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PCB Version Control

18. August 2023
3 minutes reading


PCB version control is the process of tracking and managing changes to PCB design files and documents over time. It maintains a history of changes, manages conflicts, and enables the restoration of previous versions. This ensures data integrity, traceability, and collaboration in the design process.

Purpose of Version Control

  • Traceability and History: Ensure an accurate and detailed history of design evolution, facilitating audit processes and documentation of changes.
  • Collaboration and Conflict Management: Enable effective collaboration among designers and handle conflicts between changes to preserve design integrity.
  • Restoration of Previous Versions: Create a safety net to guard against potential errors and allow reverting to previously functional designs.
  • Documentation and Revision Management: Easy access to and sharing of relevant documents such as specifications and drawings in relation to PCB design revisions and audits.
  • Smoother Production and Maintenance: Ensure manufacturers can quickly identify and implement changes in the production process, and facilitate maintenance and repair of PCBs by providing valuable insights into past issues and solutions.


Traceability and History
One of the greatest advantages of PCB version control is the ability to trace the change history of the design. During the development of a PCB design, multiple changes can be made along the way, including adding or removing components, altering connection patterns, adjusting layouts, and more. Without an effective version control process, keeping track of all these changes and understanding their implications can be challenging. With PCB version control, each change is recorded and documented. When a designer makes a change to the PCB design, a new version of the file is created containing that change. The new version is identified with a unique revision code or number indicating what change was made and when it was made.

This recording of changes enables maintaining an accurate and detailed history of design evolution. Each version of the PCB file is stored and can be retrieved later if necessary. This provides a clear picture of how the design has evolved over time and what changes were made at different points. Additionally, traceability and history are crucial during audit processes. If a design needs to be reviewed by internal or external stakeholders, the version control system can provide clear documentation of all changes and the individuals involved.

Collaboration and Conflict Management
Conflict management in version control enables designers to work simultaneously without disrupting each other’s work. The system keeps track of which parts of the design are being worked on by which individuals and helps merge changes in a way that preserves design integrity. By handling conflicts effectively, version control systems can reduce time consumption and enhance collaboration among designers. It also ensures the final design remains consistent and free from inconsistent changes or lost modifications.

Restoration of Previous Versions
Restoring previous versions in PCB version control serves as a safety net, helping to protect against potential errors and unforeseen consequences of changes. If a change proves problematic or undesirable, reverting to a previous version allows returning to a known working design.

This feature is particularly useful in larger design projects involving multiple designers, where changes can be made by different team members. In case unexpected results or conflicts arise from changes, it’s easy to revert to a previous version and evaluate which change caused the issue. The restoration of previous versions can also be beneficial in design iterations and experimentation. If different design options need to be tested or a change needs to be rolled back due to undesired outcomes, it’s possible to return to a previous version and proceed from there. This ability to restore previous versions not only saves time and resources but also contributes to increased confidence and assurance in the design process.

Documentation and Revision Management
Using the version control system as a central repository, designers and other stakeholders can easily find and share relevant documents such as specifications, drawings, test reports, and more.

The version control system allows attaching and associating documents directly with specific versions of the PCB design, making it easy to track which documents are relevant to a given revision. This ensures there is no confusion or ambiguity regarding which documentation applies to a particular version of the design. Some industries and markets have strict documentation requirements, and by implementing a structured version control process, these requirements can easily be met, providing the necessary documentation during revisions or audits.

Smoother Production and Maintenance
Version control in PCB design also positively impacts the production and maintenance of the final PCB. By having an accurate change history and documentation, the manufacturer can quickly identify and implement necessary changes in the production process. This ensures the final PCB meets the correct specifications and tolerances. Additionally, version control also eases the maintenance and repair of PCBs, as the change history provides valuable insights into past issues and solutions.

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