In a previous blog posting, I mentioned that what separates DWF from PDF is that DWF is specifically designed for CAD data whereas PDF is a generic solution. This is evident when the formats are compared based on items of interest to the design community.
|History:||Design Web Format, an open, secure format designed specifically for sharing rich engineering design data.||Portable Document Format, a generic format designed for textual-based document exchange.|
|Basic Functionality:||Enables team members who do not use CAD applications to participate in the digital processes by viewing building, GIS, or product designs.||Preserves document integrity, and enables businesses to simplify document processes.|
|Publishable from AutoCAD?||Yes. DWF creation is a built-in feature of Autodesk design applications such as AutoCAD, AutoCAD-based products, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk MapGuide, and Autodesk Revit software. Users can "publish" rich design data with a single click.||Yes. AutoCAD 2007 has the ability to plot to PDF.|
|Scalability for Design Data?||Yes. Extensible and highly compressed print-ready format supports multiple pages and design intelligence.||No. Limited compression not architected for large data sets or design intelligence.|
|High Precision for Design Data?||Yes. A DWF can go as high as 2,147,483,648 DPI. As such DWF can measure the continental USA with a precision of +/- 2.4 millimeters when using the maximum DPI and paper size settings.||No. A PDF for the Adobe Reader is limited to 2,400 DPI.|
|Multisheet Drawing Sets?||Yes. The user can publish multisheet drawing sets from multiple DWG source files to a single DWF file automatically. DWF also preserves design coordinates and sheet properties.||Yes, but with significantly longer publishing times and resource consumption than DWF.|
|3D Models?||Yes. 3D can be published from Autodesk design applications or captured from non-Autodesk OpenGL applications.||Yes.|
|Contains Design Intelligence?||Yes. DWF files are more than an electronic plot and can contain sheet, object, component, and mass properties, as well as markup data. A DWF knows a door is a door.||No. Extra data is limited to markup data only. To a PDF, a door is a collection of polylines.|
|Optimum File Compression for Designs?||Yes.||No. PDF files are often three-times larger, straining bandwidth and system resources, and slowing publishing and viewing times.|
|Open Access, Extensible to Other Applications?||Yes. The DWF Toolkit enables users to develop applications that read or write multisheet DWF drawings for free. In addition, the free Autodesk DWF Viewer API makes it possible for end users to embed DWF drawings in HTML and Office applications, or for developers to customize the viewer for use in third-party applications.||Yes, but the developer will have to purchase a license to the libraries to create a PDF.|
|Preserve CAD Layers?||Yes, automatically publishes only those layers the author intended as defined by the AutoCAD layout. For security purposes layer information is not published unless selected by the author.||Yes, but only with the additional purchase of Acrobat Professional. Uses a layer selection tool separate from the AutoCAD layout, which can lead to standards violations. Layer information is published by default, creating a security issue where end-users may print a document with critical layers inadvertently turned off.|
|Print to Scale?||Yes. Supports printing of both 2D and 3D drawings, maps, and models.||Yes, with some caveats on large format devices.|
|Supports Different Scales per Viewport?||Yes.||No.|
|Supports Merge Control?||Directly.||Indirectly through 3rd party software. This can introduce printing issues.|
|AutoCAD-Based Views?||Yes.||No. Supported by the raw file format, but not exported by Acrobat Professional.|
|Hyperlinks?||Yes, automatically published from the AutoCAD family of products and Autodesk Revit.||No. Supported by the raw file format but not exported by Acrobat Professional.|
|Redlines/Comments?||Yes, with the free Autodesk Design Review.||Yes, with the additional purchase of Acrobat Professional.|
|Copy Protection?||Available via the free AutoShred-DWF application from Pinion Software.||Yes.|
|Free Viewer Available?||Autodesk DWF Viewer (17MB download).
Autodesk Design Review (27MB download).
|Yes (20MB download).|
|Viewer Already Installed?||Possibly. Over 12 million users have downloaded and installed the free Autodesk DWF Viewer.||Likely.|
|Platforms:||Windows; Other platforms supported via Project Freewheel and other third party solutions.||Windows, Pocket PC, Symbian, Palm, Macintosh, Unix, Linux, Sun Solaris.|
|Languages:||DWF Viewer: 14
[Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish]
|Acrobat Reader: 30|
PDF works great for text-based documents. Designs, however, require more.