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The Cadence® Allegro® backend layout tools are large, complex, highly-capable environments that provide you with a massive amount of functionality. Whether you are designing a rigid-flex PCB, a BGA package, an interposer, or something else entirely, they provide the features you need to accomplish the task.
However, with great functionality comes great… big forms, at times. Some of the largest forms in Allegro are for commands like Quick Place, shown below:
If you happen to be running Allegro layout editor on a laptop or other small screen with a lower resolution, like 1024x768, then you might run into some issues. In the case of Quickplace, you might find that the form gets cut off on the bottom, leaving you unable to access the four buttons to place, unplace, complete, or cancel the command:
What do you do in cases like this? Are you stuck waiting to run Quickplace until you can get back to a machine with a larger / higher resolution screen? No, says I, you are not out of luck at all!
The easiest way to do this, particularly if it is a short-term hassle due to being in an airport or somewhere else that limits your hardware, is to alias a function key to the command. Cancel you can always manage with the X in the top-right of the form, or with the assigned function key, F9. The OK button is the same as typing done on the command line or pressing F6. These function keys always work the same way (F1 can be used to access help for the command rather than using the button on the form as well, naturally!), so just using the function keys gives you access to those buttons’ capabilities.
That leaves you with the two remaining buttons. You can define an alias for each. To know what a button does when pressed, you can look in the journal file after a session or record a script and look at it. This will show you that, for the Place button on the Quickplace form, the system runs the command:
FORM quickplc place
Now, you want to make sure that it does this on the form, so it’s a good idea to activate the form before running that command, and then returning control to the canvas with your alias. That gives an alias that looks like:
alias plc “setwindow form.quickplc; FORM quickplc place; setwindow pcb”
Whenever you run the plc alias, it will activate the Quickplace form, click the Place button, and bring you back to the canvas. You can create a similar alias for the Unplace button if you need it. You’re all set, now able to easily use those buttons even if you cannot see them on the screen.
There is a second option to cure what ails you. Maybe you don’t use all the options on the form. Perhaps the place by reference designator option is not how you leverage the power of Quickplace . If there are fields that you don’t need or wish to hide, one of the truly flexible features of Allegro layout editors is the ability to tweak forms to your liking.
While you cannot add NEW fields to a form – the tool wouldn’t have any idea what to do with them! – you can suppress or move fields around. Going back to our alias above, you’ll see that the form’s name is “quickplc”. Find that form file in your installation (…/share/pcb/text/forms/quickplc.form). Opening it, you can see the layout of the entire form.
Editing this file will allow you to remove fields that you don’t want to see, or just move the fields around. Be sure to keep the field’s names and types the same so that they continue to work as before. But, if you want to remove the Place by REFDES group of fields, you can delete or comment them out of the form, and then shift up the Y-coordinate values for the fields below it. This makes the form shorter so that it fits on your screen comfortably at any resolution.
Extensive examples and documentation on the forms’ format (sorry; couldn’t resist!) is in the …/share/pcb/examples/skill folder of your installation if you need help with the syntax. You can, for instance, even use the presence of a variable to control the form’s organization.
Add the following lines into the form file:
You can put the current form field arrangement in the else block. In the if, you can remove and rearrange the fields as we just talked about. Then, when you are on your low-resolution screen, just set that variable in your pcbenv/env file and relaunch the tool. You’ll get your new, compressed version of the form. When you’re back in the office, unset the variable in your env file to get the original form back. Of course, if there are fields you never want to see or access in general, you can remove them in the same manner. Typically, we do not advise this as you might forget that functionality is there at some point in the future when you do need it.
Whichever solution you go with, know that Cadence is always improving our tools and providing you with newer options and controls to make the tool your own. If something is causing you trouble, frustrating you, or simply preventing you from working at 100% efficiency, let us know so we can work with you to remove that hurdle!