Author Topic: altium 365.... what the hell are they thinking?  (Read 556 times)

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Offline julianhigginson

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altium 365.... what the hell are they thinking?
« on: November 09, 2018, 03:47:05 pm »
So I just burned my lunchtime watching a video about altium 365. And you know what? I've been pretty OK with them making add-ons for extra functionality on the main altium designer product, even if it's paid for with base altium subscriptions and then unavailable to base altium subscribers... but it seems to me that finally they have hit the point where I'm completely confused about what the point of all this stuff even is now. 
it seems like they're actually taking the piss here.
https://resources.altium.com/vidyard-all-players/altium-keynote-the-connected-future-of-pcb-design-introducing-altium-365

Vault was all about helping teams work together and providing unified controlled data to manufacturing. it started as SaaS, then that got killed when all the conservative engineers in the industry had heart attacks about that, and it became a windows server application you had to buy and configure and manage yourself. Fair enough. seems very useful. Unfortunately the biggest problem was their pricing model that only made it remotely viable for large teams in big businesses.

Then they released Nexus this year, which seems to be marketed as "a way to help teams work together". and seemed to me from what little I saw of it, to be sort of like vault but with less stuff..  or some less stuff and some additional other stuff maybe? I still have no idea if that's SaaS or a server product. And I still have no idea if it's offering anything more than vault does/did. The complete gush of slick meaningless marketing vomit that accompanied its release made me completely turn off.

Now, just one year after nexus,  365 is claiming to be about connecting data to manufacturing.
And it seems to be a SaaS product (but you can also buy it, or some part of it, to run on your own server?)

I watched it to see what it'd allow in the area of releasing files to manufacturing, but rather than managing/releasing manufacturing data (which the 40 minute talk DIDN'T EVEN TALK ABOUT)  it seems like they took bits of upverter and circuitmaker, and turned them into google docs but for altium projects... (but doesn't seem to let you edit the projects beyond attaching comments?)  But it also does component library management of some kind - mentioned in passing??? so OK then, what is vault's purpose now? what is nexus's purpose now?

Alongside this grab bag of not really well explained features welded to a web interface, it mostly seems like an awesome way for control freak managers to drive their engineers nuts by constantly tracking everything they do all the time so they can ask them constant questions about what they're doing as they do it... without needing to get their hands on an actual AD license or be in the office with them.

and it seems like after a few more years of this, just knowing which version of AD you need to do a job will be a full time job in itself...
« Last Edit: November 09, 2018, 04:57:31 pm by julianhigginson »
 

Online ajb

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Re: altium 365.... what the hell are they thinking?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2018, 07:15:00 am »
Watching this on my own lunch, it looks like a an ECAD version of Autodesk's BIM 360.  It's a concept where you can create MCAD or architectural or whatever designs, and then share them through a cloud service that allows others to examine and review those designs right in their browser.  It's actually a really useful tool, and we use it to share concepts with clients for review of custom projects.  Even internally, our mechanical designer can send me a link to a BIM project so I can quickly provide feedback on whether or not a mechanical layout will work with whatever I've developing, and I can do that without having to find the right file, wait for the CAD software to load, get to the right view, etc--or even know how to use the MCAD tool. 

Being able to do that in the other direction, IE, being able to send a link to the mechanical designer and say, "hey, does this connector layout work with what you have in mind for the housing?" would actually be equally useful.  If the mech team can mark up the board to point out that a component is right where they want to put a reinforcing boss, then that's even better.

For parts, if they can leverage their acquisition of octopart to make something that does what ActiveBOMs are supposed to do but is actually powerful and easy to use, then that would be really awesome.  I would really prefer for that data to be able to be synchronized back into my component dblib, but I don't know if that will be practical.  If they can create something to replace dblibs without losing any of the advantages of that model, then I'm definitely interested.  Really I want to be able to easily link and manage supplier data into a library that has sch symbols and pcb footprints that I can control so that they don't suck.

Also, having an activeBOM-style tool that can be used to easily update supplier data for repeated builds (especially as capacitors are going non-stock or NRND left and right lately) would be really nice.

The ECAD/MCAD thing is interesting, but in theory they have it already--from what I've seen, though, it's painful and/or fragile in practice.

The two big questions, of course are 1) Whether this will be available for a price anyone is willing to pay and 2) Will it actually work half as well as they say it will.  Knowing Altium, those a very much open questions right now!
 
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Offline julianhigginson

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Re: altium 365.... what the hell are they thinking?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2018, 02:46:09 pm »
I have no problem with the idea of communicating design information. I work with industrial designers all the time who love to take random bites out of my PCBs and define really crazy board outlines and connector locations - but I do it in a relatively standardised way with outjobs and release folders already! Once you have a set of outjobs in your project to make the files that are needed, you can very quickly publish preview versions of documents in a way where you can check the relevant details being shown, and  know exactly what you're communicating and for what purposes.

But my confusion with the way this works is:
1) this whole product is seemingly in feature competition with vault (and possibly also Nexus)
2) third party data access is seemingly completely uncontrolled! (from a configuration management point of view) it shows use cases where people just grab a project in whatever state it's currently in and go through the project themselves to make decisions about the project without talking to the engineer! It seems they are allowing potentially unqualified people to take live design documents in an un-prescribed state, poke about in them, and consider that they are now informed about what is going on with the project.
3) and here's another single purpose ticketing system for engineers to worry about dealing with requests and instructions from. Maybe handy if all you ever do is work in altium all day, only ever dealing with PCBA design and implementation issues, but for everyone else, another distinct stream of information that needs to be managed and dealt with.
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: altium 365.... what the hell are they thinking?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2018, 04:31:17 pm »
A tool for a BIM Beau?
 

Online ajb

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Re: altium 365.... what the hell are they thinking?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2018, 09:26:41 am »
But my confusion with the way this works is: ...

Yeah, those are all reasonable questions, but it's far too early to tell, really.  If they pull this off and offer it at a reasonable cost, it could be really useful.  If they don't, well, it won't be the first time they've wasted a tone of money on a poor implementation of a reasonable idea.
 


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