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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Lock & Load: Loading Data into Autodesk Vault with Autoloader

“It's not the load that breaks you down - its the way you carry it”
Lou Holtz

Last week, I needed to show someone how to bulk load data into Autodesk Vault.  Typically, bulk loading data is done when a Vault "goes live", and loads existing data into Vault.  The data can be anything from AutoCAD data, Inventor data, even MS Office documents.

Thus this weeks video is inspired!  This video walks through how to use Autoloader.

It would be remiss of me not to mention two approaches to loading data into Vault.

The first is what I'm describing here, bulk load with Autoloader.

The benefits?
All the data can be loaded into Vault, flip the switch, and use Vault from that point forward.  We "flip a switch."

The drawbacks?
Autoloader doesn't want you loading files with broken links into Vault, so you'll have to resolve these before putting them in.  This can be enormously time consuming if you have a lot of broken links, and may require resources that just can't be dedicated to that task.

Autoloader found some broken links!  These have to get fixed!

The second, is "as we need it".  In other words, we'll use the current system we've been using, and all new projects will be placed in Vault. 

The benefit of this method?
Data can be culled to see what's getting put into Vault, and you can resolve broken links as you encounter them.  It's a "finer toothed comb".

The drawback?
Two systems are being maintained.  Which can complicate data management.  Not to mention that if the old system is still available, that "project inertia" can set it, where users never quite make the necessary commitment to Vault.

Which is the right one?  If you're expecting me to make a bold statement of which I believe the one method, I'm afraid I must disappoint you.

I don't believe there is one.  It's a decision that has to be based on a given situation, and where resources can be best utilized.  It depends on how broken your data is, and how much time you want to devote to using it. 

I've spent a month onsite fixing data before.  That's a lot of time fixing a lot of data.  For that company, the time was worth it, but can another company justify that?  Hard to say.  So I leave that question, "open ended".

What I can do, is give you a video showing you how you can use Autoloader.  It's a tool in your arsenal, and while it may not be the "ultimate weapon", it still gives you options when faced with getting data into Vault.

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