Design Rules Enhancements

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In Altium Designer, design rules are used to define the requirements of the design. These rules cover every aspect of the design, including routing widths, clearances, plane connection styles, routing via styles, etc. This offers incredible power and flexibility for your designs.   

Altium Designer 16 provides a simplified view of the PCB Rules and Constraints Editor that creates a sensible, contextually meaningful user interface for each rule type while still including the option of entering more complex query expressions for more intricate cases. The Editor has been streamlined for efficiency and clarification and made to be more interactive.

Ability to Test Rule Scoping

In the PCB Rules and Constraints Editor (from a PCB document, click Design » Rules), the Test Queries function has been added to make it much easier for you to test queries and know that your filters or query language expressions actually have an effect. After clicking Test Queries, a Test Queries Result appears that shows the number of objects affected by the rule taking into account rule specializations you defined. This allows you to see that there are indeed objects that respond to the query, and also to check that the set of objects affected by the filters and rules is what you desire. 

Altium Designer 16 makes rule definition even easier by showing you the number of components that will be affected by the rule(s) once the rules are applied. In the Test Queries Result, when you click the resulting numbers, the PCB document will highlight the affected components. 

Unary Test Queries Result

In Unary rules, a rule is applied to a single set of objects based on the full query. 

Example of Unary Rule Test Queries Result:

Binary Test Queries Result

In Binary rules, a rule is applied between objects in two different sets, each set being created based on its respective full query.

Example of Binary Rule Test Queries Result:


Normal, Mask, or Dim

Use the drop down to select Normal, Mask or Dim depending on how you wish the affected components to appear on the PCB document. If Zoom is checked, the PCB document will also zoom into the affected components.

Defining Rules Scope

General Enhancements

The filter engine of the PCB Rules and Constraints Editor has a streamlined appearance with a simpler way of defining your desired rules. Drop down menus make it much easier to select your desired filters of any or all design parameters. Depending on your choice in each drop down, a new drop down may appear which makes it easy to fine tune the desired design rules.

Additional Design Rule Options

Within the new drop down menus, the choices have been expanded to include more options for many Design Rules. The following are examples of added scope selections:

  • The new scope selection Pad Type has been added to the Design Rule Testpoint as shown in the image below: 

  • The new scope selection Drill Pair has been added to the Design Rule Minimum Annular Ring as shown in the image below:

Additional Rule Improvements

Active Object

With this release, users can click on a measurement on the right hand side of the Constraints region and the active object will be pointed to in the diagram as shown in the following examples: 

Diff Pairs Caution Icons

In the Diff Pairs rules, if Width or Gap measurements are in conflict with other rules (such as Clearance),  appears as a warning. Hover over  to see the warning message.


Simplified Matched Lengths Design Rule

The Matched Lengths design rule has been made more concise by offering two options making it simpler to define the rule.

Solder Mask Expansion Design Rule

In the Constraints region of the Solder Mask Expansion design rule, a new setting allows you to check or uncheck Solder Mask From The Hole Edge depending on your needs. 

Constraints Region Enhancements

This release also includes updated graphics in the Constraints region that create an enhanced view of the specific objects for which you are defining rules.


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