What's new

Vault How To and Hints

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
I have started this thread because there are many posts showing an interest in how the Vault works and how to accomplish a specific task. There is the obvious, watch the Guided Tour video, read the Users Guide (http://www.m-files.com/eng/download.asp), and Help documentation. But we all know how much work that is, and would like a simpler and easier way to get started with using the new Vault capability. The Vault installs separately from Alibre 11, so sign up for the beta, download and install the Vault software, and give it a try with a few Windows test files. The Vault is so much more than the Repository as it is a full document management solution! You will want to get a head start setting up the Vault for your needs before you start saving Alibre files and possibly having to reorganize your data. The good news is Alibre has already pre-configured a Vault for your use with Alibre that is setup to integrate with Part Data information and user provided information. You can copy this original Vault and create your own test vault on the drive of your choice, and even on a flash/thumb drive.

While I have a lot of software experience and computer skills from being a computer Systems Analyst in my pre-Alibre life, I too am a newbie to the Alibre Vault. I will try to share what I am learning & have learned, and hope others will do the same as well. Maybe we can save each other some time by providing summary information on how-to hints for setting up and using the Vault. Maybe even get into some heated discussions about document management standards (how exciting).

Based on the current questions posted in the forum, I have started working on how to create a Vault on a different drive, including a thumb drive and how to best manage the thumb drive. I will then be working on the built in Full and Incremental Backup capability. I have installed the beta Vault on my secondary machine for testing, and have installed another copy of the beta Vault on another spare machine to test the inter-Vault communication (quite good across my LAN). I would like to correspond with someone willing to share Vault files across the Internet (PM or email me via this forum).

Please post the nitty gritty How-To steps to accomplish a task, as there is already enough general information on what can be done - we need to know the Step by Step menus to select.

Feel free disagree with anything posted, and suggest a better way. Post your experiences and share. Hopefully this interaction will help decrease the learning curve for us all.
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
CREATE NEW / PRODUCTION ALIBRE VAULT:

1. Create a folder to store your Vault(s), and a specific sub-folder that will contain your Vault files.

I created A top level D:\MDATA folder for my Vault(s), which is located on my data storage partition and off my Windows partition. I then created my Vault folder using my Alibre username “WoodWorks” for my production Vault (sort of an homage to the Repository). I put my Vault folder under a top level folder, rather than at the top level itself, because I anticipate having more than one vault, and possibly have a migrating vault that will result in multiple history folders as I copy the latest version to my system (more on this in another instruction).

11/19/2008 - I have since change my Vault storage folder to "D:\AlibreVault" and created a sub-folder "WoodWorks" in which to store my Vault database. I have also created a folder called CACHE in the AlibreVault top level folder in which to store the Cache data. For those that want to know" where the file are", they are in the WoodWorks sub-folder. This keeps my data off drive C: and allow me to restore system drive images as required without worrying about loosing any data. I have copied and modified the class definitions for using the WoodWorks Vault in a manner similar to that of the Repository.


2. Create the new Vault by copying the provided Alibre Vault.

a. Start the M-Files Server Administrator
b. Right Click on the Alibre Vault, and select Operations > Copy Document Vault...
c. Provide the name of the new Vault and browse to specify the new “Vault data folder”.
d. Under Data to copy, select the Structure Only button, and also check the Users and user groups item so you do not have to redefine valid users for this new Vault.
e. Press the OK button to start the copy.

This will copy the structure of the default Alibre Vault and create your new Vault with your specified name and location. This operation took only about 5 seconds to my hard drive, but took 15 to 20 minutes to accomplish to a memory stick.

Rather than trying to create and define all the relationships for a new vault, simply copy the well organized Alibre Vault provided with the installation. The Alibre Vault makes a good template from which to create new vaults. If it proves worthwhile to create a customized Vault structure, then that customized vault can be used to create additional customized working vault(s).


3. Add the new Vault to the Document Vault Connections.

a. Start the M-Files Client Settings from Start menu M-Files > Settings > M-Files Client Settings.
b. In the Document Vault Connections tab, select the Add... button.
c. Enter the name of the Vault (such as WoodWorks) in the Name field. Enter the name of the Computer in the Server Name: field. Press the Test Connection button to verify that the Vault you defined above can be located and you have provided the correct vault and computer name.
d. Use the drop down box in the Vault on server: field to select your new Vault from the available options. The rest of the fields can be left at their default values until you determine if you need to learn the administrative tasks associated with those fields. The defaults should work fine for a single user system.
e. Press the Test Connection to Document Vault button to verify that your new Vault has been setup properly. You will be prompted to define a valid user if you failed to check the “Users” box in Step 2.
f. Select OK, and you should have a new vault in which you can store your files.


When manipulating the Vault data outside the M-File environment, the entire Vault folder (e.g. “your-username”) should be handled as a unit because all the files contained within that folder define the complete state of a database. If swapping out the entire folder (as with a “traveling” vault), it is important to capture the database in a stable state. I recommend renaming the current folder by appending a date and time of retirement, before copying over the replacement folder. This should allow the restoration of the original folder should something go awry.

While theoretically possible, since this Vault migration has not been attempted, nor verified to function, you are warned of possible dire consequences. Don’t expect Alibre to bail you out or provide any assistance. As with those of us who have migrated our Repositories to other systems, we must rely on our own testing and the assistance of others within the forum. That being said, I will now see what havoc I can wreak by moving my new folder to another system with the Vault installed. I have successfully removed and replaced my memory stick Vault; but that is a topic of another post (which will include travel to another system).
 

Ralf

Alibre Super User
Great, well done!
Clapping.gif


I thought, I'm the only one M-Files fan. :D
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
Since I have to create crib notes for use by my wife and myself, as well as train our customers, I thought I would share. The Vault is fantastic, although as with any powerful software, it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Please correct me if I go wrong, as I will be trying push the envelope, and only time and experience will tell if something is not a good idea (and it usually results in dire consequences).

When asked what my job as a Systems Analyst entailed, my best answer was that I read computer and software manuals, figured out how everything really worked, and translated that to instructions the programmers and other employees could understand. That and dealing with the daily disasters that occur in any computer dependent business.
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
TRAVELING VAULT ON MEMORY STICK

A relocatable Vault can be created on a memory stick and moved from system to system. The creation of the Vault is the same as described in an earlier post. However, it did take 15 to 20 minutes to create a new Vault on a 2gb Attache brand memory stick. Access time reported when I tested the connection was significantly higher than that of my hard drive based Vault.


Before removing the Memory Stick based Vault, I assumed it would be a good idea to indicate to M-Files that the Vault is no longer available.

My solution was to simply take the Vault offline, before activating the Safely Remove Hardware dialog from the taskbar and then unplugging the Memory Stick. This has the advantage over Detach/Attach (Administrator) and Remove from the Document Vault Connections (Client), in that it does not require the user to remember and provide the information about the Vault every time before it needs to be used on a particular system.


1. Take Memory Stick Vault OFFLINE

a. Start the M-Files Server Administrator and highlight the desired Vault
b. Select Actions > Operations > Take Offline or select Take Offline in the Operations and Maintenance section of the right pane.
It may be wise to Logout the Vault before taking Offline, but it does not seem seem to eliminate the need to logout and login again after the Vault is brought Online. (9-12-2008 edit)
c. Click on the Safely Remove Hardware icon in the lower right icon area of the taskbar, and select your memory stick.
d. Remove your memory stick when notified it is safe to remove.

This has the advantage of making any files marked for Offline Availability, to still be available for use.


2. Bring Memory Stick Vault ONLINE

a. Insert the Memory Stick
b. Start the M-Files Server Administrator and highlight the desired Vault
c. Select Actions > Operations > Bring Online or select Bring Online in the Operations and Maintenance section of the right pane.
9-12-2008 Edit:
d. In Windows Explorer and with the top level M: Drive contents visible, right click on the desired Vault and select Logout. Right Click on the same Vault again and Login to start a new session with the Vault. Logging out the Vault in the Server Administrator before taking Offline does not seem to eliminate the need to Logout and Login again after the Vault is brought back Online.

If I understand correctly, any files marked for Offline Availability will be updated to match changes made to the Vault data.

This procedure attempts to allow manipulation of Memory Stick based Vault data without the complication of having the Detach and Attach the Vault (which requires proper specification of the Vault name and folder location during the Attach). Please verify that your Vault data operates properly using these procedures and post any problems or issues to this thread. (9-12-2008 edit)


I have not subjected my memory stick to rigorous transfer of information between computers, so verify the functionality of this method before entrusting your valuable production data to this method of data transportation.


HOW TO ADD YOUR MEMORY STICK VAULT TO ANOTHER SYSTEM

a. Insert the Memory Stick
b. Start the M-Files Server Administrator and highlight Document Vaults under Local Computer in the Left Pane.
c. Select Actions > Attach Document Vault or select Attach Document Vault in the right pane.
d. Enter the Vault name in the top Name: field.
e. Browse to the location of the Vault on the Memory Stick (top level or sub-folder originally defined to contain Vault when created).
f. Click on OK to add the Memory Stick Vault to the available Local Document Vaults.

g. Start the M-Files Client Settings dialog and go to the Document Vault Connections tab.
h. Select the Add... button to Add Document Vault Connection for Memory Stick Vault.
i. Enter the name of the Vault on the Memory Stick in the Name: field. Enter the name of the local Computer in the Server Name: field. Press the Test Connection button to verify that the Vault you defined above can be located and you have provided the correct vault and computer name.
j. Use the drop down box in the Vault on server: field to select your new Vault from the available options. The rest of the fields can be left at their default values until you determine if you need to learn the administrative tasks associated with those fields. The defaults should work fine for a single user system.
k. Press the Test Connection to Document Vault button to verify that your new Vault has been setup properly.
l. Select OK, and you should have your Memory Stick Vault available for use.

You should now be able to use the instructions in Steps 1 and 2 to take the Memory Stick Offline and Bring it Online, as you travel your data between computer systems.
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
CHANGE CACHE LOCATION

I changed the location of my M-Files Cache in hopes to reducing the disk activity on my Windows Partition. This was inspired by the Windows best practices recommendation of relocating the Windows TEMP files and Paging to another disk drive when possible. Since my Data partition is a separate disk drive than my Windows partition, I created a CACHE folder under my D:\MDATA folder. Don't know if this is a wise move, but time will tell with experience and further reading of the documentation. Just food for thought.

1. Using the M-Files Client Settings Dialog, select the Settings Tab and use the Browse button to specify a new Cache location on Disk:.

2. Press the Apply button, and the new Cache location will take effect upon the next restart of M-Files (which is probably the next system boot up).
 

JordanCClark

Alibre Super User
Since Kirk has done a lot of useful things with this I thought I'd make it a sticky. When v11 becomes a general release, I think this can move over by the "Tips and Tricks" and FAQ topics. :wink:

Thanks, Kirk!
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
TRANSPORTATION OF VAULT DATA USING REPLACEMENT OF VAULT DATABASE WITH FILE COPY

Initial attempts to replace the contents of a Vault folder were unsuccessful and resulted in the error message "The data file folder does not contain valid data files for this document vault". I logged out and went Offline with this Vault on the source system, and then copied the entire folder to a memory stick. I took the destination Vault (same location and folder name) Offline and then renamed the folder (adding a date and time stamp of retirement). I then copied the folder off my memory stick and tried to Bring Online.

9-12-2008: I was able to copy an entire Vault data folder to another location and a memory stick as well. After Detach'ing the Vault, I was able to do the copy of the folder, and then I as able to Attache that Vault again and specify the new location, or the same location. This is done via the M-Files Server Administrator. See the post about timings for 9-12-2008.

It would be much better to simply do a full backup of the source Vault to the memory stick, and then a restore the backup on the Destination system. I would rename the destination folder with a "retirement date-time stamp" and create a new folder to restore the backup. This would keep my previous data in case it was needed.

Alternatively, it is not too bad to simply copy an entire Vault folder to the new system and go through the proper channels to add that Vault to the system. While Export is an option, I expect the entire contents of a Vault is desired by most users.

Any other Ideas to try? I will experiment with the suggested solutions and report my impressions on each. There are enough supported ways to accomplish data migration that we should not have to resort to risky and unsupported methods. I think Alibre made the right choice in replacing the Repository with the Alibre Vault. Half a days worth of experimentation and I am already becoming comfortable with the software.
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
DESTROY vs DETACH

DETACH will remove the reference to a Vault in the Server Administrator, and you still need to Remove the Vault from the Client Settings Dialog. The Vault folder and contents are still intact for later use.

DESTROY is the command for a Delete, and it will not only remove the reference to the Vault in the Server Administrator, it will Delete the Entire Folder for that particular Vault. You still need to Remove the reference to that Vault in the Client Settings Dialog. There was not any remnants of the Vault in my Recycle Bin available for restore, so the term Destroy is aptly named. No other Vaults other than the selected Vault was affected.local
 

dmckee101

Alibre Super User
There is a lot of great information on this thread as well as others, scattered around the forum. I hope Alibre will glean this info, credit the individuals and put a few tutorials together very soon. :idea:

Personally, I don't look forward to searching forum threads or a 150 page manual to figure out how best to optimize a file manager for an established CAD package I've been productive with for years. Don't get me wrong, I've looked forward to a repository improvement for a long time and M-files looks great.
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
VAULT TIMINGS

I did some performance timings with the Alibre Vault on an Athlon 64 x2 5200+ dual processor system, with one of my production repositories containing 75 parts (many with 10+ configurations), 48 Assemblies, and 52 Drawings. The resultant Vault was about 200mb in size when converted (as reported by Nero when backing up the entire vault folder to disk). Hopefully this information will allow you to determine relative timings for your data.

Load Snapshot of Repository into Migration tool: 6 minutes
Migration to Vault: 35 minutes

Functions within M-Files Server Administrator:
Copy Vault to another folder on the Hard Drive: Empty Alibre Vault=70 seconds WoodWorks Vault=3 minutes
Copy Vault to Attache brand 2gb memory stick: Empty Alibre Vault=19 minutes WoodWorks Vault=65 minutes
Backup WoodWorks Vault to Hard Drive: <60 seconds To Memory Stick: < 60 seconds

Using Windows Explorer:
Copy of WoodWorks Vault folder using Windows Explorer to Hard Drive: About 2 minutes To Empty Memory Stick: About 2 minutes

CONCLUSIONS:

If you want to create a new Vault, use the Vault Copy command in the Server Administrator. It may take quite a while copy a Vault to a Memory Stick/Flash drive.

The Backup command in the Server Administrator is an effective and fast way to backup your data, and to restore the entire Vault to the same or another system.

Copying the entire folder that contains all the Vault files using Windows Explorer is another viable option to transport your vault data to another system. You should use the Server Administrator and Logout of the Vault, and then Detach the Vault before copying the folder. You can then use that Vault again with the Attach Document Vault... command, and then Login to that Vault using the Server Administrator. This worked for me without having to Remove or Add the Document Vault Connection in the M-Files Client Settings. You will need to provide the name of the Vault, and the location of the folder in which the Vault files reside when you do an Attach. This could be automated with a script to make it easier and prevent errors. You can Attach the vault from different locations, as I had 2 copies of the Vault on my hard drive, and 1 copy on my Memory Stick, and was able to Attach any one of my 3 copies as my working WoodWorks Vault. You can NOT Attach more than one version of any vault as you will receive a warning that "A vault with unique ID {...} already exists.". This should confirm that is easy and practical to relocate a Vault between systems, or copy a Vault for use elsewhere.

I am interested in timings experience by other users when using a Memory Stick, as mine is an Attache brand 2gb memory stick I picked up for about $10. Is it really that much slower to work with a Vault on a Memory Stick, or do I have an off-brand, counterfeit, or just a cheap memory stick.
 

indesign

Alibre Super User
ralf3 said:
We had many test trials. There were only minor problems.
We have read attentiv the migration instructions. :!:
Some things are very important in the migration process.
(If I post "poor English" nonsense, Max please edit my post) :)

Our personal experience:
Technical Requirements:
- Removing temporary data before ( CCleaner-freeware)
- Defrag !
- No further applications should be active
- 1GB RAM for XP and 2GB RAM for Vista ( I mean really properly functioning RAM with the same clock frequency :wink: )
- Virtual Memory more than=> 1,4 x existing RAM size
- Enough free space on the hard disk
- Enough free space in the Alibre M-Files Vault

Repository Requirements:
- All files "check in" or all "check out"...
- Lost relations between parts, sheet metal parts,2D drawings, BOMs of assemblies must be renewed before in the the Repository => Especially Booleans !
- All assembly files must be in the Repossitory => Some parts in the Repository and some parts in the windows files system for an assembly -> Does not work

Very important, as Tim has said:
Properly configured Antivir software or swich off the Antivir software for the migration process.
Each Antivir software slows down the performance process.

An example: 272 MB Repo.arb file -> migration time ~8 min without problems -> iMAC 20" 2 x 2GHz with 2 GB RAM and XP SP3 32 bit, ClamWin Free Antivirus (Open source GPL virus scanner)
332 x unique parts
5 x unique sheet metal parts
58 x assemblies
251 x 2D drawings
52 x BOMs
1 x main assembly
1274 x parts total in the main assembly
 

fitzbond

Senior Member
How you share Vault files across the Internet I've sent a couple of emails to support and I was told that a need an additional license (more money) to do this is this true?
 
If it is to use your files between your office and home-computer you have to setup a VPN-connection. I am pretty sure you don't need an additional license for this. I am in the process of moving to another office. As soon as I am ready I will setup a VPN-connection myself. To do this there is a lot of information on the internet.
 
- All assembly files must be in the Repossitory => Some parts in the Repository and some parts in the windows files system for an assembly -> Does not work

Why not? I've completed some major projects where I kept items in the windows directory so that they were more "transportable" without having to save them as external files. Now I have completed, sold project where my archived work in now garbage. The drawings don't connect to the part, the assemblies can't find parts, and so on.

If M-files is so great, then why can't those part relationships be maintained by the migration tools? In addition, if it can't, then why can't I keep my repositories?

M-files might be the greatest software since Windows, but right now it has effectively destroyed hundreds of hours of engineering work. Can a migration tool be made that restores the repository-to-file structure links?
 

Ralf

Alibre Super User
Two important things:
Repository is a database with an internal index. (similar to MS Access-> Database)
Windows file system is a only a "Data collection".
 

fitzbond

Senior Member
W. Wagelaar said:
If it is to use your files between your office and home-computer you have to setup a VPN-connection. I am pretty sure you don't need an additional license for this. I am in the process of moving to another office. As soon as I am ready I will setup a VPN-connection myself. To do this there is a lot of information on the internet.

I would be allowing my business partner to access the vault on my laytop and he would do the same this was the way we worked using the online repository.
 

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
HOW I SETUP MY VAULT -or- USING THE VAULT LIKE THE REPOSITORY

My needs for file storage with the Vault is very simple and similar to how I used the Repository. Many people have posted then want the old Repository back, so I am posting how to setup your Vault to work very similar to the Repository. Follow along, and you too can setup the Vault to work in a manner very similar to that of the Repository.

I have used the M-Files Server Administrator (Right Click on the M-Files icon and you will find it under Settings) to configure my Vault so that I can continue to use my accustomed Part Data, and a simple Customer and Project definition to organize my files. I am not quite ready to abandon the familiar folder and sub-folder file organization, so I added a "Traditional Folder" entry to my Vault data and will continue to use the familiar traditional folder organization for my files. The Traditional Folder is somewhat redundant to the Project entry, but I have kept the Project entry in hopes that I can eventually wean myself away from storing in folders and sub-folders and truly embrace the free form Vault structure.


Start by opening the M-Files Server Administrator, and select Classes. This will give us a list of the currently defined Classes, of which we are mainly interested in those Classes that start with "Alibre " at the top of the list. We will configure each of those classes to suit our purposes and let the Vault know what fields we want to use in our organization.

Right Click on the Class entry, and select Properties from the drop down list. That will provide a Class Properties window for that particular entry. We will modify the "Properties:" section so that we have the properties we wish to use available when we save our files to the Vault.

The "Name or title" entry is always the first and is required as this is the name of our file. I have added Customer and Project, and checked the Required box because these are the two main items I use to organize my data. If you have additional mandatory organizational items, you should add these up here near the top of the list.

I have the added "Traditional folder" next on this list to specify the folder in which I want to store my file(s). Simply click on the Add... button below the Properties: window and select the "Traditional folder" entry from the list. You can then use the up and down arrows to the right of the Properties: window to move the entry to the location on the list you desire.

I have removed "Product" from my list as that is not a required field. In fact the only fields that I normally use in my work are the fields from "Received from" to the bottom of the Part Data tabular list. So I have added those fields to my list, and left off those Part Data fields from Cost Center to Product. Now my Class Properties are setup to store my files using Customer and Project as the main items of organization, with a Traditional folder being specified. If you want, you can make the Traditional folder Required, but I left it unchecked for the eventuality that I wish to wean myself from folder centric view of files. You can add other Part Data fields to this list if you commonly use them, so they are easily available with each save. If you use a field occasionally, you can always add it in the save dialog box. Remember, this is the way I use the Vault, and you can change the fields to suit your requirements. You do not even need any of the Part Data fields, and can stop at Traditional folder.

The rest of this post will be continued in some of the following posts, with screen capture images of the setup I have used for each of the Alibre Class entries.

The last graphic in this post entry, is the Vault now configured with the familiar folder structure in which we can now save our files as we have in the Repository. We can now change file names and update the Vault information with the same ease that we are used to in our old Repositories.
 

Attachments

  • Alibre Vault Data.png
    Alibre Vault Data.png
    198.9 KB · Views: 538
  • M-Files Server Administrator.png
    M-Files Server Administrator.png
    95 KB · Views: 544

WoodWorks

Alibre Super User
Attached are the Assembly with continued Properties: dialog box below, and the Bill of Material:
 

Attachments

  • Alibre Bill of Materials.png
    Alibre Bill of Materials.png
    36.9 KB · Views: 329
  • Alibre Assembly2.png
    Alibre Assembly2.png
    3.1 KB · Views: 4,591
  • Alibre Assembly1.png
    Alibre Assembly1.png
    38.4 KB · Views: 369
Top