Avatech is shipping Vault Access (US $249/seat), new software from their Research and Development organization -- might that be the old PlanetCAD group?
The software works with Autodesk's Vault to provide access to non-Autodesk software. Right now, Vault is limited to working with Autodesk's Inventor, Mechanical, and Electrical software. I keep hearing that Autodesk will add Vault support to AutoCAD, but that's not happening (yet).
The point to Vault is to keep track of different versions of engineering files. Avatech explains the purpose of their new software:
Companies that adopt Autodesk Vault data management software have an easy-to-use tool that maintains version control in a multi-user environment and improves design reuse by consolidating product information in one place. However, since the models and drawings now reside in the Vault, they are not accessible to downstream users that do not have CAD applications on their desktop, such as people in the purchasing and manufacturing departments. Vault Access enables this connection by allowing users to query, view and print engineering data on their desktop.
It's not clear to me (1) if Autodesk approves [there is no quote from them in the press release]; and (2) whether Vault Access works with other CAD software [press release mentions only accessing external veiwers].
Matt Mason of Avatech answers the questions:
Most of the people who worked on Vault Access were a part of the PlanetCAD group.
Autodesk does approve. We obviously have a good relationship with them, and maintaining that is extremely important to us. The product was discussed and tested in detail by a variety of Autodesk employees.
Vault Access serves an important role: removing one of the obstacles that some companies face when adopting Autodesk Vault. It works with other CAD software if the customer has a viewer for that CAD system. The viewer is launched when the user chooses to view the file.
(Vault Access has embedded viewers for Inventor and DWF types, and uses whatever external viewers are appropriate for any other types.)