Parent page: Scripting
There a number of essential concepts and terms that apply to writing scripts:
- Processes are command strings that you can use to execute Altium Designer commands in scripts.
- Components are visual objects on the Tool Palette panel that you can drag and drop onto a script form to manipulate at design time.
- A component (or a control) that is placed on a script form has methods, properties, and events.
- Object Interfaces are special object interfaces that you can use to extract and modify data on design documents from your scripts.
The Altium Designer scripting system offers five different script languages:
- DelphiScript (
- EnableBasic (
- VisualBasic Script (
- TCL (
The scripting engine itself is written in Embarcadero Delphi, and the Tool Palette panel is based on the Delphi's VCL (Visual Component Library). While DelphiScript is based on Object Pascal, there are some differences between DelphiScript and Object Pascal.
A DelphiScript Unit
A quick and basic scripting exercise can be completed by first creating a new project and script file in Altium Designer, as described previously. Assuming the project and script file are set to the DelphiScript language, a simple Hello World script can be entered as below.
Procedure ShowAMessage; Var DefaultMessage; Begin DefaultMessage := 'Hello World!'; ShowMessage(DefaultMessage); End;
Within the procedure is a standard DelphiScript
ShowMessage function that opens a simple dialog with the "Hello World" message, as defined by the
Running the Script
To execute the script, invoke the Select Item To Run dialog (DXP » Run Script) and select the script's
ShowAMessage procedure from the list.
If there are errors in your script, Altium Designer will prompt you with an error message. The script can be saved by selecting File » Save.
A script can also be executed using the editor's Run command, accessed by the Run button , the F9 shortcut key or by selecting Run » Run from the main menu.
When the Run command is selected for the first time, the Select Item to Run dialog will open allowing you to specify a script's main procedure (
ShowAMessage in this case). Once set, the script is easy to run repeatedly from the editor using the Run button. Use the Run » Set Project Startup Procedure to change the setting to a different procedure, or close and reopen the script project to clear the setting.
To stop a running script (that may have paused at an error, for example), use the Stop button , select Run » Stop from the main menu or use the Ctrl+F3 shortcut.
Expanding on the HelloWorld project created above, a functionally similar script can be created using a form unit.
A script form is a window (or in the active sense, a dialog) that can host a range of controls such as buttons, memos and list boxes. It has event handlers that respond when a control has generated an event, such as when a button is clicked.
To create the new script form, right-click on the project name, choose the Add New to Project option and select Delphi Script Form. The script can be saved a renamed using the File » Save As menu.
To see and edit the property values for the currently focused form or its components, open the Object Inspector panel from the Script button at the bottom of the design window. The Object Inspector panel is used to change the color, size, etc of the Form, and insert code in the event handlers associated with the current form.
Note that the Form unit offers two tabs at the bottom of the document: the Code and Form tabs.
The Form tab displays the current form window as shown above, while the Code tab opens the form code for the event handlers and procedures. Use the tabs or the F12 shortcut key to change between the two.
The Object Inspector panel shows the values of the properties for the currently focused form or its components. For this form script, change the Name and the Caption properties of the form in the Object Inspector panel to
Hello World! respectively, as shown below. These strings match those used in the example event handler and procedure code shown further below.
Add and Configure Controls
With the basic form configured, controls can be added to the dialog as required by accessing the Tool Palette panel. To open this choose the Tool Palette option after clicking the Script button at the bottom of the design window.
The Tool Palette, based on the Delphi's Visual Component Library, is a component palette that offers a wide range of window controls that are organized as component categories (see the Palette's Component Reference for more details).
For the dialog version of the Hello World project there are two buttons on the form: Display and Close. Click TButton (image of an OK button) in the Standard section of the Tool Palette panel as shown above.
Do this twice to place two buttons on the form. One button will be used to display a Hello World! message on separate dialog, and the second button is used to close the main dialog.
Using the Object Inspector panel, the two button configurations can be changed from their default names and captions.
Configure the first button name to
bDisplay and its caption to
Display. Configure the second button name to
bClose and and its caption to
Close. This is to match the example event handler code presented below.
Event hander code can be constructed by directly referencing the controls (buttons in this case) on the form. For this example, the Display button will instigate a
ShowMessage dialog on top of the existing form, and the Close button action will simply close this form.
Event Handler Code
Double clicking on the Display button will open the form in Code view and create the skeleton code for its event handler. Alternatively, select the button and then the Events tab in the Object Inspector panel. Double clicking on the
OnClick event in the panel will open the code view as above. Within the Code view, the
ShowMessage statement can be included in the event handler as shown in the listing below.
Procedure THelloWorldForm.bDisplayClick(Sender: TObject); Begin ShowMessage('Hello World!'); End;
OnClickevent that applies the
Procedure THelloWorldForm.bCloseClick(Sender: TObject); Begin Close; End;
With the event handlers defined, there needs to be a procedure (appropriately called RunHelloWorld) in the script to be used as the starting point when calling up the dialog from Altium Designer. This is added at the end of the code script.
Note that the form name is HelloWorldForm and the procedure name in RunHelloWorld — it's important to have unique form names in the same script to avoid form name clashes.
Procedure RunHelloWorld; Begin HelloWorldForm.ShowModal; End;
The script can be saved if need be, and then executed from the DXP system menu (DXP » Run Script) by running the
RunHelloWorld procedure item under the HelloWorldDialog entry.
Alternatively, the procedure can be assigned to the Run command/button via the Run » Set Startup Project Procedure menu.
The Object Inspector panel makes it very easy to change the properties and events of a form unit. For example to change the position of the form with respect to the desktop screen or the Altium Designer workspace, use the panel to alter the
poScreenCenter value for the form's the Position property. The dialog will now be placed at the center of the desktop screen when the script is run.
Calling a Procedure
As mentioned above, any script (using the same language set) within a project has access to global variables and procedures, so a procedure in one script can call another procedure in a different script in the project.
This can be demonstrated by the additional
ShowAParametricMessage code section in the HelloWorld example project:
Procedure ShowAParametricMessage(S : String); Var DefaultMessage; Begin DefaultMessage := 'Hello World!'; If S = '' Then ShowMessage(DefaultMessage) Else ShowMessage(S); End;
This establishes a string variable '
S' that can be passed to the
The passed string will be displayed using the
ShowMessage dilaog function, whereas a simple If-Then-Else method causes a default 'Hello World!' message to display if the string is empty.
To see this in action, open the example project (
HelloWorld.PrjScr) and add the grey highlighted line into the HelloWorldDialog script (not the HelloWorld script), as shown below.
... Procedure THelloWorldForm.bDisplayClick(Sender: TObject); Begin Showmessage('Hello World!'); End; Procedure THelloWorldForm.bCloseClick(Sender: TObject); Begin ShowAParametricMessage('Goodbye World'); close; End; Procedure RunHelloWorld; Begin HelloWorldForm.ShowModal; End; ...
When the HelloWorldDialog script is run and the Close button clicked, the global
ShowAParametricMessage procedure is called from the HelloWorld script.
The call passes 'Goodbye World' message string to the
ShowAParametricMessage procedure, so this message is displayed when the Close button is clicked, prior to the form closing.
If the passed string parameter is empty,
ShowAParametricMessage(''), then the default 'Hello World!' message is displayed as defined in the