If changes are made to a CAD file, those changes should be captured in a revision. A revision indicates a milestone in the manufacturing process of a file and signifies a point in time in the history of the lifecycle of the file. Some of the common methods of noting a revision are by adding the revision number to the title block of the drawing or by adding a specific revision block to the drawing. With Vault Workgroup or Professional, there is one more method available; letting the Vault software control the revision level.
When you are using Vault, an initial revision is created represented by a letter or number, depending on your revision scheme. After that, a revision increments according to the format specified in the assigned revision scheme accessed from the Behaviors tab on the Administration dialog.
There are specific commands in Autodesk Vault that allow you to set the current revision level for files and to change the revision level as needed. When loading new files into the Vault, this tool is often used to set the initial revision level.
And there we go! The revision is set. Done and done.
Well, not really. Even though the revision level has been set for this file, it is not locked down at all. There is nothing preventing someone from checking it out and making changes. A version labels changes, but it does not prevent additional changes from occurring.
This is where the idea of lifecycle states come in. Lifecycle states work in conjunction with revisions. In the simplest form, lifecycle states have a Work in Progress state and a Released state. The released state locks the file so that it cannot be edited.
Since the file is locked, no changes can be made to the file. It can be viewed or even linked to another assembly, but cannot be edited. To edit the file, the lifecycle state must be changed back to Work In Progress. As soon as the lifecycle state moves back to Work in Progress, the revision level automatically moves to the next level.
Revisions should always be used in conjunction with lifecycle states so that the current released revision cannot be accidentally edited.
This post has really just been about a working with revisions on a single file. But Inventor files can have complex, interrelated relationships, so revisions will affect more than a single file. Future posts will address this idea.