What's in your DWF?
With last night's Microsoft announcement of native support for DWFx, let me clarify what this means from a technical standpoint. XPS is Microsoft's XML Paper Specification. It is built-in to the Microsoft Vista operating system. An XPS Viewer will also be available on a variety of other Microsoft operating systems.
Over the years, the DWF format has evolved to be able to do more and more for Autodesk customers. DWF files have taken various forms as categorized by their version numbers:
These "classic DWF" files contain a single sheet of 2D data.
These DWF files contain multiple sheets of 2D data.
These DWF files contain a single sheet of 3D data.
These DWF files contain multiple sheets of 3D and 2D data and 2D markup data.
These DWF files contain multiple sheets of 3D and 2D data with advanced metadata such as Bills of Materials as well as 2D markup data.
These DWF files contain multiple sheets of 3D and 2D data, advanced metadata such as Bills of Materials, 2D markup data, and 3D markup data.
Now with the advent of DWFx, DWF will simply add another form to allow it to reach a wider audience:
These DWF files contain multiple sheets of 3D and 2D data, advanced metadata such as Bills of Materials, 2D markup data, and 3D markup data. The 2D data is compliant with the Microsoft XPS standard.
As the DWF Format has evolved, the free Autodesk DWF Toolkit has managed the content of the DWF file for applications from Autodesk as well as others. This will continue to be the case.
When users save their data in a DWF whose content is DWFx compatible, recipients of the DWF file can use applications like Autodesk Design Review or a Microsoft XPS Viewer to view its contents. For the current implementation, the Microsoft XPS Viewer will only view the 2D content and will ignore the 3D content. Viewers like Autodesk Design Review will view both the 3D and 2D content.
Whereas the Microsoft XPS Viewer is view-only, Autodesk Design Review adds capabilities like markup, measurement, batch printing, etc. Autodesk Design Review will open DWF files with a .dwf or .dwfx file extension. The Microsoft XPS Viewer recognizes .dwfx.
The ability to view design data with a viewer that comes installed with an operating system will help DWF reach a wider audience of users through electronic distribution mechanisms. Keeping design data digital allows it to be integrated into more and more workflows. This allows it to go beyond what can be done with traditional paper.