Mark Douglas has a posting entitled New EplotView DWF & PDF viewer Palette on his In the Dynamic Interface blog. Check it out.
|In an earlier blog posting, I covered Locking Users into Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 Company-Wide. This article included how to disable automatic updates from Autodesk, how to disable manual checking for updates by users, and how to disable user registration. In essence, this article shows how to defeat the update process! |
It is customary for an IT department to control software updates across an organization. An alternative to defeating the Autodesk DWF Viewer update process is to divert the update process (much like a traffic cop) from Autodesk to a company's own internal server controlled by IT. This is possible with Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0.
Software Quality Assurance Engineer, John Schmier has outlined the steps.
On a private or public web server, a text file needs to be created, The name is DWFViewerSetup.txt. The contents of the file looks something like this:
18.104.22.1689 http://www.autodesk.com/global/dwfviewer/installer/DwfViewerSetup.000 17729648
MM0.0.0.1 http://www.autodesk.com/dwf 0
Client Registry update
In addition to setting up the server, each client that has the Autodesk DWF Viewer requires an update to point the viewer to the location of the new text file created in the previous section.
Changes to each client machine can be applied with IT company-wide installation processes such as SMS. That’s it. You are now in control of what version each client should download and where the client should go to get the installer.
If you are an Autodesk Design Review user, the same method of controlling downloads can be accomplished with a few changes.
By repointing the update process to an internal company server, an IT department can obtain a new Autodesk DWF Viewer release, analyze and certify it, deploy it to the internal server, and allow the regular update process to deploy it across the company. The IT department can even have a place for its own messaging.
Applying these changes across the company ensures that computers will remain with Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 even when newer versions are released. The changes outlined in this blog article are applicable to Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0. The approach to redirecting updates for future Autodesk DWF Viewer releases may be different. Any unanticipated side-effects as a result of these changes should not be reported as defects. The ability to control changes to software for viewing of design data allows DWF to be integrated into company-wide workflows that go beyond what can be done with plain paper.
Software Quality Assurance Engineer, John Schmier, has documented the various URL (Uniform Resource Locater) parameters that are available on Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 and Autodesk Design Review 2007. He has combined this information in an easy to read Microsoft Excel workbook.
The spreadsheet lists: each parameter, a description, the syntax for specifying the parameter in an HTML page, and the syntax for specifying the parameter as part of an URL. DWF Programmers can use this list to get the most out of the DWF files they share. These parameters work for 2D sheets.
Note: For Microsoft Internet Explorer, the URL syntax can only be applied to HTTP requests. Thus it is not possible to use the parameters on an URL that references a local file.
The flexibility provided by DWF HTML/URL parameters allows design data to be presented in a variety of ways. This is another way DWF goes beyond the paper. With paper, you just look at the paper.
Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 and Autodesk Design Review 2007 feature two interactive 3D viewing commands: orbit and turntable. For people old enough to predate compact discs, the word "turntable" conjures up an image of a spinning vinyl record with a diamond needle dragging across its rippled surface producing sound. (It's amazing that ever worked.)
Although some people misbelieve that the turntable command works like the old record player turntable, the differences between turntable and orbit are more subtle than that.
Autodesk discussion group participant, Chris noted:
The Turntable icon is very different than the Orbit icon, so I expected very different behavior. I expected the model to be temporarily "placed" on a turntable and to spin with the vertical axis staying ...well... vertical as the icon shows.
Fellow blogger and Autodesk discussion group participant, Robin Capper, pointed out:
Turntable allows you to spin the model like Orbit but the vertical axis (AutoCAD Z) remains vertical as the model tilts. Shift locks the axis the same way in both. Using an architectural model as an example; With Orbit you can roll the building so the whole model, floor and walls, are tilted - even roll it on it's side with the walls horizontal and the floor vertical. With Turntable you can tilt and spin the building (look around, down from above, up from underneath) but not roll it on it's side. It's a little bit better for building models. The key to get turntable camera to do what you want it to do is to hold the CTRL key down before you start manipulating the camera. The turntable camera locks the Z axis by default. Holding the CTRL key will also lock down the Y axis or the X axis depending on which way you move the mouse. So the CTRL key locks movement to one axis.
On a positive note, I very much like the idea of the Turntable command. Non-technical users are likely to want to interact with the 3D file as if it were sitting on their desk. I can tell you that I have seen many users (including myself) get frustrated with the orbit command, because the model keeps turning sideways and upside down as they spin the part with the Orbit tool.
Orbit or Turntable: Both are at your disposal. That should be music to your ears.
|Pretend you work at an engineering company that has an aggressive IT department. (OK maybe some of you are not pretending.) Based on your needs to view design data, your IT department has completed a thorough evaluation of Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0. It is safe. (Wow, this is starting to sound like Marathon Man.) As such, your IT department is OK with installing Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 across the company; however, that's all. Your IT department does not want anyone to update to a newer version that has yet to be analyzed and certified. Sounds reasonable.|
With this in mind:
With these three ideas in mind, things would just be simpler if all users across the company used Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 and stayed with that until IT unveiled a newer release as part of corporate policy. This is possible with Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0.
Although the changes contained in this blog article have to be applied to each installed copy of Autodesk DWF Viewer, luckily most IT departments have some sort of company-wide install process, e.g. SMS, at their disposal. The IT department can make changes to a master copy of Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 and then push those changes across all computers on the company network.
To disable automatic updates via registry settings:
There is a section in the registry for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Autodesk\DWF Viewer\Settings\AutoUpdate. This section contains three values that can be set to disable an automatic check for update:
The InitialCheck is set to true. This indicates it has already happened. The NextCheckDate is set to a large hexadecimal value that represents the number of seconds since midnight on January 1, 1971. This large number means that the next check for updates will happen in the distant future, at least 10 years from now. The DoNotShowAgain capability disables the check for updates. The DoNotShowAgain does not exist by default and must be created. InitialCheck and NextCheckDate are not normally created until the first time the Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 is run. So they too should be created by a preemptive install process.
To disable manual updates via the Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 UI:
The standard installation for Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 includes a file, menubar_exe.htm, that can be found in the C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Autodesk DWF Viewer\EComposite folder. Lines 541 through 544 look like:
helpMenu.add( helpUpdateMenu );
helpUpdateMenu.mnemonic = _helpUpdateMenuM;
helpUpdateMenu.disabled = false;
Changing line 544 to:
helpUpdateMenu.disabled = true;
disables the "Check for Updates..." UI element of Autodesk DWF Viewer. The item is not removed from the pull down menu - only disabled. Curious users will not be able to determine if a new release of the Autodesk DWF Viewer is available.
To disable registration via the Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 UI:
Lines 536 through 539 of menubar_exe.htm look like:
helpMenu.add( helpRegisterMenu );
helpRegisterMenu.mnemonic = _helpRegisterMenuM;
helpRegisterMenu.disabled = false;
Changing line 539 to:
helpRegisterMenu.disabled = true;
disables the ability of a user to register with Autodesk. As with the "Check for Updates..." item, the "Register..." item is not removed from the pull down menu - only disabled.
Applying these changes across the company ensures that computers will remain with Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0 even when newer versions are released. The changes outlined in this blog article are applicable to Autodesk DWF Viewer 7.0. The approach to disabling updates for future Autodesk DWF Viewer releases may be different. Any unanticipated side-effects as a result of these changes should not be reported as defects. The ability to control changes to software for viewing of design data allows DWF to be integrated into company-wide workflows that go beyond what can be done with plain paper.
Reprographers (like Woodie Rush of Plan Express) using Océ Repro Desk products have reported that printing DWF files at half size results in shaded areas being darker than expected. To address what is happening here, let's look at the problem outside the context of DWF and then apply the situation to DWF.
Here is an image that is 400 pixels by 400 pixels. It consists of randomly placed black dots. I created it using the simplest of programs - Microsoft Paint:
If I use Microsoft Paint to reduce the image by 50%, I get the following image:
If you look closely, you will see that the smaller image appears darker. Microsoft Paint is providing some gray-scale antialiasing, which printers do not do, so the problem does not appear as bad in this example as it does in reprographics practice, but you can still see the effect and get the idea.
When Microsoft Paint reduces the image, it does so by averaging the pixels to determine when to mark a pixel as black or white in the new, smaller image.
When a reprographics customer or reprographer uses Océ Publisher or makeldf.exe wired into Océ Repro Desk Server to create an LDF from a DWF, the vector-based DWF file is converted to a Tiff image. The Tiff image is stored inside the LDF file. When Océ Repro Desk extracts the resulting Tiff from the LDF and prints it at full size - all is well. When the resulting Tiff is reduced to half size, as an image format, decisions regarding which pixels to make black versus which ones to make white are required. Like Microsoft Paint, Océ software averages the pixel colors; however, the problem is compounded by the fact that when there is a tie, the Océ software errs on the side of making a pixel black. This is done for a very good reason. No one wants a dashed line to look like a dotted line when printed at half size. As any drawing legend can show you, dashed lines and dotted lines have very different meanings; however, this strategy does result in a darkening effect on shaded areas.
I had a thought that processing a DWF to one LDF at full size and again to another LDF at half size would solve the problem. My hope was that each LDF would contain a Tiff image matching the desired paper size. Each LDF could have been printed at full size for the different paper sizes. I would have had two LDF files instead of one, but at least the second one would yield a half-sized print without darkening. Alas Océ Publisher and makeldf.exe create one large Tiff - independent of page size - to provide the highest line fidelity and flexibility for various paper sizes. A small Tiff image that needs to be scaled up to a larger paper size would result in poor image quality. So Océ creates the largest possible Tiff image to be safe. The LDF has the greatest flexibility in being used for any size paper. As a result, this approach produced the same result.
Océ is aware of this issue. While Océ investigates the issue, some alternatives include:
Alternatives such as PLP PlotWorks and CADzation AcroPlot Repro create images for devices with the desired page size taken into account. KIP Powerprint keeps the DWF file as a DWF until the image is ready to be committed to paper, so it does not have this issue. In addition, the problem does not occur if Autodesk DWF Viewer or Autodesk Design Review are used to print to a device as a Windows system printer.
On July 13 I posted a blog article entitled:
Looking at the help file for Autodesk Design Review, I find:
To use symbols, you must first create a catalog of symbols and then stamp the sheet. You create a catalog by importing an existing DWF 6.0 file. Design Review then converts it to a symbol catalog and adds it to the Stamp and Symbols drop-down list.
In this case, "DWF 6.0" refers to the version of the DWF file format. The DWF file created by the BAT file was a DWF 5.5 file. So the process outlined in the blog posting does not work for Autodesk Design Review 2007. The current custom symbol import process relies on the XML of newer DWF files (version 6.0 or higher work as custom symbols). We have created a feature request (defect #806319) to allow older DWF files to be imported as custom symbols. It can be considered for a future release.
In the Autodesk Viewing History posting, I chronicled the transition from Autodesk View, WHIP!, Volo View, Volo View Express, Express Viewer, and DWF Viewer.
Software Engineer, Larry Horner, is one of the programmers who has worked on DWF viewing technology for several years. He started on Volo View. When Autodesk offered the Autodesk Express Viewer, there was an "Easter egg" in the About box that navigated to a page:
Though the Express Viewer has evolved into the DWF Viewer, the page is still fun. So go ahead - click on the image above and ask Larry.
Senior Manager, Worldwide DevTech, Kean Walmsley, has a posting on his Through the Interface blog entitled Calling the DWFRender Web Service from HTML. His sample shows how to get information like the number of pages for a particular DWF file or more detailed information about each page in a DWF using Project Freewheel web services.
Jimmy Bergmark notes on his JTB World blog that NavisWorks JetStream v5.1 includes support for AutoCAD 2007 and 3D DWF. This includes 3D DWF reading and writing.