Category Archives: News

Parts and Permissions – Fall Update

We’re excited to announce some significant changes to Aligni this fall with design and functionality updates to the Parts pages and Site Permissions. These changes will take effect soon on all sites but we wanted to give you a couple weeks to prepare for them. We invite you to take a look at our Demo Site and familiarize yourself with the updated interface.

We’ll also be updating the documentation pages soon with more detail on the updated functionality.

Permissions

Permissions-Parts@2xFirst, let’s talk about Permissions. Aligni currently has a limited set of permissions assigned to usergroups. As our customers (and Aligni) have grown over the years, we’ve felt the need to make permissions more granular to give administrators more power over what their users can and cannot do. To this end, we bring you Permission Sets.

Permission Sets replace Usergroups as a way to grant permissions to users. Permission Sets now offer much more granular control than our Usergroups did. You may assign multiple Permission Sets to any user and the permissions are granted in an additive manner.

Qualifiers

Permissions-Qualifiers@2xSome permissions now have optional qualifiers. For example, you can grant permission to view inventory at all locations or you can restrict the permission to a single inventory location. If you have multiple factory locations, this allows you to grant visibility only to people at the specific location.

We have additional plans for qualifiers coming soon. Stay tuned!

 

Part Pages Design

Part-Tabs@2xWhat started with a redesign of ActiveQuote and Purchasing features continues to the Aligni Part pages. Parts are central to the Aligni experience so our focus has been on usability and efficiency. In addition to a great new look and feel, the new design has allowed us to provide more information on the page.

Tabbed Interface

The first thing you’ll notice is that we’ve created a new tabbed interface to give each section of the part page more space and to focus information. With part information shown in the header, you can quickly switch between tabs for more information.

Standard / Summary views

A new summary view keeps the familiar density of part information of the old interface design but we’ve cleaned this view up a fair bit by making it read-only. The new decluttered view makes it even easier to get an overview.

Additional Data

On the tabs, you’ll see a few new nuggets…

  • Inventory History – The inventory tab contains recent inventory history and it’s even filterable.
  • Supply Chain – The supply chain tab shows recent quotes and now includes recent purchasing activity.
  • Change History – The history tab shows changes to the part parameters. It’s also filterable.

Part Revisions

The biggest functional change in this update is Part Revisions. Previously, we supported part changes through the Partlist Tags feature but this only captured changes to a part’s BOM. With Part Revisions, we additionally capture changes to several of the basic part parameters and all custom parameters, and even attachments.

Parts-RevisionList@2x

Drafts

Parts-Draft@2xWith the transition to Part Revisions, what was previously an “uncommitted” part has now become a Draft. Since most users were not using this functionality, we have converted all existing “uncommitted” parts to released parts.

Now, when a part is first created or a new revision is created, the part is in draft mode and cannot be used on part lists or added to inventory, quotes, or purchases until it has been released. This assures that the part has been entered and reviewed, if necessary, for completeness.

Release Workflow

Parts-ReleaseRevision@2xReleasing a new part is straightforward. The part becomes Released and may be used as expected.

Releasing a new revision is slightly different and offers the user an opportunity to review the part’s current revision in inventory and usage on BOMs. Since inventory in Aligni ignores part revision, existing inventory is either up-rev’d (converted to the new revision) or disposed.

Similarly, each appearance on an assembly BOM can be automatically up-rev’ed or left as the existing version.

Attachments

To help organize attachments (files, notes, and URLs) for your parts, you can now attach to either the Part or the Part Revision. Attaching to the Part means that every revision has visibility of the attachment. Attaching to the Part Revision means that only items attached to that specific revision will be visible. View and manage attachments on the new Attachments tab.

Attachment Handling

A new setting has been added to the Site Settings / Part Settings: Attachment Handling. This setting determines how part revision attachments are managed for released parts and apply to all parts on the site.

  • Open – Attachments may be added, edited or removed at any time by users with permission.
  • Add-Only – Except in Draft mode, attachments may only be added after.
  • Closed – Once released, part revision attachments are fixed and may not be added, edited, or removed.

Data Migration

This latest update requires some changes to site data. We’re always very careful and tread softly when this needs to be done to enhance functionality. The following changes will occur with the migration and we’ll let you know through our newsletter when this change will happen. It is currently scheduled for Saturday, 2014-11-22 but that date may change. If you have any questions or concerns ahead of this date, please contact us!

Migrating Usergroups to Permission Sets

We have automatically migrated your existing Usergroups to Permission Sets. With the new added flexibility, it might be a good time to review these Permission Sets and make any adjustments you need.

Migrating Partlist Tags to Part Revisions

The following table illustrates what changes will occur. Basically, Partlist Tags are converted to Part Revisions. Immediately after the migration is performed, there will be no Draft parts, so every part currently in your database will become released.

Partlist Tags Part Revisions
Tagged Partlists Converted to Part Revisions with the same name.
Untagged Partlists Released and converted a Part Revision named “A”.
Builds – Tagged Partlist Converted to a Build of the corresponding Part Revision.
Builds – Untgged Partlist Converted to a Build of Part Revision “A”.
Uncommitted Parts Released as Part Revision “A”.

Purchasing Reloaded

Our designers and developers have been hard at work putting together a new design for Aligni’s Purchasing interface and we’re happy to introduce some of the finer points here. For more information, be sure to visit our online documentation.

Purchase Manager

PurchaseManager-TabIndex@2xThe left-side navigation link for Purchases will take you to the Purchase Manager where you can see an overall of your site’s purchasing activities. Purchases are listed according to the three status categories listed below. A new search feature allows you to find purchase orders by vendor or PO number.

  • Draft – New purchases are in draft mode until they are committed.
  • Open – Open purchases are those that are committed but have at least one open item. An open item is an item on a purchase that has not been received in full.
  • Closed – Closed purchases are those for which all items on the purchase have been received in full.

Parts on Order

The Parts on Order tab shows all open items along with vendor promise dates (due dates) and links to the original purchase.

Purchasing Summary

On the Purchasing Summary tab, historical purchasing information is summarized by vendor and manufacturer over a selectable period.

Fresh Clean Look

Collapsible vendor tabs clear unwanted clutter and provide an indication of which vendors have been emailed the RFQ.

Attachments

You can now add notes, URL, and file attachments to purchases. Include copies of vendor quotes, drawings, or other helpful files. Keep notes of vendor discussions or changes in delivery dates. Best of all, attachments persist with the purchase, so you have a lasting record of the information associated with the purchase, not just the PO itself.

Widescreen Users Rejoice!

Purchase-Price-Helper@2xMany Aligni users have wide displays and our new design includes a number of features intended to help them get the most of your screen real estate. Helpful information is shown in the right sidebar when your browser is wide enough.

With the sidebars, entering quantity and price information is blazingly fast.
When entering quantities, the sidebar contains:

  • Current inventory and the item’s reorder quantity setting.
  • Recent quotes
  • Recent purchases
  • Recent builds
  • Historical and predicted consumption over 24 months
  • Where-used information

When entering prices, the sidebar contains:

  • Recent purchases
  • One-click selection of price / vendor based on quotes

Currency Support

Each purchase can be setup for a specific currency, often based on the vendor’s currency or their offered quotes. Write your purchases in this currency and Aligni will convert the received inventory to your site-wide inventory when you receive items against the PO.

New Suppliers Design

Back in December, we released the first stage of our new design look & feel. Today, we’re happy to announce this new look for the Suppliers portion of Aligni. But this update is more than just a pretty fa├žade.

New Look

Suppliers-Cards@2xFor starters, we’ve updated the overall page design to be cleaner, more consistent, and easier on the eyes. Now you can display supplier information in a list format or three-across as cards. Manufacturers, Vendors, Contacts, and Customers (new!) are differentiated by icon and color.

Summary information such as email, phone, address, and distribution is available at a glance and details are only a click away.

Better Organization

Suppliers-Details@2xSupplier detail information is now better organized into tabs, making it easier to find the information you’re after and also bringing some items (like History) into clearer view.

Attachments – Drag and Drop

Suppliers-Attachments@2xModern browsers now support file drag and drop and we love it! Now, when attaching files to a supplier, you can simply drag and drop the file from your desktop to the browser. It makes the Aligni interface feel much more like a native desktop application.

We’ve also added drag-and-drop reordering of attachments to help you prioritize the information better.

Customers (and more)

Suppliers-Customer@2xFinally, we’ve added Customers to the bunch. While not technically a supplier, customers fit the genre of relationships that we’re trying to foster with the “Suppliers” section. You can keep important details about your customers here such as credit approvals, notes, terms & conditions, etc.

Multiple Addresses

Finally we reorganized the addresses and phone numbers a bit. You can now store multiple addresses and phone numbers with any supplier or customer and attach a descriptive label to them for reference.

Parts & Vendors Migration Improvements

In January 2014, Trilogy Design announced the end of their technical support, thus ending twenty solid years as a stalwart package meeting the needs of small engineering departments worldwide. We’ve long helped P&V users grow to their next level by offering migration from their existing database to Aligni and look forward to continuing this service.

We’ve recently improved our migration tool for Parts & Vendors by adding support for purchase orders as well as improving the flow for customers to upload their database to us for quick migration.

Upload Your Data

PVMigrationPreviously, the migration tool was run by customers locally and it used the Aligni API to reconstitute their data in Aligni. This was a bit cumbersome for customers without programming knowledge and it isolated us from some of the problems they might have encountered. Now, you can upload your P&V database directly into your new Aligni site and we can perform the migration directly on Aligni servers. Upon completion, you’ll get a full log of the translation with any errors that might require some attention.

To get started, visit your settings page by clicking on your avatar image. At the bottom of the settings choices, select “Parts & Vendors Migration” as shown to the right, then follow the prompts to upload your data. You need to be fully subscribed to do a migration; migration is not provided during the trial period. Also note that your existing data will be destroyed before the migration can begin.

More to Come

We’re not done yet! We still have a few things to add to help P&V users migrate to cloud-based part management. Stay tuned!

Part and Inventory Labels

Just today, we excitedly pushed our new Label Printing feature to the production servers!

With this feature, you can define multiple label templates and print part or inventory asset information to Dymo LabelWriter printers. We’ve even included a few example label templates to get you started.

DymoLabelMaking@2x

Label Substitutions

PrintInventoryLabel@2xDymo’s label software makes it super easy to define and manage label templates. Aligni automatically substitutes part and inventory asset information for variables you place on your templates and even displays a preview of the label before printing.

Since parts can have Custom Parameters, Aligni will also substitute these so you can define labels specific to certain part types. For example, capacitor labels can show the capacitors temperature characteristic (X7R, Y5V, C0G, etc) and resistor labels can show the resistor power rating.

Some supported parameters are shown below. See the Label Printing documentation for more detail.

  • PART_NUMBER
  • PART_MANUFACTURER_PARTNUMBER
  • PART_MANUFACTURER_NAME
  • PART_DESCRIPTION
  • PART_COMMENT
  • PART_VALUE
  • PART_X_{CUSTOM_PARAMETER_XML_NAME}
  • INV_LOCATION_NAME
  • INV_LOCATION_SHORTNAME
  • INV_SUBLOCATION_NAME
  • INV_DATECODE
  • INV_LOTCODE
  • INV_LOT_EXPIRATION_DATE
  • INV_SERIALNUMBER
  • INV_ASSETID
  • PO_VENDOR_NAME
  • PO_NUMBER
  • PO_QUANTITY
  • PO_PRICE
  • PO_RECEIVE_DATE

ActiveQuote Redesign

This past week, we pushed one segment of our user interface redesign and we’d love to hear your thoughts! ActiveQuote has been a tremendous timesaver for dealing with large semiconductor vendors that typically provide component quotes via email. Several years ago, we moved the entire quoting process out of email and into your component database to streamline the process and make you more efficient.

The new design is a refinement of that process and an improvement in usability. Here are the bullet points of the changes we’ve made.

New Quote Manager

Status

ActiveQuote-Status@2xQuote status has been simplified into three categories:

  • Pending – A new quote is pending until it has been submitted to at least one of the chosen vendors.
  • Active – Once a quote has been sent to a vendor, it becomes active and available for vendor view and response.
  • Closed – You may optionally close a quote to prevent further vendor changes.

Simple filtering helps you keep track of quotes that are still in progress (pending) and those that are awaiting vendor response.

ActiveQuote-Filtering@2x

Vendor Status

Vendor status is now illustrated with abbreviated vendor names but you can mouse over them to see the full vendor name.

ActiveQuote-VendorStatus@2x

Clean, Elegant Look

The quote entry process has improved, too, with better use of inline editing for the quote name and description as well as automatic saves, eliminating the need to click “Save Changes”. Vendor selection uses new vendor “short names” or abbreviations.

ActiveQuote-Entry@2x

Collapsible vendor tabs clear unwanted clutter and provide an indication of which vendors have been emailed the RFQ.

ActiveQuote-VendorTabs@2x

Side Bar Quantity Helper

ActiveQuote-Sidebar@2xThe Quantity Helper is still available as a popup tool to summarize part information when determining the quantity to RFQ. We’ve enhanced this capability to support users that use Aligni with wide screens. If the browser window is wide enough, Aligni automatically updates a new right sidebar with part summary information.

Updated Part Cart

Aligni’s Part Cart has a new home above the sidebar navigation panel providing a compact, functional, and elegant look in both collapsed and expanded modes.

PartCart@2x

User Avatars

On your Account Profile page, you’ll notice that we’ve added user avatars and included a few fun pre-made images. Of course, you can also upload your own image. Enjoy!

UserAvatars

Welcome!

Welcome to the new Aligni blog!

We’re excited to have a completely rebuilt marketing web page fully illustrated by the remarkably talented Josh Cleland. Please check back here regularly for information on new Aligni Features as well as Tips and Techniques we’ll be sharing.

For now, please pardon our dust while we get everything in shape!