I think the only thing longer than my last post was the last time Autodesk updated the Vault Thin Client. Well, that’s changed with Vault 2022!

An Updated Vault Thin Client with Vault 2022

If you’re like me, you’ve probably forgotten that Vault Professional includes a thin (web) client to compliment the Vault (thick) client. The previous edition provided a weird interface that was hard to navigate, difficult to find things, and painful to move between documents. Worse it was slow and had a very clunky reliance on a Design Review plug-in to view documents. We long ago dismissed it and developed our own stand-alone viewer. If you haven’t seen it, let’s just say it would be like looking at a web page in Netscape in 1995 compared to how things look today in Chrome or Edge.

So good news, the 2022 thin client is completely revamped with a modern interface. Buzz words aside, it is finally usable. Use the Vault 2022 thin client to query and view your Vault files, items, and change orders (yes change orders!) from a browser, only needing your Vault credentials to log in.

Vault Thin Client - Files

What is the Vault Thin Client?

Not everyone requires full access to the data contained within Vault. This is especially true considering using the Vault Professional client consumes a license, even if used to only view the data. Many only require read-only access to QVP (Query, View, & Print). Vault Professional provides this with the Vault Web (Thin) Client.

The thin client is intended for those on-premise who need read-only access to view the design data contained within Vault [Note, if you are looking for offsite access you should explore the Vault Mobile App]. The information presented within the thin client is identical to the information presented in the Vault. With the Vault Thin Client, you can search, see dependencies (where used & uses), view files, and open attachments. With the CAD Visualization files (DWF, DWFx, PDF), perform markups and add comments.

The Vault Thin Client provides read-only access to files and items unless you have a Vault Office license [Edit: Vault Office integration is no longer an option with 2022].

Navigation and Usage

As mentioned there are three types of data available within the Vault Thin Client: Files, Items, and Change Orders. Access is dependent on the Vault user’s permissions. Autodesk nailed it here as the interface and experience is identical across all three. This includes resizing columns and using the column headers to sort by the property. Each object presents a menu (…) with relevant options. Use the search to locate the desired objects.

Use the embedded Autodesk Viewer to view 2D drawings and 3D models of Inventor, AutoCAD, and other supported file types directly within the browser, without the need to install CAD software, viewer, or add-ins. Strangely the Autodesk Viewer can view practically any 3D file type, but the Vault Thin Client is restricted to DWF, DWFx, and PDF file types. You can however update the visualization by sending a request to the Vault Job Server, if you are using it.

Unfortunately there is no integration with Change Orders other than viewing. I would love to see the ability to submit change orders and to comment on them when in the Review stage.


Installation is easy and requires little in the form of setup and configuration. Autodesk has a good write-up in the Vault help.

As an administrator you can restrict the viewing of data to released data and/or latest version only. Gone is the ability to set up default views for your users.

Vault Thin Client Administrator Settings
Administrator Settings

The good, the bad, and the meh of the Vault 2022 web client

So it can’t all be lollipops and unicorns. Here’s the good, bad, and meh of the Vault Thin Client

The Good…

The interface is solid. Its a consistent experience across the object types, has a good look, and will be easy for new users to pick-up.

Change Orders… yes! you can view your change orders within the thin client.

No viewers, plug-ins, add-ins, or applications required to view documents (visualizations). Everything occurs in the embedded Autodesk Viewer.

The Bad…

Even though much of the news refers to it being there, the thin client does not provide access to Item bill of materials (BOM)… gasp! Although my spidey sense is telling me we won’t have to wait too long for this.

The Meh…

Viewing is limited to published visualizations (DWFx). Although the Autodesk viewer can view countless types of files, we are limited within the thin client to only viewing DWFx. The good news is that you can initiate a visualization update/creation, but then are dependent of the Job Processor to generate this in a timely fashion.

There is no advanced search, nor can you limit the search to a folder and its sub-folders. The only thing keeping this off the bad-list is Vault’s search is kick-ass that you hardly notice this missing functionality.

I’m happy to have Change Order access, but I wish there was a little bit more. How about allowing the Vault Thin Client to submit new change orders and add comments during the review stage?

The help and information on the Autodesk site mentions printing. I can’t find a way to do it. Doesn’t effect me as I can’t remember the last time I printed something, but this may be a not-so-nice missing feature for some.

I appreciated the administrator options in the old version to set the default views for users. There are so many properties available in Vault, many an organization doesn’t use. Would be a nice-to-have to have the UI all rip-raring-ready-to-go for the users when they log in.

In Summary

If you are a Vault Professional user who has (or will be) upgrading to 2022, and have users you need access to the design data, but not access to make changes, you need to check out the thin client.