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Multi person work on one PCB - Altium DXP 2004

Discussion in 'CAD' started by maroni, May 22, 2007.

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  1. maroni

    maroni Guest

    Hi all,

    Could you tell me. Do you work in multi person on one PCB in Altium Designer
    2004? Do you route PCB in the same time on one layout? Do you work in this
    case in Altium

    Thank you for our help
  2. I assume that you are asking about multiple persons working on the file at
    the same time, not over different time periods.

    What you are asking cannot be done with any reasonable assurance of no
    There may be methods of doing this but the product is not intended for that
    type of use, plain and simple. It isn't a $30k - $60k+ UNIX package.
  3. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Most decent programs will put up a dialog stating that someone else is using
    the program, and "would you like to open a read-only copy of the file?"

  4. Protel allows Design Teams to work on the same project, but not on the same
    file. For example someone could work on the schematic, and someone else
    could work on the PCB of the same open Design (Protel used a single .ddb
    file to keep all the projects in). I'm not aware of any PC based layout
    program that allows multiple seats to simultaneously work on the same open

    An Altium sales rep could answer this pretty quickly. And the cool thing is
    that they never, ever, ever, ever, ever lose your phone number. In fact they
    will call monthly just to make sure it hasn't changed, and to verify you
    don't want to upgrade.

  5. As does Protel/Altium software, Joel.
  6. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Thanks Brad, good to know.

  7. Marra

    Marra Guest

    Windows gets upset at numerous people trying to update the same file.
    The only around it would be to split the project into 2 PCB's (if
    possible) and put them on the same panel later.
  8. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    That isn't really true. Windows (and other OSes) have plenty of fancy file
    locking mechanisms available, whereby you can completely lock a file, lock
    certain poritions of it, made various parts read only and others read/write,
    etc. -- it's just that in many cases there's no particular need for them. The
    point here is that Windows is perfectly happy to let numerous processes
    (users) update a single file simultaneously, but the onous is on the
    application to insure that doing this "makes sense."
  9. Marra

    Marra Guest

    Its not possible for 2 applications to alter the same file and send it
    back to disc.
    You would end up with the last write overwriting the first one.

    Most applications have a very simple view of files.
    You read it, modify it, the write it back.

    Microsoft are one of the few companies that keeps looking at files to
    see if they have been updated since it was loaded.
    Its a big overhead in software and most programmers dont do it.
  10. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Sure, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I was just pointing out that
    operating systems have provisions for all sort of fancy file-locking
    semantics, and it's up to the application software to make use of these in a
    meaningful manner.
    Agreed, many applications do take this approach.
    Just "listening" for file modification events is actually not particularly
    difficult at all... at least if you've already built yourself some GUI-based
    program that has to listen for various system events anyway. Then putting up
    a "Ignore or reload?" dialog and firing off a re-load events is probably no
    more than 25-50 lines of code total.

  11. Joel,
    Since you always seem so interested in various CAD system comments. On
    the issues you are discussing, Protel P99SE/Altium AD does this fairly well.
    It will allow multiple users to open single files, notifying each that there
    are others with the same file open. Should one of the parties revise and
    save the file, the program notifies everyone of the change. It then suggests
    that they may want to update their files to reflect the recently saved

    This does not allow for multiple users to work on the same design file
    though. There are manners by which multiple Protel/Altium designers can work
    on the files but it is the same for each and every CAD package. Manually
    divide and conquer, then paste the various finished blocks back together. It
    is workable but requires tremendous caution, great communication and
    excellent cooperation.
  12. Marra

    Marra Guest

    But this doesnt work !
    What if 2 people at the same time modify a file?
    Which one should the system take as being the right one
    Point proved !
  13. Marra,
    It does work for monitoring file status when multiple users access the
    same file. I have never had the file status monitoring in Protel/Altium CAD
    products fail when users access the same file. Your proven point, was
    already raised as not being a feasible expectation with most PC
    (Windows/DOS) CAD systems. So you proved what point, that previous posters
    comments were already right?

    You seem to enjoy making obtuse remarks or is it just to listen to
    yourself talk?
  14. ok, on the idea of multi-person work on a PCB.

    What you would need would be a multi-window application, where each
    individual is actually working on the same 'internal' database. It
    would necessitate a lot of network action, as each users manipulations
    of the data would need to IMMEDIATELY appear in all other users virtual
    database. It might actually be doable, but would get real interesting
    as the user count went up!

  15. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    If Cadence is interested in doing this, perhaps they could hire some of the
    programmers from, e.g., Everquest or one of the other massively multiplayer
    games? Now *there's* a difficult "simultaneous access" problem: Even though
    the games are split across many servers, there's typically still thousands of
    users accessing the same "zone" whereby any changes they make have to be
    propagated to everyone else if they're relevant.

    Altium sounds like it's one step ahead of ORCAD in that Brad tells us it keeps
    listening for file changes even after you've opened a read only copy because
    Joe down the hallway is modifiyng the schematic. As far as I can tell, ORCAD
    tells you just when you try to open the file that it's read-only or nothing,
    and after that it quits listening for file update messages. I'm not
    complaining though -- while ORCAD's behavior in this regard is about the
    minimum I'd expect, it's also adequate for my uses.

  16. Joel,
    Don't know if I said something that you interpretted as multiple file
    openings being "read only" but that was not the intent. The files are all
    'live' unless you have taken some other measure to make them read only. Any
    user could save their copy and destroy anybody else's copy.

    A user can modify their copy that they are viewing and save the file,
    thus overwriting the original copy they had first opened. A user that opened
    an earlier copy and didn't modify it could then save and overwrite any newer
    saved versions.
    So as Marra stressed it is not without jeapardy. However it does monitor
    the file status, alert multiple users and then advise them when the file is
    modified allowing them to update their copy to the last saved version.

    I see this all the time as both me and our other designer unknowingly
    access our company libraries to add new parts or modify parts
    simultaneously. With our libraires divided up between different
    sub-libraries within the P99SE DDB file format, we can modify and save
    different sub-libraries simultaneously but if we monitor the file status
    messages and take heed, it keeps us from undesired modifications of the same
    libraries undoing each others changes. With DXP\AD I think that capability
    is still viable with most files because they should still be doing the
    monitoring, I haven't heard from any of the users of the newer versions that
    this was undone on their development path.
  17. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Hi Brad,

    Ah, thanks for the clarification; my mistake.

  18. Arash Partow

    Arash Partow Guest

    I'm not aware of any PC based layout program that allows multiple
    Offerings form both Mentor and Cadence offer team based design
    solutions. Expedition for example provides a client/server
    architecture where by a server is setup, the base PCB is fed into it,
    people are then designated areas on the pcb (boundaries are then
    administered via the server. people from other areas wanting to route
    into your area are blocked off until you "ok" their routes or

    Because your routing actions are registered with the server there is
    the added benefit of having two different source control views, one
    is your local/incremental view, and one of the "universal/holistic"
    essentially every action is given a unique time-stamp that is
    administered by the server, from that the whole routing process can be
    replayed, diff'ed etc either as a whole or as specific couplings,
    more interestingly this can help to efficiently compute the total
    amount of work any one individual has committed to the PCB.

    That said from personal experience, I do not believe Altium Designer
    will have this functionality until some serious refactoring is done
    in both their PCB back-end logic and drawing logic.

    Arash Partow
    Be one who knows what they don't know,
    Instead of being one who knows not what they don't know,
    Thinking they know everything about all things.
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