Parent article: Installation and Content Management
Installation of any software application should be straightforward, intuitive and, perhaps above all, fast – you don't want to be hanging around while an installation progress bar clicks across at a rate of one 'segment' per minute (or more!). Furthermore, when you have that software installed, you want to be able to update it as and when you deem necessary, and in a streamlined fashion. You certainly don't want to have to install from scratch again.
Altium provides a fast, efficient Installation System that caters for this very need – a system that not only expedites the initial installation process, but lets you choose the initial 'flavor' of that installation in terms of installed functionality.
In this article, we will take a look at how you initially install Altium Designer on your PC using the Altium Platform Installer. Tutorial-like, but not rigidly so, think of this article as more of a conversational 'walk through' of the installation process.
Altium Designer 13.0 is released as a separate full installation with unique default installation paths. It can therefore be installed side-by-side with an installation of Altium Designer 10/12 (the last update of which was Update 24, Platform Version 10.1377.27009). As it is a separate installation, you cannot update from an installation of Altium Designer 10/12 to Altium Designer 13.0.
To access the Altium Platform Installer, you need to first download and run a small (less than 10MB) executable –
AltiumInstaller.exe. This executable is downloaded from the Software page of the AltiumLive community site, and can be saved anywhere on your hard disk.
Running the Installer
AltiumInstaller.exe file. The Altium Platform Installer welcome page will appear.
The installer itself is wizard-based, providing a set of progressive (and intuitive) pages that collectively gather the information to effectively install the version of the software, and its initial feature set, as you require.
Click Next to continue. The following sections provide a summary of the various pages you will encounter.
This page of the Installer presents you with the Altium End-User License Agreement (EULA).
Before you can continue with the installation of the software, you must read through, and accept, the terms of this agreement. The agreement can be viewed in different languages, including English (the default), Chinese and Japanese.
Clicking the Advanced button will access an Advanced Settings pop-up window. From here, you are able to specify proxy-settings (if applicable) and also determine the location for the local cache – the folder in which all downloaded files from the nominated installation repository (specified on a subsequent page of the Installer) will be stored. Click OK to effect any changes and return to the License Agreement page.
The default location for the local cache is
After initial installation, the local cache continues to store the downloaded files used in each and every installation change – whether that be application of updates, or installation of new plugins. The amount of disk space taken by these files can become quite considerable over time. Although the cache can be cleared (or flushed) from within Altium Designer, you may want to specify that this cache be created in a location that has plenty of disk space to begin with.
With the EULA read, and any advanced options defined as required, continue with the install by checking the I accept the agreement box and clicking the Next button.
After accepting the EULA, you will be presented with an Account Log In pop-up window. This simply means logging in to your Altium Account, to which your valid license is associated, using your AltiumLive Credentials. The reason for doing this is to personalize the installation, with only those releases of the software that are, through your account and licensing, applicable to you.
Altium Download Manager
Upon logging in to your account, you will notice another pop-up window alluding to the fact that other items are being downloaded, including something called the Altium Download Manager. This will be downloaded to the same location in which the Installer executable resides.
This is a separate application, resident in the same cloud-based repository as the Installer, that is used to download files. It does so independently of the application that requires those files – in this case, the Installer. The Altium Download Manager runs in the Windows System Tray, and can provide some more detailed feedback about what exactly is being downloaded.
For the Installer, it is simply downloading the version(s) of the software that can be installed, ready to present these to you in the subsequent page of the Installer.
In general, you should not need to interact with the Altium Download Manager.
Platform Repository and Version
This next page of the Installer allows you to specify the repository from which to install, and the specific version of Altium Designer to be installed.
In the Platform Repository region of the page, the Repository Location field is, by default, set to use the Altium installation repository (
http://installation.altium.com). This is a web-based repository stored on an Amazon S3 server.
In terms of the version of Altium Designer to install, you need to select the required revision of the platform, using the Platform Revision field.The latest revision of the platform will always be selected by default.
Once you have chosen the required version and its source location, click Next to proceed.
Select Design Functionality
This next page of the Installer allows you to specify which features are installed initially. So whether you are concerned only with PCB Design, or Soft Design, or both, now is your chance to tailor the install (albeit at a coarse level) to suit your needs. This will also have an impact on the initial installation time too!
By default, both PCB and Soft Design are enabled for installation. Simply click on the functionality you require – a big tick symbol will display accordingly at the far right, to visually confirm your selection. As you select and deselect functionality, text at the bottom of the page dynamically updates to reflect the size of the download involved – from the repository via the Altium Download Manager – and how this translates to required disk space, once those downloaded files are installed.
Remember, no matter what decision you take at initial install, you can add or remove features and functionality at any stage after installation. This puts you in the driving seat as it were, to fully customize your installation in-line with your, possibly ever-changing, design needs.
After defining what functionality you'd like, click Next to proceed.
This next page of the Installer allows you to specify the destination folders for the install, in terms of both the Program Files for the software and the Shared Documents that are accessed and used by the software.
These locations become especially important when installing multiple revisions of the same version of Altium Designer. If one or both of these destinations is not currently an empty folder (i.e. devoid of content) you will be prevented from proceeding with the installation until you specify alternate (and empty) destination(s).
The default destinations are:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Altium\AD13 ----for Windows 7
C:\Program Files\Altium\AD13 ----for Windows XP
C:\Users\Public\Documents\Altium\AD13 ----for Windows 7
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\Altium\AD13 ----for Windows XP
To specify alternate locations, simply type the location directly into the applicable field, or click the folder icon at the right of a field and browse for the required destination folder.
Once the install locations are specified, click Next to continue.
Ready to Install
The Installer now has all the information it requires to proceed with the installation. If you need to change anything, click the Back button. If you want to cancel out of the install, click Close.
One point to make with respect to canceling the installation, and that is that up until this page, clicking Cancel on any page will simply pop-up a window asking if you want to exit the Installer, with the straightforward options of Yes or No. When you reach this "Ready to Install" page of the Installer, clicking Close will pop-up a slightly different window. As the information the Installer needs has been defined, you can either abort the installation or suspend it. In the latter case, the settings specified will be saved, enabling you to access the Installer and resume installation with those same settings at a later point in time.
To go ahead and proceed with the installation, click Next.
Installing Altium Designer
The page will change from "Ready to Install" to "Installing Altium Designer" and the installation will proceed, with the required files first being downloaded from the installation repository. Progress of this download is displayed within the Installer itself. However for more detail of the zip files being downloaded, simply open the Altium Download Manager, either from the Windows System Tray, or by clicking the text at the bottom of the page: Downloading installation data. Click here for details.
Once the download of files is complete, they will be unpacked (unzipped) ready to install. The software itself is then installed, again with progress displayed in the Installer.
When the installation itself completes, you have reached the end of the Installer wizard.
An option is provided to launch Altium Designer when you exit the Installer, enabled by default. Simply click Finish to exit the wizard.
That's it. You have installed Altium Designer on your computer, and initially tailored its functionality to suit your design needs. Now it's time to do what you do best and go create that next innovative (and hopefully lucrative) product!
For information on how to manage your installation of Altium Designer after initial installation, including how to update to the next revision of the platform and how to add and/or remove functionality and features, take a look at the article A Walk Through...Post-Installation Management of your Altium Designer Solution.