Releasing Altium Designer Preferences to an Altium Vault

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Parent article: Configuration Data Items

Altium's Design Data Management System caters for the ability to formally release your Altium Designer Preferences into a target Item (and revision thereof) in a target Altium Vault. Once the preferences set has been released, and its lifecycle state set to a level that the organization views as ready for use at the design level, the preferences can be reused across installations of the software.

A released preferences set is used as a configuration data item in one or more defined Environment Configurations. An environment configuration is used to constrain a designer's Altium Designer working environment to only use company-ratified design elements. Environment configurations are defined and stored within the Team Configuration Center - a service provided through an appropriately licensed Altium Vault installation, and the facilitator of this concept of Environment Configuration Management.

Altium Designer Preferences can only be released to an Altium Vault for use as part of an environment configuration.

The following sections look at the process of releasing preferences into a target vault, so that they can be reused in further installations of Altium Designer, under the enforcement of applicable environment configurations.


Access to the control for releasing your Altium Designer Preferences to your organization's Altium Vault requires the following:

  • Your organization must have installed an Altium Vault – see Altium Vault.
  • Enterprise-level Server and Client Access licensing for the Altium Vault must be purchased, and present in the vault's installation, in order to access the Team Configuration Center (provided as a service through the Altium Vault platform).

Once licensed, restart Altium Designer (if it was previously running). Once the application starts, sign in to the Altium Vault using the DXP » Sign in Altium Vault command. The Connecting to Altium Vault dialog will appear. Simply enter the server address (computername:portnumber) and your user credentials for accessing the vault.

To be able to release your Altium Designer Preferences to a vault, you need to be part of the Administrators role – defined as part of the Altium Vault's user management. Once signed in to the vault you will be presented with a list of environment configurations that are applicable to your role. Ignore these, and instead enable the option to Work as administrator.

You must be connected to the Altium Vault as an administrator – i.e. you are assigned to the Administrators role – and working as an administrator, to be able to release Altium Designer Preferences to your organization's Altium Vault.

Crafting the Preferences

A defined set of preferences on the design side is mapped to an Altium Designer Preferences Item in an Altium Vault. Each release of the preferences set stores the data into a new revision of that Item.

Simply use Altium Designer's Preferences dialog (DXP » Preferences) to configure the preferences for the software as required.

Define your preferences as required in the Preferences dialog, ready for release to your Altium Vault.

You can now proceed to release the preferences set. To do so requires the following steps:

  1. Link the preferences set to the required revision of a target Item in a target Altium Vault. The Item must be of type altium-designer-preferences, and the revision in which to release the preferences data must be in the Planned state.
  2. Release the preferences set into that targeted Item-Revision.

Linking the Preferences to a Vault

Before any preferences data can be added to a vault, there must be an Item defined in the vault to 'hold' that data. The Item is created before releasing the preferences set into the vault.

The first step is to link the preferences to the vault. Do this by clicking the Release to Vault button at the bottom of the Preferences dialog. The Link Preferences to Vault Item dialog will appear.

Controls for linking the design side preferences to an Altium Designer Preferences Item in a target vault.

Clicking the Choose button to the right of the Item Revision field will give access to the Choose Item dialog – essentially a trimmed incarnation of the Vaults panel. The field at the top-left of the dialog indicates which vault you are currently exploring. To select a different vault, click the  icon to the left of the vault name (or on the vault name itself) to access a menu of top-level vault management controls. This menu displays all vaults that you currently have an active connection to.

If you have not connected to a vault, use the Vault Administration command on the menu to access the Data Management – Vaults page of the Preferences dialog (DXP » Preferences), from where you can make a connection to the required vault as necessary.

With the required target vault active, you can either drill down through its folder hierarchy to select the required existing Item, or create the folder and/or Item as required, on-the-fly. Ensure that the Item-Revision chosen – which will receive the released preferences data – is in the Planned state.

When creating the target Item, ensure that its Content Type is set to altium-designer-preferences.

Manually linking the source preferences to a planned revision of an Altium Designer Preferences Item, in the target vault.

Folder Type

Whether you have created an Altium Designer Preferences Item in the target vault beforehand, or are creating it in situ at the time of preference linking, you will need to first create the folder in which that Item will reside. As part of folder creation, the folder's type can be specified. This has no bearing on the content of the folder – releasing preferences will always result in Altium Designer Preferences Items. It simply provides a visual 'clue' as to what is stored in a folder and can be beneficial when browsing a vault for particular content. To nominate a folder's use as a container for Altium Designer Preferences Items, set its Folder Type as altium-preferences-catalog.

Specifying the folder type - its intended use - provides visual indication of the content contained within that folder while browsing the vault.

Item Naming Scheme

Another important aspect of the parent folder is the Item Naming Scheme employed for it. This defines the format of the unique ID for each Item created in that particular folder. Several default example schemes are available, utilizing the short-form code for either the folder type or the content type. Using a default naming scheme, the software will automatically assign the next available unique ID, based on that scheme, having scanned the entire vault and identifiers of existing Items. This can be a great time-saver when manually creating Altium Designer Preferences Items prior to release.

A custom scheme can also be defined for a folder, simply by typing it within the field, ensuring that the variable portion is enclosed in curly braces (e.g. ADPREFS-001-{C000}).

The Item Naming Scheme of the parent folder is applied to the Unique ID for each Item
created within that folder.

The Item Naming Scheme employed for the parent folder can be changed at any time. The modified scheme will then be applied to any subsequent newly-created Items within that folder.

Item Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming

When defining the Altium Designer Preferences Item, to which the source preferences set is linked, be sure to specify the type of lifecycle management to be used for the Item, and the naming scheme employed for its revisions, respectively.

Once the preferences set has been released into the initial revision of the Item, these schemes cannot be changed for that particular Item.

Specify the required schemes in the Item Properties dialog, using the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming Scheme fields respectively.

Selecting the Lifecycle Definition and Revision Naming schemes for a manually created Item.

Observing standard revision naming schemes and lifecycle definitions, across the various types of design item in a vault ensures smooth, consistent management of those items.

It is a good idea to add a comment and description as part of the Item's definition. This information is used when searching the vault and enables quick identification of what the Item offers.

Verifying the Link is Established

Once the required revision of the Altium Designer Preferences Item in the target vault is chosen, clicking OK in the Choose Item dialog will create the link between source preferences and target Item. Evidence of the link can be seen back in the Link Preferences to Vault Item dialog.

Evidence that the design-side preferences are now linked to an Item in the vault.

Performing the Release

With the link to the target vault and Item-Revision in place, the process of releasing the preferences into the vault can proceed. Simply click OK in the Link Preferences to Vault Item dialog. The Release preferences dialog will appear. Use this dialog to determine which preferences to include in the release. A separate entry is available for each of the pages in the Preferences dialog. By default, all preferences are included for release. Simply enable/disable the associated Release option for a page as required.

Use the Release all and Release none buttons to quickly enable/disable all preferences in one sweep. These controls are also reflected on the dialog's right-click menu.

Having the ability to choose which preferences to release at the individual 'page' level enables you to control those aspects you want to be controlled, while leaving others available to the designer. An example of one to leave available for the designer to freely use is System – Desktop Layouts. If this is included in release, each designer is at the mercy of the layout used by the administrator having performed the release – with no ability to perform environment actions they normally take for granted, including moving panels or toolbars around, docking panels, or resizing existing docked panels.

Specify which pages of preferences are to be included in the release.

With the desired preferences for release specified, click Yes to continue. The release process will proceed with a confirmation dialog appearing at its completion.

Confirmation of successful release can be made by browsing to the target Item in the Vaults panel.

Browsing the released Altium Designer Preferences Item in the vault, using the Vaults panel.

The released data stored in the vault consists of all preferences in their entirety. This includes an .ini file for each released page of preferences, as viewed and defined in the Preferences dialog, as well as the following application data files:

  • ADVPCB.dft – provided the PCB Editor – Defaults page is released.
  • Sch_DefPrimitives.dft – provided the Schematic – Default Primitives page is released.
  • Sch_DefPrimitives.MMsdft – provided the Schematic – Default Primitives page is released.
  • DXP.rcs
  • UserTools.tlt – provided the System – Desktop Layouts page is released.

With the preferences released, they can now be reused as the working preferences as part of a defined environment configuration. For more information, see Reusing a Managed Altium Designer Preferences Item.

The released data can be downloaded by right-clicking on the entry for the Item-Revision and choosing the Operations » Download command from the context menu. The downloaded folder for the Item-Revision will contain a Released sub-folder. It is in here that you will find the data, contained with the ZIP file:

Re-Releasing the Preferences

Re-releasing the preferences – to take into account any modifications – is a straightforward process. And to streamline things, a vault administrator has the ability to quickly load a preferences set that has already been released into a vault - especially useful when needing to make a few minor tweaks:

  1. From the Preferences dialog, click the Load from Vault button. In the Choose Item dialog that appears, select the required revision of the Altium Designer Preferences Item to use as a basis for modification, and click OK.
  2. Make the changes to the preferences as required.
  3. Create a new Planned revision for the target Altium Designer Preferences Item. This can be done from the Lifecycle view for the Item, in the Vaults panel, or from the detailed view for the Item.
  4. From the Preferences dialog, click the Release to Vault button to access the Link Preferences to Vault Item dialog.
  5. Choose the new Item Revision and click OK to release the new preferences data to that revision, specifying which preferences to include in the new release from the Release preferences dialog.


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