As I work with clients just beginning with Autodesk Vault, I always see habits from previous file management creep into a vault-managed work environment. I thought it would be a good idea to review three habits to break with Vault in place.
1) Using "Save As":
This is a horrible habit, and for many, it is a hard one to break; it’s like smoking, you must go through withdrawals for months.
Many will elect to make changes to a design but do not want to affect the current release with this test design change. Excellent overall plan, however, save as will cause serious issues with assemblies and the related parts in those assemblies. Changes made to parts or sub-assemblies will definitely affect other assemblies that you may or may not be aware of; good reason to use two Vault tools, “Where Used” and “Uses”, but that is for a later posting.
A better process would be to use the Vault tools, i.e. “COPY DESIGN”. Using Copy Design will allow a user to identify some or all the parts they will be affecting in a test design change. Copy Design will allow a user to select and temporarily rename a set of files which provides the ability to make “What if” type test design changes. If the feasibility of that design change moves in a positive direction, then go forward with either revisions or a completely new design. If those test design changes move in the negative direction, then the ability to abandon that test design with no harm, no foul to other files is a huge file document management plus.
TIP: When using copy design, add a prefix or suffix to the files for easy identification.
NOTE: As with every rule, there always seems be an exception. Part files can have the “SAVE AS” command executed on them, Assemblies cannot.
2) Renaming the file in Windows Explorer:
Well, this can create all sorts of issues. First, the Inventor Assembly file is still looking at the original file before the rename operation. Second, if the original file was deleted, any assembly using that part file will expose the user to the dreaded “File Resolution Dialog Box”. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes not so much. Either way, this is a very bad habit.
If users need to rename a part or assembly file, the best process is to check in the files to the Vault, and run the rename command. What this procedure provides is healing and repairing to all the relationships of that part file to every assembly it is placed into. The same relationship healing process also applies to all assembly files. The result of a proper rename operation will allow a user to open any file and NOT see the dreaded “File Resolution Dialog Box”.
TIP: Use the Vault Rename command, select the files to rename and assign a new name. Always read the dialog box, just don’t take the default selections before selecting
NOTE: With Vault Workgroup and Vault Professional, users can define naming schemes and use them in the rename command.
3) Only allowing one user to check out from Vault:
This may have been an excellent idea if design files are stored on a locked server folder and only the Design team manager or supervisor has access to it. The normal process, in this case, is for the manager to copy the files the design team requires to a completely different folder (i.e. “Work in progress drive”). In this case, files with relationships to other files, not copied, and located on the network will be broken, and the dreaded “File Resolution Dialog Box” will show its smiling face again. This will also result in many files copied that have never actually been revised sitting around on a server with the possibility of accidentally being sent to the shop for fabrication simply because a user “Has a copy on his system the shop can use”. Is it the right/correct file or NOT?
A much better process when working with Autodesk Vault is to allow each design user to check files in and out. Vault is a true document management system for Inventor, AutoCAD, AutoCAD Mechanical, and Electrical applications. As users need to edit files they simply check that part or assembly out. Rules and rights can be configured (Vault Workgroup & Professional) to set when files can be checked out and edited. As a user checks out a part or assembly, Vault will collect all the files needed and place them on the user’s defined workspace, and only his/her workspace, no one else’s. So as a result, only one user is making changes, which makes the wrong file just a little harder to provide to the shop simply because no other user “Has a copy on his system the shop can use”.
TIP: Never check out files from a manager point of view and move them to a user folder, let the user making the revision check them out. Check out operations can always be undone.
NOTE: With Workgroup and Professional, file state rights can be configured so that released files sent to the shop for fabrication or manufacture cannot be edited, changed or revised unless the file in question has been set to allow those edits. Example: released files, no edits allowed, but when the state has been changed to Work In Progress “WIP”, the files can be edited. The shop team should never see files in the WIP state.
For more information on Autodesk Vault, please give us a call (281) 445-6161. If you are interested in Vault training, check out our Vault training courses.