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Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SESummaryThis article outlines theprocess you go throughto transfer a Protel 99SE design into theAltium Designerenvironment.Protel 99 SE uses the design database, or DDB, to store design files. Altium Designerstores files on the hard drive and now include the concept of the Project. The 99SEImport Wizard gives control and visibility over the process of importing a 99SE designdatabase into Altium Designer.Design Database Become a Design Workspace & ProjectsProtel 99 SE stores all design documents inside a single design database. The database acts as a storage container, and alsoas a way that the designer can group project-related design files.There is no hard and fast requirement on what is stored in a design database, or how the design documents might be groupedinto folders within the design database (DDB). Some designers use a single DDB for each board design, others keep allrevisions of a design in a single DDB, while other designers keep all board designs for the one product in a single DDB.In Altium Designer, all design files are stored on the hard drive. The basis of everydesign created in Altium Designer is a project file. Multiple types of projects aresupported in the environment, including: PCB projects (*.PrjPcb) FPGA projects (*.PrjFpg) Embedded projects (*.PrjEmb) Core projects (*.PrjCor) Integrated libraries (*.LibPkg) Script projects (*.PrjScr)Figure 1. The mapping from a 99 SEApart from script projects, a fundamental requirement is that each project targets aDDB to the equivalent Altium Designersingle implementation – for example a PCB project includes all the sources required toobjectsdefine a single PCB, and an FPGA project is implemented in a single FPGA. Theproject file itself is an ASCII file that stores project information, such as links to the documents that are in the project, outputsettings, compilation settings, error checking settings, and so on.Above the project level, Altium Designer uses the Design Workspace. A Design Workspace (*.DsnWrk) is used to clusterrelated projects together, so you could use a Design Workspace for all projects for one client, all boards in one product, and soon. When you open a Design Workspace, all projects that are in that Workspace will appear in the Projects panel.Figure 1 shows the default mapping from a 99 SE design database to the equivalent objects in Altium Designer; a Workspace iscreated for the DDB, a PCB project for each folder that includes a PCB file, and a Library Package for each folder that onlyincludes libraries. During import, you have the opportunity to change all of the mappings, except the DDB to Workspace.While Altium Designer allows direct editing of any individual schematic, PCB, HDL, or any other design file, to perform anyproject-type operations, such as updating the board from the schematic or printing all the schematics in the project, you mustopen the project.Protel 99 SE Windows File System designs can also be imported. Use the 99 SE Import Wizard in the same way as you wouldwith an Access Database DDB.If you are interested in walking through the entire PCB design process in Altium Designer using a simple example, see theGetting Started with PCB Design tutorial.Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 20081

AR0115 Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SEImporting a 99 SE Design DatabaseTo import a 99 SE database, select File » Importer Wizard from the File menu. Select the 99SE DDB File Type to import. Theimport process requires all files, projects and design workspaces that are currently open in Altium Designer to be closed. If thisis not the case, you will be prompted to do this first.The Wizard can be used to import a single DDB or all DDBs in a folder. This article is focused on a single DDB import.The wizard performs the following steps:1. Extract the files from the database into the nominated folder on your hard drive.Any folder structure within the database will be recreated on the hard drive. Allfiles in the database will be extracted, regardless of whether they are part of theproject structure or not.2. Convert schematic documents to the current file format (if this option is enabled).3. Add a recognized file extension to all schematic and PCB files. Altium Designeruses the file extension to recognize which documents it can edit. For schematics,this extension must be Sch, SchDoc, or the original DOS schematic S01, S02,etc naming convention. If there are schematics inside the DDB that do not havean extension, *.SchDoc will be appended to the filename. Note that this will notbreak the hierarchy, the Altium Designer compiler will automatically detect thissituation and maintain the design hierarchy and connectivity. Note that non-Altiumfiles without a standard file extension will not be automatically renamed.4. Create a project file for each nominated project, of the type PrjPcb (PCB project)or LibPkg (library package), and add the relevant project files.5. Create a Design Workspace (*.DsnWrk), and add all created projects to it.Figure 2. Imported example DDB. Note thename of the Design Workspace at the top.6. Open the design workspace. When the created Design Workspace opens, it willThis will be the same as the original DDB.display all the Altium Designer projects that were built. Figure 2 shows the resultof importing the Z80 Microprocessor design that is included in the Protel 99 SE\Examples folder.Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 20082

AR0115 Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SECreating the Altium Designer Project(s)As you work through the pages of the Wizard, you will note that on the Set Import Options page you will be asked if the Wizardshould: Create one Altium Designer project foreach DDB – choose this option if youtypically use one DDB for each boarddesign. Create one Altium Designer project foreach DDB folder – choose this option ifyour DDB contains more than one boarddesign.Select whichever is most appropriate for howyou use DDBs. There will be an opportunity totune Review Project Creation page later in thewizard.On the Review Project Creation page, you willsee the assumptions that the Wizard has madeFigure 3: Use the Review Project Creation options to control exactly how each file ismapped to an Altium Designer project.about how it should build projects based on thecontents of the DDB, as shown in Figure 3.Take time to configure these options to ensure you achieve the best result at the completion of the import process.Manually Adding and Removing Files from the ProjectsOnce the Wizard is complete, Altium Designer will present the projects and theirdocuments, as shown in the example in Figure 4. Note that the hierarchy of theschematic project will not be displayed until the project is compiled for the first time; thisis covered later in the article.If you find after import that some of the documents are not correctly assigned to projects,use the following techniques to tidy them up: Move a file from one project to another by clicking, dragging and dropping it, orinclude it in both projects by holding CTRL as you do this. Remove a document from a project by right-clicking and selecting Remove fromProject from the pop-up menu. Add a missing file to a project by right-clicking the project file and selecting AddExisting to Project from the pop-up menu. Remember that the document must havean appropriate file extension to be recognized as a Altium Designer file. To add a new file to the project, right-click the project name and select Add New toProject from the pop-up menu.File Format ChangesThe file format for schematics, schematic libraries, PCBs and PCB libraries has changedfrom the formats used in Protel 99 SE.You can open and use 99 SE format schematic and schematic library files directly inAltium Designer, but you will be asked if you wish to convert them whenever you savethem.Figure 4. The Z80 example DDBimmediately after importing. Note that theoriginal DDB had two PCB designs storedin it and each becomes an AltiumDesigner project.99 SE PCB files must be converted to the Altium Designer file format before they can be edited. Whenever you open an olderformat PCB, the PCB Import Wizard will launch and guide you through this process.Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 20083

AR0115 Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SEThe following topics cover various differences in objects and design approaches that it is important to be aware of.ComponentsComponents have been greatly enhanced in the DXP versions. They now support unlimited component parameters and havean improved model definition and linking system, such as the ability to visually browse for a PCB footprint.Double-click to edit a component and you will find that all the 99 SE text fields and part fields have been converted toparameters. While 99 SE supported up to eight text fields and 16 part fields per component, Altium Designer has no limit on thenumber of parameters that can be added.Parameters can be used for any purpose in an Altium Designer design. They can also be linked to your company databaseusing a DbLink document. Parameters can be included in a report generated from the project. Add an OutJob document to theproject and configure the reporting engine to generate a report in the required output format. Parameters can also be used tolink to datasheets, or a web URL.For details on creating components and adding models, refer to the tutorial Creating Library Components.For more information on linking from the components to a database, refer to the Linking from a Company Database toComponents in Your Design.For more information on generating reports, such as a Bill of Materials, from your design, refer to the Generating a CustomBill of Materials.For an overview of linking from parameters to a datasheet, refer to the Component, Model and Library Concepts.LibrariesAltium Designer has a more comprehensive solution for the handling of libraries. As well as supporting the traditionalindependent schematic symbol and PCB footprint libraries, Altium Designer also supports the new integrated libraries, whichpackage the symbol and all the models into a single compiled file.Rather than limiting available components to thelibraries that you have installed, in AltiumDesigner, any libraries that are part of the projectare automatically available and search paths tomodels are also supported.Installed Libraries are also searched in the orderthey appear in the Available Libraries dialog. TheAvailable Libraries dialog also shows whatproject libraries are available and what projectsearch paths have been defined. Note thatsearching for components/models across thethree different locations follows the order of thetabs in this dialog.Figure 5. The Available Libraries dialog shows all libraries and model files availableto the active project. The search order is from left to right, top to bottomFor background information on componentsand libraries, refer to the Component, Model and Library Concepts article.For a better understanding of integrated libraries, refer to the Building an Integrated Library tutorial.Links and Unique IDsIn 99 SE and Altium Designer alike, Unique ID (UID) values allow schematic and PCB objects to remain associated with oneanother even when their component designators have been modified in one editor.Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 20084

AR0115 Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SEHowever, you will find that all links between schematic and PCB components are removed when you import a 99 SE design.Re-establishing the UID linking is easy, but it must be done based on the designators.First, reset all Unique ID values on the schematic side, by selecting Tools » Convert » Reset Component Unique IDs from theschematic editor menus. Then on the PCB side, pair components with footprints in the Component Links dialog (Project »Component Links in the PCB editor menus). A fully synchronized 99 SE database should make this a two-click process. First,add pairs by matching designators (the default correlation), then perform the update.An underlying difference between Altium Designer and 99 SE is that establishing links is not a prerequisite to synchronization. If,for example, you skip the sequence described above and simply try running update/import commands on a PCB design youbrought into Altium Designer from 99 SE, you will be informed that, although synchronization by Unique IDs has failed, you maystill proceed to match by designators. Doing so will not have any effect upon the Unique ID fields in your design, meaning that ifyou repeat the process, the same status will be reported. Assigning the same Unique ID values to schematic components andPCB footprints is the only way to create persistent links between them.Net Identification ScopeIt may be appropriate to assign a specific net identification scope to your schematic projects. By default, this setting in theOptions for Project dialog will be automatic (based upon design contents). This means that if your project contains any sheetsymbols with sheet entries inside, the scope will be set to Hierarchical (sheet entry - port connections). If your projectcontains ports but no sheet entries, then the scope will be set to Flat (only ports global). If your project contains neither sheetentries nor ports, then net labels will become global.If you do not wish to use this automatic detection, you may assign an individual scope to be applied to the project regardless ofits contents. This is recommended for 99 SE projects that used the Global scope for both ports and net labels, as this scope isnot available through Altium Designer’s automatic detection.Note that Altium Designer also supports flat projects, without the use of a top sheet. To explore this option, try removing the topsheet from your flat design and recompiling it. The Altium Designer Navigator panel will show the connective structure in thedesign, where you can explore the design connectivity.PCB Import WizardThe first time you open a legacy board in Altium Designer, an Import Wizard will open to help you make assignments for boardshape, split planes and special rule conversions.Board ShapeAll PCB designs in Altium Designer require a board shape. Since this did not exist in earlier versions of Protel, it must be addedto boards you bring in from previous versions.The Import Wizard gives you two options: a rectangular shape encompassing all of your design objects, or a more preciseboard outline based upon shapes detected within your design. If you choose the latter option, your Keep-Out and Mechanicallayers will be analyzed for shapes which might yield a shape for your PCB. Whatever option you choose, a preview pane willshow the proposed Board Shape. If none of these appear correct, then choose the rectangular option and the use the Design »Board Shape menu options to configure the board shape in Altium Designer.The board shape defines the physical extents of the board, and as such, provides the outline for pullback tracks on internalplanes. Because planes are negative images, pullback tracks create a thin no-copper (“blowout”) zone between the board edgeand the plane, preventing shorts along the edge of the manufactured board. These tracks are not accessible for direct editing onthe plane layers, but the board shape may be redefined at any time within Altium Designer, and the pullback tracks will berearranged accordingly. The Layer Stackup Manager will allow you to change the initial pullback distance you set in the ImportWizard.Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 20085

AR0115 Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SESplit PlanesAltium Designer has changed the way split planes are defined. Previously, each split plane area was placed as a closed region(essentially an empty polygon) on an internal plane layer. In contrast, splitting a plane into separate regions in Altium Designeris a process of defining blowouts (copper free areas) by placing lines, arcs and fills on the plane layer. Each time you terminatea placement process on a plane layer, the plane is analyzed and all isolated regions are detected. Double-click on a region toassign it to a net. These blowout sections do not belong to one split region or another; Altium Designer designs no longerrequire overlapping or exactly aligned tracks alongside adjacent split planes. Altium Designer also supports defining nested splitregions.There is one exception to this behavior – the Import Wizard allows you to operate in legacy split plane mode. It isrecommended that you only choose this mode if you encounter problems with the import of planes in your design, or if your PCBincludes split planes that will require further editing in an earlier version. Later, you may convert your design to Altium Designerplane mode; in the meantime, new split planes must be placed as closed boundaries on internal planes, rather than inferredfrom blowouts.When you do convert your designs to the new method, you will be able to simplify your split plane definitions. You don’t have to,as your legacy split planes will still work in Altium Designer, but they may include redundant lines that make your board morecomplex and calculation-intensive than it ought to be. The easiest way to update 99 SE split plane definitions in Altium Designeris to add a new plane layer, then trace the existing regions onto the new plane. Once this is done, select all objects on the oldplane layer and delete them. After the net assigned to that layer has been disconnected, the layer can be deleted from the layerstack. Finally, check that the net assignment for each split region is correctly assigned, either by double-clicking on each region,or using the Split Plane Editor in the PCB panel.From TosFrom-Tos that have been defined between specific pads in 99 SE will have to be redefined in Altium Designer, so switch theAltium Designer PCB panel to From-To Editor mode to do this.PCB Design RulesAnother change in Altium Designer is the scoping of design rules, which are now defined using queries. All of your existing ruleswill be imported correctly, but the scope, which was previously built through a series of dialog tabs and drop-down selections,will be displayed as a simple query, such as InNet(GND). To apply a rule across an entire board, the default scope (All) shouldbe retained.When a PCB design from any previous Protel format is opened in Altium Designer, this rule-scope conversion will occurautomatically, as will the prioritization of rules (to resolve cases in which their scopes overlap). This new scoping system,combined with the ability to control the rule precedence, offers much greater control in specifying your PCB designrequirements.Special Rule ConversionsSome older versions of Protel did not allow pad settings to override general mask expansion rules, meaning that some olderdesigns might have had solder or mask expansion rules that targeted single pads only. The Import Wizard will detect any suchrules in your design, and offer to convert them to pad settings, thus simplifying your set of design rules. On the other hand, theImport Wizard will offer to create a new rule disconnecting vias from planes, as some older Protel versions did not allow viaplane connections.Simulation Model References and ConfigurationsSpecific fields in 99 SE components are reserved for simulation data. When these fields include simulation data, AltiumDesigner translates their values to the simulation Model linkage for that component.Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 20086

AR0115 Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SEIn 99 SE, all simulation models were contained in the SimulationModels.ddb supplied with the installation. Altium Designer,on the other hand, allows you to include the model in the project, or define a search path for the project if you prefer to keepsimulation models in a central location. Yet another approach is to build integrated libraries, where the simulation models arecompiled into the integrated library file along with the symbol, the footprint, and any other models linked to the components.Because all 99 SE components use a defined model path to link from the schematic component to the simulation model, theeasiest way to keep your 99 SE simulations working in Altium Designer is to export all the folders and models from the 99 SEsimulation models database, into the Library\Sim folder of your Altium Designer installation.Altium Designer supports referencing a model using a full path. When a 99 SE schematic with simulation-ready components onit is imported, the simulation model link is automatically transferred to the Altium Designer Full Path Model Location field. AltiumDesigner includes an internal check to always include the Library folder of your Altium Designer installation when searching afull path model location, ensuring that your 99 SE design will simulate once the simulation models are in their new location.In 99 SE, the settings in the Analysis Setup dialog are stored in a configuration file (*.cfg) within the database. When AltiumDesigner simulates the design for the first time, if no specific simulation setup parameters have been configured, it will look forand use that *.cfg file. When you save your new Altium Designer project, the simulation settings will be written to the projectfile and the old *.cfg file becomes redundant.For details on performing a circuit simulation, refer to the Defining & Running Circuit Simulation Analyses.Multi-Channel DesignsPerhaps those PCB projects that will require the most attention are your multi-channel designs.In 99 SE, multi-channel design was really a matter of making copies of the child sheet, which were then re-annotated andreferenced by separate sheet symbols. Now that Altium Designer lets you truly reference the same child sheet repeatedly, youwill first need to modify your schematics. First, remove all but one of the copied child sheets from your project. Then, update thecorresponding sheet symbols with distinct names but all referencing the one remaining child sheet.A wiser strategy, however, would be to delete all but one sheet symbol for each channel, and replace its Name field with anappropriate Repeat command. This way the number of channels may be changed at any future time by changing this one field.Repeat commands can also be applied to nets; refer to the Multi-Channel Mixer.PrjPcb to see an example.There are numerous features related to multi-channel design, including the ability to transfer ‘channel’ information to PCBlayout, place and route one channel, and then have the software repeat the placement and routing for all other channels. Formore information on working with a multi-channel design, see the Creating a Multi-channel Design tutorial.Design outputsThe 99 SE CAM Manager (*.cam) and Power Print Configuration (*.ppc) files are not recognized by Altium Designer, sooutputs will need to be reconfigured for imported designs.In Altium Designer, there are two approaches to configuring outputs: settings defined through the Schematic and PCB Editormenus are stored in the Project file, or you can add an output job file (*.OutJob) to the project (right-click the Project file andselect Add New to Project from the pop-up menu). You can add any number of Output job files to the project, and configureprinting and CAM settings in them. When you add a new OutJob to the project, it will include a number of default job settings.These can all be removed by selecting them (CTRL A), and pressing DELETE.Transferring a Design Back to 99 SEBoth the Schematic and PCB Editors support saving schematic, schematic library, PCB and PCB library files in the V4 (99 SE)format. Data that cannot be transferred back includes: New schematic design objects, including notes, compile masks, parameter set objects and offsheet connectors. New PCB design objects, including regions, solid polygon pours (the older hatched style polygons can be transferred), theboard outline, dimensions, and complex padstacksVersion (v1.2) Apr 15, 20087

AR0115 Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SE Design rules that cannot map back to 99 SE design rules. Split plane definitions (Altium Designer calculates split regions based on objects placed on plane layers; it does not useempty polygons to define split regions).Revision HistoryDateVersion No.Revision9-Dec-20031.0New product release9-Dec-20041.1Updated for DXP 2004 SP release14-Apr-20051.2Updated for Altium Designer29-Nov-20051.3Updated for Altium Designer. Images / Filename / Title changes.11-Mar-20081.4Converted to A4.15-April-20081.5Updated document for formatting, text and figure changes.16-Mar-2011-Updated template.Software, hardware, documentation and related materials:Copyright 2011 Altium Limited.All rights reserved. You are permitted to print this document provided that (1) the use of such is for personal use only and will not be copied orposted on any network computer or broadcast in any media, and (2) no modifications of the document is made. Unauthorized duplication, inwhole or part, of this document by any means, mechanical or electronic, including translation into another language, except for brief excerpts inpublished reviews, is prohibited without the express written permission of Altium Limited. Unauthorized duplication of this work may also beprohibited by local statute. Violators may be subject to both criminal and civil penalties, including fines and/or imprisonment.Altium, Altium Designer, Board Insight, DXP, Innovation Station, LiveDesign, NanoBoard, NanoTalk, OpenBus, P-CAD, SimCode, Situs,TASKING, and Topological Autorouting and their respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Altium Limited or its subsidiaries.All other registered or unregistered trademarks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners and no trademark rights to thesame are claimed.Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 20088

Moving to Altium Designer from Protel 99 SE Version (v1.2) Apr 15, 2008 1 Protel 99 SE uses the design database, or DDB, to store design files. Altium Designer stores files on the hard drive and now include the concept of the Project. The 99SE Import Wizard gives control and visibility over the process of importing a 99SE design