Altium Vault Technology

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This page contains information regarding legacy Altium Vault Technologies. For the latest technology available, see Altium Vault.

Altium's Vault technology provides the foundation for Altium's Design Data Management solution. A distinct design solution in its own right, an Altium Vault works in harmony with Altium Designer to provide an elegant answer to the question of handling design data with secured integrity. An Altium Vault not only provides rock-solid, secure storage of data, but also enables re-release of data as distinctly separate revisions – essentially tracking design changes over time, without overwriting any previously released data. It also caters for the lifecycle of the data to be managed, allowing people that need to use the data to see, at-a-glance, what stage the data has reached in its 'life' and therefore what it can be safely used for.

Altium Vault technology plays a fundamentally key role in the Vault-Driven Electronics Design methodology, with an Altium Vault used to store much more than just the data generated from a board design. It is used to manage all other sets of data obtained from the Design Area through the running of specific release processes. This includes the release of component definitions, domain models, schematic sheets of circuitry and design templates. Indeed, the very essence of true vault-driven design reflects the mantra "elements in a design can only come from within a vault".

Now, organizations come in all sizes – from the one-man show all the way through to a large international employing legions of designers and engineers. Appreciating the fact that 'one vault cannot always fit all', Altium offers two flavors of Altium Vault for use in an overall design data management solution – the Altium Vault Server and the Altium Personal Vault (or Personal Vault).

Connection to an Altium Vault Server and/or Altium Personal Vault is only possible from Altium Designer 13.0 (or later). And while it is still possible to connect to, and work with, a legacy Altium Satellite Vault Server (or 'Satellite Vault'), this type of vault will not enjoy the current enhancements found in, and future improvements gained by, using an Altium Vault Server or Altium Personal Vault. In support of this, a utility is available to migrate your data from your current Satellite Vault to an Altium Vault Server or Personal Vault.

For detailed information relating to the Altium Vault Server and Altium Personal Vault, beyond installation and connection, see Altium Vaults - Information for IT Departments. This document includes information ranging from ports and protocols used, to procedures for backing up data, re-indexing vault content, and upgrading to a later version of vault software.

Which Vault is for Me?

At the highest level of abstraction, the Altium Vault Server and Altium Personal Vault offer the same thing – an engineering content management system. And under the bonnet they are both server-based software applications that store and manage electronic design data, with formal revision management and lifecycle state management. In terms of connecting to, and working with them from Altium Designer, they are pretty much the same – from an operational perspective a vault, is a vault, is a vault, as it were. So if the designer has become familiar with vaults through interaction with a Satellite Vault, they will have no problem jumping across to one of these offerings. Where they do differ however, is in their target audience.

  • Altium Vault Server – a full-blown engineering content management solution that delivers high integrity, smart design and product data management, by providing storage, formal revision management, supply chain intelligence, and lifecycle state management. It also offers user access control and content sharing capabilities. It is targeted to organizations requiring simultaneous access by 4+ users. It has support for full user management, with user identification performed through built-in authentication (courtesy of the vault's own Identity Service (IDS) database). Simultaneous logins are controlled through local licensing. The Altium Vault Server is available for purchase under separate licensing (inclusive of 5 perpetual simultaneous connections), with annual subscription giving access to updates. Simultaneous connections for additional users can be added through purchase of additional perpetual licensing (and associated subscription).

Each Altium Vault Server instance has its own dedicated Part Catalog. This is a managed local part catalog database, dedicated to the management and tracking of manufacturer parts and their associated supplier parts. It is installed at the same time as an Altium Vault Server and works only with this type of Altium Vault. In terms of supply chain intelligence, the list of Approved Suppliers is centrally managed by the Altium Vault Server. This facilitates centralized supply chain management, with designers across the entire organization using the same approved list of Vendors. Access to internal supply chain intelligence through ODBC is also configured as part of this list, through the provision of a dedicated ODBC Supplier. For more information, see Altium Vault Server - Centralized Supply Chain Management.

  • Altium Personal Vault – a complete electronic design data management system, aimed at helping individuals or small groups to gain control over, reuse and leverage their IP. It enables the adoption of a formal methodology in the management of items, their revisions, lifecycle statuses, and supply chain information. Release 1.0 and 1.1 allow simultaneous access by 1-3 users, release 1.2 allows access for a single user, none require user identification (it is an anonymous connection). An Altium Personal Vault requires no separate license and offers no user management or content sharing capabilities. It is available as part of Altium Subscription, with updates available provided Subscription is kept current.

Moving forward, the Altium Vault Server will benefit from features geared towards enterprise systems integration. Such features will be attractive to larger organizations, while those using a smaller-scale Personal Vault will not be affected by such features that, on the whole, typically won't apply or concern them.

Another difference is that the Altium Vault Server benefits from browser-based access, which will particularly suit organizations with a dispersed workforce (often globally dispersed!). No such access is provided for the Personal Vault, since access would typically be by an individual, directly while working on a design in Altium Designer.

The Altium Vault Server and Altium Personal Vault have no ties to AltiumLive. Login, authentication and user access rights for an Altium Vault Server are handled through its own built-in authentication. Login to a Personal Vault is not applicable, since this type of vault provides no user management and allows anonymous access.

Getting an Altium Vault Server licensed on an installation computer requires the use of activated license files. Essentially, the generated license files (*.alf) support and enforce the specific number of simultaneous users for which licensing has been purchased, and ensures that only that number can access the vault concurrently. For more information on obtaining the required license files for an Altium Vault Server installation, see Licensing.

If a legacy Satellite Vault Server is already installed and running on a PC, the Altium Vault Server and Altium Personal Vault can also be installed, and run, on that same PC. This side-by-side operation, with the ability to connect to all three concurrently, is only possible provided the port assignments for each do not conflict. The default port assignments for all three flavors of vault server are set to ensure unique assignments – Altium Vault Server: 9780, Altium Personal Vault: 9680, Satellite Vault: 9880.

Accessing a Vault from Altium Designer

Related article: The Vaults Panel

Altium Designer provides a design-side user interface into an Altium Vault – the Vaults panel. But before a vault can be used from within Altium Designer, a connection must be established from Altium Designer to that vault. Connections are created and configured on the Data Management – Vaults page of the Preferences dialog.

Simultaneous connection to all three types of vault (Altium Vault Server, Altium Personal Vault and legacy Satellite Vault) on the same computer is possible, provided the communications port number assignments are unique. However, if data has been migrated from a source Satellite Vault to a target Altium Vault Server or Altium Personal Vault, concurrent connection through Altium Designer to those source and target vaults will not be possible. This is because the Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) of the original Satellite Vault is also copied to the target vault, as part of the migration process.

Any number of vaults can be connected to. Simply click the Add Vault button to access the Connect To Vault dialog.

Connect to an Altium Vault through the Preferences dialog.

Use the Vault Server Address field to enter the location URL of the vault to connect. Simply enter the computer name and the port number used for communications, in the format: <ComputerName>:<PortNumber> (e.g. JHOWIEHOME:9780 (for connection to an Altium Vault Server, with default port assignment), JHOWIEHOME:9680 (for connection to an Altium Personal Vault), and JHOWIEHOME:9880 (for connection to a legacy Satellite Vault)). Note that a http:// prefix can be entered, but is not required.

An Altium Vault that has been installed on the company's Local Area Network can be quickly discovered by clicking the Find Vault on LAN control.

For connection to an Altium Vault Server or legacy Satellite Vault, as well as the address of the vault, a Username and Password must also be entered. These will be checked by the authentication server (providing the Identity Service), to ensure the user has the rights to access that vault. Altium Designer itself does not perform this authentication, rather it simply passes these credentials to the vault, which in turn passes this access request to the Identity Server (or IDS).

For an Altium Vault Server, the user enters the credentials supplied to them by an administrator for the vault. The default Username and Password for a freshly installed Altium Vault Server are admin and admin respectively. These can be changed by a vault administrator through the browser interface.

For a legacy Satellite Vault, the user simply enters their AltiumLive credentials. Login to an Altium Personal Vault is not applicable, since this type of vault provides no user management and allows anonymous access.

Optionally test whether a connection is successful prior to adding it, by using the Test Connection button. With a successful connection, go ahead and click OK. A connection to the vault from Altium Designer is made, provided access rights and login details (where applicable) are authenticated as being valid. An entry will appear for it in the listing of vaults back on the Data Management – Vaults page of the Preferences dialog. The vault will be enabled by default, ready for use.

Example of successful connection to all three flavors of Altium Vault – Altium Vault Server, Altium Personal Vault and a legacy Satellite Vault.

For each connected vault, the following information is presented:

  • Name – a meaningful name for the vault. This could, for example, reflect the content stored within, or capture the name of the organization using the vault.
  • Description – a description for the vault.
  • Address – this is the address of the vault server, the URL to its location.
  • Status – whether the connection between Altium Designer and the vault is successful ( ) or not ( ). If connection is unsuccessful a comment will be displayed, indicating the problem.
  • Enabled – whether the vault is available for use by the system (enabled, checked) or not (disabled, unchecked).

The name of the vault is initially provided by the vault. This name can be changed by right-clicking on the vault entry and selecting Edit Vault Properties from the context menu. In the dialog that appears, simply change the name as required.

Editing vault properties.

In a similar manner, the connection to the vault can be changed – for example to target a different vault or to login to an Altium Vault Server with different credentials that give greater vault permissions. Simply right-click on the vault's entry and select Edit Connection To Vault from the context menu.

Editing the vault connection.

Commands for editing vault properties, or the connection to a vault, are also available from the menu associated to the Properties button. Ensure the required vault is first selected in the list first, prior to launching a command.

For an Altium Vault Server, the Vault Properties dialog also provides visual indication of the status of licensing.

To Disconnect or to Disable...

To disconnect from a vault, simply select its entry in the list and click the Disconnect From Vault button. The vault is simply removed from the list of connected vaults. To use a vault again, simply re-connect to it.

It can be easier to simply toggle the vault's Enabled state. The connection to the vault remains, but is not 'seen' by the system and therefore to all intents and purposes, appears as though it had been disconnected.

From the simultaneous connection perspective, a 'disabled' vault is still counted as a vault connection, since disabling a vault does not terminate its connection. To release such a connection, either purposefully disconnect the vault, or close Altium Designer.

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