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Things You Didn't Know About Virtuoso: IC 6.1.4 (VSE L)

Comments(6)Filed under: Custom IC Design, Virtuoso, IC 6.1.4

By now, you've surely heard the news.  And if you haven't yet, you have now.  Virtuoso IC 6.1.4 is now available!  Huzzah, huzzah! 

I was (and still am) planning to do my next series of "Things You Didn't Know" about ADE XL, but for now I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't pause and devote a few posts to the new features in IC 6.1.4.  Those are very likely "things you don't know" since they are brand new.

Direct Text Editing--Virtuoso Schematic Editor (VSE) L

You won't notice much different about the appearance of the schematic editor, except for one icon on the Edit toolbar at the top of the window.  It looks like a letter T with a pencil sitting next to it.  When you click on this icon (or use default bindkey "t"), you enter text editing mode.  Now move your mouse around the screen and watch the status display in the lower left corner of the window.  When you pass over a piece of text on the screen that is editable, the display will tell you.  Then all you have to do is click on the text and type to change the value.

You can edit wire names, pin names, instance names, notes and instance property values directly on the schematic canvas.  Now, not only do you NOT have to bring up everyone's favorite bindkey "q" form, you don't even have to use the handy new Property Editor Assistant.  Look at that transistor.  See where it says "w=2u"?  Want to change it?  Just click and type.  Callbacks and all that other magic will be taken care of automatically.

To exit text editing mode, just press the Esc key.  Aaah, the Escape key.  What would we do without it?

Dynamic Net Highlighting--Virtuoso Schematic Editor (VSE) L

Technically, this feature has been in Virtuoso for a few ISR releases now, but it is fairly well hidden and in 6.1.4 it has been "prettied up" a bit.  Dynamic net highlighting is especially handy when you have a large schematic and/or when you've got a lot of connections-by-name (i.e. lots of little stubs of nets hanging off of pins with tiny little labels identifying which net they're connected to). 

To turn this on, go to Options->Display... and turn on Dynamic Net Highlighting.  Now you'll see when you hover your mouse over a wire, a colored halo will appear on all the segments of that net--all over the entire schematic.  Say you've got an inverter in one corner of your schematic and the output of that inverter is just a stub.  You want to know which blocks the output of that inverter is connected to.  Just hover your mouse over the stub coming out of the inverter and all the other connections will be clearly visible.  Note that the wire segment you're hovering over won't be halo-ed.  It will be highlighted with a dotted line, just as it normally would be.

This feature has a few environment variables associated with it:

  • Whether it is on by default:

schematic schDynamicHilightOn boolean { t | nil }

  • What the highlight color is when the schematic connectivity is up-to-date (default is "magenta"):

schematic schDynamicNetHilightColor string hilight_color

  • What the highlight color is when the schematic connectivity is not up-to-date (schematic check needed) (default is "yellow"):

schematic schDynamicNetHilightColorAlt string hilight_color

Tip: Don't forget that while you're hovering over that net, you can just RMB to add a probe to the net, so the whole net will be persistently highlighted up and down the hierarchy regardless of what other objects you manipulate.

More Good Stuff:  In 6.1.4 Bookmark capabilities are now available in the basic L level of VSE.  Look for File->Bookmarks in the schematic banner menu.  While you're in that File menu, you'll also see that the recently-opened design history list is now available there too, just as it is in the CIW File menu (which you should hopefully have been using for a while now).

Lots more new features next time...

Stacy Whiteman



By skillUser on December 17, 2009
Also Schematic text editing mode can be initiated by double-clicking left on a selectable label, though you may have to have previously set the Schematic Selection Filter (Ctrl-F)  to allow labels to be selectable.  Once you have double-clicked on an item you can edit it, hit Return to accept the change and as noted, exit the Text mode by pressing the Escape key.

By stacyw on December 17, 2009
You're absolutely right!  Thanks for helping out.  This will work out of the box for most users for notes, pin names and wire labels, which is very handy.  And as you mentioned, do Edit->Select->Filter (or Ctrl-F) to make instance objects selectable and then you can directly edit instance properties.

By seeker on January 19, 2011
how do we let a net blink (not just a color but blinking color) on probing. which layer in display.drf should be modified and is there any other step involved other than modifying display.drf ??

By stacyw on January 21, 2011
Excellent question.  After some investigation, I've found that blinking highlights for selected or probed objects are not supported in IC 6.1.X for performance reasons, particular with the widespread use of Virtuoso through thin clients such as Citrix, Exceed, etc.   There is an outstanding request to make this an option, so you may want to file an SR with Customer Support if you feel this is crticial for you.

By Hongwei Jia on September 2, 2011
Hi Stacy, when I highlight a net by "9", it gets highlighted by dotted line. I want to highlight it by solid bold line. Can you please let me know how can I do that??  especially can I do that by editing display.drf file? Thanks a lot.

By Stacy Whiteman on September 2, 2011
Thanks for the question.  The probe colors are by default on drawing layers y0-y9, which you can edit in your display.drf to be whatever you like.  (I usually like to make their line style as "thickLine" for better visibility).
There is also an environment variable that controls the probe layers, so you can put the following in your .cdsinit:
envSetVal("schematic" "probeHiliteLppList" 'string "mylayer1 drawing mylayer2 drawing ...")
To define the probe colors to whatever layers you like.

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