Thursday, April 26, 2018

Altium Designer 18.1.6 (build 161) is available

Altium Designer 18.1.6 (build 161) is available as an update to Altium Designer 18.0 and may be downloaded and installed from the Updates page of the Extensions & Updates view.
Alternatively, download and run the Altium Designer 18.1 installer and select the Update existing version option in the Installation Mode page of the installer wizard. If a separate new installation is required, select the New installation option in the install wizard.

While we continue to provide one major and one minor (or ‘point’) release of the software each year, Altium Designer 18.1 heralds a shift in our focus of what gets included in those releases:

  • Major Release - the primary focus of this type of release is on new features, enhancements and improvements. ‘Big Ticket’ features and functionality will only be found in a major release.
  • Minor Release - the primary focus of this type of release will be on bug fixes (especially those that have been flagged by customers through the Support Center, BugCrunch, or Forums), stability, and general enhancements to improve the overall reliability of the software. These releases will also focus on ‘completion tasks’ related to the incomplete functionality of features introduced in previous versions of the software, as well as ‘polishing tasks’ related to new functionality introduced in the last major release.

With that in mind, Altium Designer 18.1 saw our developers working in two key areas during this cycle:

  • Incomplete features from past versions (including backdrilling, 3D body snap points, TT fonts from PCB in PDF, and more).
  • Polishing of functionality that was introduced in Altium Designer 18.0 (the last major release). This includes adding a new ‘Light’ UI theme to complement the ‘Dark’ one; support for formulas and smart editing in the Properties panel; restoring Design Views and advanced snapping in PCB, and much more.

Also, a few projects were implemented for Draftsman - performance improvements and UX consistency in accordance with other Altium Designer editors.

Only one exception to the general release focus has been made for Altium Designer 18.1 - the inclusion of the FPGA Pin Mapper. We decided to include it in this release since there was a lack of ability to swap pins in FPGAs (after the related functions had been removed previously). The new FPGA Pin Mapper provides the ability to add a link to an external Pin File for a schematic component and make a comparison of the Net names between the schematic and that external file. The External file can be exported from your FPGA vendor’s software (Quartus, Vivado, etc.). See Quick guide for the first implementation of this tool.

Here are the highlights of the most notable updates and fixes in Altium Designer 18.1:

  • Greatly improved Draftsman performance (Update Board) and UI features
  • Support for snapping to the center of holes and center of edges in 3D models (BC:548)
  • TrueType Font support to PCB output PDF files so text may be searched (BC:1482)
  • Ability to do STEP output without free models by using 'Skip free 3D bodies' option in Export Options dialog (BC:1240)
  • Ability to create Differential Pair class in a schematic editor (BC:5151)
  • Backdrilling now supports defining a back drill pair between any layer-pair, and now recognizes connections made with polygon, region and fill objects (BC:8372).
  • PCB - DRC no longer reports violations between different copper objects in a custom footprint pad if that pad is not assigned to a net (BC:1779)
  • Zoom now functions correctly for an Outjob PDF (BC:7723)  

Completion of opened tasks with 18.0:

  • Added new Light Gray theme option (Preferences>>System>>View).
  • Advanced Snapping options have been restored to the PCB editor (Board Properties)
  • Restored Design View object in PCB
  • Restored document status indicators (open, modified, locked) in Projects panel (BC:8696).
  • Restored support for formulas (for location and text values, regular calculations, action with the current value and Smart Edit) in Properties Panel (BC:8861).
  • Added option in View Configuration panel for representation of labels with Special String names in PCB (BC:8832).
  • Restored Project Documents option to the Projects menu.
  • Updated the PCB 3D view so highlighted 3D models are rendered with suitable transparency and color.
  • Added zoom, rotate and pan capabilities in PCB 3D previews.

Please check the Release Notes for the complete list of new features and fixes in Altium Designer 18.1

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