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The DesignTools Installer (and Uninstaller) for the Cadence PCB Editor (Allegro) is a very useful program. It installs or uninstalls add-on software into the Cadence platform, including the addition of menu items in Allegro and other Cadence programs.

PLEASE NOTE: The DesignTools installer and uninstaller were originally designed for single system installation where all of your Cadence software is installed to the local system.

In other words, the installer and uninstaller are not completely "CAD Manager Friendly" and will have a small problem if your Cadence software ($CDSROOT) is installed on a network volume and shared by multiple end users. The main (unsolvable) problem is simply the modification of the shared menu files. Making local (per user) copies of menu files and redirecting the applications to use the local (modified) copies, would most likely infuriate most CAD Managers.

Installing DesignTools so it is shared on a network is possible but will require a bit of manual intervention by your CAD manager. In a shared installation, though you need write access to actually install the DesignTools software, you only need read access to run them. In theory, on a shared network installation, you could install the DesignTools software on a server, copy the resulting "$home/.DesignTools/" directory to all of your users $home directories and then replace each users "allegro.ilinit" file. This should work but has not been tested.

If you do a shared network install of DesignTools, you also need to make sure the users do not have write access to the DesignTools files/directories. If a user without permission tries to uninstall the software, the uninstaller will simply tell the user they do not have permission and abort the uninstall.

I'm certain there is a better solution to all this for shared installations but I could really use some advice and opinions from a few CAD Managers who maintain such shared installations. Please contact me if you're willing to lend me your opinion.

The installer is launched from a shell script file (or a *.BAT file on MS-Windows), so it is "double-click-simple" for end users. The shell script loads the PCB Editor (Allegro) with an Allegro-Script file that starts execution of a Cadence SKILL program that does all the real work.

  • All Files Are Backed Up Before Modification.
  • All Installed Files Are Logged So They Can Be Uninstalled.
  • Installation/Uninstallation Of Add-On Files And Directories
  • Modification Of Cadence Menu Files.
  • Modification Of Cadence Init Files.
  • Addition Of Cadence Variables.

If an old version of DesignTools is already installed, it it detected and you are propted to ask if uninstalling the old version is OK before it will install the new version.

System Changes

Most people like to know what the heck an installer will do to their system before they run it.

  • Menu File Modifications
    • Your menu files are found where ever the heck you've put them. This is done by walking the menupath variable with the axlDMFindFile function. The usual location for menu files is "$CDSROOT/share/pcb/text/cimenus"
    • The installer can handle menu modification of any Cadence program that uses the *.men file format. At present, only the "allegro.men" file is modified.

  • Initialization File Modifications (allegro.ilinit)
    • Added Allegro Variables
      • designtools
        This Allegro Variable (not system environment variable) points to the location you chose to install the DesignTools software.
    • Added Top-Level (Global) SKILL Variables
      • DTG_MENU
        This simply points us to the DesignTools menu loader which handles creating the Allegro-Commands needed to execute menu items.
        This Top-Level Cadence SKILL Variable points to the "$home/.DesignTools/" directory where your USER level configuration files are stored.
        This Top-Level Cadence SKILL Variable points to where your SITE level configuration files are stored. Your CAD Manager can create tool configuration files that should be used by your entire site and either share them over the network (NFS, SMB or similar) or give you a copy of the site files to keep locally.

  • System File & Directory Modifications
    • The user selects a directory where they want the DesignTools software installed and all of the DesignTools software files and subdirectories are put under the users choice.
    • The "$home/.DesignTools/" directory is created if it does not exist.
    • The "$home/.DesignTools/DT_config_cfg.il" file is created if it does not exist.
    • The "$localenv/allegro.ilinit" file is created if it does not exist.

At the moment, the DesignTools Installer/Uninstaller code is very specific to the rest of DesignTools project and uses the auto-generated data files produced the software build/release process (used by developers to create the release files). Eventually, it would be nice to make the installer/uninstaller more generic, so it can be used by others to do their own add-on software installations.

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