The newest release of Autodesk’s premier on-premise data management solution, Vault Professional 2024, has been out several months as of the writing of this article. Now, with a little real-world experience, I would like to share some of the most compelling new features for users of the software as well as for those who must administer it.
Copy Folder Structure
For years I have been using a trick to create standardized folders in Vault. First, I would create the folder structure somewhere else on my hard drive, then I drag and drop it into the Vault Thick client’s Navigation Pane to create the structure. That method required that I anticipate every single standardized folder structure I might need and create them proactively. Vault 2024 includes a new feature called “Copy Folder.”
With it, you can copy any folder including, optionally, its subfolder structure, permissions and properties.
This makes any existing folder in your Vault a potential template. It will vastly simplify Copy Design workflows as the folder structure will not need to be manually specified one folder at a time during Copy To operations.
Copy Design Enhancements
Speaking of Copy Design, this feature has also received a number of enhancements. Copy Design’s Numbering panel provides tools like pre-defined prefixes and suffixes or “Find and Replace” for renaming all the files in a design or project that are not either Re-used, Excluded or Replaced. Unfortunately, in several cases, those operations have all the files in the design as their scope . Now you can Copy/Paste multiple editable cells in the Numbering panel like Prefix, Base Name and Suffix into Excel. There you can leverage its capabilities to edit them in mass, then paste them back to the Numbering panel.
It took a little practice, but it gives me a broader set of tools for making modifications and much improved control of the scope of changes as I can select precisely which rows to affect.
BOM. Newly copied parts can be assigned to an Item immediately after Copy Design is executed. Copy Design updates the BOM information in part files without having to open them in Inventor first.
Insert Punch Tool from Vault
The Inventor command Insert iFeature from Vault has been available since the 2014 release of Vault. Users who frequent the Inventor Sheetmetal environment will be happy to hear that they can now insert Punch Tools from Vault.
Export DXF & STEP Format
Back in release 2018, Autodesk gave Vault the native capability to publish PDFs of CAD documents on-demand. They could be published using a menu option or as an action triggered by a lifecycle state transition. For instance, I have numerous clients who create PDF attachments of documents as they achieve a released state. That way, there is always a PDF synchronized with the released versions of their CAD files. Vault even automatically matches their revisions and Lifecycle States.
Beginning with 2024, Vault can now do the same thing with DXF and STEP files.
Where PDF is commonly chosen as an exchange format for downstream consumers who need to view 2D CAD documents due to the ubiquity of the capacity for them to view it, DXF and STEP are also ideal for other downstream consumers with intentions that extend beyond simple viewing. Both benefit from the synchronous behavior described earlier for PDFs with released versions of CAD documents. DXF is commonly consumed during fabrication, especially for 2D Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) operations like router, laser, waterjet, etc.
DXFs can be extracted from the Flat Patterns of Inventor Sheet Metal parts in an automated fashion.
STEP is a common 3D exchange format for collaborating with teams that use other modeling applications like CREO, Solidworks or CATIA.
Thin Client Enhancements
The thin client introduced in Vault Professional 2022 was completely revamped with a new more modern interface and many new features which have only improved since. Can anyone hear a “However” coming?? However, at the time of its introduction, the new thin client required that the URL users accessed with their web browsers to sign-in had to include the Vault name like the example below:
This was a break from the past where you could use a single URL to access all the Vaults on a server, then choose which Vault at the login screen. Switching Vaults was as simple as logging out, selecting a different Vault, then logging back in.
I am happy to relay that behavior has made a return in Vault Professional 2024. All the Vaults on a 2024 server have a common sign-in URL like the example below:
At this address, users will be able to select which of the hosted Vaults they want to sign-in to.
The thin client also includes a number of usability enhancements including Expand or Collapse All for objects with structure and more granular control of the scope of searches.
Thin Client – Admin Settings
The 2024 Thin Client also includes one of the features most requested by Administrators. They can now set and optionally enforce a default configuration of Property columns.
Inventor Design Data & Template Management
It has always been a little awkward managing Inventor Templates and Styles (Design Data) in Vault. Which is ironic since Vault is the preferred means of sharing practically everything else. Although Vault did just as good a job of managing and sharing those files as any other files, the problem was that unless the end users knew to download any available updates to Templates or Styles to their respective workspaces, Inventor would just use whatever version was currently there. This led to most organizations selecting the option simply placing those folders on a network share rather than in a Vault.
Beginning in 2024, a Vault-hosted Template or Design Data folder can be mapped much like the Content Center Files folder can.
Then, as those resources are needed, Vault compares, and if needed, updates the content of those folders in the workspaces of the users, ensuring that they are always up to date.
The Job Server now has an automatic “retry” feature for failed jobs. When dealing with jobs that fail for transient reasons like DWG Trueview crashing during a DWF update or an Internet Information Services hiccup on the server, administrators can apply a retry strategy that should minimize the administration and user disruption due to Re-Submitting those jobs manually.
In general, Peer Review is a process wherein someone with similar capabilities to the person responsible for a task must evaluate its results before it is accepted.
Now in Vault Professional 2024, Peer Review can be configured as a criterion for Lifecycle State Transition.
Now “Four Eyes” will be required to complete a Lifecycle State transition like releasing the new revision of a drawing.
Backup and Restore Enhancements
Administrators can now select which Vault and library databases to back up. They can also decide whether to back up the filestore. Those databases can be restored in such a fashion as to utilize an existing filestore rather than one that is part of the same backup. This should be especially useful in organizations that have very large filestores with little storage to spare.
Notice that validating the filestore is now optional. This was previously possible only from the command line.
All said, this is another worthy release of a product that I and my clients depend on every day. To me, the Copy Folder feature alone would justify the upgrade.