Advanced Circuits, Inc. (ACI)

PCB Artist Revision History

More help is available from the PCB Artist Tips & Tools Page and via email at layouthelp@4pcb.com

Version 4.0

Auto Component Rename in Schematics

New option on the Schematics Tools menu and Project Tools menu to automatically rename components in schematics sheets.

See PCB Artist help for more details about the dialog options.

Add Spiral

New “Spiral” sub-menu on the PCB designs Add menu containing two options for adding Shape spirals and Track spirals.

See PCB Artist help page for more detail.

Improved Thermal Connection

Design Technology dialog has more control over design level Powerplane thermal connections.

Copper pour areas can now override this thermal information.

Pour Dialog now shows what thermal parameters will be used when pouring a selected area.

  • Copper pour areas in previous designs will be converted to use the equivalent new rules.
  • If a thermal pad has a track on it on the area layer it will now be a valid replacement for a thermal spoke.

See PCB Artist help pages for more details.

Eagle Native Import

Native Eagle Schematic (.sch) and PCB (.brd) XML format files can be loaded into PCB Artist by either using a drag and drop from the Windows Explorer onto the PCB Artist product or by using Open from the File menu.  They can also be used in the Add File option within the Library Manager.

Native Eagle Library (.lbr) XML files can be read directly into the libraries using the Add File mechanism in the Library Manager.

See PCB Artist Eagle Import help page for more detail.

Additional Changes:

Colors Dialog

  1. New buttons for Display All and Hide All.
  2. New check box next to Net Names in the schematic dialog.


New Display preference for a large X crosshair cursor.

Find Library Item

The Find dialog entered from the Add Component  dialog and from the Components Library Manager page, now has the ability to search for  components in the library using a part of their description. This is done by searching on special value “[Description]”.

Component Editor

  1.  Symbol previews now use the current tech file (defined in the Scm Symbol and PCB Symbol lib manager pages) for their colours.
  2. The simple colors dialog is no longer used, the Display option on each of the preview window context menus now use the correct color dialog for the type of symbol.
  3. The status bar now shows information about the selected item in the preview window.

Zoom Level

This has now been increased by a factor of 8.

Design Tooltips

Now includes the net class name.

Add Component

The dialog now has a third preview pane showing the values for the selected component.

Copper Pour Keepout Areas

Copper pour keep out areas now work on Power plane layers.

Bug fixes

Version 3.2.1

Fetch Component
New option on the PCB and Schematics context menu to fetch a named component to the current cursor position. 
See the online PCB Artist  help for more details about the dialog options.

Color by Net and Net Class
3.1 Schematics already had colors for nets, but now has color by net class. PCB Drawing now has both as well.
See the online PCB Artist  help page for Pad Styles for more detail. 

Minor changes:
Library Manager
1)       Library file and technology file drop down lists have changed, they now have an indented tree view type of list.
2)      The Find Items dialog now allows you to search for Components  by their PCB Symbol Name.
3)      Find Items dialog now has the choice to only search enabled libraries, or to search all.
4)      Component Values dialog for a component library now includes PCB Symbol Name and Pin Count columns.
5)      New Index button for use to make sure the library index files are up to date.

The owner of a net name, pin number or  component name will be highlighted to enable the user to see what it belongs to.

Status Bar
The current working grid is now shown on the right side of the status bar. Double click on it to change the grid.

General Bug Fixes

Version 3.1

Schematics DXF Output
A New option on the Schematics Output menu to output a Schematics design to DXF format is available. 
See the online PCB Artist help for more details about the dialog options.

Offset Drill Holes
There are now three new Pad styles that will add rectangular, bullet and oval shaped pads with the drill hole at one end rather than in the middle.
See the online PCB Artist help page for Pad Styles for more detail. 

Plane Connection on Pads
This was available on vias and pads within a footprint, but is now also available on component pads and free pads in a PCB design. 

See the online PCB Artist help for Pad Properties for more detail.

Other updates:

Areas –There is now a separate colour for Copper Pour Areas and  Routing Areas.   Also, area properties is now on a separate dialog tab.

Library Reports – There is now a dialog for choosing what to include in the report.  With this dialog you can choose to produce reports from selected items, all items in specific library, or on all libraries. There is an option to find all duplicate library symbol or component entries. There is also a new option for PCB and Schematic symbol libraries to report a list of which components use them.

Component Reports – You can now reverse the direction of coordinates on the bottom side. 

Styles – Can now select multiple rows which can be used to delete multiple items in one go. Pad styles also includes an equilateral Triangle shape. 

Design Status Report – Now reports the maximum board outline extents as well as its area.

Shape and Track Segment Editing – As well as snapping to grid positions, segments being added will now snap orthogonally to their static end position. This should make it easier to add orthogonal segments. Also tracks in a PCB design will snap to positions orthogonally in line with the target node at the end of the dynamic connection. This makes it easier to add orthogonal segments to off-grid pads. Lastly, Move and Move Corner will also snap orthogonally to their initial  position, making it easier to move items horizontally or vertically when they were not on a grid in the first place.

Version 3.0

Add Routing Area
This is a new option on the PCB Add menu and a new icon on the PCB Toolbar to add a routing area to a PCB design. Once an area has been added, you can select it and use properties to make it a keep in or keep out area for routes and/or vias. The auto router will use or avoid these areas depending on their type. Design Rule Check will have a new manufacturing check to see if any tracks or vias are at fault with these areas.
See PCB Artist help for more details, search for Routing Area.
Add Dimension
This is a new option on the PCB Add menu and three new icons on the PCB Toolbar to add linear dimension items into a PCB design. While adding, one can snap the dimension to end over a picked item. Once a dimension has been added select it and use properties to change its appearance.
See PCB Artist  help for more details, search for Add Dimension.
Array Set Up Option
There is now an easier way of defining the area size of a panel of boards by providing how many boards you want in both directions of the array.  The old method of directly editing the array size is still available.
See PCB Artist  help for more details, search for Production.
Other Updates
Goto - Goto Design now has a tooltip to show you the complete file path of the design name you hover over.
New Component - This dialog now has an edit box for supplying the description.
Auto Rename - Now uses the placement origin if a component's PCB symbol has one.
Edit Component - The preview windows for the Schematic and PCB symbols are now to the right of the gate list.
Change Net - Clearing the name field will now allocate an auto-generated default net name.
Bug Fixes
Translate To PCB - Avoid adding duplicate components.

Version 2.01

Various bug fixes and a security update. This update requires users to run PCB Artist in Administrative Mode to avoid any issues.

Version 2.0 

Schematic Busses
There is a new option on the Add menu, and on the Schematic toolbar, to add a bus to a schematic design. Once a bus shape has been added, you can select it and use properties to make it a closed bus by adding net names to it and give it a bus name. All busses of the same name carry the same set of signals. You can then start or end a connection on the bus, a small angled line will be drawn at the bus end of the connection (called a bus terminal). Busses will also be imported from Eagle designs (it converted them to drawing shapes before).
See the online PCBArtist help for more details, search for Bus.
Spice Output
There are two new options on the schematic Output menu. Basic Spice Netlist writes a description of the devices in the schematic using basic SPICE format. Spice Simulation Output writes a complete SPICE simulation file, configured to read into one of the supported SPICE simulators. (LTspice, B2 Spice, IsSpice or TINA).
The PCB Artist Schematics method for simulation is to use special values on components to indicate what SPICE device they represent, the SPICE model to use during the simulation, and how to output them to a SPICE netlist file.
A set of LTspice example files are installed, and two libraries containing components preloaded with the correct spice values, one for LTSpice and one for XSpice. The IsSpice and B2 Spice simulators support XSPICE.
See the online PCBArtist help for more details, search for Spice. Read the Simulation Overview first.
Submit Order Changes
A new Warning can occur when ordering that will detect if there is silk screen on the bottom side and it is not activated in PCB Configuration.
The Email Order button removed.
PCB Symbol Editor - Add Placement Origin
There is a new option on the Add menu to insert a P (placement origin) into the footprint. This is a new type of origin that can be used to define where the pick-and-place origin of the footprint is positioned. This is then available in the Reports output, as the Place X and Place Y fields to use in place of the existing Centre X/Y or Position X/Y. If you specify PlaceX/Y in the report and a footprint doesn't have a placement origin, it will use CentreX/Y instead.
Reports - Schematic Only Components
You can now exclude these from reports by changing Components to Include� from �All� to �Only items matching" and set "Schematic-only" to false.
Update Components - New Switch
There are now separate checkboxes for component values (the actual values and their text strings) and value positions (the visible instances of values). This means you can tell it to update existing or add new values when updating the component without disturbing where the value positions are displayed on the drawing.
Alignment of free text - Properties
You can now change free text to be left, centre or right justified.

Version 1.5.1

Maintenance Fixes and Bug Fixes

Version 1.5

Eagle Import
This is available for PCB and Schematic designs, and for each library type. Eagle ULP files are provided (in a sub-folder of the PCB Artist program folder) to use in the Eagle system to create ASCII intermediate files. These intermediate files can then be simply opened in the PCB Artist PCB or Schematics editors using File Open, or added to a new library using the ADD File button in the Library Manager. See the PCB Artist help file for more details.
Cross Probe
A new button on Edit toolbar (next to select mode button) is in place to put you into the Cross-Probe selection mode. This option also appears on the Edit menu. In this mode select a component, pin or connection in a design to have the same item selected in the corresponding PCB/Schematic design. Some options are available in the Preferences dialogs new Cross-Probe tab.
See PCB Artist help file for more details.
Library Manager - PCB Artist Library Transfer File
New Export button to create a single PCB Artist Library Transfer file (.palib) for a set of components and the symbols referenced by those components. You can import this file again using one of the following tree methods:
PCB File Open - Now has PCB Artist Library Transfer File in list.
Library Manager Components page Add File option now has PCB Artist Library Transfer File in its Files of Type list to read this file in.
You can now drop a PCB Artist Library Transfer File on to the Components page of the Library Manager dialog.
These present the Import To Library dialog so that each of the saved 'elements' (Component, PCB Symbols and/or Schematic Symbols) in the Library Transfer File can be stored in the special local libraries for Downloaded library items. From there, you can select them and use the Save Items ToLibrary option to copy them to your own library files.
Submit Order Changes
Set solder mask type to "None" if solder mask not required on either side.
More materials and capabilities have been set in the software. These appear in Settings>PCB Configuration.
Template files
In all installed PCB Template files I have changed the default rules measurement for drill hole to drill hole to .01 rather than the current default of 0.
Component Editor
Changing a terminal name does not automatically apply it to all gates now. Use "Apply to Other Gates" from the shortcut menu to do this.
You are now allowed to delete the last package in a component to make a schematic only component.
Technology Dialog
One can now scroll within Grids with mouse.
The "Apply To Column" is now on the shortcut menu for Net Class, Track Styles, Line Styles and Text Styles dialogs.
Add Track
Now says Auto Complete instead of Auto Route.
Pasting Design Items now gives Paste Net dialog if the net to paste already exists in other sheet in the project. The pasted net now receives the net class of the existing project net.
Adding a new net to a sheet will auto copy its net class from the same net in other sheet in a project.
Adding a new net class to a sheet will auto copy parameters from the same net class in other sheet in project.
Optimize Nets
The software will now put a zero length connection to a power plane when a pin is not connected. All zero length connections are now drawn as butterflies.
Various Bug fixes

Version 1.4 

Expanded Measuring Tool
The Measure tool is now expanded with more features and capabilities.
Edit Component Values
The user can now edit the values of all components at once from Setting>Component Values from the main menu.
DXF Output
More layers can be specified for DXF export than where previously available.
Improved Bill Of Materials Report
From Output>Reports, reference designators are now consolidated in the same line item in the default report.
Report Commands
New switches to enable multiple component ref names on one line. The column switches are:
Newline After Column
Collate this Column
Join Next Column
A Copy button has been added to copy columns, and you can add a column that is just a text string on all rows.
Description Value Position
You can now display the part description in a component value position. This can be done by adding a value position in the symbol, or on the component in a design.
Project View
On the context menu when selecting a schematic design, "Delete" has been renamed to "Remove From Project". New options added to "Rename" and "Duplicate.
Change Component Previews
The Properties dialog in the component tab when the Change button is used, a dialog will appear and show previews of the schematic and pcb Symbols.
Add Component
New Interaction Preference for Add Component, "Esc returns to dialog". There is a new "Cancel Mode" option on context menu, to always exit rather than return to dialog.
Now has a "Cancel Move" option to place the pasted items at their original positions.
Component Edit - Values
Values is now also a tab on the Properties dialog. New switch "New Values are added to all other packages". New button "All Packages" to copy the value to all other packages.
New "Save Selected Items To Library" option on context menu when components selected in PCB or Schematic designs. Used to save a copy of the components and their symbols in the design to existing or new libraries.
Saving Library Items
You can select [New Library] from the library list and you will be prompted for the name of a new library that you want to save the component or symbol to.
Library Manager
"Copy To" now has "OK All" and "Cancel All" buttons when copying multiple items. New a "Move To" option to move components or symbols between libraries. New "Save To Lib" button on Components page. Used to display new "Save Selected Items To Library" dialog.
Angles can now have 2 decimal places.
Control G - Grid Snap menu is now a true menu and has "Grids" option at bottom. The "Grids" option is now on context menu when something selected.
New Library Parts Added to the default library.

Version 1.3.3 

Custom User Reports
Output menu now has single "Reports" option instead of previous report options. The new reports dialog has all the old reports on it, plus the ability for the user to edit existing user reports and create their own reports. A new Dangling Tracks report has been added as well.
Orcad ECO From Netlist
New option when editing a PCB design on the File menu "ECO From Netlist" to import an OrCAD EDIF netlist and compare it with the PCB design, list the differences and allow the user to perform Forward Design Changes to bring the PCB design in-line with the netlist file. See online help for more details.
New Manufacturing Capabilities
A copper pour area can be added prior to the main copper pour area that serves as a keep out. Select that copper pour area, right-click and go to Properties and click on the Copper Pour Keep Out checkbox and OK to save the change and exist the dialog. Then add the copper pour area for the area to pour and pour it. The keep out area will prevent that area from pouring.
New Manufacturing Capabilities
Expanded Service Layer count increased to 28 layers. New capabilities will be added to PCB Configuration as they become available.
Minor Maintenance Fixes

Version 1.3.2 

New Manufacturing Capabilities
Expanded Service Layer count increased to 14 layers. Minimum track width and space decreased to .004�. Minimum drill hole decreased to .006�.
Password Masking
The Submit Order dialog now masks the user passwords.
Minor Maintenance Fixes

Version 1.3.1

Minor Maintenance Fixes

Version 1.3

With V1.3 the design format has changed, but V1.2 files (or earlier) can still be read into it. But note that V1.3 files cannot be read into V1.2.
Covered Vias
This is a new option on the Layers page of the New PCB & PCB Configuration wizards. If checked, vias will not be included on the solder mask layer, which will mean they will be covered. This includes all via pads, which are yellow in color in the default color scheme. Pads that appear grey are not vias and will have mask relief.
Print Margin
Print Margin is a new "Plot Margin" option in the Printing section of the General Preferences dialog. Use to reduce the plot area on the paper to avoid hardware margins.
Translate To PCB
When translating to PCB from schematic, the Layers page of that wizard will now list the power and ground nets of the schematic in the drop down menu for creating automatically generated pure plane layers. Previously, only nets pre-defined in templates would be available in the drop down list.
Reducing Layer Count
In the New PCB Wizard or PCB Configuration, when the number of layers is reduced, the system will first look to eliminate layers that do not contain design items in them.
Preferences Dialog
Dialog was getting a bit big so it now has multiple tabs, one for each different preference section.
Properties - Shape Area
The Properties dialog will show values for total area of selected shape on the Properties dialog. There is an area listing both with and without taking into account line style thickness.
Styles Dialog - Copy Style As
An extra button on each of the Styles pages to add a new style based on the one currently selected in the grid.
Screen Grid
Primary and/or secondary screen grid can now be drawn as lines instead of dots using new check boxes next to grid colors.  Also, a new Draw Grid First checkbox is available to make grids be drawn before, instead of after, the design contents.
Report File Extensions
Added ability to output all reports to .TXT file extension instead of different drr, dcr, xyz, etc. extensions. The new checkbox is on the General page of Preferences dialog. If the box is checked it uses the design type and title of the report to form the report file name e.g Design3 (PCB Design Status Report).txt
Change Net Color
A small dialog accessible from the right-click menu in schematics select mode.
Provides access to change net "own color" without having to use the properties dialog.
Drawing Highlights
Two new highlight check boxes and colors on PCB colors dialog:
Lowlight Fixed Items - Dims the color of pads and shapes of items that are fixed.
Un-plated Holes - Draws small diamond inside drill hole, only visible if "Draw Drill Holes" is enabled in colors dialog.
Preferences - Draw 'Empty' Values
This is a new check box on the Preferences dialogue in the Display tab. When checked, any value position that resolves to an empty string will be drawn as instead. This small change is required because it is possible through Properties to end up with component values that have no text, e.g. by turning off all but 'Reference Name' on the "Text" tab and then also turning off "Name" on the component tab. Then there remain value positions you cannot see or pick, so they are using text styles but you cannot find them to change style.
Status Bar
Position of selected item now shown on status bar for: component, pad, text and via. These coordinates do NOT reflect System or Reference Origins. They are from the lowest left work area corner at all times.
Change Layer
Layer drop-down list now auto-numbers the electrical layers to make it easy to access them by key. So typing "4", will select the 4th electrical layer.
Add Track/Shape - Next Layer and Previous Layer
These are new commands for cycling through available layers. They are available from the right-click menu during interactive editing of shapes and tracks. Next Layer has the shortcut key + .
Add Track � Show Nearest Node On Net
This is a new PCB option on context menu when adding a track. Use it to show a line from the end of the track being added, to the nearest item on the same net.
The line is drawn in the highlight color. The option is also in the Interaction tab of the Preferences dialog.
Library Component Find
The Find dialog within the Library Manager and Add Component options has been extended to allow up to 4 component values (attributes) to be used for searching. Values can also now be compared using the same 'operators' as the Name (is, begins with, contains).
Default Track and Via Styles
There is now a new switch in the Interaction tab of the Preferences dialogue labeled "Don't use Track and Via Styles from the Net Class". Check this box to always use the "last used" style when interactively adding or editing tracks and vias.
Color for Moving Items
New check box in Display preferences labeled "Moving Items Use Sel Color".
Default setting is On, which retains existing behavior of drawing the selected moving item(s) in the selection color. When unchecked, dynamic selected items are instead drawn in their normal color. So when adding tracks, for example, you can see by the color which layer the current segment is on instead of just seeing it in the selected color.
Component Editor & Component Values - Copy & Paste Improvements
It is now possible to copy & paste data between the Component Editor grid and external applications such as spreadsheet applications. A single cell or a range of cells can be selected for copying or pasting. It is also possible to paste the same value into a range of cells. See the Help>Contents search for more details.
The Values dialog (from the Library Manager dialog, in the Component tab) has also been similarly modified to allow copy/paste to/from spreadsheets.
Component Edit - Apply Increment to Selected Cells
This new option is available on the context menu when an appropriate range of cells is selected cell for Component Pin Name/Number cells in the Component Editor. This can be used to name one cell and easily create an incremental sequence from it to each subsequently selected cell.
Styles - Pad Shapes
You can now define target and annulus pad shapes. Be aware that that an annulus (donut) looks very similar to a drilled pad. That shape should never be used for a drilled pad.
Colors Dialog - Value Positions
There is now a new column in the Layers & Layer Spans tab called "Value Positions". Use this to switch off component values in the design, values such as component name for example, and change their color. This previously shared the Symbol Text colors.
Pan and Zoom
You can now change the Pan and Zoom sensitivity and direction of movement using sliders and check boxes on the Display Preferences dialog.
Library Manager Dialog - Close on Edit
A new check box on Library Manager dialogue that allows user to choose whether or not the dialog should be closed after opening a library item for edit. If checked, the Library Manager will remain in the foreground and more parts can be selected and opened for editing. Then the Library Manager would be closed to edit those library symbols or components.
Library Manager - Report
The Component Library report now shows the name of the looked up symbol library rather than the 'Originating' symbol library. Meaning the name of the library from which the symbol will be loaded when the component is added to a design. When running the Component Library report there is an additional prompt asking Show library folders for symbols. If answered Yes, the report will show the full folder path for each looked up symbol library as well as its name.
Design Rule Check Report
A new report that is available from the PCB Output menu. The report lists all error markers currently in the design.
This release contains many standard minor Maintenance fixes.

1.2.4 & Older ►