Since this is a historic day, how about a little Autodesk history? Autodesk DWG TrueView represents another chapter in the Autodesk history of viewing design data. Over the years, the Autodesk viewing strategy has constantly been adapted to meet customer needs.
The original AutoCAD drawing (DWG) viewer was Autodesk View. Back in the days of R12, AutoCAD ran on DOS. You recall DOS - the operating system with the 640K limitation. As an operating system on what we would consider today as primitive hardware, CPU cycles were at a premium. As such, DWG reading functionality was not cleanly separable (as it exists in Real DWG today) from AutoCAD. Autodesk View had its own code base (collection of source files modified by programmers to create a product) that was originally developed by the Sirlin Group.
With the internet boon in 1995, Autodesk customers wanted to share designs on the web. Bandwidth was such that 2400 baud modems were still the rage. This made it impractical for Netscape Navigator Plug-ins to be larger than a megabyte. With this in mind, the plug-in needed to be simple. Anything complicated like reading a DWG would be too large. So Brian Mathews invented the DWF format. The format featured file compression and tessellated (ready to draw) geometry. The easiest way to create such a file was to have the WHIP ADI video driver for AutoCAD R13 dump its display list to a file. Thus the Netscape Navigator Plug-in inherited the WHIP! name from its AutoCAD predecessor. The DWFOut command first appeared as an add-on in the Autodesk Internet Publishing Kit for AutoCAD R13. DWF files were used like JPG files, but users could pan and zoom for additional detail.
So now Autodesk had two different viewers, Autodesk View and WHIP!, with two separate teams maintaining two separate code bases. The decision was made to combine the two products to reduce costs and provide customers with a single viewer that could meet both needs. Customers welcomed the idea. Although WHIP! had a rich API, its architecture could never provide the measurement capability of Autodesk View. The architecture of Autodesk View could not load DWF files as quickly as WHIP!. So Volo View was created by starting with the code base used for the Autodesk Actrix product line. A free version existed, Volo View Express, and one that was sold - Volo View.
As Volo View evolved, so did other Autodesk design products. Autodesk Inventor became popular and its customer base also needed a viewer. The strategy was to make Volo View the viewer for all Autodesk products. So Volo View was updated to read DWG, DXF, DWF, and IDW files. Despite having the file formats in common, the Volo View code base was separate from AutoCAD and Inventor. It was constantly in a race to duplicate the viewing functionality of new releases of AutoCAD and Inventor. Even small differences in functionality such as plotting line patterns were decried by customers. As a product, Volo View grew larger and more complicated than either AutoCAD or Inventor. Even with the improved bandwidth, customers balked at the 25MB download size.
Rather than have Volo View try to view all formats, Autodesk decided to have all products output a common format - DWF. By focusing on one format, the viewer could be small to download. The viewer would be independent of changes to design authoring applications. The format could handle both 2D and 3D. With this in mind, the Autodesk Design Review product was created. It shared a code base with the free Autodesk DWF Viewer and DWF Toolkit. (To make this story a little more challenging, the original name of the Autodesk DWF Viewer was the Autodesk Express Viewer - taking after its free Volo View Express predecessor. Another wrinkle is that Autodesk Design Review was originally named Autodesk DWF Composer.) The shared code base allowed problems corrected in one product to also be fixed in the other. Like its Volo View predecessor, Autodesk Design Review provided markup and measurement capabilities. It also allowed aggregation of DWF content which Volo View did not provide. As a replacement for Volo View, a DWG viewer was also included, so users who received an occasional DWG could create a DWF and leverage Autodesk Design Review functionality. In this case, the DWG viewer was created from the AutoCAD code base, so it inherited any new viewing functionality with new releases of AutoCAD. The Inventor View application is based on the same approach applied to Autodesk Inventor.
Although Autodesk Design Review continues to be very successful, there is still a class of Autodesk customers who prefer to collaborate using native DWG files. This class of user is typically a design team over a LAN. For these users, the 100MB download of a DWG viewer is not an issue compared to a 10MB download of a DWF viewer. To satisfy this class of users, Autodesk DWG TrueView was created. It too is created from the AutoCAD code base. Autodesk DWG TrueView will be included as the DWG viewer on future Autodesk Design Review CDs.
So we have come full circle. Autodesk provides viewers targeted to specific user needs. The current product line does not suffer the woes of its predecessors that were developed and maintained separately. This is good for Autodesk and Autodesk customers alike.