Vault and XREFs


As many may know, Vault has a love hate relationship with external drawing references.  What’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Let me begin by saying that when I first ran into this issue, I found a workaround and have been using that ever since.  It seems that a resolution to this issue is on the horizon, or not. We will see. 😉

But first, the problem…

Project Node Login

When using Civil 3D, we can log into a Vault project thru Prospector. This enables us to create the data shortcuts for those objects we have shared in that Vault project. It also allows us to have the drawing folder structure show up inside prospector; no need to have a separate windows explorer open to browse and open DWG files. Cool stuff no doubt.

But let’s start at square one, it’s a new project with no GIS information or any other objects of intelligence. We’re simply working in a 2D world with our sketches for conceptual design documentation. Let’s say we’ve broken out the various elements into at least 2 DWG files, say existing and proposed conditions with just lines and text inside each file. Maybe a third or fourth file sheet file exists to present the above references…

Once each file is created, we want to check them into the vault to maintain the versioning aspect. We are, after all, doing conceptual designs. So these files could change quite often.  We also want to XREF each file into the other simply to coordinate the various annotations so nothing overlaps, ensuring the readability of our documentation.

We did the above process with one file checked out at a time. Now the deadline is at the end of the day and we need some help. So Engineer X jumps in to help. Now both reference files are checked out and probably the sheet files as well. Suddenly, when we try to check-in one of those files, it doesn’t work. I can save the file in the working folder  but I cannot check-in the file.  {Cue Michael Bay-esque explosions and destruction}

There is nothing you can do at this point. Simply save the files, close Civil 3D and grab some lunch. Over lunch, you ponder a few things, mostly to do with chores and taking your daughter to gymnastics/softball/sailing/choir/etc. without running out of gas before you get home. And yes, all of those activities are in one evening.

Back at your desk, dealing with this issue now seems infinitely simpler than the traveling adventure that is looming.  So with a deep breath, you jump back in. Except this time, you just open the Vault Explorer to check in the files. And it works. WAIT! WHAT? Yes, they actually were checked-in.  Fantastic! {Applause from your Project Manger is overheard}

So now I can check-in thru vault explorer, but what about Civil 3D? How do I work? Should I login thru Project node in Prospector? Or not? So some quick testing reveals the following….

  1. As long as multiple files are checked out that are referenced into each other AND you are logged into the Project node in Civil 3D, the errors occur.
  2. Having those same files checked out and you are NOT logged into the Project node, everything works fine.
  3. It doesn’t matter if the files are checked out by one person or multiple people, the results are the same.
  4. In case #1, being logged into the Vault Explorer does not affect the error. Of course, in case #2, you HAVE to be logged into the Vault Explorer just to do the check-in.
  5. As the project develops, Civil 3D objects will need to be shared. Log into the project node (Civil 3D objects can only be shared in the Vault thru the project node) long enough to check-in the civil objects.  Make sure any reference files in the current object file are NOT checked out at the time of adding those objects to the vault.
  6. Once Civil objects have been shared, you no longer need to remain logged into the project node to update those object definitions. Use case#2 above to modify, edit and check-in the civil objects.  [As an aside, even when you simply SAVE the file with the shared civil objects, any other drawing with a reference to that object will get a sync notification even prior to a check-in.]

So, that’s the work-around, don’t log into the vault project node in civil 3d unless you need to share a civil 3d object with vault.  Then immediately logout of the project node an continue using the workaround.  The bad news is that this error/condition has been around for awhile. Doing a simple search of the forums indicates it goes back to around 2006-ish.  The good news is that this issue is about to be resolved, I think. Stay tuned….

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About Kevin
Hi… I am a husband, father, brother and neighbor. I am employed as a Civil Engineer and have enjoyed playing the drums for the last 30+ years.

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