August 15, 2011

Do You Use DWF?

Design Web Format (DWF) is a secure file format for the distribution and communication of design data to anyone needing to view, review, or print design files. The DWF format was first established in 1995 as a means of publishing AutoCAD Drawing Files (DWG) for use on the internet and was then known as the Drawing Web Format (DWF). As the format grew in usage beyond AutoCAD, DWF was renamed to what we now know as the Design Web Format.

Today DWF files are highly compressed making them smaller and faster to transmit electronically than standard design files and in many cases even PDF files. All Autodesk software includes the ability of printing, exporting, or publishing out to the DWF format. The sole purpose of the DWF format is to allow designers, engineers, project managers, and their colleagues the ability to share design information and content with other team members without them needing to know the software used to create or modify the design. As the publisher of DWF you can limit what is published by creating a single sheet or multi-sheet drawing sets within a single DWF file. There is also the ability of publishing 3D models to the secure DWF format.

Similar to the PDF files that require you to use the Adobe Acrobat program to review pdf files, DWF files require the Design Review program to enable users to measure, markup, review and print DWF files. Design Review is a free download from Autodesk. Design Review is a reviewing tool that includes markup tools, measuring tools, the functionality to review 2D and 3D DWF files and the ability to print out your designs. DWF files marked up with the Design Review tools can be saved and imported back into the AutoCAD, Revit or Inventor programs the files were generated from, allowing your end users the ability of “overlaying” your markups; a great contributor to going “paperless” in the office.

The 2009 release of Autodesk products included the ability to create another DWF file type. This was the DWFx file type which is based on the XML Paper Specification. With this new format, DWFx files can be viewed and printed using Internet Explorer 7 on Windows Vista or Windows XP (with the latest .NET updates), and on Windows 7 without the need of Design Review, making DWF files more versatile.

The creation of DWF is not limited to Autodesk software either. Autodesk has released the “Autodesk DWF Writer” software which enables users of any Windows based software a means of publishing DWF files. This software is a certified Windows system printer driver that is installed on your system and becomes a printer available in your Microsoft Office, Microstation, CATIA, and SolidWorks programs. Download the Autodesk DWF Writer here.

There are many features and benefits to using DWF/DWFx, but to sum up some of the key points, DWF/DWFx files:
  • are small in file size (often smaller than a comparable PDF files)
  • can print graphics clearly with crisp linework
  • is a secure format for your designs
  • hyperlinks within the published documents can be embedded within the DWF
  • through the use of Design Review can be “redlined,” measured and printed
So what are you waiting for? Start looking into using DWF!

Ron Palma
AEC Solutions Application Specialist

Ron has 23+ years of experience in the AEC industry as a designer, lead project designer, trainer and CAD manager. His instructional background includes Autodesk Certified Instructor, trainer, support technician, educator at Portland Community College and Clackamas Community College, and a U.S. Army certified instructor. Follow Ron @RonPalmaAEC.

Get it. Know it. Use it.