Category Archives: News

Accounts and Organizations Restructuring

Accounts, Invitations, and Collaborators

As you know, several months ago, we updated our accounts to use unique email addresses as a credential for accessing Aligni. We have also merged several user accounts to allow those users to access multiple sites with which they collaborate. As part of this restructuring, you’ll notice a few things…

Organizations – Previously known as sites, we now refer to the owner of an item master (part database) as an organization. This is more aligned with modern conventions in the cloud software industry. As an account holder, you can now create multiple organizations and set them up as private or public.

Invitations – Previously, user accounts were created by the site administrator as part of the site management role. Now, user accounts may be created at any time by users and the association to an organization is handled as an invitation to collaborate. This distinction is important as it allows users to collaborate with multiple organizations.

Public Organizations

Since its introduction in 2006, Aligni has offered a free service for Open Source Hardware projects known as Open Aligni. We have merged this service with our standard (private) service to make it easier for account holders to manage and access multiple organizations and their item masters using a single account.

Public organizations are established as a way to share your projects and the data associated with them with the world. This is a great way to share your BOM, schematics, and other associated information with colleagues, customers, and hobbyists. For example…

  • Open Source Hardware – Makers and creators can share their designs with the world in an open, organized environment. Bill of Materials (BOMs), part data, revisions, design files, and change management information is all available in one place.
  • Evaluation Boards – Share your company’s evaluation board designs in a consistent presentation. You can include part alternates, supply chain information, and design documentation to make it easy for your customers to access and easy for your design team to maintain the information.
  • University Labs – Many universities have departmental labs or student stores. These labs can share their parts database, inventory, BOMs, and other project materials with students and the public.

New Terms of Use

In order to better represent the language used in defining accounts and organizations, we have a new Terms of Use Agreement. Please review this document. Continued use of the Aligni application and API indicates an agreement to these terms.

Future Directions

This restructuring lays the groundwork for a lot of new capability we’re working on. We’re really excited about what’s to come!

Fresh Paint – New Settings Layout

Today we rolled out a new layout and hierarchy for our organization and user account settings. More than just rolling on a fresh coat of paint, however, we revisited all settings and rebuilt the hierarchy to make things easier to find. We also made several interface improvements along the way.

Both organization and user account settings are available from the organization badge menu located at the top-left corner of every application page. Some organization settings may not be available to all collaborators depending on how your organization administrator configured permissions.

One Account, Multiple Organizations

We recently consolidated any accounts that shared the same email address. The new settings organization is another step in this process. Now, you may use a single Aligni account to access multiple organizations if you are a member of more than one. If you’re a collaborator with more than one organization, you’ll see a switcher in the badge menu as shown.

Legacy Settings

The legacy settings interface is still available through the end of March. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about settings, please reach out to support@aligni.com.

More to Come!

This has been an important step to updating and modernizing our account structure and sets us up for some nice new features we plan to deploy over the next couple months. Stay tuned!

Tell a Story with Aligni ECM

The essence of product lifecycle management (PLM) is to engage with the life of your product throughout its entire lifecycle – from conceptualization to development, from prototype to production, through maintenance, and ultimately obsolescence. Engineering change management (ECM) is the documentation process that tells this story. It’s hard enough for one person to build one product and remember all the twists and turns that brought them through today.

This month, we’re rolling out Aligni’s new ECM feature. Aligni’s ECM has been developed to provide a simple, easy-to-use workflow, a clean interface, and the integration you’d expect to other Aligni pages making ECM documentation easy to find for your parts and assemblies. ECM at the enterprise service level includes approval workflow for role-based management of the change process.

With ECM, you can create engineering change requests (ECR), link them to engineering change orders (ECO), then link the ECO to a part revision to fully track the proposal, discussion, evaluation, and implementation of requested changes.

Every organization handles changes a bit differently – priorities vary from company to company and your approach to change documentation needs to reflect your company’s values and purpose. Configurable ECM parameters allow you to customize your site’s ECM to work perfectly with your workflow and internal process terminology.

Discussions and attachments are a vital part of the change process. ECM discussions include a feature where participants can register their position on a proposed change or implementation as undecided, thumbs up, or thumbs down. This is separate from the approval process so even sites without approval workflow gain some documentation benefit from ECM participation.

Aligni ECM records allow you to list related items and affected items. These links include specific revisions of parts so you can quickly see which ECO were rolled into a revision update. We mentioned previously that ECM can help tell the story of a part’s evolution. This story becomes clear in the part revision history where links to all contributing ECO and ECR are connected to their corresponding revision. All of your change documentation is just a click away!

Documentation

For more information, please visit our Change Management documentation.

Aligni ECM Pricing and Availability

Aligni ECM is immediately available as part of all Large and Enterprise plans. Existing Medium plans are able to try out Aligni ECM for 60 days by emailing support. After the trial period, you will need to be on a Large or Enterprise plan to continue using ECM.

Minor API Update

An error in the API for subparts was recently brought to our attention. We will be deploying an update to the API over the weekend of June 24 / 25 but wanted to make you aware of the change. While we don’t believe anyone will be affected by this change, it is possible that some users quietly used the incorrect API data.

Before the change, the subpart tags in a part’s part listing used part_revision_id to incorrectly reference the PARENT’S part revision ID. You’ll note that this was already referenced in the revision tag.

The API update changes this so that the part_revision_id now correctly references the CHILD part revision.

Notice of New TLS 1.2 Requirement

TLS 1.2 Requirement

Starting 30 November 2016, TLS 1.2 will be required for all browser and API connections to Aligni. While many of you may not know what this means, the good news is that you probably don’t have to. TLS 1.2 is a protocol standard for secure internet connections. TLS 1.2 is supported by all recent major browsers. You can find a support matrix by visiting this page. The older your browser (or the more Microsofty it is), the less likely it is to support TLS 1.2 so make sure you’re using something up to date!

Aligni Replicator

The TLS 1.2 requirement also affects all API access. You will need to make sure that your API development environment supports TLS 1.2. Aligni Replicator 1.1.4 supports this and can be downloaded here. If you’re not using Replicator 1.1.4 by 30 November 2016, you will not be able to synchronize your local database.

Fall 2016 Newsletter

aligni-halloween-newsletter-masthead-v2-1200px

This update comes a bit later than we were hoping, but here are a few of the things we’ve been working on recently. We’ve got some great things coming in our next update, too!

GoogleAuthenticatorTwo-Factor Authentication

Aligni now supports optional Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) through use of the Google Authenticator smartphone app. By enabling 2FA for your account, a unique code is required in addition to your login credentials each time you login to Aligni.

Draft Revisions View

We’ve added Draft Revisions to the Engineering perspective of home screen so you now have a quick view of all draft parts as well as any draft revisions on existing released parts.
DraftParts@2x

URL Parameters

With the new URL custom parameter type, you can now add links to datasheets, web pages, or even intranet (internal) document storage. Links can have an optional text override in addition to the URL.
URL@2x

Part Import and Bulk Part Update (beta)

The Part Import tool now has a fresh new look and some usability improvements. Additionally, the tool now supports importing custom parameters from the CSV source.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to make broad changes to the items in your part database. This may be required after adding new custom parameters or other large scale updates. The new Bulk Part Update tool is intended to make this process easier. Just upload a CSV file with the changes you’d like to make and configure the tool to process those changes. Aligni will match to your part numbers and update the requested information. You have the option of making changes “in place” or creating new revisions.

This tool is considered BETA. If you use it, we would appreciate any feedback.

Equipment (Configuration Management)

Thanks to a recent sponsored development project, we’re happy to announce the availability of Equipment (documentation coming soon!). With the Equipment component, you can track the lifecycle of products throughout their operational life.

Equipment-LogbookEntries

Aligni already allows you to manage the product lifecycle from design, prototype, redesign, and production build. Now, you can manage the parts on these products after the build. Most commonly, this is used to manage parts, systems, and software of larger capital pieces of equipment such as aircraft or machine installations.

Approval Workflow (beta)

Approved@2xA new approval workflow is available to our Enterprise customers. It is currently supported for Purchasing and will be made available for ActiveQuote soon. It is also supported for the new Equipment / Configuration Management.

Miscellaneous Updates

We’ve made lots of other tweaks, adjustments, and improvements. Here’s an abbreviated list…

  • Attachments table in the Purchase email to vendors
  • API extensions to purchases
  • New “by vendor” part search filter
  • New “drafts” and “draft revisions” part search filters
  • …lots of other stuff and bug fixes…

Service Pricing Update

As of June 2015, new Aligni customers pay a monthly base fee and a monthly per-user fee. We will soon begin a transition plan for legacy customers to this new pricing. Please review our pricing matrix to see how this will affect your organization. All service upgrades from today forward will be done to the new pricing matrix.

Fall 2015 Newsletter

Over the past few months, we’ve seen a number of enhancements to Aligni and have more in progress. A number of these updates have been sponsored by customers through our Bespoke Support. Thank you for your continued interest in making Aligni awesome for all our customers!

Manual Inventory Adjustment Ledger

Parts-Inventory-AdjustRelative-B@2xSometimes there’s a lot going on with inventory: transfers, build reservations, and adjustment batches. Now, when making a manual inventory adjustment to an item, a new ledge is shown to help clarify exactly what changes will be effected.

Inventory Adjustment Batches

Bulk inventory adjustment batches are created from the Inventory Perspective on the home screen by clicking on “Adjust Inventory”. You can use these for all sorts of inventory reconciliation and cycle counting. Even though we just deployed this year, we decided to make some sweeping changes to improve the interface and make way for some additional features later. Now, inventory adjustment batches are done in a manner very similar to inventory transfers so you can store your progress on any pending batch and come back to it later.

InventoryAdjustments@2x

Builds Redesign and Performance Improvements

The build interfaces have gotten a major update and are now consistent with most of the Aligni user experience. Along the way, we’ve made some pretty dramatic improvements to performance. With large builds, you should see load and processing times reduced by up to 80%.

Build Deviations

Build-Deviations-Dropdown@2xHot out of development, Build Deviations will greatly improve the way you and your manufacturing manage and track deviations during the build cycle. You can add, remove, and substitute parts of a build during the planning stages and document those changes easily and clearly. Now that deviations can more precisely be handled at build time, we will soon be removing the part alternates management at the BOM level.

Builds-Deviations-Removals@2x

Builds-Deviations-Additions@2x

Inventory Transfers

The inventory transfers interface has gotten its facelift and now has a “Pull Ticket” feature. Oh, we also added this to builds.

Performance Improvements and Bugs Squashed

As usual, our developers continue to improve performance and close defects. We maintain our stand that bugs need to be first priority for any development and our low defect rate and fast response times are an indicator that we’re doing well in that regard. For all of you that have reported issues, thank you for doing so and helping us get to the bottom of things.

Help Us!

Please share your experience with Aligni with your colleagues and on social media! And if you have time, please drop by Capterra and offer up a review.

Spring 2015 Newsletter

Part Type Categories (Hierarchy)

PartTypeCategories@2xPart Types may now have parent categories, allowing you to define multi-level hierarchies of part types. Optionally, set the “Category Only” option to prevent parts from being added to a mid-level category.

Purchases Activity Tab

The Purchase View now has an additional “Activity” tab. When you submit a purchase order to vendors, Aligni now stores a copy of the email and purchase order PDF you sent so you can review it later. This is particularly helpful if you make changes to a purchase and submit those revisions to your vendor. You can now review previous submittals.

Purchases-ActivityTab@2x

Bulk Inventory Adjustments

Inventory-BulkAdjustments@2x

Inventory-AdjustmentQueue@2x

Performing inventory cycle counts and other bulk inventory adjustments just got a lot easier with Aligni! To get started, click on “Adjust Inventory” from the home page inventory perspective.

Select a part collection or inventory location and Aligni will populate the form with parts within your selection criteria. As you enter line-by-line adjustments, the adjustments are queued for review.

When you’re ready to commit the adjustments, click on the yellow inventory icon at the top of the navigation bar to see a list of the queued adjustments, remove individual adjustments, or commit them all with a common log message.

For more information, see the Bulk Inventory Adjustments documentation.

Partlist Export Templates

Part-ExportTemplates@2xStandardize your part list (and soon, kit list) CSV exports using Partlist Export Templates, available on the settings pages. You can select which columns to export and even specify their relative order in the CSV file. With export templates, your users will produce reliably-consistent CSV files every time.

Custom Parameter Search

We’ve cleaned up the part search filter and added new filter capabilities for finding parts by custom parameters. Check this out on the home page engineer perspective.

PartSearch@2x

Minor Updates

We’re constantly adding new features and adjusting existing ones for the ultimate user experience. Overall, we’ve made several (too many to mention!) performance and design improvements. We hope that these smaller tweaks improve your Aligni experience! For example…

Purchases and Quotes

We’ve added a new vendor selection interface and a new “Add a Part” link to add a single part to an RFQ or purchase.

Line item BOM details on the Where-Used

Click on the new “info” icon in the Part Usage area on a Part Details page to see the partlist entry for that part on the BOM including the quantity, reference designators, and comment.

Chrome 42+ and Dymo Label Printers

Google recently released Chrome version 42 in which they have disabled the key feature that allows web browsers to print to Dymo label printers. The Dymo software uses a feature called NPAPI for Chrome and other browsers. Google announced that they would remove this entirely in September 2015. With Chrome 42, they have disabled the feature.

To fix Dymo support in Chrome 42,

  1. Enable NPAPI by visiting the link chrome://flags/#enable-npapi and clicking “Enable”.
  2. Quit Chrome
  3. Re-install the Dymo DLS software

You should now be able to see that the plugin is enabled by visiting chrome://plugins

The folks at Dymo are still working on a solution to this issue for the long term.

Shiny New Welcome Page

Our designers continue the march to make Aligni more productive, more beautiful, and easier to use with a new Welcome Page design. Three switchable perspectives give you quick access to your most important items in a common look and feel.

Welcome-SupplyChain@2x

Welcome Page Perspectives

Three “perspectives” on the Welcome Page collect information related to Engineering, Supply Chain, and Inventory. Select between these perspectives to see summary information collected from your site.

Welcome-Perspectives@2x

For example, the Supply Chain perspective includes the familiar Build Manager (with some great new search and filtering options, by the way) as well as Quote and Purchasing Activities.

Welcome-Inventory-Transfers@2x Welcome-Inventory-ReceivePurchaseOrders@2x

Integrated Search Filters

Welcome-SearchFilters@2xWe’ve moved the part search filters to the Welcome Page now for faster access, eliminating extra clicks and page loads to find parts.

Part Favorites

Parts-Favorites@2xSearch in Aligni is pretty fast, but many users find themselves going to the same part pages often during project phases. Now you can tag often-visited parts quickly using the new Favorites feature. Just click on the Favorite Start at the top right of a part page and the part is instantly tagged as a favorite. Click again to untag. Favorites appear on the new Welcome Page in the Engineer Perspective.

Performance Improvements

Performance@2xWhile the designers have been doing their thing, our engineers have been working diligently to tune performance for demanding sites. The results are starting to pay off with dramatic decreases in page load times by up to 80%!

There’s more to come and we’re carefully monitoring activity to see which pages deserve the most attention based on their load time and popularity.

Lifecycle Parameters

LifecycleParameters@2xA great new addition is Lifecycle Parameters. These are parameters that can be edited at any time (by users with permission to edit lifecycle parameters) without the need to create a new revision and release. Lifecycle parameters are best suited to part attributes that change during the lifetime of a part and aren’t necessarily tied to the rigid release structure. For example, estimated cost and internal engineering status may change without the need to formally release a new revision.

Since Lifecycle Parameters can be changed at any time, their changes are logged on the part history tab.