Altium needs to fix their UI and bugs
Altium makes a quasi affordable feature rich electronic design tool. Unfortunately, IMHO, their obsession with being everything has resulted in a mishmash of bugs, features, and broken workflows.
- 1 Proper Design Paradigm
- 2 List of bugs and stupid UI behavior
- 2.1 SYSTEM
- 2.2 SCHEMATIC
- 2.3 SCH LIBRARY
- 2.4 Symbol pins won't move!
- 2.5 PCB LIBRARY
- 2.6 PCB
- 2.6.1 Component rotation bounding box
- 2.6.2 Component rotation broken after several changes
- 2.6.3 Can't move vias as a group
- 2.6.4 Room Polypour Copy deletes other pours
- 2.6.5 Can't select a stray trace
- 2.6.6 PolyPour Fubar while resizing
- 2.6.7 Track Routing Won't Complete
- 2.6.8 Run Design Rule Check
- 2.6.9 More General Undo Bug
- 2.6.10 Multi Room Move and Undo BUG!
- 2.6.11 Room Copy / Net Names not Changed Predictability
- 2.6.12 Poly Pour Islands
- 2.6.13 Room / Poly Pour Resize
- 2.6.14 Poly Pour Reside or Move
- 2.6.15 Selection Slow
- 2.6.16 Case change in PCB doesn't cause ECO difference
- 2.6.17 Drag Tracks w/Component
- 2.6.18 Attempt to import TANGO PCB
- 2.6.19 Polygon Pour
- 2.6.20 Deletion of 'extra' vias
- 2.6.21 Draft features changed to full
- 2.6.22 Online DRC needs to be 'background'
- 2.6.23 Region selection when rooms are present
- 2.6.24 Incoherent selection behavior
- 2.6.25 EXPORT DESIGN RULES
- 2.6.26 DIALOG BOXES THAT REVERT
- 2.6.27 AUTO ROUTE MESSAGE PANEL
- 2.6.28 REFDES SIZE
- 2.6.29 AUTOROUTER
- 2.6.30 TOOLS UPDATE FROM LIBRARY STUPIDITY
- 2.7 OUTPUT JOB
- 2.8 ORIG
- 3 CRASH REPORTS
- 4 I'm a Altium Novice. What do I know?
- 5 If you hate it so much
- 6 Comments
Proper Design Paradigm
Software is art. It should exist in many layers providing new meaning at each layer. Experienced circuit designer,otherwise new to Altium Designer, within very short time should be to start using the tool productively. With use, they'll be exposed to a greater set of complexity and capabilities and therefore increase their productivity.
Instead, this tool is complex and inconsistent. It doesn't even ship with a basic library!
Consider a word processor - start the application and then start typing your text!
Altium Designer's component library is like a modern word processor only coming with an Old English library (after you DL and install it). Actually its worse than this as you could just write the document and quickly add all the words to the dictionary. Instead, with Altium Word Processor you start to compose a document and either get to use Old English, or have your composition interrupted as you need to create a library entry for each word.
List of bugs and stupid UI behavior
- Had two full screen AD windows open, one with PCB in 3d view, other with schematic. Hit a random key in the PCB 3d viewer? and now my mouse cursor has disappeared in any AD window (except the 3d view).
In general, a very nice feature.
I could be that I don't know how to use the feature yet, but having to re-request the supplier data each time one opens the document is just stupid. It takes about 1 minute and I'm just trying to figure out how to format the BOM output. I've select the option use cached pricing data in parameters if offline, but I guess I have to pull my network cable to speed it up! WTF
- When not logged on - you're told that no updates are available. (When they are)
- Update could be downloaded in the background - so you could continue working!
Add Exporter / Importer
- Go to export a design - select add exporter - directed to a place where there are no importers/exporters. Next to Impossible to locate them.
- Directed to 'purchased' tab on extensions and updates. Then need to select 'installed' - but wait - they're still not there! Need to select configure! Might as well direct me to the google search home page.
The tool is so slow. Click on something and it takes perceptible time; move a room - it takes a second or so to perform some after move book keeping. Import the full set of components (~150) from SCH to PCB, that ECO can take close to 60 seconds. For a while I assumed it was necessary - but now running a 3rd party auto router - working with the same PCB - things appear to be instantaneous, like these should be when executing ~3 billion instructions per second and memory copies in excess of GB per second.
Intentionally SLOW! ???
I notice that when applying a long ECO that the load on my CPU is actually quite low. I suspect there is a sleep associated with ECO operation - so as to imply its doing something that takes effort! Its an ECO! If the ECO is IO bound, then that just suggests there is a serious problem with the format of the files.
hierarchical schematic with duplicate net name error
The way one does something should not depend on what the item is. It should also be consistent with the dominate paradigm for the OS its running under (Windows).
--Example : the way one enters sheet symbols is great. but one should be able to do the same with components and device sheets. if the item isn't open, then it should be automatically opened.
--Example: The HelpURL. Pressing F1 open's Altium Tech help in my systems default browser. Pressing F1 in a way that accesses a component HelpURL opens within Altium using IE.
--Example : File open dialog for many items includes favorites - however when EMBED STEP Model from PCB Library - a different dialog is used.
help is nearly always useless
Have to love help that doesn't help. A well designed GUI doesn't require help to tell you to click X to make X happen. However, help that explains what X is - is valuable.
Not the worst, but an example - I'm not sure what the difference between a component and a component body is. Here is the help one gets:
I might just have to give into twitter (and give a phone #) to get access to https://twitter.com/whyaltiumsucks
- Rotating group of components results in Netlabel upside down. Feature?
Harness compilation bug
Parent sheet entry needs to have 'signal harness' attached, or there are meaningless errors created in the child.
Change component on schematic
Using the 'choose' option allows you to change a component on the schematic to a different one quickly. (Usually one has to pass though a cumbersome library dialog.) But like every feature, there is a bug. Once one selects a different component *and* selects the new footprint, and clicks OK - the footprint somehow reverts to the default one for the component. So one then needs to go back an re select the footprint.
Component drag w/wires can short
Moving a component (port) around with CTRL-click drag, at times the wires will make different net connections. It appears they're always flagged as errors, but why would it possibly choose to route a wire such that connections were made where there are alternative routes? I'm currently moving a unit step looking set of 3 wires , as I move it up/down it only adjusts the central vertical wire. I need to turn a rising unit step into a falling one, but once the vertical line length is zero and I move negatively, a new vertical wire is created directly at the pin connection. Even after moving back up, it insists on keeping the new vertical line causing shorts on those pins.
I can use space to adjust the routing methods, but then it does something else stupid (less) and I still need to move the PORT and draw a connecting line to get my falling unit step.
UPDATE FROM LIBRARY
Not sure what is going in here. I update from library, everything is successful. Then if I do it again - it is as if nothing was done the first time. I suspect I've edited some of the properties in these components (like adding a partnumber, or a value in a resistor) and its detecting these differences. If this is the case, then of course this control is next to useless if wants to know what is actual going to be done / or was done.
PINS ON TOP OF ONE ANOTHER SELL CONNECT
As the use of "1,2,3" as a designator string for a pin only makes the first connection in the PCB; the alternative approach is to place multiple pins at the same location. However, when doing this, and the component has no nets connected to it - the pins self connect.
Performing screen captures - paste into GIMP, make a selection to paste into the schematic. Once again - no idea what is going on. Two days ago it work fine and now it doesn't work at all. My selection is definitely in the clipboard as I can paste my selection into mspaint. The AD clipboard viewer shows nothing. Reading the documentation suggests one can only paste bit maps (or windows metafiles only - its unclear) in the PCB editor. All I know is it was working.
Interestingly - after restarting AD it worked fine. Can you say PofS?
A powerful tool that could be useful with a bit more effort. To my knowledge, this is the only way in which one can efficiency enter user parameters into the schematic.
- The fundamental problem is that its not possible to select or reorder the user parameter fields (columns).
- There is no particular order to the user parameters, its as if as the tool iterators over the components, each new parameter is added to the list in that order.
- The UNDO option isn't available
- Making changes (pastes) require are you sure you want to overwrite? Add the undo and it doesn't matter.
- Interestingly, when the table is spread across 2 monitors, the row highlight seems to occurs on only one monitor. In my case, the extended monitor is to the left of the primary and there is no row highlighting. As I move the manager from extended to the primary, the row/column highlighting appears.
- Finally, a column option is brought up with a context menu - great! Except that the location of the right click isn't the context used! Its the previous location left clicked within the spreadsheet data. As a result, without care, one can perform an operation on the wrong column.
- sorting by Value doesn't - appears to ignore anything after the first non-number (eg 1.0, 1k, 1k, 1.0)
What needs to be changed:
- Sorting needs to at least consider non-numbers and ideal apply metric modifiers when otherwised formed correctly. (1,000pf, 1nf, 0.001u, 1000p would all sort the same)
- Make the UI consistent - such that context operation are based on the location of the right click
- Also notice that double click in title bar doesn't do anything
- Allow columns to be reordered (left click on column header and drag to the new location)
- Allow columns to be hidden / viewed
- Allow the specific view of columns to be saved and restored. Use the previous one by default.
- Don't request that before you can see the parameter manager content that one select which columns to view. Because of the stupid modal interface, one has to frequently exit and renter. Cross probe helps here - but still things should not be modal.
- Should be possible to group objects based on 1 or more parameters. In this case, a plus symbol would appear by the object type and when collapsed, an edit to one parameter would change all in the grouping.
- Finally, allow column headers to be sorted alphabetically or popularity. The latter means that columns with more non-empty fields appear before columns with empty fields.
Symbol pins won't move!
I really should post the video as its not believable. I click a pin, its clearly selected, then attempt to drag it - it won't move. If copy-paste the pin, the new pin can be moved. If I draw a box around two pins, they can be moved together.
Autoscrolling in schematic library
- Scroll rate appears to be constant sheet velocity (MM/sec) where as it needs to be constant screen velocity (pixels per second). When zoomed in, scrolling is far to fast.
- In the preferences I located a setting, might not work in the library
Multiple PCB pads per schematic pin
"That would be too easy" http://www.eevblog.com/forum/altium/assign-one-pin-to-multiple-pads/msg90253/#msg90253
-select pads in 2d view, switch to 3d view (press 3) and back to 2d view (press 2) , pads are deselected
Part Wizzard saves where it wants
- At times, when it come times to save the PCB footprint, the parts wizard does not save it in the specified library. Seems to instead use the name of the component and make a new library.
PCB Library Panel Window
Panel window has list of components and 3 columns:
Name, Pads, Primitives.
This is what Altium thinks is useful when it comes time to select a PCB footprint while browsing the PCB library! Right click on the column headers and options unrelated to the column header appear. In other words there is no way to actually have useful information displayed in these columns. So now I get to double click on the components so that I can read their descriptions. Of course the window that pops up is too narrow (and can not be resized) to read all the description and only the last portion is displayed so I get to scroll to the front of it.
I'm at a loss.
At least when browsing to assign a footprint to a sch library component, the column includes the description. One column is assigns to let you know the library name - in case you don't want to lookup to the library you just selected in the pull down menu.... idiots.
STUPID AUTO RAISE BEHAVIOR
Possibly covered elsewhere, I have PCB layout on 1 monitor, and SCH on a second. I've started to create a new PCB library component using the component wizard. The datasheet I'm working in on the 2nd monitor. Using alt-tab I get the datasheet on top, then when I click on the component wizard dialog - the SCH window covers the datasheet. 2 ways to fix this - 1) get a 3rd monitor, 2) cancel new component wizard then either minimize the schematic window or move the some 25 items in that window back onto the primary Altium window.
X and Y for PAD non-standard
- After creating footprint w/wizard, I went to modify the pad size in the footprint editor - the X dimension controlled the height. So for some reason, the component was rotated.
Component rotation bounding box
The bounding box doesn't appear to rotate with the component - so it just gets larger. For components with high aspect ratio footprints, its significant.
The component clearance design rules work on the bounding box - so either the components need to be artificially spaced, or the clearance rule ignored.
- Eg : A component and its bounding box are 10mm x 2mm. The component is rotated and the new bounding box is ~7.1mm x 8.5mm. At the corner there would be ~7.5mm of clearance between the bounding box at the component.
pt=[ 0,0; 0,2; -10,2; -10,0]; s2=sqrt(2)/2; r=[s2 -s2;s2 s2]; pt*r ans = 0 0 1.4142 1.4142 -5.6569 8.4853 -7.0711 7.0711
Component rotation broken after several changes
Edited the rotation field of a component several times, then I decided to go back to right angles. This is what I got. 
Can't move vias as a group
Here I select several vias to move as a group, but only 1 will move. Maybe I still don't know how to use the UI after years.....
Room Polypour Copy deletes other pours
After having routed external connection to my channels, I need to modify a common part - a polypour. I modify in the primary channel, selected it, and then attempt to copy rooms - using only the seleceted items. Unfortunately, when I perform the room copy, several other polypours are deleted in the destination rooms.
Can't select a stray trace
Here I'm attempt to select a stray trace on the net PGND - but can't. Seems to be an artifact.
PolyPour Fubar while resizing
Here a polypour is being resized, and something jumps out to the left.
Track Routing Won't Complete
Here I'm attempt to manually route using the 'push obstacles' mode. To route the trace, adjacent traces need to be pushed and one of which lands within a polypour. When I attempt to route fully with one 'segment' it won't complete, but if I place a waypoint along the way, it all works out. Interesting, if I move a track, it will push into the polypour without hesitation.
Run Design Rule Check
Somehow I have it in a mode that isn't reporting any DRC violations. I probably disabled something due to the online checking annoyance, but when I perform the batch operation it is still doing nothing - and of course doesn't bother to tell me. It just reports that everything is perfect.
- Screen capture video with HTML5 / Webm format
- This bug is caused by setting the maximum errors to 2^31-1 : 2147483647. In this case it reports zero errors without anytype of warning. Using 2147483646 (2^31-2) works.
Minor complaints - but another sign of poor UI quality
- Stop when '____' violations are found.
- I don't want it to ever stop (well I think I don't want it to stop since DRCs were missed in the past due to the limited output, and I guess before there was red text indicating it had stopped prematurely.)
- So I try '0' which often means infinity - esp when 0 would be a non-sense answer.
- 0 is exactly that - I want 0 violations and then click run the check (why would I do this? I have nothing better to do I guess.)
- So I put a large number (very large) and run DRC - the result "ERROR : More than -1797044592 violations detected, DRC was stopped"
- The largest value accepted by the field is a signed 32 bit int (2147483647) after which it produces crazy results. Maybe saturate the value and display 'INF' - or less usefully warn the user.
- There is the both 'OK' choice and the 'Run DRC Check' (on the fast left). The okay choise is for both setting the online and offline checking options - but this is not clear until after you wonder why nothing updates. Yes - my fault - but again its poor UI design when things aren't clear - confusing.
More General Undo Bug
It seems impossibly unlikely - as it is such a critically fundamentally important operation - but the evidence for me is mounting that undo does not work correctly when undoing a series of complex operations. In addition to the easily demonstrable room undo bug (next) - whitch track routing it appears that after a mess of things is made routing, using CTRL-Z to work back doesn't get there.
Track routing with push, walk around, etc is very powerful feature, but often creates too many wiggles and segments for my taste. I then try to clean them up by routing again using the loop and net antenna removal options. At times the results are unexpected and where is when CTRL-Z is helpful.
Multi Room Move and Undo BUG!
- Select 1 room, move it and the components go with the room.
- Selected multiple rooms, move them, and the components remain in place.
- Undo it, and in my case, 2 of the 3 rooms return to previous position, where as first room stays at the new location.
- If Altium paid me I'd make movies of this for them.
Room Copy / Net Names not Changed Predictability
Another great time saver - except that there are problems that reduce its effectiveness.
- Vias not connected to the end of trace segments do not change their net in the copies. Thus a manually placed array of vias has to be edited in the copies as they're producing net violations.
- Altium Support : "Unfortunately copy room formats is not working on floating vias or fills within rooms. The only workaround would be to place tracks to the vias prior to the copy room formats, or alternatively manually update the vias post copy room formats."
- Very easy to have orphaned items in the room copies. Details aren't clear, but its likely items that aren't fully enclosed. If they're modified in the source room then a new one is created in the copied rooms. Eventually one has to clear the destination rooms. An option to preclear existing room items might be answer if the software is unable to keep track of the items that were placed by a room copy. Although to me, it seems like an item attribute 'placed method' could take care of this....
- A Poly pour name is not being updated into the new rooms. The pour is completely within the room. Previously, the only vias in the poly pour kept the old name. I've added more vias, they're still keeping the old name, as is the pour. A 2nd pour on another layer of the same net, does change its name. Also see that tracks within
Poly Pour Islands
Nice to be-able to remove islands by size. Unfortunately AD has a different idea of an island that I do. To me an island is an electronically unconnected copper area - to Altium, it means that its electrically unconnected on a given layer (via doesn't help!).
Room / Poly Pour Resize
When resizing a room, can only do it from the midpoint dot (or corner) possibly. With a poly the midpoint dot causes a new segment to be added. UI inconsistency!
Poly Pour Reside or Move
I find selection very challenging in AD PCB. Often I end up with more than one item. When this happens, esp when off screen, resizing a polypour moves it. Fine. But when hovering over the poly edge, the mouse pointer icon is the same as when resizing it - and is not the move icon. This is likely more general, but am most annoyed with polys.
I have the nearly fastest singled thread performance available (I7-6700k) - purchased so that programs like AD will perform better. Still, there is significant lag between clicking on a component and the resolution dialog being presented. Its only 300mS you say? Well thats a metal interruption and these delays add up to hours. (See section not about how long.)
Case change in PCB doesn't cause ECO difference
Footprint in schematic appears to be case sensitive. (Find similar components only locates matching case.) However, in parameter manager can't edit footprint??? So I go to PCB and run a find similar components, then edit the footprint. However, when generating the ECO to apply to the schematic the differences are ignored.
Drag Tracks w/Component
There is a command Edit - Move - Drag that brings the tracks with a component. However for it to work, a DXP preferences must be set, if not set then the command behaves like an ordinary move. 
Or in other words, why would any one use DRAG unless the preference was set - or another words again - why have the preference? And of course, there is no notification about the preference. Stupid UI design. Please Altium, let me know why I'm wrong and the decision was a good one?
Even better, once the preference is set, I still isn't dragging the tracks enough I'm completely following the directions. Guess I get to do what I'd do with Tango DOS, delete the tracks and reroute - except with DOS it would be a lot faster.
Attempt to import TANGO PCB
- I first attempted to load an ASC Tango PCB, the tool reported the file was bad. Good!
Then I tried to import it, it hangs the tool. Then I try to force a crash, with CTRL-ALT-INSERT, and nothing happens.
- Of course not many people need to import TANGO PCB files, instead this is an another example of poor programming. Its not 1980. When a application attempts to read content from a file, it should be smart about errors. There should be no file that I attempt to load that would ever cause harm to the application!
- Then of course, I lost all of my work for the previous 20 mins.
- When placing a polygon pour, one most painstaking select the net to associate with the pour. This list can be very long (100s, 1000s). A simple solution exist - select a pad or trace already associated with a net and then select place polygon!
- The Repour Now dialog is painful - esp since I constantly need to be re-pouring! Possibly the original polygon placement could have an automatic repour option (not sure when it should run to not be slow), or better yet, a CONTEXT menu option - repour.
- The polygon report also seems to repour around traces of the same net. WTF.
Deletion of 'extra' vias
Place a bunch of vias to make power connection between layers - then route a wide trace and many of the vias are automatically deleted. Sure I should use via switch but I don't like how it arrays them in some cases.
Draft features changed to full
Rooms were in draft mode. Switch to 3rd view, rotate a bit, come back and the rooms display is in final.
Online DRC needs to be 'background'
After moving or resizing a room (with a couple of components), 1 to 2 seconds are taken to perform DRC, during which time you can do nothing else. Great - its nice to have live DRC. But this is the kind of thing that SHOULD be in a separate thread. So what if the user makes more changes before the DRC completes. Just keep looping using idle cycles until completed. This 2nd thread BTW could run in a 2nd processor! So now I just disable it - another feature that is useless.
Region selection when rooms are present
Try to select a group of components within a room - the button down event selects the room. Goto to DXP preferences and attempt to add the shift modifier so that rooms require shift - no luck, room is not an option.
Incoherent selection behavior
Sometimes, when I write these posts, I imagine I'm sending them to twitter's Why Altium Sucks. They read the same way.
Since I'm primarily moving components I configured the tool to require SHIFT CLICK to select anything other than a component (or component body which I still don't understand). Under DXP Preferences -> PCB Editor -> General -> Shift Click To Select [Primitives] I have everything selected except component. I'm also turned off Display Popup selection dialog - as I only want components and there should not be multiple choice since I don't have components stacked. Getting to the point - the REFDES (a string) - is entirely within the component. I shift click on it and what happens? The component is selected. Without the display popup I can't select the REFDES text.
EXPORT DESIGN RULES
- Export design rules (Consistency) - (12 mins into my work this morning - I'm swearing)
When reviewing PCB design rules, its great that the context menu is contextual and has an export option. However, it seems broken. Right clicking only brings up the export option when within the pane with the tree display of the rules (not the other pane). There a right click is absolutely associated with a specific rule. However, when one selects export, there is a new dialog with ALL of the tree structure from the original pane. Whats worse, is that the names in this pane are in some cases different than in the original tree (where you could view and make sure you had the correct thing.) In otherwords, I selected a specific rule set to export, but instead I get to reselect the rule but in a way where I can't be sure what I'm doing. I really wish that Twitter feed 'Altium sucks' was active.
- It just goes on.... You can only export 1 rule class at a time (there are 50 to 100)
- In the save file dialog - the 'Save' button is highlight, but after typing the filename and pressing return, it
appears that cancel is selected.
- Working in metric units - the export file is in 'English' units
- Export file is ASCII-but is basically only machine readable
DIALOG BOXES THAT REVERT
- Dialog boxes that revert to some default view every time re-opened. Of course,like my DOS CAD tool, these windows are blocking - but in this case unnecessarily. Specifically, Object Class Explorer (a tree view of lots of items), opens in a way that is unrelated to what is selected on the screen, or what was done upon the last time it was used. For example, collapse the trees so that I can see the big picture, but upon reopen, the trees are all expanded and the view is in the center of the very long list.
AUTO ROUTE MESSAGE PANEL
- Autoroute - operational / completion status is unclear. The message panel should include a better description **Start routing (0 of 340 connections) -> Start routing NET CLASS POWER_HIGH (0 of 70 connections) The NET class POWER_HIGH has 70 connections, not 340.
- Finished routing with 1 contention Failed to complete 290 connection --> (It didn't fail to complete, it didn't try to complete - you can't fail without trying!) Finished routing NET CLASS POWER_HIGH with 1 contention. Boa(WHICH ONE? HOW DO I KNOW WHAT ISN'T COMPELTED).
- While attempting to route a NET CLASS that contains a single NET GND (which has a plane) connection - nothing seems to happen. Its unclear from the message dialog if it is finished, still busy or stuck. (The status message has a time that is not being update) Even with a plane connection - there is still plenty of autorouting to perform! I want it done which is why I select it!
- Turns out there is a bug here - after GND net class starts the NET CLASS dialog box returns before the message box displays the status that it is complete. Clicking cancel on the message box causes complete to appear in the message box.
The REFDES text is too large. I've changed the default string size in the global preferences file, but it has no effect. When creating the library component, there is no refdes string to place or edit. This one may just be I don't know how to fix it - but OTOH - it should be straight forward. (Eventually located in the default for component)
Don't bother unless its very basic. Then just do it by hand. Otherwise use a real auto router. Maybe just use a CAD that has a real auto router built in.
TOOLS UPDATE FROM LIBRARY STUPIDITY
- Its hard to know what is going on here. There are a bunch of mismatches but comparison window is either showing everything or nothing. I suspect that the component is on the bottom side (where as in the library its on the top side). In the side panel, it states NO PCB Primitives causing differences.
- I also moved a component from one library to another. Both libraries are usable by the PCB tool. However the difference tool simply states the footprint not found. Guess I get to delete the component and add it back. Welcome to 1992 - of course my old to it would take a less than 10 seconds.
- Throughout the program, file ordering seems to be random. Possibly the order I open them? This lack of order follows through to when printing schematics. The only way I know is to add a document for each schematic page. Then click enable the enable button for each entry to have them in the desired order. If you desire to change the order of say a document in the middle, deselect all the later documents and then enable them in the desired order.
- Today it only took 5 mins to figure out how to get the newly added documents to output in color. If I right click on the enable button, there is a page setup when has the color option.
- Select all or a subset of the documents, right click page enable, it doesn't make the change for all the documents. So once again, back to doing things 1 document a time. Of course now, I have to remember which documents are grey otherwise I get to check them all!
My original list before I started using the Wiki.
Workspace panel? Item Grouping
- need to be able to select which items are grouped on the task bar. - need to have libaries open (so I can edit them!) but this is rare compared to editing schematics. - right clicking could include ungroup group with similar - group with items for this list add to group
- in windows, right click an item is to open its context menu. Right
clicking on item in AD however, may include some context related items, but most its just another menubar.
- right click on a component and the 2nd and 3rd options have absolutely
no relationship to a component.
- right click on a the 'sheet' including its title block brings up the
same menu as RC on a component. But in this case, nothing seems relevant. At least changing the sheet size could be the first option, and maybe 'design document options' would be another choice.
- interestingly right clicking on a schematic page panel tab only brings
up context items - at least one thing done correctly!
non modal dialogs
In the past year, stop using Tango DOS as my primary design tool (it didn't suck). Not surprisingly, when I performed an action (compiled design, view error report, etc), it blocked everything else. Now 23 years later, I find Altium does the same thing!
WINDOW AUTO RAISE / HIDE
- Extra windows (non-dialog) shouldn't pop to the top on selection of
another Altium window. Think of how most other Windows application deal with multi-windows.
I have the message panel open and when I need to see it, I can bring it to the top. I use the 2nd monitor for transcribing datasheets into Altium which the message box is always in the way. These extra windows also seem to disappear when Altium looses focus. Let me control the behavior of the windows. Wow it is so annoying - I can't look at the message window and work in another application (message window disappears).
COMPILING MESSAGE PANEL
- After compiling project, messages are not sorted (by class) even though
there is an indicator stating that it is.
- the message in the message window is ordered such that it makes visual
grouping / sorting impossible For example message warning where an IO pin has multiple types starts with the problem symbol, whereas many other message start with a higher level description of the problem 'nets wire', 'component'
PCB LIST PANEL
- PCBLIST - selecting all Solder Mask Override and then clicking check
box deselcts. Inconsistent behavior. Instead space has to be used.
- footprint wizzard - silkscreen width is reset to default where as other
parameters keep their last used value.
IMPORT DESIGN CHANGES FROM
- PCB - import design changes from .... - report changes - the complete
package name is not displayed (or printed). Should be wrapped or something. Actually one shouldn't have to print it - but the windows are modal!
- SCH - compile design - complains of many duplicate designators
-go to reset duplicate designators, nothing found
- PCB - design with device sheets and duplicate designators -
design import the rooms overlap and have components outside them seems like the only way to correct the duplicates is to bring them into PCB and then re-annotate
- SCH LIB
- how to adjust default location of refdes, comment, etc - position of parameters changes between symbol editor and placement on sheet
- PCB - copy paste line doesn't make sense.
the paste should have the same positional relationship with cursor as the selection. Instead, it seems to paste at the same location as the selection with a cursor offset
- PCB - selection should be smart. If selecting a small object within a
large object - use the small object. Or select the item where at least 1 axis is mostly precisely at the center. Use modifier to allow list of choices
- Project window - autoscrolling not reliable when moving items from free
documents to specific project
- When editing sheet symbols much more automatic correction between
symbol could be done. For example, when ports are linked - if properties are changed in 1 place, it should change in the other.
Was searching for Samtec libraries for a FTSH series device. I had to laugh at this press release from Sep 2014: https://blog.dev1.altium.com/Blogs/samtec-connector-release-09-07-14
Samtec is a great company and makes a great assortment of board2board headers - but its been more than 15 years since I've ordered any 100 or 50 mill pitched headers from them, and does any one still use PC/104? Thanks for being on the ball Altium and getting a cutting each library to us!
Monkey can crash the program
attempting to rotate component quickly w/Incorrect key stroke (Ctrl R?) component was pasted several times? attempted to stop with ESC a few times? then the info box comes up.
In other words, a monkey or an infant can crash this $12K program in a few millisconds.
I'm a Altium Novice. What do I know?
Not really an Novice anymore. I've been using it on an off for 2 years and mostly non-stop for the past 6 months.
I've also been a circuit designer for 30+ years - using CAD for 23 years.
In 1985 as a kid, I started to write my own PCB layout tool. Was able to get something somewhat useful, but making circuit boards from printer was nearly impossible. One needs to create a transparency (film) with high contrast, add photo resist to a copper board, expose it. It was a very involved process that I could never get right. Then later in the early 90s I flirted with Tango and PADs which was mostly a success since the University could make the films and boards for me.
As some sort of grad student @ The Institute, I started using Viewlogic in the Fall of 1994 on a Sun Workstation. That was a wasted semester and my introduction to expensive software that sucked. A colleague was making quick progress with Tango (DOS) so over the Winter Break I purchased a parallel port emulator to run the program and in few days sent out the first prototype of a DSP based color vision system that at least changed my world.
I made great designs with Tango DOS for the next 20 years. The tool is FAST, simple, rarely crashes, has a reasonable autorouter. I was able to extend it in many ways to 'multitask' and add modern features. Unfortunately, I'm was the butt of many jokes WRT my CAD tool and may be the last person in the Affluent parts of the world using it. Most have switched to bloated programs that have pretty graphics that otherwise drain their souls and lives of valuable time. I know - I've evaluated many of them.
I am now one of these people spending time swearing at this grab bag of features and bugs. I'm writing this because the only outlet of the frequent crashs is within the "please provide any additional comments" section of the crash report. Altium might be receiving several million of these an hour, so they're probably ignored. (I will have to say, on the plus side, a 'crash' actually leaves the program running and in a seemingly stable state with data intact. I guess its a lot easier to wrap the whole program in a try except block than to figure out whats going on - I know I've done this too!)
If you hate it so much
If you hate it so much, why do you keep using it? Why write this?
- I've paid alot of money and expect it to be usableable. The cost of the software is likely more than I've spend on ALL SOFTWARE in my entire life.
- Altium indicated they would back fix bugs in the previous tool versions. As a result, I paid more money for a subscription. (Do you see the word idiot on my forehead?) They failed to follow though with this promise.
- I've invested a very large amount of time learning the tool and creating projects. There's no way to recover that part of my life. (Of course this is the good money after bad argument.)
- I have projects within the tool and no time to relearn a new tool (that may also suck) and the projects need to be completed.
- Hopefully, others can learn from my mistakes.
A note of progress/ (However 16.0.5 came out Nov 10th wth 223 changes but 15.1.15 had only 7 minor obscure issues fixed - 2 months previously. From this alone I can only conclude they're still more interested adding more broken features than a reliable product that works as promised.)
I'm 'forced' to write this here, as apparently one needs to have 'points' to post bugs / features requests to Altium, and I assume that getting points means that you've provided the best answer to others seeking help. Unfortunately, this approach, while limiting SPAM and newb nonsense, also means that only the people that have lived through the horrendous problems of the program can offer suggestions.
The other approach would be to join the twitter community Why Altium Sucks, but Twitter requires a phone number before allowing account creation. I don't want them calling me.
Video of AD user trying to get his PCB PDF output to be in color.