Design and Manufacturing solutions through Digital Prototyping and Interoperability

Tag Archives: Tips

Vault: Unresponsive ADMS Console Tip

For some reason, My local Vault decided to go wonky this morning, and after 2 restarts and no response form the Autodesk Data Management Server console I started searching for some help. I came up with this great tip for dealing with a laggy ADMS console.

If ADMS just seems to halt on load, or even after you try to pick anything in the console navigation, try the following settings:

  1. Start the Registry Editor REGEDIT.
  2. Find this key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
  3. Find the ServicesPipeTimeout If it does not exist (as it did not in mine), then you need to add it. DWORD value (32 bit) named “ServicesPipeTimeout”.
  4. Change the decimal value of that entry to be 120000. Pick OK, and close the editor.
  5. Start the Services Manager (msc) and navigate to Autodesk Data Management Job Dispatch service.
  6. Change the startup type to Automatic (Delayed Start).
  7. Restart the machine.

When I restarted, ADMS was fine.

I have not completely researched the how’s and why’s of this edit procedure, and why it worked on my machine, but I suspect that there is a very slow-to-start service on my local machine that ADMS is dependent on. ADMS is likely timing out waiting for it, and after that, everything else fails.

Having a Vault guru on the team is great, but sometimes I have to let him sleep and take care of little research like this on my own. I hope this helps someone else.



Big thanks to Bob Felton for the post titled “How to solve a very slow Start up of ADMS Console on the Vault Server“, at IMAGINiT. You can read it here:

Document. All. The. Things.

I recently saw an opportunity to join one of the UK’s leading Autodesk Platinum resellers, Graitec and the sudden move jogged me into thinking about the tools I have created in my two-year tenure at my current post of CAD Engineer at Matrix Precision Engineering Ltd. based in Thatcham, UK.

In particular, it forced me to begin the sometimes-onerous task of documenting the tools I created along the way. This led me to tweeting the following:

A week or so passed and there followed another tweet this time regarding the AUGI survey results due to be published shortly in their “Hotnews” segment:

By this time, I was neck-deep in writing several documents that (I hope) will guide my soon to be ex-colleagues in using the tools I built and, coupled with the series of replies that followed the latest tweet above, the whole situation got me thinking about this post.

When is the best time to start writing documentation/processes and procedures?

For me, documenting the software I’ve written has up until now been a “For my eyes only” approach; wherein I document or more accurately comment the code as needed and do no more than that. As I prepared to leave my previous post (prior to joining Matrix), many of the tools/processes I had created were already out of use, primarily because the project they had been used upon had ended. This time around, the team I am leaving is in the infancy of getting to grips with helping their client understand exactly how they need to use Inventor/Vault Professional alongside their existing legacy data.

This leaves me with a challenge I hadn’t expected to face when I wrote the four main pieces of software, that I now find myself some 75% of the way through writing guides for:

What’s the best way to write a document about something I created, when my intimate knowledge of the subject could lead to many oversights/omissions in the documentation, based on assumed knowledge about a template/pre-requisite?

On this occasion, owing to the fact that we’ve been writing a document aimed at which capturing every intricacy we have encountered on behalf of the clients’ dataset, I chose to use Microsoft Word, stored in an instance of Autodesk Vault Professional 2014.

Whilst it seems on the surface to be a good match, there are multiple issues with doing it this way, not-least the fact that none of my colleagues can see what I’ve added to the file until I either check it back into the Vault or email a copy round for people to make their own notes on. In future, I think I would prefer to use Microsoft SharePoint, as it allows a more collaborative approach not available in Autodesk Vault.

In addition, everyone has their own style when it comes to writing documents of this type, so here are my top tips for writing the best documentation you can:

Is it simply code or a workflow involving multiple steps?

The reason for this differentiation is that if all you have created is (for instance) an Inventor iLogic rule, chances are the complexity of said rule will be such that anyone with a competent understanding of iLogic, should be able to figure out what it is doing based on the minimal amount of comments within the code. This of course depends on the person writing the iLogic using a Really Obvious Code (ROC) approach.

If your creation is more than simply iLogic, there comes a point where commenting the code is not going to get the necessary level of understanding from your audience for them to be able to use the tool in your absence. The technical nature of your workflow determines when and where exactly you reach this point.

When the workflow is:

  1. get external iLogic rule from Vault
  2. open file (assembly or part)
  3. add external rule to Inventor
  4. run rule

I would say there is little need to document these steps over and above a single page of A4.

If however, the above iLogic example were to rely on other pre-requisites such as Microsoft Excel templates and an understanding of (in our case) the clients’ parts list numbering schema, then there is a benefit to the team in documenting the workflow in its entirety.

Treat the audience as if they are new staff

Unless you’re prone to showing off during your workflow creation, there will be very few staff who will have any idea what the workflow you have created is capable of doing, let alone how it is doing what it does. My advice is to take a view that although the team member using the new process will be competent in their main role/software (in this case, Inventor) anything you have created will be completely new to them.

My current example of this is for a workflow I created that takes a folder structure based on pdf file names, pairs it with an Excel spreadsheet containing the relevant metadata, then builds an Inventor assembly that matches the structure. I quickly figured out a number of steps required to get the data in a useful format, and rename the files (sometimes 1000+) for each project.

What I had overlooked was exactly what tools and pre-requisites I had been using as part of this workflow, it having been some time since I had first installed them. The first draft of my document had skipped over these details because these tools were so ingrained to me that they had become second nature to make it all work.

Ask a colleague to use the workflow (and accompanying guide) on their workstation

This may not always be possible as your office might not have anyone spare to test the documentation, but for the sake of your team, I believe this step is necessary if you are determined to have a robust, user-friendly guide that covers every step required to carry out the workflow correctly.

In the event that you are not able to have someone test the workflow, there are a number of potential solutions available. These range in complexity from simply asking one of your co-workers to swap desks for a period (whilst you complete the guide), to creating a temporary user account on your current workstation (mild difficulty), to setting up a virtual machine on your workstation. Obviously, the last option is fraught with its own issues, but I truly feel all these steps are worthwhile in the long term; especially if you wish to avoid a phone call in x number of months after you departed the company asking you why workflow/tool x has stopped working.

Get to know the tools and document why you used them

Revisiting the software that forms part of the workflow I had been documenting; it is important to note that although the help guides for most software will be comprehensive, it is best to leave nothing to chance. Where possible it helps to explain some of the underlying uses of the technology/techniques you have used, to help the user better understand how it all works. This extra information will aid the team should something change down the line.

The best example I have for this is Regular Expression.

Google defines Regular Expression as:

regular expression

An example of a simple regular expression (regex) is:

Wherein the “.” Signifies any single character and the “*” matches the previous character zero or more times.

If your workflow finds you needing to work with any kind of text string, be it file names, drawing numbers, or other metadata that contains multiple pieces of information, regex is just the ticket.

As part of my workflow I had a file name that also included the Assembly level of that file:

1-1 DWG-NUMBER Sheet-Number Issue-Number.pdf

Regular expression let me remove the first part with the following simple match:

Wherein the match can be broken down by the site as:


This returns the following match information:


Which as you can see gives us the correctly named .pdf file (Match 2 above)

In the workflow I have been documenting, regex is useful in both Microsoft Excel (with the addition of the Regex Find Replace Addin) and in the Bulk Rename Utility <- a tool which does exactly as the name suggests.

The addition of extra information such as this makes any user guide so much more useful than simply saying “insert this into this cell and hit enter”, as it builds a level of understanding with the user of said guide that is otherwise not available.

This understanding is useful for future situations not already covered by the workflow or workflows you leant your skills to help create.


If I were to boil these points down into a simple list it would be:

  1. Make documenting your workflows/tools part of your team’s standard procedure list
  2. If your workflow involves a software tool you created, assuming you have followed a ROC approach, there should be little need for excessive explanation
  3. If you make use of a particular technique or piece of software (in this case regex) as part of the workflow, it will help if you explain in detail how and why you used it
  4. Have a colleague test the workflow using your documentation when you are finished; it will help highlight any areas that need further explanation/detail

If this experience has taught me anything it’s that I should always practice what I preach. I hadn’t really given the documentation a moment’s thought before deciding to move to my new job. Having to write documentation for workflows I knew intimately, forced me to consider in great detail all of the steps I had gotten so used to using along the way, and thanks to my (ex) colleagues’ feedback, there now exists a comprehensive guide for each of the most-useful workflows I have left behind.

Writing all of these points down will hopefully serve as a useful reminder to both myself and you the reader in future.

Solid Edge: Component Reference Visibility

While working within an assembly in Siemens Solid Edge, I often bind component coordinate systems together. In many cases you cannot do this if you cannot see the coordinate system base marker in order to select it. I found it quite annoying at first, trying to determine how to turn on the visibility of reference features such as planes of origin, coordinate system markers, and so forth. How complex should it be?

The reason that you have to take an extra step is because Solid Edge gives you the capability to show and hide almost anything from a single location.

Show/Hide Component

This is the command that allow users to turn on the visibility of almost anything inside a selected component file or files.

Solid Edge Show Hide Component Visibility

Select the component, and then pick Show/Hide Component… from the right-click context menu.

Solid Edge Show Hide Component Dialog

The image above shows the dialog; the list of items that users can turn on and off are as follows:

  • Reference Planes
  • Sketches
  • Coordinate Systems
  • Reference Axes
  • Surfaces
  • Curves
  • Centerlines
  • Live Sections
  • PMI Dimensions
  • PMI Annotations
  • The Design Body




In this example I turned on the Coordinate System for the selected shaft, and it appears in the image below.

Siemens Solid Edge Hide Show Components

Keep checking back with us. Much more Solid Edge to come.

Are your Autodesk Inventor Drawing views moving on your sheet?

Autodesk Inventor Drawing Views moved position Over the years, both myself and most of my colleagues or staff I’ve had working for me, have suffered with Inventor allowing drawing views to ‘float’ across the drawing sheet as if they have a mind of their own. The effect of this phenomenon is misaligned sections and detail views… as well as their respective dimensions and annotations becoming ‘sick’. There is a way to stop this from happening, however, frustratingly there has been a policy at Autodesk to keep legacy settings as the default settings, so as to not upset the established users. This policy even applies when it makes A LOT more sense to use the new setting instead.

Inventor View Justification

The setting under focus in this post, is the View Justification option within the Drawing tab of Application Options.Inventor Drawing View Fixed CenteredIt’s best if you set this before creating any drawings within Inventor. Otherwise each view you place will take on this setting. However, if you haven’t and you have a particularly important drawing in a bit of a state, then there is a workaround which will allow you to rectify the situation. Check out the video below for further details.


Autodesk Inventor: Copy Items Between Sheets Easily

It is easy to create another standard view in Inventor drawings, but what about when the view has been detailed or you have a customized Parts List? You can easily copy Views and Parts Lists from sheet to sheet, complete with all the annotations associated.

Copy / Paste

  • Select the items to copy: Select from the Graphics Window or from the Browser.
  • Pick the Sheet header in the browser
  • Paste through the context menu: After picking the header, right-click -> and select Paste.

Autodesk Inventor Copy Paste View

Drag / Drop Between Sheets

Alternately, you can drag to copy the items.

  • Select the items to be copied: The same procedure applies from above
  • Pick / drag the selected items towards the browser
  • Drop into the view tree: This is the odd part. You need to drop the items down into the tree organization. Just pull you cursor down below where the Views are organized; you should notice the darkened line marker alerting you to where the items will be copied. When satisfied, release the mouse button.

Autodesk Inventor Drag Views to copy them between sheets

Autodesk Inventor Pasted views

In the example above notice the Parts List and views that were copied. All annotations were copied over with the views. In this example I’ve edited the parts list and balloons according the the sheet purpose after the copy was complete.

@%#&! Autodesk Vault just overwrote my file

Recover Overwritten Vault CAD FilesIf you’ve used Autodesk Vault at any time, then its highly likely you have downloaded a file you already have checked out and overwrote a chunk of your work. Unfortunately that’s just one of several scenarios, which can result in you losing your work. The real trick to preventing this of course, is to check your work into Vault every couple of hours (similar to continually saving within your CAD application). Nevertheless, there could be a number of reasons why checking in your work continuously isn’t feasible. I often hear the comment “I wish Vault had a recycle bin”, I’ve even murmured those words myself and you know what it’s a reasonable request. Why can’t Vault create an old version of the files it’s overwriting? Although its likely possible, it could get mighty confusing.

Just over a year ago, one of my staff downloaded a skeletal / master model from Vault while trying to work around a problem he had, the problem was he already had it checked out, but worse he hadn’t checked in the file for a couple of days. He had created components, built a main assembly and even produced a drawing. Needless to say overwriting his skeletal model with what was essentially a template file, was highly undesirable. Don’t judge him though, he’s new to this Autodesk Inventor / Vault game, all while dealing with a temperamental VPN connection & a new replicated Vault, so he’s been doing a grand job. All of my staff and myself have all made this mistake once or twice.

Autodesk Vault Inventor Project File Old Versions Setting

In the past the Inventor Old Versions folder has been our first port of call, depending on how your Inventor Project File is setup, these folders can be a gold mine during these arse puckering moments. The project file setting I am referring to is shown in the image above, I like to set Old Versions To Keep On Save to equal 5 on all Vault project files. Of course, this tactic is of no use to AutoCAD users, but it does have some of it’s own backup treasures which may or may not be useful within any given situation.

This time however, I’m glad he made the mistake, because it prompted me to ponder if some of the new Windows Explorer features in Windows 7 on wards would help out here. The particular feature which inspired me to Google for a solution, was the undo tool. In Windows 7 or 8 if you delete a file in a folder, then press Ctrl + Z, it will undo the delete command and restore the file. In this case the file had been overwritten by an application and not as a result of the user interacting directly with the folder. So I took a punt and searched for:

“Recovering an overwritten file”

The first search return took me to this site. Method 3 of 4 was a particular surprise, I couldn’t believe it, I’d seen this tab in the Windows 7 Property menu before but I’d never realized it’s impact. The command worked perfectly, the 2 days of lost work was returned thanks to this hidden gem. You can even open or copy the previous version to a different location if you aren’t confident it’s the right way to go. Be warned though, this isn’t a fail safe, but this is always worth a check in this situation. The best part though? This is handy for all Windows users, not just Vault users.

Windows 7 Restore Previous Version Tab

Then I went and took a look at Windows 8 to make sure this behaviour still existed, it turns out it doesn’t and this article explains why. Thankfully Microsoft just improved it out right, the only catch is you have to enable it and point it to a non system drive. Take a look at this well written article explaining how to do that. Another bit of good news is Windows 10 has maintained the same system as Windows 8, so we are looking good into the future. If you are the owner of your Autodesk software, then you could re-purpose your Autodesk USB installation media, to leverage this native Windows benefit.

These tools for Windows 7 & 8 are cracking little gems, lurking in the background, rarely used but invaluable all the same just waiting for the opportunity to shine and save your butt. The best part is they can be used on any file stored on your hard drive and not just those your use for CAD. Check them out and if you need to, enable it. With respect to the title of this post, I haven’t really shown you how to prevent it happening in the first place, I will do this in an upcoming post covering dialog and prompt suppression within Vault and it’s application add-ins.

Join the Community