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The Basics of Autodesk Vault

Todd Nicol Autodesk, Inc.


MA115-1L - Get an introduction to Autodesk Vault for users of Inventor Series. Learn best practices and see,
through hands-on experience, how you can save time and money with real-world workflows.

Topics Covered:

Basic vault environment, interface, and setup

How Vault can replace Windows Explorer for managing CAD files

Learn how to rename and copy designs with automated repair of file reference

Learn how multiple designers can work on a project without stepping on each others' toes

Learn how to automatically generated DWF files help to visualize designs more efficiently

Who Should Attend?

Autodesk Inventor Series users interested in data management

AutoCAD users interested in data management

IT and system administrators interested in data management systems

About the Speaker:


Todd Nicol is a (software) product design manager for the Data Management group in Autodesks Manufacturing
Solutions Division. The product design team is responsible for defining detailed software requirements and
translating those requirements into product features. Todd has been with Autodesk for more than 10 years most
recently as a senior product designer for Autodesk Vault and Productstream. Prior to Autodesk, Todd spent time
developing 3D piping software for Applicon and fuel testing software for Ford Motor Company. He has a bachelors
degree in Computer Aided Design from Eastern Michigan University, and his interests include Detroit sports teams,
fishing, movies, and hanging out with his family.

Table of Contents

Autodesk Vault............................................................................................................................................................. 3
The Vault Environment ............................................................................................................................................... 3
Vault Applications ....................................................................................................................................................... 4
Vault Explorer............................................................................................................................................................. 4
ADMS Console........................................................................................................................................................... 4
A Closer Look at Vault Explorer ................................................................................................................................. 5
Client Add-Ins .............................................................................................................................................................. 6
Vault Add-In for Autodesk Inventor ............................................................................................................................ 6
Vault Add-In for AutoCAD Mechanical ....................................................................................................................... 7
Vault Add-In for Microsoft Office ................................................................................................................................ 7
Getting Started ............................................................................................................................................................. 8
Logging into the Vault ................................................................................................................................................ 8
The Vault Folder Structure ......................................................................................................................................... 9
The Working Folder.................................................................................................................................................... 9
Vault Features ............................................................................................................................................................ 10
Version Control ........................................................................................................................................................ 10
Check In / Check Out ............................................................................................................................................... 11
The Uses Tab........................................................................................................................................................... 12
The Where Used Tab ............................................................................................................................................... 12
The View Tab (Automatic DWF Creation) ............................................................................................................... 13
The Rename Wizard ................................................................................................................................................ 14
Intelligent Copy Design ............................................................................................................................................ 15
Attachments ............................................................................................................................................................. 16
Property Indexing ..................................................................................................................................................... 16
Advanced Searching ................................................................................................................................................ 17
Summary .................................................................................................................................................................... 18
References ................................................................................................................................................................. 20

Autodesk Vault
Autodesk Vault is an easy-to-use data
ta management tool integrated with more than a dozen Autodesk CAD products
including Autodesk Inventor Series, Autodesk Inventor Professional, AutoCAD Mechanical, and AutoCAD.
Autodesk Vault helps design teams track work-in-progress documents, maintain version control in a multi-user
environment, and improve design reuse by consolidating product information in one central database. This
document will offer greater insight into the nature of Vault and how to use it. Furthermore, it will describe some of
the value-added features that optimize your investment in your design data.

The Vault Environment


The Vault is a true client-server application that allows users to manage and control their Autodesk Inventor data
as well as other related files in a secure, centralized location. One of the keys to understanding how to work in
this environment is to understand its various components.
In the illustration below (left) you can see how multiple clients are connected to a common server. The
recommended configuration is a single server dedicated to data management (dedicated means that other
competing business applications do not interfere with the operation of the vault software). Multiple clients can log
into this common server in order to access and manipulate data in a controlled manner. The server itself is made up
of three main components (shown below, right): the web server, the database, and the file store.

Client 2
Client 1

Database

Client 3

Web Server

Dedicated Server

File Store

Inside the Dedicated Server

The web server uses Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) to communicate with the other components via
Web Services using HTTP protocol. The database stores all of the metadata. Metadata is extracted from files
when they are added to the vault so clients can quickly search for important information without opening the files
themselves. By default, Autodesk Vault installs Microsoft SQL 2005 Express Edition to capture metadata from
files and manage data access. This metadata includes properties and file relationships that are crucial to the
operation of the vault. The database server makes this data readily available so you can quickly get to the
information that you need. The file store uses your file system to store the actual files; these files are kept separate
from the database in order for the database to remain lightweight and fast. However, database relationships ensure
that you can retrieve your files whenever you need to examine them or make edits.
The recommended server configuration is shown in the illustration above. Although there are multiple possible
configurations for the three main components, it is recommended that you maintain the database and file store on
the same dedicated server machine for the fastest and most reliable performance. For more information on the
pros/cons of various deployment options, please follow this link: http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/Vault.pdf.

Vault Applications
A vault client is any application that connects to the vault server to perform vault-related operations. A typical Vault
environment typically includes several clients that interact with the server concurrently.

Vault Explorer
Vault Explorer is a standalone client application that allows you to browse the vault structure, perform
searches, access stored files, and manipulate the data in the vault; it is your window into the vault.
Vault Explorer is organized like Windows Explorer or Microsoft Outlook; it has a folder tree on the left and
a list of associated files on the right. Because the vault requires a secure user name and password for accessibility,
your data is safe from unauthorized access thereby preventing unwanted change.

In addition to providing controlled access to your


engineering data, Vault Explorer also offers the ability to
search for files based on advanced criteria, view Where
Used information about your designs, examine assembly
structure, and view your model or drawing interactively
using DWF (both 2D and 3D DWF viewing is supported).
Vault Explorer is especially advantageous for operations
that are normally performed outside the context of your
CAD application. For example, special utilities allow you
to rename or copy design files while repairing affected
references throughout the vault. You can also examine file
status to determine when a file was last edited or WHO
currently has a file reserved.

ADMS Console
Autodesk Data Management Server (ADMS) Console (below, right) is a standalone application that allows
you to create and manage vaults and view statistics relating to your vault databases on a particular
server. This application is only accessible on the server by the vault administrator.

The ADMS Console provides a wide range of services for


managing your vaults. You can track the size of both the
database and file store, and this data can help you
determine if you need to re-index properties, purge
unwanted file versions, or defragment the database
which all can be done within the console itself.
However, one of the more important functions of the
ADMS Console is facilitating backup and restore.
Creating a backup plan is essential. ADMS Console
includes a backup utility that packages all necessary data
to restore a server if a failure should happen.

A Closer Look at Vault Explorer


Vault Explorer is the users main interface for examining the vault outside of the context of the CAD applications.
Along with the standard interface paradigms (i.e. menu, toolbar, and status bar), Vault Explorer is made up of three
main interface components (below):

Navigation Pane
Folder structure (including search folders and shortcuts)

Main View
List of files per folder (including properties and status)

Preview Pane
File details (including file relationships)

Main View
Navigation
Pane
Preview Pane

From the users perspective, the starting point of this familiar-style interface is the Navigation Pane (below, left).
This pane contains the user-specified folder structure. When you select a folder in the Navigation Pane, the
contents (i.e. files) are displayed in the Main View. When the user selects one of the files in the Main View, the
details of that file are shown in the Preview Pane. You have the ability to customize the properties that are
displayed for each file shown Main View and Preview Pane. Examine the cut-up illustration below to see how these
components interact to provide quick access to your files and related metadata.

Client Add-Ins
A vault add-in is a piece of client software that plugs into your existing applications in order to extend its capabilities
to support vault operations and workflows. These are tight integrations that allow you to interact with the vault while
continuing to work in the context of the applications that you use every day. Its important to work with the vault
through the add-ins so that you can properly capture all file relationships when adding files to the vault.

Vault Add-In for Autodesk Inventor


Autodesk Vault is tightly integrated into the Autodesk Inventor user interface such that you can perform nearly all of
your file management and vaulting tasks without ever leaving the Autodesk Inventor environment. From adding files
to the vault for the first time, to checking them into the vault after changes are complete, the integrated vault
browser is a central interface for working with your files in relation to the vault.
The vault integration also supports the ability to directly access files in the vault and examine the status of
dependent files relating to your design. Such interaction with the vault includes the following:

Ability to browse the vault in order to open a file directly in Inventor

Browse the vault in order to place a component directly into your current design

Examine which files are currently checked out to you or by another user

Determine whether your currently opened design contains out-of-date components

The icons in the vault browser allow you to constantly be informed of the current status of the data with which you
are working. Examine the integrated vault browser in the illustration below (lower left).

Vault Add-In for AutoCAD Mechanical


Autodesk Vault also integrates into the AutoCAD environment. Once installed, vault-related commands are
accessible through the pull down menus, the toolbars, and the command line; and there is also a tight integration
with the External References palette. These integration points allow you to work seamlessly with the vault while
performing your everyday CAD operations. Similar to the Inventor interface, you can perform most of your file
management tasks without leaving the AutoCAD environment. Interaction with the Vault includes the following:

Vault status indicators in the application title bar (Checked Out or Read Only).

Command feedback in the command line window.

Integration with the External References palette, including status icons (see floating palette below).

Commands for adding files to the vault or for opening and attaching files from the vault.

Examine the illustration below to see how the Vault is integrated into the AutoCAD Mechanical environment.

Vault Add-In for Microsoft Office


Likewise, the Vault is similarly integrated with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint so you can perform vault
operations within those applications and control/manage office documents along with your design files.

Getting Started
Learn how to access the vault, setup your users and folders, and start using Autodesk Vault today.

Logging into the Vault


As described previously, the vault administrator is responsible for setting up the vault using the server console. The
administrator is able to choose the name of the vault as well as the location of its file store. A vault is essentially the
combination of a database and its associated file store. Data can be managed in a single vault or in multiple vaults
on the same server. The illustration below depicts a server configuration with multiple vaults.
In this example (right), the administrator has chosen to
establish two vaults on a single server. Each vault has
its own database and associated file store. The name of
each vault and location of each file store is specified by
the administrator.
Each vault is an island of data, but the same Web
Services are used to facilitate communication. However,
communication does not occur between the vaults.

Vault1

Vault2
Server

Note: Autodesk recommends the use of a single vault for your production data. This will promote design reuse and
allow you to perform robust searches because your data is consolidated in a single database. Additional vaults are
still useful, however, for training in non-production environments or for temporary projects.

Once the vaults are configured, the


administrators next task is to setups the
users who will access the data.
User management is available through
the Security tab of the Administration
dialog (left) in Vault Explorer. The
administrator can create users and assign
membership to vaults.

Note: Your vault environment is ready for


operation once the vaults are setup and your
users are created. Users may then begin to log
in and start utilizing the vault.
You need a few pieces of information in order to
log into the vault. First, the vault administrator
must supply your user name and initial
password. You must also know the name of the
server that you are logging into as well as the
name of the database. In this example (right),
the named user nicolt is about to log into the
vault database Vault1 on the server Server1.

The Vault Folder Structure


One of the first tasks for a new vault is establishing an organized folder structure. This organization is one of the
primary benefits of the vault. The structure allows you to recreate or mimic folder structures that are already wellknown to your company so the transition to using the Vault is as easy and painless as possible. In fact, you can
organize your vault much in the same way that you already organize files using Windows Explorer.
In this example (left), the vault administrator has organized this vault much like theyve
always organized files in Windows Explorer. Libraries are organized at the top-level,
and the various projects are organized by name. Imagine how you would organize
your own vault structure in your own company.
Notice that the root of the vault is designated by the $ symbol. The vault is a virtual
file system, so a vault path will start with the $ symbol rather than a typical drive
letter or UNC path. For example, the vault path for the selected folder (left) would
look like the following: $/Projects/Inventor Designs/Base Vise.

The Working Folder


When files are added to the Vault, the data is owned by the vault. When a user wants to work on a particular file, a
local copy is downloaded (or checked out) for editing. A user never works directly on a file in the vault itself. The file
in the vault is secure and protected from accidental mishandling. Instead, the user works on a local copy of the file
in the working folder. When the user is finished editing the data, the file is then uploaded (or checked in) to the
vault, thereby updating the server and making the newest version of the file available to other users.
The working folder is the location on the local hard drive that is used for making changes to the file. A copy of the
file is downloaded to this working folder so the user can edit the file safely on the local machine (where nobody else
can edit it). The working folder offers the following advantages in a vault environment:

It allows you to work offline because a copy of the file is downloaded to the working folder

It benefits system performance because you are working locally rather than over the network

It ensures that the master copy of the file is safe in the vault and cannot be corrupted

To ensure that the local working copy is properly checked back into the vault and in the correct location there is
a mapping between your local working folder and the vault structure. In the example below, the root of the vault ($)
is mapped to the Work directory on the users drive (e.g. C:\My documents\Work). When editing files from the
vault, local copies will be downloaded to your working folder in a structure parallel to the vault (as shown below).
Vault Structure

Working Folder
$ is mapped to Work

Vault Features
With Vault up and running, engineers and designers can instantly access and manipulate the most up-to-date
designs in a central location. Design efforts are synchronized and controlled, and therefore costly mistakes are
reduced. In the following sections learn about the features in Vault that bring added value to your data investment.

Version Control
One of the key benefits of the vault is version control. The vault is very careful to maintain accurate file relationships
throughout the history of a design. A simple example of such a relationship is the Inventor drawing file (*.IDW) and
its associated part file (*.ipt). In order for the drawing to be complete, the two files must coexist and be accessed as
a pair. The vault automatically tracks these files and their relationships making them available whenever they are
needed for examination or manipulation.
For larger assemblies, the prospect of manually keeping track of multiple versions of multiple files can be daunting
especially considering that files are often edited independently. The vault manages this for you. Traditionally, you
might print a hard copy of the drawings, save a complete copy of the design in an alternate folder, or archive the
data into a zip file or CD. All of these methods are manual, time consuming, and prone to error. Since the vault
automatically tracks the appropriate relationships and versions, these manual methods are no longer necessary.
When you need a past version of a design, all you need to do is retrieve it from the vault. The files, and the correct
versions of all related files, are automatically retrieved exactly as they were when originally checked into the vault.
The example below clearly depicts the version history of a part. Notice how the combination of comments and
thumbnail images make it easy to trace the historical progression of a design from version to version.

Note: Autodesk Vault manages work-in-progress data; that is, it manages file iterations as the design changes
throughout the design cycle and it maintains all necessary file relationships along the way. For more information
on how to manage your release processes please follow the link below and learn how Autodesk Productstream
extends the power of the Vault to benefit your extended team: http://www.autodesk.com/productstream

Check In / Check Out


The Check In and Check Out commands facilitate the creation of new versions in the vault. One of the core
functions of the Check Out command is its ability to reserve files to a specific user. This allows you to be confident
that the files you are working on will not be edited or changed by other users while you are editing them (even if you
no longer have the files open in the CAD application).
This fundamental ability allows you to minimize the risk of overwriting someones work thereby avoiding last saved
wins situations that are so common when working in a networked environment using Windows Explorer alone.
After you are finished making changes to your designs, use the Check In command to make your changes available
to others. Checking a file into the vault uploads your local copy and removes the vaults reservation on that file.
This process actually stores your edited file as a new version of the file in the vault, but rest assured that you can
always retrieve a copy of an older version at any time.
The basic Check In / Check Out process is shown in the illustration below.

Step 1: The user navigates


the vault to find the file; the
file must be available for edit

Locate File
in the Vault

Step 2: Use Check Out to reserve


the file exclusively to you; a local
copy is downloaded to your local
working folder for editing

Check Out
for Editing

Step 3: When your edits are


done, use Check In to upload the
file; your modified file becomes
the latest version in the vault

Check In
New Version

When you check out a file, it is reserved in your name; no other user can edit that file whether or not you currently
have the file opened in the CAD application. However, other users can still get read-only copies of the file while you
make changes. Your changes only become available to others when you check in a new version.
Vault Explorer uses status icons to
indicate which flies are checked
out and by whom. A checkmark
indicates a file checked out by
you. In this example (left), two
files are checked out by you. Two
other files are checked out by
someone else (nicolt). Notice how
the tool tips help explain the
meaning of the icons.

The Uses Tab


The Uses feature offers the ability to view the complete (child) file structure of an assembly without ever opening the
CAD application that created it; all child relationships are captured and maintained in the vault.
As shown in this example
(right), the Uses tab also shows
related metadata along with the
hierarchical relationships; you
can see who last updated a
particular part in an assembly
and when it was done.
These file relationships ensure
that all file operations take into
account the child files that are
also part of the design.

The Where Used Tab


The Where Used capability in the vault is fast and extensive. This feature allows you to examine parent
relationships files that are either directly related or related through any number of higher-level parents.
In this example (right), the part file is
directly referenced in an assembly
file and a drawing file. But you can
see that the assembly is also
referenced in both presentation and
drawing files of its own; and the
presentation file has an associated
drawing file as well. This information
indicates to the user that a change to
the part affects 5 other files.
A unique benefit of the Where Used capability over Inventors native capabilities (and over Windows Explorer) is its
ability to perform this query throughout the entire vault not just the scope of the current project. This means that
files such as standard parts from your companys library that are used over and over again throughout many
assemblies, presentations, and drawings can be accurately tracked throughout the vault.
Note: The parent/child relationships captured in the vault are crucial to its operation. These relationships ensure
that your data is complete and accurate when you need them. Its important to note, however, that these
relationships are captured only when checking files into the vault through the add-ins (e.g. vault add-in for Autodesk
Inventor and the vault add-in for AutoCAD Mechanical).

The View Tab (Automatic DWF Creation)


With Autodesk DWF (Design Web Format) files, your team can easily share the latest design information in a
compact, non-editable, secure format. Autodesk Vault automatically generates a DWF for every file that you check
into the vault, and then it updates the DWF whenever the file changes. Automated DWF publishing eliminates the
extra work involved with manual publishing and reduces the errors inherent in the manual updating process. The
creation of the DWF file is an option available during the check in process. But once created, you can then view the
automatically generated DWFs using the View tab of the Preview pane (below).

These system-generated DWFs


are automatically associated with
their source CAD files.
When you click on the CAD file
and choose the View tab the
associated DWF will be served up
for viewing which is typically
much faster because its leaner
than the native file format. In this
example (right), a 2D Inventor
drawing is being viewed; you can
dynamically pan, zoom, and
optionally turn layers ON/OFF.

DWFs are also created for 3D


models. In this example (left), the
user is examining a 3D Inventor
part. The slicing tool in the DWF
viewer is being used to examine a
cross section of the part. In this
example, the section exposes a
countersunk hole. Similar sections
can be created on any plane. Also,
the rotate, pan, and zoom
commands allow you to examine
finer details of the geometry.
By default, the View tab displays
the latest version of the specified
part, assembly, or drawing.
However, you can easily switch to
prior versions using the slider
control in order to visually compare
one version to the next.

The Rename Wizard


Renaming AutoCAD or Inventor files has traditionally been a very painful task; the process is both error prone and
time consuming. There are a couple of ways to go about it:

Windows Explorer You can rename the file on disk, then open it in the CAD application and fix all the
broken references. This method can be very dangerous and its easy to overlook affected files.

Design Assistant This Inventor tool is limited to a single project. Furthermore, when there are many files
located over a network, the process is quite slow because it has to search for file references/relationships.

With Autodesk Vault you have the ability to rename files using a simple wizard process that will repair references
as needed. This can be a huge time saver and is a critical feature for anyone who needs to rename large sets of
Inventor files. For example, you may need to rename files to match part numbers prior to release.

The Rename Wizard (right) allows you to


specify one or more files to rename.
The second step in the wizard is identifying
the parent files to be repaired. This is
where the power of the feature is fully
realized. The Where Used file
relationships are captured in the vault, so
the parent files are already known.
You will need access to the parents so the
system can automate the process of fixing
references. A new version of each parent
file will be generated as well each
pointing to the newly renamed file(s).
The illustration below demonstrates the
result of a Rename operation from the
perspective of the assembly.

In this example (left),


VISE_SCREW is going to
be renamed. The result
(right) shows how a new
version of the assembly,
ViseBase, is created and it
references the newly
renamed part. This entire
process is fully automated.
Note: This utility supports both AutoCAD (DWG) as well as Inventor file types.

Intelligent Copy Design


Another concept that is absolutely fundamental to the design process is the reuse of existing designs. Its not
uncommon for new assembly designs to reuse 80% (or more) of the parts that are already used in existing designs.
Money is often wasted recreating those parts from scratch. Or you may spend countless hours copying files,
renaming them, and repairing file references manually.
The Copy Design functionality offers immediate time savings because it automates this process. You can choose
which parts or subassemblies that you wish to copy, reuse, or replace. The Copy Design dialog also offers the
ability to specify where the new files are going to be copied and what those files will be named.
In this example (below), the assembly file Pad Lock is going to be copied in order to create a new design
configuration. The files with the blue (double plus sign) icons are going to be copied. The files with the yellow
(single plus sign) icons are going to be reused. Notice that you have the ability to specify the folder location and
new name for all copied files. This tool also offers advanced find and replace capabilities, as well as the ability to
specify a prefix and suffix, so you can quickly automate the process of copying/renaming several (possibly
hundreds) of files at once. After a few clicks, you can start a new design with most of the work already done.

The key advantage of this command is its ability to utilize the file relationships captured in the vault to repair all file
references for the newly copied assembly. This automation ensures that all files are pointing to the correct file
references so the resulting assembly can be opened in the CAD application without error (ready-to-go).
Note: This tool addresses the task of copying designs for both Inventor and AutoCAD files alike (i.e. external
references are repaired in AutoCAD files as well).

Attachments
Attachments are file associations that are created manually. An attachment can be anything from a design
specification to an ECO for an assembly to something less design-specific like a work order. The ability to attach
files allows you to create relationships between files and keep important design information linked together.
Its easy to recognize which files have attachments associated with
them. As shown in this example (left), files that contain one or more
attachments are clearly indicated with the use of a paperclip icon. You
can sort by the icon or search for files that have attachments. Once
attached, that attachment will be associated with every version of the
file until the relationship is removed.
Note: When you add an attachment to a file in the vault, a new version of that file is generated. This ensures that all
changes, even the addition/removal of file relationships, are tracked so that you can determine when those
relationships were made (or so you can return to a version that existed before the relationship was made).

Property Indexing
Indexing is a very important part of the Vault. Indexing refers to the way data is extracted from files when they are
checked into the vault. Important properties are extracted and then cataloged for later use. The indexing engine
stores properties such that they are optimized for quick retrieval. Likewise, its designed to handle massive
quantities of metadata while still maintaining high performance. In addition to indexing Autodesk Inventor and DWG
files, the vault is also able to index content from Microsoft Office documents (and many others).
Inventor iProperties are
automatically extracted when
Inventor files are checked into
the vault. Likewise, file
properties (DWGPROPS) are
extracted from DWG files. You
can choose to arrange these
properties as columns (right) so
you can sort and group files.
Note: You can even choose to extract AutoCAD block attributes by specifying which blocks to extract. These block
attributes can then act as file properties that can be displayed as columns in the Main View.
A unique aspect of the Vault is its ability to extract properties from many different types of files. It uses standard
iFilter technology which means that you can register standard iFilters for multiple file types and the Vault will
automatically recognize and use those registered iFilters to extract important file properties.
Click the File Properties button (left) on
the Administration dialog in Vault
Explorer to remove unwanted properties
from the database (and ensure that they
never come back) and even change
their display name.

Advanced Searching
Leveraging the Indexing technology, you are able to quickly and efficiently search through the vault and return files
that match your search criteria. For example, you can perform a basic search simply by specifying a string with the
intention of finding all files that contain that string.
The Quick Find bar (right) is an easy way to search for files within a
single folder structure. With the desired folder selected, enter a
string that you wish to search for and click Find Now in the Quick
Find bar. The search will examine the folder for files that contain
this string and return the results in the Main View.
The Advanced Find dialog (below) allows you to build
advanced searches based on specific criteria. For example,
you can build a set of criteria that will allow you to search for:
all parts that Nancy has modified this month that are made out
of steel but not stainless steel.
You can quickly define your criteria and perform the search
immediately. In this example (left), the criteria will ensure that
the search will only return files that are currently checked out
to nicolt and that contain the word Vise.
You can perform this search and see the results appear
directly in the dialog. You can then refine your search by
adding more conditions and performing the search again and
again until you achieve the desired results.
Once the desired results are returned, you can act upon them.
For example, you might want to search for all files that are
currently in need of editing so that you can select them and
check them all out at once. Or you might want to print the
results or export them in order to create a formal report.
Searches are intended to be a primary method for accessing files. You can save searches that you intend to use
often and recall them at any time. You can even edit a saved search if necessary. In addition to specifying criteria,
a search also allows you to specify where (i.e. in which folders) to search. When you have a search that you intend
to use often, you can also turn it into a search folder. A search folder is a folder that appears in the Navigation
Pane beneath the normal folder structure. It is essentially a predefined query. Clicking a search folder has the
effect of dynamically performing a search, and the results are displayed in the Main View. The illustration below
shows how a search folder can be used to quickly and easily access files based on pre-defined criteria.

Search results are


displayed in the Main
View (right)

Summary
Review the summary paragraphs below in order to take away all the key concepts.

Autodesk Vault
Autodesk Vault is an easy-to-use data management tool that helps design teams track work-in-progress files,
maintain version control in a multi-user environment, and incorporate design reuse by consolidating product
information in a centralized storage location.

The Vault Environment


The vault is a client-server environment that manages data in a controlled manner. The recommended
deployment scenario is a single, dedicated server with multiple client machines accessing the server over the
network using standard HTTP protocol. The server contains 3 main components: a web server (IIS), a database
(SQL), and a file store (e.g. Windows file system). When files are added to the vault, metadata is extracted and
stored in the database subsequently allowing for quick and easy access to important design information.

Vault Applications
There are two standalone applications available as a result of installing the vault. The ADMS Console is installed
only on the server and is only accessible by the vault administrator. This application is necessary for the creation
and management of vaults as well as backup and restore. Vault Explorer is the main client application installed
on every client machine, and it provides the interface for browsing the vault (it is your window into the vault).
A closer look at Vault Explorer reveals that it is similar in its layout to Microsoft Outlook. The Navigation Pane
allows you to browse the virtual folder structure, execute pre-defined searches, and manage shortcuts to your
favorite files and folders. The Main View is where the contents (i.e. files) of each folder are displayed. The files
appear as rows in a detailed list view, and you can customize the properties (i.e. columns) that are visible for each
folder. The Preview Pane displays details pertaining to the currently selected file in the Main View.

Client Add-Ins
A vault add-in is a piece of software that plugs into your existing applications in order to extend their capabilities to
support vault operations and workflows. The Vault supports add-ins for Autodesk Inventor and Inventor Professional
as well as AutoCAD-based applications and Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). Each
add-in allows you to work with the vault without leaving the native application.
Use the vault browser in the Inventor add-in to examine vault status and act upon dependent files. Likewise, use
the vault-enabled External References palette in AutoCAD to work with external files in a vault environment.

Getting Started
Once the vault is installed, the vault administrator has to setup one or more vaults. A vault is the combination of a
database and a file store. Autodesk recommends the use of a single vault for your production data; this will promote
design reuse and allow you to perform robust searches because your data is consolidated in a central location.
Additional vaults may still be useful for training purposes.
Once vaults are setup, the vault administrator creates users and assigns them to one or more vaults. You need a
few pieces of information in order to log in to the vault: a user name, a password, the server name, and a
database (i.e. vault) name. The administrator is responsible for supplying this information to client users.
From an end-users perspective, the basic organization of the vault is a folder structure similar to Windows
Explorer. It is a virtual file system where data is safe from unwanted access. One of the first things each client
needs to do is map the root of the vault (a virtual folder) to a local working folder (a real folder) on your hard drive;
this location is where you make edits to files before checking them back into the vault.

Vault Features
Autodesk Vault helps you maximize the return on your engineering investment through a robust set of features that
ensure design efforts are synchronized and costly mistakes are reduced. The following features offer immediate
value and time savings over the use of Windows Explorer alone:
Version Control Examine file versions and use thumbnail images to track/visualize historical progression
Check In / Check Out Reserve files for edit, and then upload changes to create a new version in the vault
The Uses Tab Examine a files child relationships as a hierarchical structure
The Where Used Tab Examine a files parent relationships
The View Tab Pan and zoom 2D drawings, or rotate and measure 3D models (using auto-generated DWF)
The Rename Wizard Rename one or more files and automatically repair references in parent files
Intelligent Copy Design Copy designs and repair references; rename, replace, or reuse files in the new design
Attachments Manually create file associations and link specific file versions together
Property Indexing The indexing process captures file properties and catalogs them for faster searching
Advanced Searching Perform a simple string search or use advanced criteria and save it as a search folder

References
White Papers:
http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/Vault.pdf
http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/Practical_DM_WP.pdf
http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/DataManagement_CaseStudies.pdf
http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/Implementing_Practical_Data_Management_050412a.pdf
http://images.autodesk.com/adsk/files/Remote.pdf

Related Links:
http://www.autodesk.com/vault
http://www.autodesk.com/productstream

Newsgroup:
http://www.autodesk.com/discussiongroup-vault

Presenter Emails:
todd.nicol@autodesk.com
brian.schanen@autodesk.com
irvin.hayes@autodesk.com