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Item Lifecycles with Autodesk Vault 2015 R2

change your perspectiveAutodesk Vault started with an acquisition and initially was just a work-in-progress engineering management tool, much as it is today with Vault Basic. Soon after came Productstream (which became Vault Manufacturing, and then Vault Professional) which introduced the Item Master with Revisions, Categories, Lifecycle Management, and ECO’s providing a system of actually managing the data. Autodesk felt that there was no middle ground, it was either you were using Vault Basic or you were “all-in” using Productstream, so they introduced what became Vault Workgroup. With Vault Workgroup you do not need to use items and the item master, you can perform revision management and track file lifecycles. More than just implementing file lifecycling, it has a completely different engine than items, making it much more flexible allowing you to define your own states, the permissions to access these states, custom categories, and even events to occur during state changes!

Here’s an article Brian Schanen wrote circa the release of Vault Workgroup 2010. He identifies the key areas of that product which focus on Release Management at the file level, which includes Lifecycles and Security, Revision Management, User Defined Properties, and Categories.

With the recent release of Vault Professional R2 the Item LIfecycle engine has a received a complete overhaul, granting it all the flexibility and abilities of the file lifecyle management toolset. With this you can configure categories with your own lifecycle states, controlling who has the permission to transition the item into the next state. In addition each Category has its own revisioning schemes and item numbering options. You can now even define actions to occur during state changes. If you want to read about all things new in R2 stroll over to our post Autodesk Vault 2015 R2 Summary.

The Basics

I started writing this article with the intention of covering everything you need to implement the new Item lifecycle functionality, but quickly realized that this will require a couple posts, not just one. What is below is a high-level overview of what’s required with a touch of what’s new. For anyone who has implemented file lifecycles and the revision management tools there is nothing new here.

I delivered two classes last year at Autodesk University, which covered file lifecycles, but now applies extremely well to items. The classes are PL1714: Choosing the Right Lifestyle with Vault Lifecycles and PL1341: Whose Version Should We Believe?—Revising the Story with Vault

Item Lifecycle configuration has been removed from the Items tab of the Vault Settings dialog. Instead that is now controlled in the same places you configure file, folder, and custom objects. The first step is to configure the Revision Schemes, which remain untouched and behave the same as pre-R2. However as you can use Lifecycles to automatically bump the revision it is important to have this set to your desired scheme. In the example shown below I’ve created a “0-Based” scheme which is almost identical to the out-of-the-box Numeric except that it starts at 0 opposed to 1

Vault 2015 R2 0-Based Rev Scheme

You now need to create a Lifecycle or a Category, but the order doesn’t really matter as they are reliant on each other and while editing one you can jump into the other to make changes. Here I’ve created a new “Repair” Lifecycle Definition which I intend to use with customer repair proposals. We will receive the equipment into a staging area (Received), then figure out what needs to be fixed (Analysis), the proposal document will be generated and reviewed by the manager (In Review). It will be submitted to the customer (Customer Submitted) and then end up in one of three states depending on the customers decision (On Hold, Declined, and Accepted).

Vault 2015 R2 Lifecycle Definition

I’ve assigned this Lifecycle Definition to all existing Item Categories meaning that I will be able to apply it to any item, regardless of the assigned category. However I could be very specific, say only making it available on Document category items, or a mix of different ones. As a bonus you can now change the category of multiple items at one time (finally)

Now the fun part… if you want to limit who can make specific state changes, for example making it so only the manager can change the item from In Review to Customer Submitted. You will need to edit either the Transition and/or the Security.

  • Security limits what an individual person (or group) can do while the item is in the state. For example granting everyone read-only access but the manager read, edit, and delete. This can extend to setting file access priviledges to the items associated with the item.
  • Transitions sets who can make the state changes, meaning that I can make it so only the manager can switch it from In Review to Customer Submitted, but then have security so that no one can make changes to the item (or associated files).

Vault 2015 R2 Transition Security

Its on the Transition that you can also set Criteria which must be met before the state change can happen. As well as Actions that occur during the State Change (Transition).

Building the Transitions and Security is not fun with more complex Lifecycle schemes. I highly recommend white boarding the process flow so that 1) everyone is on the same page & 2) you can keep it straight while you are configuring. I really, really, really wish (hint, hint Autodesk) that it worked like the workflow editor in PLM 360… that is one kickass editor. PLM 360 provides a very graphical and easily modifable system for configuring states and transitions and permissions. As a compromise, we have updated a Microsoft Visio Vault Lifecycle flow chart template for you to use to plan and define your Lifecycles. We can’t take all the credit, Autodesk created it originally.

Categories control what you are allowed to do with an item. They set the available revision schemeslifecycle definitions, and User Defined Properties (UDP) available for the item.

Vault 2015 R2 Item Category

What to look out for

Before installing R2 it is extremely important to actually examine the readme and understand that a number of item features are disabled in R2. This includes…

  • Compare Bill of Materials
  • Item Import & Item Export
  • Item Package Service API’s
  • Purge Item, Purge, & Purge All
  • Item Restore & Item Rollback Lifecycle State Change
  • Item Effectivity
  • Restricting Item Lifecycle State Change to Change Orders

Here is a link to the Vault R2 readme document, make sure you have read through everything so there are no surprises with installation and deployment.

A couple bugs have also been reported with R2. Chris Benner discovered quite early with R2, that the new functionality to write the item properties back to files as the item changes is broken. It’s been logged with Autodesk and will hopefully be fixed soon, so thanks for giving it a kicking for us all Chris! (Editor: Mike is being polite… It’s highly unfortunate that a new feature is broken upon release! Why wasn’t it tested properly?)

Seeing it in Action

Feature Image “change” courtesy of suez92 (Flickr) 

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Autodesk Vault Copy Design 2.0 (aka Vault 2015 R2)

Most people have a real love-hate relationship with Copy Design… its big, clunky, and very slow…. but its still better to use than manually copying and renaming files. With this Autodesk set out to build a bigger, stronger, and much faster Copy Design and voila we have it now in Vault 2015 R2! [If you want to read about all things new in R2 stroll over to our post Autodesk Vault 2015 R2 Summary]

Vault 2015 R2 Copy Design Initial Dialog with Assy LoadedWhen you install Vault 2015 R2 the new Copy Design is installed as a standalone application. This means that you do not launch Copy Design from the Vault Client but from the Programs group, just like Vault and the Job Processor. The copying process has been completely restructured which should lead to much greater performance. With the previous version files were copied local to your system (into the temp) for the magic to happen (copying and renaming) and then checked back in as the new files. Although this happened invisibly to the user it was still time consuming, especially the file transfer back-and-forth between your system and the server. The copying now occurs completely on the server leading to greatly reduced copying times (yeah!)

Here’s the list of enhancements courtesy of the Autodesk Help:

  • Copy at the Component Level
  • Copy Multiple Data Sets
  • Support for non-CAD File Types
  • Faster Performance
  • More Detailed Feedback
  • Create Custom Copy Design Rules
  • Numbering Schemes
  • Customize the Copy Design Interface
  • New Drawing View

Part 1 – Getting the files loaded

After launching the standalone application (and logging in) the first step is to add the files you wish to copy. Using the big plus sign you can search for and add multiple datasets, the “multiple” being one of the new features. A mini-version of the Project Explorer will appear in which you can customize the columns (properties) by either dragging-and-dropping or right-click Choose Columns to add and remove various properties. From this window you want to navigate through the folder structure until you locate the file(s) you want to copy.

Vault 2015 R2 Copy Design Initial Dialog with Assy LoadedSay What? No Searching? Yep, you’ll have to wait for Copy Design 3.0+ for searching. For now you’ll have to do your searching in the Vault Client, but without any means to copy the search results over it becomes awkward quickly.

The main UI can also be tweaked by dragging-and-dropping columns to rearrange and using the right-click menu options to add and remove columns (properties). These changes will stick so that you see the same thing each time you use Copy Design. Right-click options on the files allow for quick expand-all | collapse-all so that you can get a better view of the files and their structure. The Expand option includes 2-levels, 3-levels, and 4-levels on top of the All option. The Add Children option in the ribbon is used to quickly add attachments and Library Files.

To remove the drawings from the View disable the (new) Drawing Views option from the Application Menu.

Part 2 – Making it Happen

Before making your copy selections a few options to be aware of contained within the Application Menu…

  1. Automatically Copy Parents means that the moment you select a component to copy its parents are automatically set to be copied as well
  2. Select References is disabled when you only want to copy the instance of the component, not all references of it in the assembly.[This is new, it used to be all or nothing]

Right-click on the components you want to set the action on and right-click. The available action will vary on the component level and the file type. The options include:

  • Copy: Toggles the component to copy creating a new file in the same location as the original
  • Copy To: Similar to Copy but you will be prompted to select the destination folder for the new copy
  • Copy Branch: Sets the action to Copy for the selected item as well as all of its children
  • Replace: Browse for and select a replacement file
  • Reuse: Is the default action and can be used to remove an action like Copy
  • Reuse Branch: Sets the action to Reuse for the selected item as well as all of its children
  • Exclude: removes the instance from the new copied assembly

The Has Destination column will populate with a folder icon once Copy Design knows where the new copy is going. Hovering your cursor over this icon displays a tooltip with the Path.

The new Actions Panel can be used to quickly filter out the files with the assigned action. For example selecting the “Exclude” tab displays just the files that have been toggled to exclude from the copy operation. The action of the files can be toggled via right-click in these views as well. So far I have found this to be a great check into what I’m actually copying. Also remember that nothing is committed until you click the Create Copy button to accept your changes and initiate the copy process.

Say What? I’ve experienced too many situations where the file hierarchy collapses when you change the action. For example change the action to reuse on a child component and the entire tree collapses and I don’t know why.

The Where Used panel provides a Source and Destination option so that you can quickly see where the files are coming from (Source) and where the copies are going (Destination). Because you can copy individual instances (now) a particular component might have multiple destinations.

Use the Folders Panel to review the source and destination folders of the copied data, a different view of the Where Used Panel but another mechanism to review that the copied files are going to end up in the correct location. As a bonus you can apply operations based on the folder location. You can also drag-and-drop files between folders or from the main view to add to the copy.

Part 3 – Setting the Copied Names

Here’s a big change from the old Copy Design, you do not use the main window you adjust the name of the copied file. The Numbering Panel lists all the files selected to copy, with both the original name and the new name. This Panel will show tabs for each numbering scheme used within Copy Design and organize the files based on the scheme applied. With files with no scheme applied you can manually adjust the destination file name, apply a prefix (before the base name) or postfix (after the base name). You can apply changes to the three (pre, post, and base) on a selection of files.

Autodesk Vault 2015 R2 Set Prefix ValueThe options presented on the specific numbering scheme tab is completely dependent on the numbering scheme

Autodesk Vault 2015 R2 Copy Design Set Nummber Scheme

 

Part 4 – What Else can I do?

There’s one more area of Copy Design 2.0 which honestly I think could kick ass, well at least when it comes to copying files… Rule Sets… but I need a bit more time of exploration, testing, and putting into action before I can really comment. Rule Sets are rules you define to make things happen automatically as you copy files. This could be to assign a file category, set properties, clear properties, remove iLogic, and things of this nature. Only one Rule Set can be applied during the copy operation but each Rule Set can contain multiple rules..

There are default rules included “out-of-the-box” which are provided to give similar functionality as the old Copy Design. This includes rules to use the part number as a new file name, removing iLogic rules, and resetting the category of the file so that the new file category assignment rules are applied.

Autodesk Vault 2015 R2 Summary

At Autodesk University I was fortunate to attend the Vault “Crystal Ball” class where we were privy to a sneak peak of an upcoming overhaul to Vault’s Copy Design amongst seeing other new features.. As per normal, Autodesk would not provide an ETA, only to say it was coming. So I can’t say I was that surprised that its available in a mid-year “extension” release. What’s surprising is all the other stuff that they have bundled into this R2 release. Mid year “Extensions” are not unheard of, even for Vault, but the significance of this one from a feature & functionality aspect AND from what’s been disabled means you really need to sit down with a cup of coffee and consider the pros and cons, the good and the bad, and the benefits to your organization before installing it.

This is a subscription only release, meaning its only available to subscription Vault Workgroup and Vault Professional customers. It should also be considered an upgrade (like 2014 to 2015) opposed to an update. The Vault database fully migrates to the new 2015 R2 schema and the Vault API has been versioned for Autodesk Vault 2015 R2 meaning customizations may require updating.

What’s New?

The “What’s New” boils down to four things… a new and improved Copy Design “Experience”, long time needed improvements to Items, a New Vault Office Thick Client and a mixture of other” Enhancements. Here is the list from the Autodesk Vault 2015 Help

  • New Copy Design Experience
  • New Item and BOM Features, Functionality, and Enhancements
  • Vault Thin Client Enhancements
  • New Vault Office Thick Client
  • Project Sync Enhancements
  • Control Open File Behaviors in the Vault Client Feature
  • ADMS Console Enhancements

Copy Design

Let’s get the bad of this new feature out of the way, right of the top. The new Copy Design Experience is a standalone application with no tie back to the Vault Client. You cannot launch it from Vault meaning completing a separate search to locate the file(s) you want to copy. It is also a brand new user interface (ui) to learn. Its unfortunate actually as Vault has been dogged with UI inconsistencies for years and Autodesk has made a conscious effort to build more consistency into the UI by updating workflows, consolidating features, making changes and the such…. but then this comes out. The new Copy Design has its own flair when it comes to working with data so it might be a struggle the first couple times until you become comfortable with it. The old Copy Design is disabled with the installation of R2, so its “all in” when moving to R2

Vault 2015 R2 Copy Design From Vault Help

image courtesy of the Autodesk Vault Help

Here’s the good…

  1. Copy at the Component Level (Copy individual instances of a file instead of all instances of that component, Replace parts with files that are created as part of the copy operation, Configure separate actions for drawings, Use circular references, such as substitute parts and drawing overlays.)
  2. Copy Multiple Data Sets as in copying more than one data set at the same time.
  3. Support for non-CAD File Types
  4. The UI is completely customizable like you would expect as in adding / removing property columns, resizing columns, and the such
  5. Better previewing and filtering tools
  6. Apply numbering schemes
  7. Administrator driven rule sets

Here’s the great… Faster Performance! Copy Design now runs from the Vault Server, no more files downloading locally for copy process… it all happens on the server

Item Enhancements

Continuing on the trend of the Item enhancements introduced in 2015 Vault Professional Autodesk has added a lot of nice-to-have feature enhancements, some great improvements and a couple where-have-you-been-all-my-life things.

Nice-to-have

  • New and improved Item Watermarking Workflow
  • Assign a Category WHILE creating the new item
  • Grouped BOM Row
  • BOM Reports
  • See all Item iterations

New Unified Lifecycle, Category, Numbering Scheme, and Revision Experience

That’s right… all the stuff you’ve been able to do with Files, Folders, and Custom Objects when it comes to defining your own Lifecycle Definitions including the workflow, revision schemes and revision bumps, and numbering schemes now applies to Items!

Vault 2015 R2 Lifecycle Definitions Item Release Process

Because of this the Administration dialog has been modified moving moving the Item configuration into the same area that you customized the files, folder, and custom object Lifecycle states.

Vault 2015 R2 Item Admin Dialog from Vault Help

Where have you been?

Write Item Properties Back to the File! No more editing the item, opening the file to update properties and checking back in to create the new file version… no more, the file is updated with the item changes!

Vault Thin Client

Because of all the changes to Items the Vault Thin (web) client has been updated to incorporate many of the new features. It also now supports Reference Designators, On & Off BOM Rows, and new BOM Data Filters.

New Vault Office Thick Client

I’m not going to dive to deep into this as Scott is planning a post focused on it, but the new Vault Office Thick Client is here and its time to pay attention.

Autodesk Vault Client Flavor Installation Option

Vault 2015 R2 introduces a new Vault Office Client that provides many of the same Vault client features but has been slimmed down to focus on non-CAD design data management processes.
This client is ideal for users who do not need all of the CAD functionality of a the full Vault client, but who still need to manage documents in a vault

Other Enhancements

  • Project Sync Enhancements including more flexibility when sharing with Buzzsaw and using the Lifecycle Event Editor
  • More control over which version of the CAD application opens a file when opening from Vault
  • ADMS Console Enhancements including more options when re-indexing files

What to Watch Out for

Vault 2015 R2 Important Product Information

Isn’t there always a catch? Before installing R2 it is important to understand that the following features are disabled in R2. Autodesk is confident that they can implement the new R2 functionality and restore the missing features with 2016 so for many, especially if you have fully implemented Items, might be waiting for 2016.

  • Compare Bill of Materials
  • Item Import
  • Item Export
  • Item Package Service API’s
  • Purge Item
  • Purge
  • Purge All
  • Item Restore
  • Item Rollback Lifecycle State Change
  • Item Effectivity
  • Restricting Item Lifecycle State Change to Change Orders

As with all new features there is a list of limitations and restrictions. Here is a link to the readme, make sure you have read through everything so that there are no surprises with installation and deployment.

In Conclusion

I think the new functionality is great, especially bringing the file lifecycle options to items. File lifecycle management has had all this flexibility and customization and the Item workflows has remained stagnant. For those just moving to Vault Pro or have only partially implemented Items you will love this new flexibility.

Personally I’ll be waiting for 2016 to implement into our Production Environment. We are into items heavy and they are a major part of our Engineering revision workflow, including how we manage states with Change Orders. Items is the method of communication not just within and outside of Engineering, but also provides the link between Engineering and our MRP system. Losing the ability to export item data, to rollback lifecycle states, and to restrict item lifecycle state changes to Change Orders is the deal breaker for us. Don’t take waiting as a negative to this release, there is some really good stuff in it and really needs to be explored.

This is just a kickoff post as Scott and I will be diving in deeper on this in future posts, so keep watching Design & Motion for more.

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AutoCAD’s Vault Browser

AutoCADs Vault XRef Palette

I’ve been surprised to learn over the last 6 to 9 months that a large number of AutoCAD users who work with Vault on a daily basis, don’t realize AutoCAD’s External References palette double’s up as a Vault browser. As it happens it’s pretty close to the one found in Autodesk Inventor. This is true across all flavours of AutoCAD, including Mechanical, Architecture, Civil 3D and Plant 3D. I suppose there are a lot of AutoCAD users who don’t even go near the Xref Palette. I’m not sure why I was surprised about that, because since I’ve been a heavy Inventor user for 10 years, my AutoCAD use hasn’t demanded their use. The same will be true for thousands of other AutoCAD users world wide. So, as I will demonstrate in the following video, every Vault user, who also uses AutoCAD on a daily or even weekly basis should dock and auto hide their External References palette and take advantage. Oh, but please be aware, overlayed file references ONLY show up in the Xref palette for the drawing they are referenced in. Which is all good until you need to find a broken reference when checking the dataset into Vault.

 

Searching, Listing and Filters | Autodesk Vault Professional 2015 – Microsoft SharePoint 2013

SharePoint Searching Listing FilteringSearching

Once we had SharePoint and the Vault database actually on speaking terms, the next step in the process was to configure the Vault Search feature. SharePoint already has the ability to search within its own database for keywords or filenames, etc. What we want now, is a separate search inside SharePoint that looks at Vault results only. This is where we ran into another snag that had me confused for a while.

Following the instructions in the Vault-SharePoint Integration documentation, I got stuck at step #12. Perhaps this would be a good spot to share this procedure, as it is written, so I can better describe the workaround. This one gets a bit confusing.

Configure Vault Search

1.   At the home page for the site, click the Settings > Site Settings.

2.   Select Search Result Sources under Site Collection Administration

3.   Click Result Sources in the Search group.

4.   Click New Result Source.

5.   Fill in the following data

  • Name: VaultSearch
  • Protocol: OpenSearch 1.0/1.1
  • Query Transform: {searchTerms}
  • Source Url: http://<server>/_layouts/Autodesk.Vault.BCSConnect/VaultSearch.aspx?s={searchTerms}&i={startIndex} Replace [server] with the value of your SP site.
  • Credentials: Anonymous

6.   Click Save

7.   Return to the home page for the site and click the Settings > Site Contents.

8.   Click new subsite

  • Title: Vault Search
  • Web Site Address: http://<server>/vaultsearch
  • Select Basic Search Center in the Enterprise Template tab
  • Select Yes for Navigation Inheritance
  • Click the Create button

9.   Go to the newly created site

10.   Click the Settings > Site Settings

11.   Select Result Sources

12.   Select the Vault Search resource created in step 8 and select Set as Default from the drop-down menu.

13.   Return to the site page and perform a search.

I followed this procedure step by step and everything was working just fine until I got to step #12. When I got to the Site Settings for this newly created sub site, the Vault Search resource was not there to select. This had me baffled, as I knew I was following the steps as they were written, and I had been assured by Autodesk people online that the procedure was correct. No matter how many times I did it though, there was no Vault Search there to Set as Default. Returning to the home page and looking at Result Sources there, I was able to select Vault Search and set it as the default. However, doing this overrode the default SharePoint search and replaced it with my Vault search. Now, no one was able to search for anything in SharePoint.

Finally, after scratching my head for a bit and panicking again, it occurred to me that it didn’t really make sense that the search Result Source had been created at the top level, before the Vault Search sub site was created. To me, it made more sense that the sub site should be created first, and then the search Result Source be created under that. Since I was still in the sandbox I decided to do a little creative playing with the order of this procedure.

Configure Vault Search

  1. At the home page for the site, click Settings > Site Contents.
  2. Click new subsite
  • Title: Vault Search
  • Web Site Address: http://<server>/vaultsearch
  • Select Basic Search Center in the Enterprise Template tab
  • Select Yes for Navigation Inheritance
  • Click the Create button
  1. Go to the newly created site
  2. Click Settings > Site Settings
  3. Select Result Sources
  4. Click New Result Source.

Fill in the following data

  • Name: VaultSearch
  • Protocol: OpenSearch 1.0/1.1
  • Query Transform: {searchTerms}
  • Source Url: http://<server>/_layouts/Autodesk.Vault.BCSConnect/VaultSearch.aspx?s={searchTerms}&i={startIndex} Replace [server] with the value of your SP site.
  • Credentials: Anonymous
  1. Click Save
  2. Return to the home page for the Vault Search sub site (http://<server>/vaultsearch), click Settings > Site Settings.
  3. Select Search Result Sources under Site Collection Administration
  4. Click Result Sources in the Search group.
  5. Select the Vault Search resource created in step 7 and select Set as Default from the drop-down menu.
  6. Return to the sub site page and perform a search.

This revised procedure creates a sub site for the Vault Search, and then creates a SharePoint Search Result Source on that sub site. This keeps the main SharePoint search feature separated from the Vault search, ensuring correct results from each. You can then easily create a link to this Vault Search on the SharePoint site home page, if you want. Here are some images of the search Screen and a typical search result.

Powell SharePoint Search FieldPowell SharePoint Search ResultsListing

To create a list of Vault data to be displayed on a page within SharePoint, go to http://<server>/_layouts/15/Autodesk.Vault.BCSConnect/addVaultlist.aspx

Type in a name for the list, and select a list type from the drop down menu. You can create a list for Vault Files, Items or Change Orders. When finished, click Create List. Make a note of the URL that will be created when you add the list. The format will be: http://<server>/Lists/<listname>/AdskVaultFileFinder.aspx (note: for Items this will be AdskVaultItemFinder.aspx, and for change orders AdskVaultChangeOrderFinder.aspx)
Once you have created a list, you still need to add a link to it on whichever page within your SharePoint site you want to view the results. To do this, navigate to the page within SharePoint and select Settings, Site Contents. At the top of the contents page you should see “add an app”.

SharePoint Add Vault ListsSelecting this will open a page with available apps that can be added to your page. Select “Links“, and give the app a name. This is what will appear on your SharePoint page and is what users will see. The app will appear at the bottom of the page, and under the name you will see “new link or edit this list”. This example is from the CAD page on my home site.

Add SharePoint AppEach of the items you see under the links, is a Vault List created using the steps above. When you select “new link” you are prompted for the web address. This will be the web address from the list you created earlier. There is a link to test your web address to make sure it is correct. Click Save once satisfied, and your Vault List will be added as a link on that page.

SharePoint Vault ListsFiltering

Once you have added a list to a page within SharePoint, it will return all results for the List Type you selected during List creation. So, an Item List will return the entire Item Master as the list results. Depending on how large your Vault database is, this will be more results than you probably want or need. Now you need to add some filters, to narrow the results to a specific set of Items or Files. In this way, for example, you can have a List that shows only those drawings associated with a particular project, on the project’s page in SharePoint.

Select a List from the link you just created in the steps above. Depending on the speed of your network and the size of your database, this could take a while. Once it is loaded, look for the toolbar in the upper right of the screen with Browse, Items & List. Select List and then Modify View.

SharePoint Modify ViewA View in SharePoint is simply a filtered version of the list. You can create many different Views from one List, and then specify one to be the default. Selecting Modify View brings up a screen full of options to narrow the results of this list. The first requirement is to give the view a name. In the future users will be able to select from your list of views by selecting Current View, as seen in the above image.

The section for Columns allows you to choose from a list of properties, preloaded from the Business Connectivity Model, for the Vault object type. Adding or removing columns from this list is covered quite well in the integration documentation, and worked very well in my testing, so I will not go over that in this article. The list of properties will be shown in the list results as a chart from left to right, in the order of their position. By selecting or deselecting the Display check-boxes, and manipulating the Position values, you can customize which properties you want to show and in what order.

SharePoint Configure ColumnsThe next section on the page is Sort. This sort allows you to do just that, sort the results by any of the properties in the list of columns. Data Source Filters is a good one for narrowing down the results of a list. You can filter by Category, State, Vault Folder and Limit. For Change Orders, the filter for Category would not be present. Category allows filtering by a Vault Category, State filters by Vault life cycle state, Vault Folder allows for filtering by specifying a folder path in the Vault project explorer. The correct format is $/1st level folder/next level folder. Limit specifies how many objects will be returned for this list from Vault. The default is 100.

SharePoint Data Source FiltersIn the example above I have filtered a list of Files, based only on a specific folder residing inside Vault. For an even deeper level of restriction on list results, you can use the Filter section to narrow the scope based on specific properties.

SharePoint Filter ConfigurationYou can stack up as many of these property filters as needed to narrow the scope of your results, but be careful that you don’t get too carried away. I recommend adding filters a few at a time, and checking the results. With some trial and error, you will eventually get to the results you want for this custom view. Make notes along the way so you can repeat the process on other pages. In my examples above I was able to narrow a list of the entire project explorer down to a much shorter list of only Autocad drawings from one specific folder. This speeds up display time and cuts down on frustration when a user is looking at a list.

There are other settings on this page that will affect the overall appearance of your lists, play around with them as you have time, but these are the main areas for filtering a list to a smaller group of results. Here is an example of a list which has been filtered down.

SharePoint Vault List ResultsSelecting one of these files will bring up a detail page that gives the user information about the file or item as well as any links to the CAD file itself or to the visualization file.

SharePoint Vault File List Result Detail PageConclusion

So… There you have it. Easy as pie, right? Using the installation document that came with the integration package; Autodesk Vault Professional 2014 – Integrating with Microsoft SharePoint 2013, and these helpful (I hope) tips, in no time at all you will have installed the Autodesk Vault Professional 2015 – Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Integration, set up login credentials, created a search function, and then created and filtered lists which can be placed on any page in your SharePoint site. Now anyone in your company, or even from outside if you grant them access, can use SharePoint to take a look into your Vault and download or print your CAD data. Now, if you feel brave enough, it’s time to move this into a production environment. Remember…. backup everything first! Good luck and….. Enjoy!

“Autodesk® screen shots reprinted with the permission of Autodesk, Inc. Autodesk® , AutoCAD® , DWG, the DWG logo, Vault®, Autocad Electrical® and Inventor® are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and other countries.” Programs and programmers’ information used with permission. Thanks guys!

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The Journey Continues – Crisis Resolution | Autodesk Vault Professional 2015 – Microsoft SharePoint 2013

SharePoint Crisis Resolution - The National GuardDuring The First Steps into Darkness, I discussed a workaround for missing External Content Types. Once those are set up where they belong, the next section of the setup goes pretty smoothly. You set permissions for each of the three main areas of Vault Professional:

  1. Files
  2. Items
  3. Change Orders.

This makes it possible to create lists in SharePoint for each area of Vault.

The next step in the initial setup, is to configure the Vault login. This is a set of login credentials that will give SharePoint access to the Vault database. First things first, a Vault User must be created and given read only access in the Vault to the areas needed. The best advice is to make this a Vault only user, rather than a Domain user. Give the user access to any groups it may need, to access the appropriate Files and Items. At the very least, give them the Vault Change Order Editor (Level 1), Document Consumer and Item Reviewer Roles.

Once that user has been configured in Vault, follow the documentation instructions for configuring the Vault login. This is the login that gives SharePoint the right to access the Vault. The SharePoint Vault Settings screen should look like this:

vaultsettings

  1. The Server field is the name of your Vault server, or it’s IP Address.
  2. The Database field is the name of the Vault you want access to.
  3. The User field is the username for the user you just created in Vault.

If you are setting the password for the first time, or changing it, select the Update Password checkbox. The pages section should be filled in already, pulling from the previous steps of the integration. At the bottom of the page are checkboxes for visualizations. All three are selected by default, but to maximize your search results I recommend leaving only the top one checked. This is up to your discretion.

I showed you this and described some of the steps found in the documentation, because it’s right here where I hit a massive brick wall. I even started having visions of myself sitting at home in my sweat pants, drinking coffee, unshaven, unwashed and looking through online job listings.

I entered all of the information just as you see it above, with the addition of the password, clicked the Save button and was greeted with the following message:

EXECUTE permission was denied on the object ‘proc_putobjectTVP’,database ‘SharePoint_Config’, schema ‘dbo’

Um,… what? This one went way over my head so I called in my IT support. After a bit of digging and searching, he was able to find an answer on the internet. The one good thing about error messages, is the chances are pretty good someone else has already seen it or something like it, and posted a fix online. This case was no different.

The object was slightly different, but the fix was the same… which was a good thing because we ran into two more of these after the fix was applied to the first one, like dominoes. This is an excerpt from the web article providing the steps to assign the necessary permissions for these objects. This fix is applied to the SharePoint Config database on your SQL Server.

Detailed Steps

In order to resolve the issue, I provided Execute permission to the database role “WSS Content_Application Pools” into the stored procedure “proc_putObject”. I performed the following steps to do this:

  • In the database server, expand SharePoint Config database and navigate to Programmability/Stored Procedures/db0.proc_putObject using SQL Server Management Studio.
  • Right click on the above stored procedure and select Properties.
  • On the popup screen, select Permissions on the left and click Search button.
  • On the new popup screen, click Search, select (WSS Content Application Pools) database role and click OK.
  • Click OK again.
  • On the first popup screen, select the role, check Execute permission and click OK

Once we fixed the first error, we also had to apply the same steps to the following procedures:

proc_putclass and proc_getnewobjects.

So, everything is all fine now, right? Not so fast. After these errors were overcome, a new one popped up that had everyone stumped, including the Vault development staff I spoke to. No one had seen this one before.

SharePoint 2013: Event ID 6398 An update conflict has occurred, and you must re-try this action

I think we stared at this message for about three days, trying everything we could come up with, before we once again found a blog post that was directly related to this error.

“Issue: (from Microsoft) This issue occurs if the contents of the file system cache on the front-end servers are newer than the contents of the configuration database. After you perform a system recovery, you may have to manually clear the file system cache on the local server.”

This fix is performed on the SharePoint server. The file system cache will rebuild itself after it has been cleared, with no damage to anything else within the site. So, since this was still in the test environment we just pulled the trigger and cleared the cache as outlined in the blog post. I re-entered the login credentials… again…. and hit the save button. To an audible sigh of relief the message we received was: Your changes have been saved! We were in. Our SharePoint tenant was now talking to our Vault. Now we just had to decide what we wanted it to say!

Searching, Listing and Filters

Image Credits: Powell Fabrication and Manufacturing inc and The National Guard (Flickr)

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