So Who Needs Vault?

As more users begin unwrapping their C3D 2009 boxes and make the jump, we’re seeing more and more questions about Vault and Data Shortcuts in the groups and in our mailboxes. I’ve been a huge advocate of Vault the past two releases, basically as a matter of riding the horse ya got. Vault wasn’t perfect (and it fact, downright sucked sometimes,) but it was better than using data shortcuts in my opinion.

Jump back to last fall, when I first got a look at Data Shortcuts for 2009. My first question was, “So who needs Vault?” The answer is after the jump.

When looking at the decision between Data Shortcuts and Vault in Civil 3D 2009, there are three major questions to ask:

  1. Do you need good backup plans that offer some level of versioning? Nightly backups are typically enough to cover this, but systems like Windows ShadowCopy or Executive UnDelete will allow you to browse all the files created and deleted on a given day, giving true versioning access.
  2. Do you have a need for an enterprise document management system? Vault gives you the ability to version and access control entire file systems, and can be integrated with MS Office. If you’re looking to manage stacks and stacks of spreadsheets, a DMS might be a good fit. If you’re looking for a starter DMS, Vault might be a good fit, you’ve already paid for it!
  3. Do you need user/team level security controls? This usually boils down to what does the relationship between Surveying and Engineering look like to be honest. If you don’t have a conflict there, then you probably don’t need the user management within Vault.

If you’ve answered yes to all three, then Vault is probably a good fit. If you have these systems in place, we would lean towards using the simpler Data Shortcuts in your environment. There are always considerations like IT support, hardware, etc, but to me, these are the overarching questions that truly should drive your decision.


  1. Tracey McAuley says:

    Vault was a bad choice in our office, it slowed everything down and data shortcuts made life great.

  2. Jon Rizzo says:

    As a document management system, Vault leaves a LOT to be desired, but it’s free (well, included, anyways). As Tracey mentioned, Vault slows everything down. It has also proven to be problematic & buggy, with some files just plain refusing to check in. However, on large projects that will involve the collaboration of folks in different offices, Vault can improve performance by restricting WAN traffic to only checkin/checkout operations, rather than having to perform every single save over the WAN. For most of our projects, data shortcuts (with the changes in 2009) is going to be the way to go.

  3. Tracey McAuley says:

    We have three office’s in different parts of the state and Vault was just too slow to communicate over Wan. I believe they should just get rid of Vault.

  4. James Bell says:

    The firm I was at before used Vault (we had a very good IT guy who told AutoDesk what he thought about it several times)and I wasn’t a big fan, although I did get used to it.
    Here we are strongly leaning towards Data Shortcuts.

    Wow!!!Patiently waiting for Mr. Postlewaits’ comment on this subject!!

  5. The 5 stages of accepting Vault:


    “Just because I use Vault doesn’t mean I have a problem,” I protested. I’d been saving up that line for some time in the hopes that it would convince my pointy-haired boss that hey–it’s a functioning software. Vault isn’t keeping me from doing my work, in fact, it calms me down and puts me in a better, more productive state of mind.


    I wasn’t angry so much as irritated. Why can’t Vault understand that I’m trying to check in ths drawing? Why is it taking so long to open? What the flip is a circular dependency?


    “When are you going to stop using Vault?” my pointy-haired boss asked.

    “2010” I replied immediately. “I read in an article somewhere that if I quit by the time 2011 comes out, I can reduce the harmful long-term effects of Vault.”

    “Don’t listen to that,” she said. “Those people who wrote that article probably don’t have a history of Vault like you do.”

    I paused. “Okay. Make that 2010.”

    “How about 2009?”

    “But Sir!” I wailed. “That’s six months away!”


    At this point in the conversation, I started to long for a service pack. Will I get one by the end of the month? This conversation is really stressing me out.

    And what if my boss does have a point? What if I really am dying inside, and the only thing that can save my life is kicking my Vault habit?



    After some more talking and arguing and me trying to convince boss why he should just let me use Vault (which didn’t work), we both agreed that I’m going to get my head checked. Not just get an x-ray, but have an appointment with a brain specialist and see if there’s anything wrong with it and ask for advice about what to do if I get another Vault attack again.

    I sure hope my brain checks out okay. I’m far from ready to check-in my last drawing. Vault is more than just software to me; no matter how bad life gets, I’m always assured that it’ll be there to version my drawings, manage my users, manage my documents and help me get through the day. I don’t intend on using Vault forever, and I really do plan on quitting in 2009. But not while I’m suffering from a lot of existential angst and about to enter the real world naked and unprepared.

    I wonder if my boss will ever reach the stage of acceptance any time soon. Maybe I should accept that he never will. He is my pointy-haired boss after all.

  6. My issues are you can’t Data-Shortcut Points and don’t have the distinction between C3D Points and Survey Points WITHOUT Vault. Data-Shortcuts still don’t provide full C3D sharing functionality like Vault does.

  7. I guess I have to wonder what you’re using points for that a simple Xref label or import/export wouldn’t work. I’m not a big fan of points for points sake though, so my take is a bit skewed admittedly.

  8. Shawn Cooper says:

    Our office is having major issues with vault and 2009, everytime you check-in a drawing it crashes civil out and sometimes doesnt actually check-in the drawing.

    Has anyone else experienced this and know a fix? no one on the boards elsewhere seem to know what it is.

  9. Oliver Robar says:

    What is better data short cuts or Vault?