We use Front Panel Express frequently across our offices and as such we have initiated a plan for a company library of approved components. Here is a list of issues we have come up with that prevent us from managing and organizing this "library" efficiently:
* re-organizing of Macro shapes: please add support for dragging/dropping shapes to re-organize the library file
* "smarter parts": a lot of components have minimum or maximum panel thickness spec's. Currently there is no way to document this in a macro shape except in the name. Ideally, the Macro part would automatically adjust the mill-out depth depending on the thickness of the panel that the part is dropped own on.
* overlay/outline: a lot of components have a flange or similar that won't be machined. Currently, to facilitate proper placement of such parts (for example MIL style connectors), we have added a (red colored) outline to the macro part. This allows us to better visualize and space components on the front panel while guaranteeing that we don't have colliding flanges/parts, but we have to manually go in and un-group all the Macro parts and manually delete these outlines before ordering. As mentioned in another recent thread, a document or non-design layer would be very helpful.
* more "property" fields for macro's. These would be stored with the shape but have no machining effect. A little side-bar could show this information, or maybe add the fields to the "object properties" view? Fields we want to see are: vendor, part#, revision, Comments/Notes with the last being a larger text box. This would to some degree alleviate the fact that the parts are not smart as we could type in min/max panel thicknesses in the part comment section.
I'm sure I/we will have more questions/comments and requests, but mainly the main thing we have issues with right now are all related to the Macro implementation and features that are missing in that. We hope to see these improved soon!
If I was not clear on certain things, let me know and I can clarify. If you disagree, I'm open to discussions, maybe there is a better way or a good reason not to do something?
Thanks for reading!
Posted By: Kjell-Edmund Ims on Feb 24, 2011 07:11PM Category: Whishes
Thank you for contacting us regarding our software.
I will forward your comments along to our design team. There has been a lot of interest in integrating a non-design layer into the software. For several of your requests, a non-design layer would be very helpful (component outline, part number, vendor, etc.).
The panel thickness issue with macros is one that is quite tough to tackle. While some datasheets specify different cutouts for different panel thicknesses, others simply have a maximum panel thickness. On top of that, a designer could use cavities in our software to mount components to panels that are thicker than a datahseet allows. I have brought this up several times, and work is in progress for additions to be added to a later release of Front Panel Designer.
Keep the suggestions coming, many of the features available in the most recent version of Front Panel Designer were added from user requests.
Posted By: Paul Birkeland on Feb 25, 2011 09:59PMReply