Altium Designer Viewer supports the display of multiple design documents of differing type. Schematic, PCB, OpenBus, CAM and OutJob documents are opened and viewed within their respective Document Editors. All other text-based document types (e.g. embedded software source files, VHDL files, script files) are opened in the Text Editor for viewing.
The following sections take a closer look at some of the key features and functionality that make up the Viewer's environment.
Main article: Altium Designer Viewer - Home Page
The Home page within Altium Designer Viewer provides a 'central hub' from which to access many common tasks and support resources. The page is designed to present relevant information in a clear, concise and powerful way – giving you streamlined access to routinely used areas of the Viewer, such as recently viewed documents, as well as offering additional information and resources when you are signed in to your Altium account.
Access the Home page using the View»Home command (shortcut: V, H), or by clicking the button on the Navigation toolbar.
Example content on Altium Designer Viewer's Home page.
Documents, projects and design workspaces can be opened using the relevant commands available from the main File menu. Alternatively, you can drag-and-drop a document, project file, or design workspace file, directly into the Viewer.
When you open a document, it becomes the active document in the Viewer's main design window. Multiple documents may be opened simultaneously. Each open document has its own tab at the top of the design window, but only one document may be active within that window.
Example showing multiple tabbed documents open in the main design window - one PCB, two schematic and the Home page - with the PCB document currently active.
The active document is distinguished by a highlighted appearance to its tab. To make another open document the active document, click on its tab. Alternatively, use the Ctrl + Tab and Ctrl + Shift + Tab keyboard shortcuts to cycle forward or backward through all open documents respectively.
Main article: Design Insight
Design Insight is a collection of features to help you navigate around an open design project in the Viewer. The beauty of this feature is that it enables you to access previews of documents within the project, without having to physically open the documents themselves. Design Insight consists of the following:
Clicking on a document entry in a preview will open that target document, making it the active document in the main design window.
Examples of how Document Insight (part of the overall Design Insight feature) enables you to preview documents in a design - simply hover the cursor over the document<br>icon and view.
To access previews, without opening up all design documents, ensure that the project is first compiled. Design Insight supports preview of the following document types: Schematic, PCB, OpenBus and all text-based documents.
Various features require that all source documents be compiled and, where necessary, this compilation is performed automatically. For this to happen, all such documents must be opened. Depending on the project, there may be a sizable number of source documents involved in the compilation. To have all documents open as tabbed documents in the main design window can create a frustratingly cluttered workspace. To this end, the Viewer provides the ability to 'hide' documents. They still meet the requirement of being open, with respect to features such as compilation and cross probing, but are hidden with respect to display in the main design window.
Any open document can be placed in this hidden state by:
The right-click menu associated with a document's tab on the Documents bar provides other hide-related commands, allowing you to hide all documents, hide all documents of the same type, or hide all documents of a different type.
Hidden documents become listed in a drop-down at the far right of the Documents bar.
Accessing hidden documents.
Clicking on an entry in the list will unhide the document and it will reappear as a tabbed document (and the active document) in the main design window. The Window menu and the document's right-click menu in the Projects panel also provide commands to unhide the document.
With Altium Designer Viewer, you are not limited to viewing a single design document at a time. Various commands are provided that allow you to effectively manage the open documents and tailor their display to your preferred working habits.
Right-click on a document tab (in the Documents bar) to access commands for managing the document. These commands include closing and hiding the document, as well as commands affecting the display of all open documents within the main design window.
Accessing document management commands.
Commands for splitting the main design window horizontally or vertically can prove invaluable when wishing to use cross probing with, for example, the schematic and PCB documents open side by side.
Splitting the main design window.
When split, the regions are treated as though they were individual windows. One document may be active in each region, but only one document, across all regions can have the focus at any given time. When an additional document is opened, it will be opened as part of the region in which the currently focused document resides. Commands also allow you to tile the documents or merge them back into the single, default design window.
You can also open a document in a separate design window. Right-click on its tab and choose the Open In New Window command. Alternatively, click on the document's tab and drag it onto the desktop area, outside of the main application window. Commands are then available from the main Window menu to arrange the separate windows vertically or horizontally.
The Viewer supports the use of multiple monitors, with a recommended screen resolution of at least 1680x1050 (widescreen) or 1600x1200(4:3). With many documents open concurrently and a plethora of workspace panels, toolbars and support documents, this feature affords you space enough to define a more comfortable working environment. You might dedicate the use of one monitor solely for design reviewing, while arranging various workspace panels and additional documents on another.
Multiple monitors give you maximum flexibility when viewing design projects!
As a further aid in setting up the workspace environment, the Viewer supports the notion of Desktop Layouts. This feature allows you to arrange the application's document windows, workspace panels and toolbars around the desktop as required and then save that layout to file. In this way, multiple users can quickly arrange the workspace to suit their design habits by loading in their preferred layout.
Commands for saving and loading layouts, including the default layout shipped with the software, are available from the View»Desktop Layouts sub-menu.
Main article: Altium Designer Panels
Workspace panels are essential elements of the Viewer's environment. Whether specific to a particular document editor or used on a more global, system-wide level, they present information and controls that allow you to efficiently interrogate a design.
When the Software is first started, a number of panels will already be open. Some panels, including the Projects panel, will appear grouped and docked to the left side of the application window. Others, including the Favorites panel will be in 'pop-out' mode and appear as buttons on the right-hand border of the application window. You can also drag panels to 'float' over or outside of the main application window.
At the bottom of the application window there are a number of buttons that provide quick access to the available workspace panels, in context with the document editor you are currently using. Each button is labeled with the name of the category of panels it gives access to. When a button is clicked, a pop-up menu of the constituent panels in that category will appear. Click on an entry in a menu to open the corresponding panel.
Panels are an inherent part of the Viewer environment. Quick access is provided through various panel-access buttons at the bottom-right of the main design window. Panels can be<br>displayed in three modes -- docked, popped-out, or floating -- allowing you to further customize the look and feel of your viewing environment.
All currently available workspace panels can also be accessed from the View»Workspace Panels sub-menus.
The setting of environment options is centralized within a single, context-sensitive dialog – the Preferences dialog. Featuring a tree-like navigation structure, the dialog not only allows you to quickly and efficiently set system-wide preferences, but also load and save favorite preference settings, giving you still greater control over your working environment.
The Preferences dialog - command central for Viewer environment settings.
Access to this dialog is made by choosing the Preferences command from the DXP main menu. From within an editor, you can also access the dialog using the relevant Preferences command (e.g. Tools»Schematic Preferences from the schematic main menus).
To aid navigation of design documents, the Viewer provides a dedicated Navigation toolbar, which can be accessed from within any of the application's document editors.
Dedicated document navigation tools.
The field at the left of the toolbar enables you to navigate to any directory or document on any network or local storage medium, as well as any page on the internet. Type or paste the destination address into the field and press Enter. The destination directory or document will open as the active view in the main design window.
Destination addresses for directories and folders on local or network storage mediums take the form:
RootDirectory:/Path/Document (for example,
Destination addresses for documents on the internet take the standard URL form:
All integrated pages within Altium Designer Viewer take the form:
DXP://DocumentName (for example,
The field in which you enter the destination address is actually a drop-down list which provides a history of all destination addresses (valid and invalid) which have been previously entered (directly typed and Enter key pressed). This history list is not persistent across design sessions. It is cleared upon exiting the software.
The left and right arrow buttons on the toolbar allow you to effectively pass back and forth through documents that have previously been opened as active views in the main design window. The drop-down arrows located to the immediate right of these buttons provide a list of all documents that are part of the backward or forward browse sequence respectively. Click on an entry to view that document directly.
Click the button to access the Home page.
In addition to the default English language installation, the Viewer provides support for several non-English language installations. All menu items and most dialog text can optionally reflect the language chosen from those installed on the PC. The localized language is available as either translated hints over English text, or in translations of the dialogs and menus themselves.
Altium Designer Viewer supports the following language installations: English, French, German, Japanese and Simplified Chinese.
Localization is configured on the System – General page of the Preferences dialog (DXP»Preferences).
Setting localization options.
Documentation for the Viewer is primarily accessed through the Knowledge Center panel and the Altium Wiki. The Knowledge Center panel presents help information while you work. It tracks the command, dialog, or panel that is currently under the cursor and loads help about it – hover for a second or so for the content to appear. If you would prefer to 'freeze' the content of the panel at the currently loaded topic, click the Autoupdate button to disable auto-loading. You can still use F1 to load content with autoupdate disabled.
Use the Knowledge Center panel to access information in context with what you are doing, or use it to search and link to more detailed information in the Altium Wiki.
The lower region of the panel includes a series of links to pertinent information available in the Altium Wiki. Click on a link to access the relevant Wiki article directly. Alternatively, locate required information using the panel's search facility. This facility is set, by default, to search for information in the Altium Wiki.
Links to the Altium Wiki are also available from the main Help menu. The documentation available in the Altium Wiki is the latest and most up-to-date documentation, covering all Altium design solutions. As such, certain Wiki-based articles may pertain to features and functionality that is not available within Altium Designer Viewer.
Perhaps the single thing you can do to become more productive in any software environment is to learn the shortcut keys. Keystrokes are more efficient than carefully positioning a mouse over a button or drilling through menus, and once learned become second nature. In a multi-editor environment like the Viewer, it can be hard to remember shortcuts particularly those special-purpose ones that are available when you are running a command. To help with this, the Viewer provides a shortcut menu that can be used from within all interactive Schematic and PCB commands.
When a command is running, for example, Edit»Select»Connection (in schematic), press Shift+F1 and a menu will appear, listing all of the valid shortcuts for that stage of the interactive command.
Fast access to shortcuts available during an interactive process.
Use the menu to refresh your memory about the shortcuts available, or use it in the traditional menu sense, to select the required option with the mouse.
By keeping the Shortcuts panel visible, you can quickly peruse the shortcuts available to you, depending on what you are working on. For example, having a schematic document open will show the various Schematic Editor shortcuts.
The Shortcuts panel - enhanced productivity at your fingertips!
Use the 'What's This Help' facility to gain detailed information about each of the individual options available in a dialog. Click on the question mark button at the top right of a dialog and then click over a field or option to pop-up information specific to that field or option.
Use the What's This Help feature to access dialog option information.
There are also a number of other resources which are on-hand to provide further help. Although resources target support mainly to Altium Designer, there will be information that is equally applicable to use of Altium Designer Viewer:
Links to the SUPPORTcenter, TRAININGcenter and Community User Forums are provided in the lower region of the Knowledge Center panel, and also on the main Help menu.
In order to keep your Altium Designer Viewer software up-to-date, a web update feature is provided. Access this feature from the main DXP menu (Check For Updates), or by clicking on the more link in the Software Updates pane of the Home page.
To access the web update feature, you must be signed in to your Altium account, through the secure Altium Portal. Sign in from the My Account pane on the Home page. If you do not have an account, click on the available Create Account link and follow the registration process.
Web Update - ensuring you have the latest tools.
As well as checking for available online updates from Altium, you can also configure the feature to check a network location – ideal if your company has multiple installations of Altium Designer Viewer. You can also enable automatic checking for updates. Configuration is carried out from the System – Altium Web Update page of the Preferences dialog (DXP»Preferences).
Configuring the Web Update feature.