Inventor Project defined Library Folders
Libraries are generally setup so companies can place read only content into their digital prototypes, such as:
- Standard content they purchase.
- Company standard components which don’t change
- Components they have no control over
The main benefit is once a component is saved into a library it becomes quite difficult to modify it. This means standards are adhered to consistently and users can’t accidentally modify the files.
There are some rules with regard to the creation of Inventor project defined libraries:
- You can’t define a folder as a library if it’s within the projects workspace path, but it can be placed anywhere else.
- Using Windows Explorer you should mark the folders and files as read only.
- If you are using multiple project files which reference the same library folders, then make sure you name the libraries identically from one project file to the next.
- Some sources suggest using UNC paths instead of mapped drive paths if your library resides on a network location. This is only necessary if there is no IT policy standardising the paths used for mapping network drives.
If you use multiple project files then I suggest you create a template project file with all of your library settings pre-set, along with any other common settings from one project to the next. Then all you need to do is copy the project file, rename it and make any adjusts you need specific to the new project.
Content Centre is also a type of Inventor Library, in fact it’s only differentiated by the fact it’s backed up by a database of component information. None of the CC parts are created until they are used for the first time. Once they have been created they reside in a library location defined by the project file.
If you are using Autodesk Vault, the folders referenced by the project files are treated like normal folders. Vault has no idea the Inventor project file considers those folders libraries. However, the project file is defined as a Vault project instead of a single user project. This means you have to map the library folders to their equivalent folder within the Vault. Since this setup is internal within Inventor, Vault still has no idea those folders are within a library path.
Vault defined Library Folders
You will always have to have a library defined within our Inventor Project file, however, as another level of library management you can create ‘Library Folders’ within Vault Explorer. These can be used for both custom libraries and also to store Content Centre components as they are created. Personally I don’t like them, and would suggest no one uses them. However, based on my research and understanding, the only extra features offered by defining a Library Folder within Vault are highlighted below and can be found in this Knowledge base article: Using Autodesk Inventor Libraries.
The main reason why I don’t recommend using Vault Library folders is because of point 6. I’m not going to explain the effect of it so instead I will point you to one of John’s posts explaining the problem it creates: http://designandmotion.net/autodesk/vault/vault-releasing-null-revisions/
In addition you still have to create a library path within your project file to point towards the external copy of the Vault Library folder, be that on your local drive or on a network. I believe people may want to create a Vault Library folder only if they want the behaviour listed in the final point otherwise I can’t see the point.