DWF Writer from Autodesk
reprinted by permission of Ralph Grabowski, editor
February 10, 2004
Autodesk has said rude things about Adobe, its Acrobat
software, and the PDF [portable document format] file format.
Not so long ago, visitors to Autodesk's DWF Web site saw
pictures of inept acrobats and the letters PDF struck through
with a red diagonal line. The negative campaign made the
self-proclaimed "world's leading design software and digital
content company" sound like an underdog.
More recently, the anti-PDF rhetoric has been eliminated,
with Autodesk's director of DWF strategy Tony Peach
acknowledging that "Adobe's PDF is good for standard office
applications..." and that "...the DWF file format was developed
specifically for design and engineering industries...". At
http://www.autodesk.com/dwf, the anti-PDF logo has been
replaced with a curvy DWFit logo.
Until last week, it was only Autodesk products and a few
other software packages that handled DWF. Available at the Revit
Web site was a piece of software called "DWF Writer." It is a
printer driver that allows any software package to generate DWF
files. Last week, Autodesk made the 5MB download available
officially from its own Web site at
http://www.autodesk.com/dwfwriter (registration required).
In a press release, Autodesk pokes at competitors: "DWF
Writer brings this same functionality to other CAD applications
that do not offer built-in DWF publishing, such as Bentley
MicroStation and SolidWorks." The truth is that neither company
has any interest building-in DWF. Bentley is working with Adobe
to make PDF more friendly towards CAD, and SolidWorks has its
own highly-advanced eDrawings format. Adobe itself directly
supports PDF output from AutoCAD 2004 (and earlier), but not for
Shyly deposited in the midst of the press release is mention
of another piece of software: "For users that need electronic
review and mark-up capabilities, the soon-to-be-released DWF
Composer both helps reduce cycle time and costly printing and
plotting throughout the design collaboration process. DWF Writer
will be a key component of DWF Composer, enabling users to
composite multiple file types into a single DWF file, further
facilitating the exchange and archiving of drawing sets."
The DWF software collection from Autodesk now consists of:
- DWFout (free) in AutoCAD and other products that exports
drawings in DWF format.
- DWF Writer (free) that lets any software output documents
in DWF format.
- Express Viewer (free) that views and prints DWF files.
- DWF Composer that combines documents from various sources.
- DWF Toolkit provides the API (applications programming
interface) that lets DWF read/write be embedded in other
Autodesk hopes DWF would become the universal exchange format
for drawings in an uneditable format. Competitors are
suspicious, and are developing their own formats (eDrawing) or
relying on others (PDF and CSF). For now, Autodesk is making DWF
generation, viewing, and printing available for free, perhaps
hoping "grassroots" drafters will ingratiate DWF in their
organizations. Missing from last week's announcement is mention
of support for the Macintosh.
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