Sam, if you open a file in WE and then save it the time stamp is changed. If you open the file using Inventor the time stamp is also changed, BUT Inventor will also update file paths etc... where ever it needs to, like Vault for example. It's true that the only change for the file will be the timestamp but that is often enough to signal vault that the file has changed. The files CRC value will be different also.
It's been a while since I actually played with Vault, at least as far back as 2010, it may have been earlier, but if memory serves, it was possible to locate the Vault files in WE. Don't ask me what address they were in though. This would have been when Vault used IIS (another disaster ... ).
I figured it out. I started a discussion with my block of cubicals and here is what we came up with.
When you open files thru the folders provided on the left side of the "Open" dialog window you are only given the options of direct network paths. If you use the drop down or windows explorer you could end up using shortcut paths. If you use a shortcut path to open a part or assembly you could accidentally remap it to be located in that shortcut directory in whatever file uses it. Now if another user goes to open the file that uses it they will have missing links (as they do not have the same shortcut directories on their computers) that they will need to manually remap.
So opening files in explorer vs. in the program doesn't actually make a difference, it's that by not using the the folders provided by the ipj in the open dialog box you risk opening the file thru a path that has a shortcut in it.
I only tinker a bit in Inventor, since some of our vendor skid packages are built that way, so take this with a VERY large salt crystal
Lets say you have multiple versions of Inventor to support different legacy projects - 2010, 2012, and 2013. You double click a file to open it. Are you certain that the file will open in the correct version?
More generally with AutoDesk products, many can not only open a variety of files but also support a number of different profiles for different plug-ins and configurations. It could be a Bad Thing if somebody double-clicked a mechanical model and it opened in, say, a structrual design program. The user closes the file and not thinking clicks OK when asked "Do you want to save?" (I see users doing this *all* the time). Now you have a very irate designer who has a file which is more or less buggered; possibly still working but has content automatically added and/or modified by that other program and/or profile.
Jon, you seem to be getting a handle on the situation here.
To put it simply, it is far better to use Inventor to open Inventor files.
If the file you need resides in a folder outside of a current project then use WE to copy that file into the correct project/location ( I don't know why Autodesk can't provide a means to do that for you without having to open up WE??? EG: a simple button that when clicked will copy the file from the current location into the current project's location. ) but that's Autodesk for ya ...
Anyhow, Good Luck and Happy Inventing.
If the file you need resides in a folder outside of a current project then use WE to copy that file into the correct project/location ( I don't know why Autodesk can't provide a means to do that for you without having to open up WE??? EG: a simple button that when clicked will copy the file from the current location into the current project's location. )
Not exactly what you mentioned, but you can cut/copy/paste and delete from within Inventor's Open dialog window to move files around.
Good idea on the simple button!