Last week Design and Motion brought you a complete list of the new features in the 2015 release of Autodesk Vault Basic, Workgroup & Professional. At Autodesk University 2012 I presented a class on Vault Professional and Items, called Itemize Your Life with Autodesk Vault Professional. It was very well received and covered a lot, in fact I ran out of time, but it really showed how powerful and useful items could be, but also how difficult they were to implement properly. Today I will take a deeper dive into the biggest change Vault has seen in years; I will review the new Item & BOM tools at your disposal.

I’m glad that 2015 is finally official, meaning I can finally install it, and get rolling with it… when it comes to Items this release is revolutionary!

Homeland - Paul Dyson - Vault 2015 Items & BOMPhoto: Paul Dyson

After seeing Vault Pro 2015 in action it looks like I’ll have to go back and re-write my AU class (if of course I was to present it again). If you are sitting on the fence regarding implementing items this release should be the push to get you over it. Autodesk has spent some significant time improving the item workflow, and has done a really good job of covering the all details.

What was unpleasant with using Items previously?

  1. You had to assign files to items from the file. You could attach files as attachments to the item, but this had no effect on the BOM.
  2. When assigning items to an assembly it was all-or-nothing to the BOM, in that you either created the entire BOM or didn’t create / update the item. With this there was also no way to interactively choose what was assigned an item and what wasn’t.
  3. There was no way to copy an item
  4. The assign item wizard wasn’t very intuitive or an easy concept for most people to grasp, especially when it came to dealing with duplicates.
  5. It was difficult to change the order of the items in the BOM
  6. You could not edit sub-components, only the top-level items in the active item BOM

What’s so great about 2015?

Forget everything you knew about assigning items. The workflow has been completely overhauled, making it far easier to not only work with items but also to manage the Items and their Bill of Materials. Gone is the item assign wizard, replaced with a new modeless Item interface. The biggest (and probably best) new enhancement is how you assign files to the item; you simply drag-and-drop or copy-paste files directly into the item.

Vault Professional 2015 Updated Item Dialog

Because of the changes to item workflow a save button has been added, meaning you can save item changes without having to close the item. Along with Save is also a Save as Copy option, allowing you to quickly create a copy of the item including its properties, BOM rows, and item details (It doesn’t copy the primary file attachment though for good reason). Gone is the idea of open vs. edit, you can now toggle between Edit and Read-Only modes without having to exit and reopen the item.

If the dialog looks streamlined and slicker, its because it is! Autodesk removed many of the non-required GUI features. Assigning items also “feels” snappier, although I don’t have any real proof, this just a gut feeling

Vault Professional 2015 Item BOM Improvements

I created a video highlighting all the changes and improvements but it ended up being way too long, it happens when I get excited about something. So what I’ve done is broken it into four more manageable “chunks”. The first showcases the new assign item process, how simple and intuitive it is.

From files the option of working with Items has been expanded. In addition to Go to Item you can Open Item directly from the file.

Duplicate items have been streamlined in that it will automatically select one item for assignment when two of the same are found. This option is managed by the Vault admin, who can opt out of this option. You can also at anytime change which item is being assigned. If you don’t like the automatic assignment?… right-click, Assign To, and select the correct item to be used.

Video #2 – Using the modeless dialog to assign files to existing items, adjust BOM row order, and easily toggle between read-only and edit modes

Flexible BOM Management

Flexible BOM Management… Long Lead Items… that’s right, and the name describes the new functionality very well.

  • Rows can be turned off to keep them listed in the BOM but invisible to all BOM related processes
  • Reorder the BOM rows with a drag-and-drop or by using the new Item Position number property
  • Administrators can set how new items are added to the BOM, either automatically or by the user manually selecting which rows to include (make visible)

Additional BOM improvements include the ability to work on nested-child components, where as in the past you were limited to the top-level.

Video #3 – Sub-component editing, copying & pasting to build-up the BOM, and why you should be using items!

In-CAD Improvements

Working with Items in Inventor and AutoCAD Mechanical also got some love. From within Inventor you can now place an Item into your assemblies meaning it will either place in the Primary file link or create a virtual component containing the Items properties. Some may wonder where the benefit is with this new feature, if you have used frequently used Virtual Components in Inventor, you will know you can’t reuse them. You can re-use the hell out of non-CAD file Vault Items now instead.

Within AutoCAD Mechanical you can now create a Part Reference directly from the item, with the Part Reference containing all of the item properties. This simplifies the process significantly.

Video #4 shows you guys the process for placing items directly into an Inventor assembly.

What else is new in Vault 2015?

To see the other Vault enhancements take a look at Scott’s post Autodesk Vault 2015 – What’s New? Revit gets loads of love

Editor comment – OK, Scott’s comments

I’ve been critical of the Vault product in the past, only because I’m passionate about it and want it to be the best it can be. So I think it’s only fair to say these changes show the Vault team are listening to their customers requirements, and what’s more, the best is yet to come. We have been shown some goodies this week which are VERY exciting indeed and that’s all we can say about that for now. If anyone ever doubted Autodesk’s commitment to Vault, with statements like; “Development resources are being directed at the ‘Cloud'” or “Design Review was discontinued, so Vault probably will be as well”, the last 12 months of Vault updates proves them wrong! I think ‘The Cloud’ & products like Autodesk PLM 360 have given Vault a new sense of purpose and clarity. Stay tuned.