Document Commenting for Managed Projects

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Altium Designer, in conjunction with the Altium Vault, brings support for Managed Projects - enabling a dispersed design team to collaboratively work on projects that are centrally stored and managed through the Altium Vault. Related to this, support is also available for adding comments to an area or object in a Managed Project's schematic or PCB document, without actual modification of the document itself. This allows all working on a document to comment and review the design (or part thereof) in real-time - analogous to the Comments feature of Google Docs.

This commenting feature facilitates strong review and collaboration processes. Due to server nature of comments (they are stored on the server and do not touch the design document in any way) they become invaluable when:

  • You want to point out some issues in document, without physically merging and getting conflicts.
  • You want to add a comment which will became visible to everybody instantly, prior to commiting your working copy.
  • You want to have list of notes for you current design, that are attached to areas of the document and could be closed as the design matures (similar to a todo list).
To access and work with Managed Projects, and the associated Commenting feature, you'll need to have Altium Designer 14.3 and the latest Altium Vault 2.0. For the latter, you will also require appropriate licensing to access these features. See Altium Vault Licensing for more details.
Before you can start using the comment feature, ensure that you have opened (checked out) a Managed Project and are working on either one of its schematic documents, or its PCB document. This is done using the File » Open Managed Project command. Only those projects currently shared with you will be available for selection. For more information, see Managed Projects.

Adding a Comment

There are three commands available for adding a comment:

  • Place » Comment for Point (Ctrl+Alt+P) - allows you to make a comment related to a particular point in the design.
  • Place » Comment for Area (Ctrl+Alt+A) - allows you to make a comment that relates to a defined rectangular area in the design.
  • Place » Comment (Ctrl+Alt+C) - allows you to make a comment that relates to a single selected component in the design.
The Place » Comment command will only present on the menu when a component is selected on the schematic or PCB document. When the comment is made, a rectangular bounding line is drawn around the component, encompassing its symbol (including pins) and designator.

Invoke one of these commands, and define the point or rectangular area for the comment where applicable. The Comments panel will appear, ready to enter a new comment. Simply type your comment, then either click the Comment button beneath, or press Ctrl+Enter. The comment will be commited, appearing in the panel, and also in the workspace, linked to the point, area, or component by a reference line.

Example comments overlayed on a child schematic sheet of a Managed Project. The Comments panel reflects all comments for the sheet.

Working with Comments

The following points relate to working with comments and the Comments panel:

  • When a comment is added, it is seen instantly by all other users that have that same Managed Project and document open in their respective wporkspaces.
  • The Comments panel will track the entire thread of a specific comment, whereas only the latest comment in that thread is displayed in the workspace.
  • The active/selected comment on the Comments panel is highlighted. In the workspace, that active/selected comment is distinguished through the visibility of its reference line.
  • You can move a comment around in the workspace, only in terms of the area in which the text is displayed. The initial defined point or area cannot be modified. The reference line simply extends from that point/area to the text area.
  • You can collapse a comment in the workspace. Simply click on the small triangle at the top-left of the textual area.
  • To reply to a comment, simply select that comment in the Comments panel, type your text, and click the Reply button, or press Ctrl+Enter.
  • A comment can be edited or deleted, through the panel only, using the Edit and Delete controls associated to it.

Resolving and Reopening Comments

To close a comment, click the associated Resolve button for it in the panel. The comment will be removed from the panel and the workspace.

Resolving a comment essentially closes it, removing it from both panel and workspace.

Resolved, or closed comments, can still be displayed on the Comments panel. To do so, click the Display Settings button at the top-right of the panel, and enable the Show closed option. All comments that have previously been resolved will be displayed in the panel. For those comments that you yourself initiated, you also have the ability to ressurect them. To do so, simply click the Open button associated to a closed comment you want to bring back. The comment will be reinstated, both in the panel, and in the workspace.

You can only reopen a closed comment that was originally initiated by you.

Accessing previously resolved (closed) comments), and reinstating (opening) a closed comment. Note that in the above image, one of the closed comments did not present an Open control. This is because that comment was initiated by another user.

Viewing Comments for the Entire Project

By default, the Comments panel is set to display only the comments associated with the active document (Schematic or PCB). However, it is possible to view all comments, across all schematic and PCB documents in the Managed Project. To do so, click the Display Settings button at the top-right of the panel, and enable the Show for whole project option. Again, you can choose to show the closed, as well as active comments, by toggling the Show closed option.

The panel clusters comments by the document to which they are associated. A control to the right of the document name allows comments for that document to be collapsed/expanded as required, making reading of a project's worth of comments far more manageable!

Quickly peruse all comment threads across all applicable schematic and PCB documents in the Managed Project.

Controlling Display of Comments in the Workspace

The display and appearance of comments is controlled from the Collaboration region, on the System - Altium Vault page of the Preferences dialog. Controls are provided independently for comments displayed on schematic and PCB. To turn off display of comments in the workspace - relying on just the Comments panel - disable the respective Show Comment Threads option.

The Show Comment Threads options are also controlled through the Comments panel. The latter has commands on the menu associated to the Display Options button for Show on schematic, and Show on PCB respectively.

Other controls in the region relate to the look and feel of the comment, and its reference line respectively.

Control the appearance of comments in the workspace as part of your Altium Designer preferences.


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