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What's Good About DEHDL Font Support? The Secret's in The SPB16.3 Release!

Comments(10)Filed under: PCB design, DEHDL, Allegroro, SPB 16.3, File Directives, Design Entry

Well - it's here! Native font support in Allegro Design Entry HDL (DEHDL)!

This has been a often requested feature and is particularly important for our mil-aero customers.

The DEHDL environment has conventionally provided support for vector fonts (6 flavors of basic fonts), where only a single font is supported for displaying all the schematic text objects. However, in real world applications you may require different fonts
to depict and distinguish different text objects in a schematic design.

Additionally, vector fonts in their current form have some drawbacks:

  • Schematic designs are unreadable at lower zoom levels with the vector fonts.
  • All the different objects in the schematic have one vector font, which makes it difficult to distinguish between the objects.
  • Issues were found during the schematic translations from other CAD vendors.

To address these issues, DEHDL now includes support for different fonts.


Font Categories of Text Objects

You can display the following categories of text objects in different fonts:

  • Symbol Text
  • Symbol / Component / Instance Properties
  • RefDes and Section
  • Net Name
  • Cross References
  • Pin Name
  • Pin Text
  • Pin Properties
  • Custom Text
  • Text / Notes

You can set fonts and font attributes, such as font name, color, size, style, and effects, for one category of each text objects. Only one set of font attributes can be set for a single category of text objects. You cannot specify different font attributes on individual instances of text objects on the schematic.

For example: If you specify 'Arial' as the font to display net names, all the net names will be displayed in 'Arial'.

Note: When you specify font attributes for a text object, the text object is rendered in the selected font and attributes. However, there is no change in the database.

Setting the Fonts - UI Font Page

You can invoke the Font settings UI from Tools> Options. Select the 'Font' from the left tree section. In the Fonts page of the Design Entry HDL Options dialog box, you can specify font attributes for different types of schematic text objects. To enable support for displaying different fonts, ensure that the Enable Font Support option is selected.

When you construct a new design in SPB16.3 or turn on the font support feature in an existing design, font attributes are set to default values. You can change these values using the dialog box shown above.

UI Option
Enable Font Support
Select this check box to enable support for fonts in DEHDL. This option is selected by default when you open any design
in SPB16.3.
Select the schematic text object for which you want to set the font and font attributes. You can set font attributes for
different categories of text objects simultaneously.
Select a font name to display a specific category of text objects. For example, you can select the Courier font to
display all the net names in the design. The Name dropdown list includes all the fonts installed on the local system.
Specify a font size with which all the newly added text objects for the category are to be displayed. This size is also
known as point size, where one point size equals 1/72 of an inch. Currently, the font size stored in the DEHDL database is a
ratio of size in inches to 0.082. Therefore, 1 inch font size is written in the database as 1/0.082 = 12.095. With Font
Support in DEHDL, the sizes being displayed are point sizes, where 72 points = 1inch. Therefore, all the text sizes
which are currently available in the database are converted to the point size and displayed accordingly.

Note: The text size is currently stored in the database. Therefore, you can specify the font size for individual objects.
All the objects which are already on the canvas have a font size specified on them and the same font size is honored.
Select a font style from the four font styles: Regular, Bold, Bold Italic, and Italic. All fonts do not support all the styles.
Therefore, you can specify only those styles which are supported for a specific font. For example, you can specify
all the four styles for the Arial font, while only Regular style is supported for Arial Black.
Select a color from the 16 basic colors with which all the newly added text for the category needs to be displayed:
Black, Dark Red, Dark Green, Dark Yellow, Dark Blue, Dark Purple, Dark Cyan, Pale Gray, Mid Gray, Red, Green, Yellow,
Blue, Magenta, Cyan, and White.

Note: The text color, like text size, is currently stored in the database. Therefore, you can specify the font color for
individual objects. All the objects which are already on the canvas have a font color specified on them and the same font
color is honored.
Select the Underline effect to display the text as underlined. By default, all text objects display Regular text.
Actual Preview
Shows the preview of sample text with the selected fonts and font attributes in the actual size it will appear on
schematic canvas. If this check box is not selected, the sample text appears in a default size.

: The font attribute settings you specify for each category of text object is written in the project .cpm file. These settings are not written to the database. As mentioned earlier, only the Font color and size are stored in the database for a specific instance of a text object.

Setting the Fonts - Project .cpm File Directives

As mentioned above, the selected font attributes for a text object are stored in the project .cpm file. You can bypass the FONT dialog box and directly set the font attributes for each category of text objects in the START_FONTS & END_FONTS section of the .cpm file of the project.

To enable support for fonts using CPM directives, ensure that the CDS_ENABLE_FONTS directive is set to ON in the .cpm file as shown here:


To set the values for the five font attributes of any category, set the following .cpm directives:

 Use this directive
 To set the value of 


Replace <CATEGORY_NAME> with the specified Object.


 Category Name (CATEGORY_NAME)  

Note: The settings for the fonts can be stored in the project .cpm file, therefore, these settings can also be stored in the site level project .cpm file and the common settings can be used by the whole organization. To mandate a universal font setup for the entire organization, the administrator can lock these settings in the site area and force all the users to follow the same standards. The PCB Librarian tools also provide support for fonts and use the same directives to display symbols. Therefore, the symbol editor canvas of PCB Librarian and the DEHDL canvas have the same look and feel.

Working with Fonts

When you set a value for a specific text object, the values of three font attributes - name, style, and effects, are applied across the design to the existing as well as to the newly created objects. The size and color attributes apply only to the newly added text objects. These changes are not reflected on the existing text objects.

When you plot a design with the font support feature on, the design is printed with the text objects appearing in the same fonts as they appear on the schematic canvas. Similarly, when you publish a PDF of the schematic design using the Allegro Design Publisher (Publish PDF utility), the published document displays the fonts as they appear on the schematic.

Note: If a font support-enabled design is opened on a system where the fonts used in the design are not installed, an error is displayed and the text object is displayed in vector font.

Fonts on Different Platforms

The font support feature is fully provided on the Windows platform where all the fonts installed on the system are available to DEHDL.

Cadence provides the following two fonts with the standard installation of Design Entry HDL:

  1. Cadence Vector Font, which is the current DEHDL default font
  2. Cadence Narrow Font, which is a narrow width font

On UNIX platforms, all fonts installed with MainWin on the system are available to DEHDL.

You can even use custom fonts! Simply copy the font file (typically a .ttf file) to the C:\Windows\Font folder. This will add your custom font automatically on your Windows machine and make it available to all the editors which provide font selection options, including DEHDL.

As always - I'd like to know how you're using this great new feature!             

Jerry "GenPart" Grzenia


By Ahmet Nazim OZSOY on February 10, 2010
Hi Jerry,
We have switched to 16.3 release. I can say that DE HDL now looks better for documentation,  view and manage. We immediately select our fonts and  we  wrote these fonts on the site level cpm so everyone in our company uses the same type fonts.
Actually fonts are only changing in categories. May be if I can change any text to any font that can be more flexible. But OK this works and I like it.
I think DE HDL is improving and we have to wait some newer functions in future releases. Thank you.

By Jerry GenPart on February 12, 2010
Hi Ahmet!

Good to hear from you again. Yes - font support has been a often requested feature for DEHDL and the R&D team did a great job in providing the capabilities you're seeing in the SPB16.3 release. A couple customers have asked for font support on the individual text level (not just for categories). We have an enhancement CCR added for this - not sure when it will be included though. What's nice about the categories and directive locking is that you get the consistent look and feel for all text/properties in all schematics - which is critical for mil-aero custsomers.

Jerry G.

By Leon on May 5, 2010
I encourged one question while i used wire->bus name command.

the color is not match my expected color. How can i synchronize the color the same as net name that I have set Tools> Options. Select the 'Font' from the left tree section.

Please advice it. Thanks

By Jerry GenPart on May 5, 2010
Hi Leon,
Good catch! I'll be opening a new Service Request in your name and communicate with you via Email.

By David on September 1, 2010
I can change the font type/color for the Cross Reference text, but not the text size.  The tool seems to ignore this setting.

By Jerry GenPart on September 1, 2010
Hi David,
May I ask that you contact our Customer Support team and report this? We can investigate if this is a limitation or a bug.

By Alex Cervantes on March 30, 2011
I have the problem that i can't change the size of any font in any way, i want to have a equal value in all the project.

By Jerry GenPart on April 6, 2011
Hi Alex,
Please insure you have Enable Font Support set in the DEHDL Tools> Options Font tab. Also, fonts apply to new items - not existing items in the schematic.

By Kranthi on December 6, 2011

How do I change the font size for existing text (for e.g. NETNAME). The tool says the new font size will be applied only to the newly added text.


By Jerry GenPart on December 6, 2011
Hi Kranthi,
That's correct, the font changes are applied to new text added in the design. It will not adjust any existing text.
Jerry G.

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