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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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  • Chris Benner

    Good post as usual, Mike. If you can no longer restrict item Life cycle changes to ECO’s… is that made up for by the new Item security features they have added? Can you restrict life cycle changes in that way?

  • Mike Thomas

    Good question, the answer is that they serve different purposes.

    With the new Item Lifecycle security features I could restrict it so that I could change the item state but you couldn’t, and further I could only change it from Released to WIP but then either of us could change it to In Review.

    By restricting lifecycle changes to ECO’s it can be configured so that either of us can change states but it HAS to be done within the ECO meaning that the ECO was already created documenting the required change. It also means that the Item lifecycle will only change as the ECO goes through its states, meaning lets say only the Engineering Manager can approve the ECO effectively releasing the item. The entire process is documented and captured within the ECO.

    For us the big thing is the electronic “paper trail” that is forced upon the users by using the ECO’s

  • younes yammouri

    Just to add to Mike answer additional information:

    With the new lifecycle engine for Items you could define restrictions/
    conditions based on properties to allow a transition to happened or not (similar to files). In this case you could define during the transition in the criteria tab that the property Change Order State “contain” a certain value before an Item can move to a certain state (see image below).

    Also keep in mind the restriction in Vault 2015 R2 is only regarding the admin control to restrict the change state in general of all Items to happened only in change order workflow. In Vault 2015 R2 we continue to support if the Item is assigned to a change order to restrict the change state of an item only in the context of an Change order as in Vault 2015.

  • Allan O

    Hey Mike – great write up – note that retro users though who want to leverage the old copy design still can. Starting copy design from Vault Explorer will bring up the old interface and allow the user to leverage the old tool if they have a specific need.

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