Although both are generated from the plotting process of Autodesk products, there are many differences between a plot file and a DWF file.
- A plot file is device specific. It is normally PostScript or HPGL. Even HPGL is different for each HP device. So generating a plot file on one computer does not necessarily mean that it will print on another computer’s printer. On the other hand, a DWF file is device independent.
- A plot file is not necessarily vector based. With vector-based graphics, the elements can be scaled without losing fidelity. Try scaling a bitmap – you get fuzzy pixels. The vector-based nature of a DWF file allows users to use the free Autodesk DWF Viewer to pan and zoom the DWF with full clarity.
- DWF files are compressed. Plot files, particular in large format sizes, are huge. This makes transmitting them through email, FTP, or advanced collaboration solutions such as Autodesk Buzzsaw, impractical.
- DWF files contain intelligent objects. A door in a DWF file knows it’s a door. In a plot file, a door is just a collection of lines that happen to look like a door. Because a door is a door in a DWF file, it can have metadata associated with it. This metadata can be meaningful object property information such as cost, delivery schedule, installation instructions, manufacturer’s availability, or the door’s fire rating. The intelligent objects also allow for the measurement tool to snap to them when taking electronic measurements. When doing so with a plot file, the measurement is limited to the accuracy of the user and his ability to click the mouse in exactly the right spot. There are no provisions for this type of intelligent data in a plot file. A plot file is limited to just the data that generates the correct picture.
- DWF files can also have hyperlinks.
- A DWF file allows users to employ an electronic review process that is integrated with Autodesk design software. Plot files are the basis for the old fashioned way of physically delivering, marking up, and re-delivering paper. Only Autodesk Design Review enables the complete round-tripping of redline markups directly into AutoCAD and Autodesk Revit software, through an intuitive review and approval process. Project managers, AutoCAD drafters, and Revit users can navigate from comment to comment across sheet sets and systematically walk through a review set to complete the approval process and incorporate changes into the design. The software’s comment navigation capability ensures that all redlines and markups are listed, and changes can be tracked throughout the design review process. The result is reduced costs, less confusion, and faster cycle times.
- DWF files are searchable. Text in a DWF file is text. In a plot file text has been transformed to pixels in the shapes of letters. Autodesk is working with leading search engine companies on searching for text within the DWF files.
A plot file generally contains the data for one sheet. A DWF file can contain one or more sheets. Thus it is possible to put an entire project’s worth of plots into one DWF file. Using Autodesk Design Review, plots can be added, deleted, or re-ordered. Creating multi-sheet DWF files can be done with one click using the Sheet Set Manager and the PUBLISH command.