Differences

Parent page: Workspace Manager Panels


The Differences panel displays a hierarchical view of document differences.

Summary

The Differences panel is used to display the logical or graphical differences found by the built-in Differences Comparator, when comparing design documents – for example, comparing the source document hierarchy for a project against the PCB design document. The panel allows you to interactively explore the differences before the decision to create an Engineering Change Order (ECO) that will be used to synchronize the project documents.

Panel access

To open the Differences panel, click the Differences button in the Design Compiler group under the View tab: View | Design Compiler |

Note that a project source document must be open to enable access to the panel.

Panels can be configured to be floating in the editor space or docked to sides of the screen. If the Differences panel is currently in the group of docked Workspace panels on the left, use the Differences tab located at the bottom of the panels to bring it to the front.

Displaying Differences

How the Differences panel is applied depends on whether the aim is to analyse the integrity of the project source documents by detecting logical differences (within the project hierarchy), or to compare two versions of the same document by detecting graphical differences (schematic and PCB documents only).

The Differences panel is populated when using the Explore Differences feature of the Differences Comparator (Differences between... dialog), which is opened with the Show Differences command – see below.

Displaying Logical Differences

Comparison of project documents for logical differences is carried out through the Choose Documents To Compare dialog. To open the dialog, select Home | Project » Show Differences from the main ribbon menu, or right-clicking on a project (or project document) in the Projects panel and selecting Show Differences from the associated context menu.


Right click on a project name and select Show Differences to open the Choose Documents To Compare dialog.

Typically, the PCB document would be compared against the source document hierarchy for the parent project.

After clicking OK, if any logical differences exist between within the project hierarchy (and any warning dialogs have been cleared), the Differences between... dialog will open. Information in the Differences panel will become available after clicking the Explore Differences button in the Differences between dialog.

The Differences panel will only display the differences that are listed in the Differences between dialog. These, in turn, are determined by the selections made in the Comparator tab of the Options for Project dialog: Project | Content |  on the main ribbon menu.

This tab lists all of the comparison types, such as differences associated with Components, Nets and Parameters. Setting the Mode for each comparison category between Find Differences or Ignore Differences will determine if the Differences Comparator passes its results into the Differences between... dialog – and ultimately on to the Differences panel.

The Differences panel displays the differences found between source documents in a tree-like structure, where the top-level folder displays the total number of differences detected. Sub-folders are then created for each specific comparison type that appears in the Differences between dialog. Each sub-folder lists the specific differences that have been found, which in turn are broken down further into objects on the documents that are responsible for creating those differences.

If the associated document is open (or open and hidden), clicking on an object entry in the panel will cross-probe to the object on the document.


Interactive navigation in the Differences panel displays the object that created the difference.

The relevant editor will graphically highlight the entry as follows:

  • For a PCB document, the visual display of the object uses the zoom and mask affect where the 'offending' object is highlighted by applying a monochrome mask to all other objects. The contrast of the applied mask can be varied with Mask Level slider in the Highlight & Edit Mask group in the main menu View tab.
  • For a Schematic document, the visual display of the object uses the zoom and dim affect where the 'offending' object is highlighted by dimming all other objects. The contrast of the dimming can be varied with Dim Level slider in the Schematic group in the main menu View tab.

Displaying Physical Differences

The graphical (physical) comparison of two versions of the same schematic or PCB document is carried out in the same basic way as for the logical comparison outlined above, but makes use of the Advanced Mode in the Choose Documents To Compare dialog.

To perform a document physical comparison use the Show Differences command (Home | Project » Show Differences) to open the Choose Documents To Compare dialog, and then check the Advanced Mode box. With all project files now shown in the dialog, select the two variations of a document for comparison.


Selecting documents for physical comparison from the Choose Documents To Compare dialog in Advanced Mode.

Clicking OK will proceed with the graphical comparison and open the Differences between... dialog, as outlined above. Selecting the the dialog's button will open the interactive differences list in the Differences panel.


Detected differences hierarchy in the Differences panel.


The panel displays the differences found between documents in a tree-like structure. The top-level folder displays the total number of differences detected. Entries are created for each type of difference, which in turn contains the specific references and the object (port, part, etc) involved for each.

Selecting the object entry for a detected difference will highlight and zoom to the 'offending' object in the editor workspace.


Interactive navigation in the Differences panel displays the object that created the difference.

The relevant editor will graphically highlight the entry as follows:

  • For a Schematic document, the visual display of the object uses the zoom and dim affect where the 'offending' object is highlighted by dimming all other objects. The contrast of the dimming can be varied with Dim Level slider in the Schematic group in the main menu View tab.
  • For a PCB document, the visual display of the object uses the zoom and mask affect where the 'offending' object is highlighted by applying a monochrome mask to all other objects. The contrast of the applied mask can be varied with Mask Level slider in the Highlight & Edit Mask group in the main menu View tab.

Notes

  • If an object in the panel resides on a document that is currently hidden, the document will be opened automatically and made the active document in the design editor window, when you click the associated entry.
  • The filtering applied when cross-probing from the Differences panel is temporary. Clicking inside the design editor window or clicking the Clear/Clear Masks button  associated with the Dim/Mask controls will clear the filter. As such, you are not prevented from selecting or editing design objects that fall outside the scope of the filter.
  • The information in the Differences panel will be cleared when performing a new document comparison, or compiling the parent project.
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