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What's Good About DEHDL Usability Improvements? The Secret's in the SPB16.2 Release!

Comments(3)Filed under: PCB design, DEHDL, Allegro, SPB 16.2

The Design Entry HDL (DEHDL) usability improvements are many and significant in the SPB16.2 release!

The DEHDL product moves even closer to other Windows based applications, such as Capture CIS, Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office applications, in terms of the general usability standards. These changes provide support for common Windows commands and operations making Design Entry HDL more user-friendly and easy to use.

The usability changes are available under the Windows mode, which is a new UI mode introduced in Design Entry HDL.

I'll cover some of the more frequently used capabilities below.


Windows Mode

The usability changes are available under the Windows mode, which is a new UI mode introduced in Design Entry HDL. To use the available changes, you need to enable the Windows mode.

Follow the steps below to enable the Windows mode:

1. Choose Tools> Options.

2. In the General page of the Design Entry HDL dialog box, select the Enable Windows Mode checkbox in the Preferences section.

3. Click OK.



Reorganized Menus

In the SPB16.2 release of DEHDL, the most prominent change you will notice is the reorganization of menus.

The menus are organized in such a way that they now fit into 12 menus in the Windows mode as compared to the 14 menus in the normal mode. You'll notice that some of the main menu names have changed, some menu commands are accessible from the same locations with little or no change in the sequence, while some others have either moved to a new menu or are now nested inside a new or existing submenu for increased granularity.

Some of the sub-menu items have been moved while some others have been reorganized/added to maintain a synchrony with Capture CIS and other windows based applications.

Note: If you are unable to see the reorganized menu bar select Tools> Customize> Menus and click on the 'Reset' button.


Design Entry HDL Options Dialog Box

The Design Entry HDL Options dialog box has been changed to maintain a similar look  to the Preferences dialog box of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Instead of the tabbed pages, the page names appear in a neatly organized tree structure on the left panel. Rest of the functionality remains the same.



Bounding Box on Components

A bounding box with anchor points or handles around a component appears when you click a component on a schematic in the Windows mode. This acts as a selection indicator. The mouse pointer changes to a move pointer when you hover the mouse over the handles. This indicates that you can move the component around. When you move a component, all the wires connected to it also move with it.



You can also rotate a component by clicking the mouse pointer on the handles at the edges. As you move the mouse pointer to one of the four edges of a bounding box, it changes to a rotate pointer. You can click at this point and the component is rotated in the direction of the rotation arrow.



Support for Keyboard Operations

Another important change done to bring Design Entry HDL closer to a standard Windows application is the support for keyboard functions, such as CTRL+C for copy and CTRL+V for paste. You can now copy objects from the Windows clipboard on to a schematic using the keyboard shortcuts. The other keyboard operations supported are listed in the following table:


Key Combination
Ctrl + C
Ctrl + V
Ctrl + A
Select All
Ctrl + X
Go to the first sheet within a module
Go to the last sheet within a module
Shift + Up Arrow
Move component up to the next grid point
Shift + Down Arrow
Move component down to the next grid point
Shift + Left Arrow
Move component left to the next grid point
Shift + Right Arrow
Move component right to the next grid point
Arrow Keys
Moves objects in small increments
Page Up
Moves one page up
Page Down
Moves one page down


New-Look Attributes form rechristened as the Properties Window

The Attributes form appears as the Properties window in the Windows mode. It is a dockable window. As soon as you select an object on the schematic, the Properties window is populated with the properties information of the object, be it a component or a net. The window has icons to add, delete, and save properties and to load and save a property (.attr) file. The dockable attributes window saves time as you do not need to redisplay the form when you reenter attributes form.



Showing Unconnected Pins on Components

Design Entry HDL now provides a method to quickly identify all the components which have unconnected pins. This option is made available through the following console command:



Notice that all the unconnected pins are marked with pink dots. Also, you can see the unconnected pins by selecting Component> Unconnected Pins from the main menu.


Changes in Global Navigate Window

The Global Navigate window now consists of three icons: Next, Previous, and Zoom by points. If the Zoom by points button is depressed, it zooms to selected region in the schematic as you navigate back and forth across the nets using the Previous and Next icons.


As always, I welcome your feedback and discussion on how you're using these new features and any suggestions you may have on how to improve the DEHDL interface.

Jerry "GenPart" Grzenia



By Evan Shultz on August 16, 2009
Hi Jerry,
Great blog topic! I really like the Windows Mode and, as a Windows user, it's a most welcome improvement (and more natural interface) to my co-workers and me.
We've already spoken about further re-arrangement of the menus in Windows Mode to make them more like Allegro and MS Office products. If anyone else is interested in my customized menus, you're welcome to post here with your email and I'll send it to you.
Here are a few other comments and/or tips when in Windows Mode:
-By holding down CTRL you can click multiple elements and then LMB click on one of the pre-selected elements to move them all as a group.
-You can also use CTRL to de-select elements if you draw a box to pre-select multiple elements and get more element than you intended.
-You can hold down the RMB and scroll the MMB in and out to zoom in/out around the cursor position. I find zooming out, moving the cursor, and then zooming back in to be the fastest way to navigate around a single schematic page.
-Strokes can still be utilized by holding down the CTRL and using the LMB. It would be nice if strokes could be directly drawn in Windows Mode (perhaps by clicking and dragging RMB button?).
-Windows Mode can be set and locked at the site level using site.cpm.
I have noticed that Global Component Replace does not work when in Windows Mode when the replacement component is not in the same PTF cell. That's a bit confusing, so I hope it makes sense. I've noticed and reported several other Windows Mode abnormalities and/or regressions (from the "classic" mode), but they've all been fixed so I recommend upgrading to the newest hotfix if you want to use Windows Mode.

By Jerry GenPart on August 17, 2009
Hi Evan,
Thanks again for reading and providing your keen tips/techniques! I like the zoom out, panning, and zoom in method you mention - I also use that to quickly navigate to desired areas of a large schematic.
Have you reported the Global Component Replace issue to our Customer Support group? If not, let me know, I'll get an SR/CCR filed for it.
As always, your expert feedback is appreciated!

By Evan Shultz on August 18, 2009
Hi Jerry,
Thank you for your reply.
Yes, I submitted an SR for the Global Component Replace issue some time ago and a CCR was created. Thanks for checking!

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