Let’s put this PDF versus DWF thing to rest. Adobe and Autodesk are not at war. Recently I attended the HP Large Format Print Academy conference. Stephen Partridge of Adobe was there. He, Director of Worldwide Market Development Jonathan Knowles, and I got along quite well. In fact Stephen and Jonathan participated in panel sessions together and were quite complimentary. Basically Adobe and Autodesk are trying to solve two different problems with design data. If all you need to do with your design data is print it, then PDF will work reasonably well. But if you want to solve real problems that face the construction, mechanical, mapping, telecommunications, and entertainment industries, then PDF is not enough.
- Autodesk customers need the extra precision that is available in a DWF. This is the basis for taking accurate measurements. Jonathan often teases his longtime friend Stephen that he would never fly in a plane that was designed from a PDF.
- Autodesk customers need intelligent objects. A file format that knows that a door is a door instead of a collection of lines that look like a door allows an application to count the number of doors in a building. This will be a boon to the estimation process. The parts of a door can also be snapped to when taking electronic measurements.
- Autodesk customers need the extra metadata captured in a DWF. This is the basis for making informed decisions regarding product, project, and asset designs. For example, knowing the fire rating on a door is critical when using a file format as a basis for a rescue operation or when submitting a bid to supply the door.
- Many AutoCAD customers view 2D; however, more are more are moving to 3D. Autodesk customers need 3D data captured in a small file that can be transmitted quickly through email.
Looking at DWF versus PDF file formats reveals some commonalities between the two. Both formats produce self-contained files, support multiple pages, and provide copy, print, and password-protection functions, as well as raster and vector graphic support. With the purchase of Adobe Acrobat Professional, users can publish files from AutoCAD, preserve CAD layers, and create redlines and comments as they can with the DWF format. The Design Web Format, DWF, was designed specifically for sharing rich design data. PDF was designed for generic text-based document exchange.
Today Autodesk provides a better format for sharing engineering design data with DWF files that roundtrips well with AutoCAD and other Autodesk design software. Autodesk Design Review is at the heart of the electronic Review process - tracking status of the markups in addition to using them to change the original design. As Autodesk develops additional applications around the DWF format, Autodesk customers will be thankful that they have set themselves up to work with DWF - even if their current needs could have been met by PDF today. AutoCAD 2007 includes a basic PDF output capability out of the box. Autodesk customers have a choice. Opportunity for integration with superior workflow processes is just one of the ways DWF goes beyond being just a portable document format.