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How do I read a dwf file?

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Marietta, I think you are flogging a dead horse.

The whole purpose of DWF is to provide drawings which people can view, but not do anything with. So even if you do get to the stage where you can view it the most you will be able to do is print it out.

You might be best of finding someone with a PC to view it and then either print it or convert it into a PDF for you.

Alternatively buy a copy of Virtual PC and download the DWF viwer from the Autodesk website.

To my mind PDF would have achieved what DWF supposedly does, but this would have meant Autodesk recognising the concept of an open standard created by others. Not for them I suspect.

[ 02-23-2005, 07:52 PM: Message edited by: mike m oz ]

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Just a thought here from an AutoCAD/PC user prespecetive.

Unlike the Mac, PDF creation is not native. Therefore, if I want to 'share' my dwgs with non-AutoCAD users (and, sadly non-Mac users) I would need to purchase a 3rd party PDF creation software (from inexpensive to expensive). But why, when DWF creation is built-in native to recent editions of AutoCAD. So, at least for me, it is/was more expediency rather the the pros and cons of with format was better.

Also, when we first embarked on making our drawings "publicly" available to out client base, PDF did not, at that time, support features such as layers.

Please do not get we wrong, I am not promoting one over the other, just expressing one point as to why "someone" ight be uding the DWF format over another.

Now, as far as reading DWF files, there is (or was?) a untility that would import DWF into an AutoCAD session for manipulation/revision. Mind you, is was pretty dumb downed - Text, for instance, was not text, by merely line strokes that "looked like" text. Saved me a couple of time though, when "someone" managed to loose the dwg original [Roll Eyes] -it bet starting from scratch!


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First, the PS...

Currently I am "employed" so i use what my employer wants. Perhaps, after retierment (soon [Frown] ) when I branch out on my own, i will. But way wait untill, VW moves to support AutoCAD x-ref (They have the viewports, ArchiCAD does the X-ref thing - it is doable - AND I may even then jump ship to Mac as well

As for your other comments...

I work in a Paper Mill Engineering Dept - we share our drawing with all our "Customers" - Production, Maintenance Depts - Non-AutoCAD members of the Eng. Dept etc. DWF has proven useful for this and the tools that, as I said, were available at the time, were free.

Having already established a DWF base, there seem no go reason for us to change since PDF 6 (or is it 7) - the CAD-centric version became available.

Oh, we are PC based for what it sheds on the subject.

Like Ford vs Chev - "Which is the best" - the discussion could go on forever

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Autodesk says that a DWF file is 1/10 the size of a PDF file from an Autocad drawing.

Also, the DWF is not just a 2D print; it keeps the vector geometry, and the viewer can orbit through 3D models.

And they make a deluxe viewer ($200) that can measure the geometry and mark it up.

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Hi Jan

thanks for the info, in contridication of what others said reference "Also, the DWF is not just a 2D print; it keeps the vector geometry, and the viewer can orbit through 3D models."

Like the touch about you can orbit a 3D model but if you want to measure the geometry it will cost you $200!!

How does the Vectorworks Viewer compare on this level of functionality?

Perhaps the reason no dwg viewer for Mac has been forthcoming from Autodesk is as you say "they've been working on a Mac version for over two years and just aren't smart enough to pull it off." or it could be that they realise if you are viewing this via a Mac (Virtual PC excluded) you are not using or intend using any of their products, as they are Windows only.

Why spend time and money developing things to make the oppositions life any easier.

To me it sounds like a hollow gesture to the file sharing ideaolgy. You're free to share files as long as your buying or using our software to share it on.

But as I've said already its not a problem for me but must make life difficult or over complicated for the many wishing to use alternative programs to work with others.

All the best


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I suspect DWF was in fact a strategic decision to maintain Autocad's position as the defacto exchange format, and translate this into sales. They have worked very hard here to have government departments and institutions adopt DWG as their drawing file format with DWF as the public dissemination medium.

If AutoCAD had let PDF become the standard for supplying information to others their stranglehood would have been loosened - their website speel about why you should use DWF rather than PDF demonstrates this.

What we need is for all of the other CAD vendors to get off their butts and make STEP work so that this stranglehold is consigned to the trash can where it belongs.

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Hi Oldguy

Don't disagree with your comment, the reality is as you show it, and if we all used Autocad there would not even be this question or discussion.

But as the question was raised in a Vectorworks forum one must assume this question is asked by somebody who has chosen to use Vectorworks instead of Autocad but needs, perhaps not by choice but by necessity, to work with files created on alternative programs. That is another reality, the freedom of choice, not as Autodesk would have it - freedom of choice, so long as you choose one of ours.

Like Ford or Chevy you do indeed have a choice, but they don't dictate what brand of petrol you have to use to run them on.

You want to learn Vectorworks when you retire!! I'll tell you what, if I get the big win on the UK lottery this weekend I'll send you my copy of Vectorworks. You won't even have to buy a Mac as it's Windows PC and I can kiss goodbye to pounding these keys and clicking this mouse for a living forever. Now that is freedom.

All the best.


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I may have the wrong end of the stick here but to my mind pdf is the most sensible way to go. I don't need to "share" my drawings with anybody but if I did I'd be concerned that a file which to all intents and purposes is my work could be altered by somebody.

This is not to do with copyright issues but to do with responsibility if something goes wrong at a later date.

The need to keep track and a record of drawing issues and any consequence I would have thought very important.

The fact that pdf's do not support layers can surely be overcome by creating pages for each layer in the pdf and further you can use the layer visibility options to provide other alternatives to each page view.

After all from what Oldguy describes the utility mentioned does not work correctly anyway..

Quote "Now, as far as reading DWF files, there is (or was?) a untility that would import DWF into an AutoCAD session for manipulation/revision. Mind you, is was pretty dumb downed - Text, for instance, was not text, by merely line strokes that "looked like" text."

Pdf also has the added advantages of smaller file sizes for emailing and the "Reader" of this format is freely and easily available to everyone without hunting it down in obscure or little heard of sites.

You'll find a pdf creator included in OSX for the Mac, free or cheap on both Mac and PC readily available on the internet without going to the expenditure of Acrobat Distiller.

I understand that to most dwf is only a file viewing file format so why not get Autodesk out the loop and use something else. Even speak nicely to your source and ask for files in either a format you can open and use in Vectorworks or in a format you can use irrespective even of Vectorworks such as pdf.

No harm in asking and the more pdf is mentioned the more it will be in peoples mindset and used.

Could make life that little bit easier.


P.s. Oldguy - reference your signature, an old expression you'll have heard before "why put off till tomorrow what you can do today" Vectorworks. All the best. ;~)

[ 02-24-2005, 12:11 PM: Message edited by: alanmac ]

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