Libraries

Parent page: IntegratedLibrary Panels


Use the Libraries panel to access components in libraries currently available in SOLIDWORKS PCB.

Summary

The Libraries panel enables you to browse and place components from the libraries currently available in SOLIDWORKS PCB.

Panel Access

To display the Libraries panel, click the View | System |  button. The panel has direct access to libraries that are part of an opened project or those installed as persistent libraries.

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

Content and Use

In SOLIDWORKS PCB, components, footprints, and other models can only be used from available libraries, which are those libraries that:

  • Belong to the active project (the project currently selected in the Projects panel).
  • Have been installed in SOLIDWORKS PCB.
  • Are available on a defined search path. Search paths are a project-specific setting – that is, only those defined in the active project can be accessed.

Once libraries have been made available, the contents of one of those libraries is presented in the Libraries panel where is can be browsed and used to place components.

Making Libraries Available

All three of the methods of making a library available are configured in the Available Libraries dialog – click the button at the top of the panel to open the dialog. The Available Libraries dialog has three tabs, which are described in the following sections. 

Libraries are searched in the order they appear in the Available Libraries dialog – in the order of the tabs, then in the order of the libraries listed within each tab. Searching occurs when the list is interrogated as part of model-link verification, for example, when compiling the project, synchronizing, or running a simulation. Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons in each tab to define the search order of the libraries listed in that tab.

Project Tab

This tab lists all of the libraries that are part of the active project (the project currently selected in the Projects panel).

To add a library to the project, click the Add Library button. The Open dialog will appear, browse to and select a library file that you wish to add to the project (and this list).

The following types of library files are supported as project libraries:

  • Integrated Libraries (*.IntLib)
  • Schematic Libraries (*.SchLib)
  • Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib)
  • PCB3D Model Libraries (*.PCB3DLib) – legacy only.
  • Sim Model Files (*.Mdl)
  • Sim Subcircuit Files (*.Ckt)
  • SIMetrix Model Libraries (*.LB)

Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to define the search order of the libraries.

As a new library is added to the list, its corresponding entry also appears under the associated sub-folder in the Projects panel, as a document belonging to that project.

Installed Tab

This tab lists all of the installed libraries. This list is a SOLIDWORKS PCB environment setting, any libraries added to the list will be available for all projects, and the list is persistent across design sessions. Project libraries can be added to this list, but are not initially part of it.

Click the Install button to run the Open dialog, from where you can browse to and select a library that you wish to add to the list.

The following types of library files are supported as installed libraries:

  • Integrated Libraries (*.IntLib)
  • Schematic Libraries (*.SchLib)
  • Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib)

Use the Move Up and Move Down buttons to define the search order of the libraries.

Search Path Tab

This tab lists all libraries that have been found along the Library Search Paths for the project. These paths are defined in the Search Paths tab of the Options For Project dialog. Clicking the Paths button will take you directly to this tab, from where you can define further search paths or modify existing ones as required.

Use the Refresh button to re-interrogate the search paths and ensure that the library list is current.

The following types of library files are supported as search path libraries:

  • Footprint Libraries (*.PcbLib)
  • Sim Model Files (*.Mdl)
  • Sim Subcircuit Files (*.Ckt)
  • PCB3D Model Libraries (*.PCB3DLib) – legacy only.

Libraries in this tab are searched in the order they appear, click the Paths button to define the order.

Search paths can be defined to a specific file, or to a folder, including sub-folders. Keep in mind that searching a large number of folders containing a large number of files can be slow.

It is also important to remember that making a large number of libraries available when those libraries are accessed over a network, can slow the performance of SOLIDWORKS PCB.

Libraries Panel sections

The panel is divided into a number of controls and regions, the image below summarizes the function of each. 


The Libraries panel is used to locate and place components into your design.

Browsing and Placing from the Current Library 

The panel's upper dropdown menu lists the libraries that are available for use with the active project. Select a library in the list to make it the active library in the panel.


Click the dropdown arrow to select a library.

Depending on the panels Browse mode setting (see below), the following types of library file can be listed:

  • Schematic Component libraries *.SchLib; *.Lib
  • Footprint libraries *.PcbLib; *.Lib
  • PCB3D Model libraries *.PCB3DLib – legacy only.
  • Integrated libraries *.IntLib

Setting the Browse Mode for Library Types

The types of libraries shown in the dropdown list will change, depending on the panel browse mode selected. The mode itself is determined using the options accessed by clicking the ... button, at the far right of the dropdown field:


Configure which types of libraries should be displayed in the panel.

  • Components – enable this to display component libraries; including SchLib and IntLib library trypes.
  • Footprints – enable this to display footprint libraries; includes PcbLib library type and fooprints from IntLib libraries.
  • 3D Models – enable this to display PCB3D model libraries. Note that 3D models are now incorporated into the footprint, in the footprint library.

Any combination of browse modes may be enabled at any given time. The drop-down list will update accordingly. As integrated libraries can include all types of components/models, separate entries for those libraries will be listed for each browse mode enabled. 

Display of Component Information

When SOLIDWORKS PCB is first installed, the Libraries panel will display the Component Name, Description and Library fields for each component. These columns can be changed, in both which column is displayed and the order they are displayed in.

To change which columns are displayed, right-click on one of the column headers (or a component name) and choose Select Columns from the context menu, which opens the Select Parameter Columns dialog.


Right-click to configure which columns are displayed.

In the Select Parameter Columns dialog, select the required parameter column and use the Add or Remove buttons to it between the Known Parameters and Selected Parameters lists. You can also double-click on an entry to move it from one list to the other. The list of parameters is derived from all parameters across all components in the available libraries.


Use the dialog to add or remove parameters from the Libraries panel. 

The order of parameter columns can be changed using drag and drop, both in the Libraries panel and also in the Select Parameter Columns dialog.

Placing the Selected Component

Once you have located the required component, use one of the following techniques to place the component on the active document:

  • Click the Place button at the top of the panel 
  • Double-click on the component in the list 
  • Click and hold on the component, then drag and drop the component onto the document

The component will appear, floating on the cursor. While it is floating:

  • Press the Spacebar to rotate the part anitclockwise, in steps of 90°. Press Shift+Spacebar to rotate clockwise.
  • Press the X or key to flip the part along the X-axis or Y-axis respectively.
  • Press Tab to open the component's properties dialog, which can be edited prior to placement.
  • For a PCB component footprint, press the L key to flip the footprint to the other side of the board.

After placing the component another will appear on the cursor, ready for placement. Continue to place further instances of this component, or right-click (or Esc) to stop placing this component. When using the click-and-drag placement method, only a single instance of the part is placed, you do not remain in placement mode.

A component can only be placed if there is a suitable document (schematic or PCB) open as the active document, and the chosen component has a model for that document kind. 

Searching for Components

If you know which library contains the component you need, you can simply add that library through the Available Libraries dialog.

Filtering Components in the Current Library

To find a component within the current library, either scroll to find it in the list of components, or use the filter field to perform a string search on the component Name field. 


Filter the list of components by name to quickly locate the required component.

Incremental Search

Incremental search is the name given to searching as you type – to do this in the current library click on the first entry in the list of components, then start typing the name of the component you want to search for. The list will automatically jump to the component whose name matches the string you are typing. To perform an incremental search on the contents of a different column, drag and drop that column to be the left-most column.


Using the incremental search to first find the components whose name begins with Diode.

Searching across Libraries

When you do not know which library contains the component, or if it is even available, then you can search for it. To search for a component, click the Search button at the top of the panel, which opens the Libraries Search dialog.

The searching process can be summarized as follows:

  • Searching is performed by defining Filters that are applied to all libraries that can be searching according, to the current search Scope setting.
  • The Scope includes the type of libraries to search. Only one type can be searched at a time (Components, Footprints or 3D Models). 
  • The Scope defines which libraries will be searched: it is either the libraries SOLIDWORKS PCB currently has access to (Available libraries), or all libraries within a folder (Libraries on path).
  • When searching libraries on a path the target is a specific folder, and can also Include Subdirectories.
  • You can also search within the search results, by setting the Scope to Refine last search


Use the Libraries Search dialog to search for a component or footprint.

Setting the Search Filter

The Filters region of the dialog is used to define text strings that are to be applied to searching. There are three regions that must be configured:

  1. Field – This is the attribute of the component that is to be searched. It can be any component or footprint attribute, including the Name, Description, Comment, Footprint, or any parameter that has been added to a component. 
  2. Operator – Defines how a match is determined,. This can be when the value is: equal, contains, starts with, or ends with. Note that equal requires an exact string match, so it should only be used when you are confident that the search string is correct and complete.
  3. Value – the characters to be search for in the chosen Field, matched according to the chosen Operator.

If the search Scope is Libraries on path, the Field dropdown will only display previously used strings. If the Scope is Available libraries, then the dropdown will automatically list all attributes of all componnets in all available libraries – simply select the required attribute. This is possible because for the Available libraries option, this data is known to SOLIDWORKS PCB. 

Setting the Scope

There are essentially two approaches to searching, either:

  1. Libraries currently available in SOLIDWORKS PCB – that is the list of libraries shown in the dropdown at the top of the Libraries panel.
  2. Libraries stored in a specific folder, along with subdirectories if the option is enabled.

Searching will return all items of the chosen search type (Components/Footprints/PCB3D Models), found in all libraries that fall under the defined scope (Available Libraries/Libraries on specified search path). For example, if you wanted to find a component that you believe is in a library within specific folders on the hard disk, and that library was not currently listed in the Available Libraries, you would define the search as follows:

  • in the Options region of the dialog, set the Search type to Components,
  • in the Scope region, choose the Libraries on path option,
  • in the Path region, set the path to point to the folder containing the library document that you wish to search,
  • click the Search button.

Advanced Query Searching

In the default mode, the Libraries Search dialog actually converts the Filter settings to a query, which is then applied to the libraries currently targeted by the Scope. You can see this query as well as manually enter your own, by clicking Advanced to switch the dialog to Advanced mode, as shown in the image below.


In the Advanced mode, a query of any complexity can be defined. 

The top section of the dialog, which is also referred to as the Query Editor section, allows you to construct filters through the entry of logical queries. In this mode you type a query directly into the field. For help with query keywords, click the Helper button to open the Query Helper dialog.


Use the Query Helper to locate and learn about query keywords – click in a keyword and press F1 for information about that keyword.

Notes on using queries and the Query Helper:

  • Use the top section of the Query Helper dialog to compose a query expression, using the available Library Functions and System Functions.
  • The mid-section of the Query Helper dialog provides a range of operators for use when constructing an expression.
  • Use the Check Syntax button to verify that an expression is syntactically correct.
  • When the expression for the query has been defined as required, clicking OK will load the Query Editor section of the Libraries Search dialog with the query, ready to proceed with the search.
  • Use the Clear button in the Libraries Search dialog to clear the current query expression from the Query Editor section of the dialog.

Note: When you using the Libraries Search dialog in advanced mode you should check that the Clear existing query option is enabled to ensure that your new search is not based upon an existing search.

Search Results

Once the search criteria have been defined, click on the Search button to begin the search. The Libraries Search dialog will close and the results of the search will be listed in the Libraries panel, under a new entry in the libraries dropdown list titled Query Results, as shown in the image below.


Search results are presented in the Libraries panel.

Note: The Query Results entry will only be displayed if the corresponding browse mode option for the panel is enabled. For example, if the search was conducted for Components, ensure that the Components browse mode option is enabled, to be able to view the Query Results.

If your search produces no results check that the Path is correctly specified. Also, try searching for a component that you know is in a library to check that everything is set correctly.

Right-click Menu

The right-click pop-up menu for the panel provides the following commands:

  • Refresh Library – use this command to refresh the content of the active library in the panel. This can be especially useful when multiple users are working from a shared library (over the network)
  • Place[ComponentName/FootprintName] – use this command to place the currently selected component or footprint onto the active schematic or PCB document respectively
  • References – this sub-menu will only appear if the currently selected component has one or more ComponentLink parameter pairings defined for it. The entries on the menu provide access to various linked documents (e.g. datasheets, web pages, text documents, etc).
  • Select Columns – use this command to access the Select Parameter Columns dialog, from where you can specify which columns of parameter information are to be displayed for the list region of the panel.
  • Edit Component/Edit Footprint – this command becomes available when either a schematic library (*.SchLib) or Footprint library (*.PcbLib) is being browsed in the panel, respectively. It opens the source library for the currently selected component/footprint, making that component/footprint active in the design editor window, ready for editing.

 

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