search will show matching reports across all categories. In all cases, results are sorted by Date of report submission, with most recent listed first.
Exit search results by clicking on a link to a specific section of the system, in the Ideas banner area.
An Evolving System
The Ideas system is a new way to share experiences and opinions about the future make-up of Altium Design solutions. And, as an organization, it gives you a bigger stake in the software in which you've made an investment, by allowing you to have a say on how that software evolves.
What the Ideas system does is let you decide, as a community, which ideas for new features and enhancements to existing features, should be implemented by Altium.
It is hoped that the Ideas system will continue to evolve and mature into a tool to better direct parts of Altium's R&D resources where you, the AltiumLive community, think they should go. Keep your ideas coming, and vote to get the most popular ideas implemented first. With your input, the features and functionality of an already great electronics development solution can be made even greater.