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 such as Windows XP. It is possible to download and install XPS viewing components so that XPS files are viewable in Internet Explorer 7.
DWF has been around since 1995. The format has evolved over time. Originally it was a single image that could be zoomed - much like a JPEG on steroids. Then an underlying page was added with a designated page size. This facilitated printing to scale. Although originally single page, the format was also enhanced to allow multiple pages.
This evolution is continuing. DWF is now being enhanced to be compliant with Microsoft XPS. This allows Microsoft to support the viewing of DWF files on Microsoft Vista without requiring users to install additional software. It also allows users who have installed XPS viewing components to view the files. Of course, anyone with Autodesk Design Review 2008 can also view, print, markup, and measure these files. So users can tell which DWF files are in this newest format, versus the millions of files that are in the old format, the extension for the new format DWF files is .dwfx. Hence this latest DWF format (version 7.0) is often called DWFx. (One technical publications writer once joking asked if we would also have DWFr, DWFpg-13, and DWFnc-17. No we will not. We will not have DWFxxx either.) Opening and saving DWFx files does take a little longer in Autodesk Design Review 2008 than corresponding DWF files.
As shipped, AutoCAD 2008 comes with the ability to publish DWF files. DWF publishing has been a part of AutoCAD since R13. As shipped, AutoCAD 2008 uses the DWF6 ePlot pc3 driver to create DWF files in the time honored (version 6.x) format. If you want to publish DWF files in the XPS compatible format, you will need to download and install a separate DWFx driver. Like Autodesk Design Review 2008, the project schedule for the DWFx Driver completed later than the ship date for AutoCAD 2008. That's why both of these applications are available separately.
When AutoCAD users decide to publish a DWF or a DWFx, AutoCAD Software Development Manager, Eileen Sinnott, and AutoCAD Senior Product Designer, Jon Page, note that there are some differences:
|install||DWF6 ePlot pc3 included||separate download and install of DWFx Driver|
|Sheet Set Manager
|available in 2008||available in 2008|
|Model or Paper Space (Layout)
|available in 2008||available in 2008 using page setup overrides (See Note)|
|Model or Paper Space (Layout)
|available in 2008||available in 2008|
|Markup Set Manager
|available in 2008||planned for a future release|
|DWF Attach||available in 2008||planned for a future release|
|Auto Publish||available in 2008||planned for a future release|
|File Size||typically 1/20th the size of the DWG||typically 1/10th the size of the DWG (See Comments section)|
Note: Publishing a DWFx with the Publish command is possible. Similar to the Sheet Set Manager Publish capability, it will require the same page setup override to be applied to all sheets. Page setups are different for the Model tab and Layout tabs. Since the page setup needs to be the same for all sheets for DWFx, you can not mix them in a multi-sheet DWFx. The Sheet Set Manager ensures this for AutoCAD by only containing Layouts as sheets and applies the same page setup override to all sheets.
General Note: Multi-sheet creation will require the new PUBLISHCOLLATE sysvar to be set to 1.
This is the first release of DWFx publishing. As the format evolves, so too will the associated capabilities from AutoCAD. For AutoCAD users who have a desire to share design data with users who only need to view and print - who also do not have the free Autodesk Design Review 2008, DWFx is a viable alternative to traditional DWF files. For users who wish to take advantage of the round trip electronic review process, for now, DWF is still the answer.
JT is a 3D data format developed by UGS Corporation and used for product visualization and CAD data exchange. One of the new features of Autodesk Design Review 2008 is the ability to import a JT file. The file gets converted to a 3D DWF. The ability to import JT files is available as a plug-in for Autodesk Design Review. When released, it can be downloaded from:
A JT file is imported and converted to 3D DWF by:
So you can open a dummy DWF file.
Longtime Autodesk customer, Charles Bliss of Applied Mechanics, has created a dummy DWF file called EmptyBase.DWF explicitly for this purpose. Thanks Charles.
Selecting import brings up the Import dialog. You can use the pull down to select the desired file type - this case, JT.
As installed, Autodesk Design Review also imports DWG and DXF files. Importing of DGN files is available via another plug-in that will also eventually be available on www.autodesk.com/dwf-plugins.
The ability to get different forms of data into DWF, e.g. Microsoft Word documents, Microsoft Excel workbooks, Microsoft Project schedules is available via the Autodesk DWF Writer for 2D. The DWF Writer for 3D captures data via OpenGL. In addition to the DWF Writer, Autodesk Design Review supports opening various image file formats. Support for other forms of data has now been extended in the 3D realm with the inclusion of the JT import feature. Whether data is in an Autodesk format or not, it can be placed into DWF. Having one file format that can house all of your project data, in one file, for all of your project members, that can be shared across the entire life cycle of your project, really makes DWF go beyond the paper.
Autodesk Design Review 2008 is now available as a download from the Autodesk web site.
|My posting of Is your system ready for Autodesk Design Review 2008 prompted many questions regarding Windows Vista. There are eleven flavors of Windows Vista yet our system requirements only list Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. The decision to do so is a reflection of where we have fully certified Autodesk Design Review to install and operate; however, some limited testing occurs on other operating systems as part of our release process.|
|Windows Vista Ultimate||32-bit||IE7||full testing|
|Windows Vista Enterprise||32-bit||IE7||limited testing|
|Windows Vista Business||32-bit||IE7||limited testing|
|Windows Vista Home Premium||32-bit||IE7||limited testing|
|Windows Vista Home Basic||32-bit||IE7||limited testing|
|Windows Vista Starter||32-bit||IE7||no testing|
|Windows XP Professional||32-bit||IE7||full testing|
|Windows XP Home||32-bit||IE7||full testing|
|Windows 2000 SP4||32-bit||IE7||full testing|
Note that like AutoCAD and some other Autodesk applications, Autodesk Design Review 2008 leverages OpenGL hardware acceleration for 3D graphics. A software rendering pipeline is available for systems like Windows Vista that support Direct3D instead of OpenGL. Your mileage may vary. In addition, due to differences in the system architecture of Microsoft Vista as compared to other versions of Windows, there are a few known issues for Autodesk Design Review on Vista. These are documented in the Autodesk Design Review 2008 Read Me.
You can try Autodesk Design Review 2008 on the flavors of Windows Vista that have not undergone full testing. From a technical standpoint, it will probably work. It's just that we do not list these other flavors in our system requirements, because we do not conduct full feature testing on these operating system variations. As such these are considered unsupported platforms.
With all of the Project Freewheel discussions on the Autodesk Labs site, when Lead Technical Writer, Chris Blocher, saw this graphic (created by Michael Koelsch) on the Popular Science Web site, he shared it with me.
Autodesk Labs (http://labs.autodesk.com) is our home for new prototypes, experiments, applications, and technologies. Autodesk Labs analyzes and develops new and viable market driven business ideas. Created by the development teams at Autodesk, these technologies include everything from web services to plug-ins to new applications. Customer feedback from Autodesk Labs helps us decide the future of our projects.
The Project Freewheel production service is currently down. This is a planned 4 hour outage that will allow us to upgrade our technology preview to a more robust and reliable environment. Thank you for your patience and your ongoing interest in Freewheel.
[Project Freewheel is now back up.]
On his The Blueprint blog, John Cronin noted that there is a focus in the reprographics industry on charging for digital services. The International Reprographics Association (IRgA) has created a committee to set standards for charging more. As an Autodesk employee sympathetic to Autodesk customers, I am saddened by this news. Imagine if an airline charged me more for booking a flight electronically instead of calling their 800 number to talk to an agent. After all, someone has to pay for web servers, internet connections, and software to book the reservations and collect the money. Extra charges for services like file creation (e.g. publishing plot files from a set of AutoCAD drawings) or file storage/archiving (keeping masters around for reprinting) seem like fair game, but should I really pay more for printouts because I email a reprographer a DWF file instead of providing a master copy? After all, the time it takes for the print operator to scan in my master is eliminated. In the grand scheme of things, this seems like a wash.
The IRgA standard lists the difficulties that reprographers face when working with digital files:
To mitigate these issues, the IRgA standard suggests that when providing digital files, reprographic customers should:
As someone also sympathetic to the reprographers' plight, if you don't want to be charged more, you need to do your part to ensure a smooth workflow that starts with design software, e.g. AutoCAD, Revit, Inventor, and makes it all the way through to the paper. Perhaps the extra charges should only apply if the submitted job was incomplete? DWF can go beyond paper, but it has to get to paper first. Doing that optimally costs everyone less - reprographers and Autodesk customers alike. By working together, everyone wins.
|We are not evil. There are bloggers who like to make names for themselves by depicting us as evil, but we are just regular people who come to work every day just like you. So when one of our products, like Autodesk Design Review 2008, asks you to participate in our Customer Improvement Program (CIP), we're not trying to collect data from you to learn what competitive products you have. We don't care what porn sites you've visited. :-) We're not trying to steal your credit card information. All we want to do is gather data on how you use our products, so that we can make them better.|
When you invoke Autodesk Design Review without a DWF file, it looks like:
OK, the Autodesk logo is in black. Yes this conjures images of Darth Vader. That's just our new look. The Autodesk web site will soon get a makeover and reflect this imagery. I guess black is the new black. But I digress...
From the Autodesk Design Review start page, you can invoke the CIP feature.
Once invoked, you will see a dialog that looks like:
|If you elect to participate, Autodesk Design Review will "phone home" with information about your usage of Autodesk Design Review. When Autodesk Design Review sends data back to Autodesk, it includes items like: |
A random 100k sample of the collected data is sent once every 24 hours. As of now, there is no way for users lookup the data before it is being sent. The data is encoded as it is emitted. This is done simply to reduce size for transmission. Individually the information is of little value; however, when combined with data from like-minded users who want to help us improve our products, it provides usage patterns that tell us things like what commands are the most popular.
DWF is designed to go beyond the paper. With your assistance, we can hone in on ways to go even further. So please consider participating. Fear not. We are not evil.
In an earlier blog posting, I mentioned what's new in Autodesk Design Review 2008. In addition to the new features, there are enhancements to existing ones. One these enhancements is greater control for the Navigation Pane. The content in this blog posting is a "mutation" of the information you will find in the Autodesk Design Review 2008 help file created by Chris Blocher, Jonathan Geary, and Kim Schaefer of the Technical Publications group at our Ithaca, New York office. The Navigation Pane organizes all of the elements of a DWF file that accompany the graphics.
In particular, the Navigator Pane Toolbar is particularly handy.
The Navigator Tool Bar lets you manage all of the palettes at the same time. This is possible with 5 items (left to right):
Design Review’s palettes are dynamic in that the layout of the palettes changes automatically depending upon which tool you have selected. For example, when you Cross Section a 3D model, upon engaging the Cross Section tool the Navigator Pane is reconfigured, displaying the Contents and Cross Sections palettes. Many times we fiddle with the layout of the various panes and get them just like we want them. Autodesk Design Review lets us save these palette adjustments. In addition, it comes with 3 predefined layouts:
In addition to the Navigator Tool Bar, each palette title bar has 5 user interface elements:
Hiding and showing a palette determines whether or not a palette is displayed in the Navigator Pane. Hiding a palette removes it from the Navigator Pane and places the palette icon in a dock at the bottom of the Navigator Pane. Unlike hiding and showing a palette, which controls whether or not a palette is accessible in the Navigator Pane, double-clicking a palette’s title bar in the Navigator Pane expands or collapses the palette. These two operations are different.
A DWF is more than just the graphics. The extra data is what allows it to go beyond the paper. Providing user control over how much or little of that data is displayed is a handy enhancement of Autodesk Design Review 2008.
The Autodesk Design Review 2008: DWF Version Compare article provides an overview of how the new Version Compare feature works. The Version Compare: A simple polyline example article provides a simple example of how comparisons for polylines work. This article takes the same approach for polylines but does so for polygons.
For the polyline article I:
The purpose of the polyline test was to determine if tiny changes, with all other things being exactly equal, would be detected by the Version Compare feature. Except for color, a known limitation, they were. For this article, the purpose is to demonstrate how changes in AutoCAD affect Version Compare results in the published DWF files. An AutoCAD polygon is the geometric primitive being tested.
For the polygon case covered by this article, the approach is the basically the same as the polyline case with a few twists to make cover other aspects of Version Compare. So I:
The net effect of these steps is that unlike the polyline article where I compared two different DWF files, I compared two sheets in the same DWF file. This worked. I feared I might get some kind of sharing violation, since the DWF file was already open, but it was allowed. After renaming the sheets, I was left with one DWF file that contained three sheets: the first revision, the second revision, and the first revision with the markups generated by the Version Compare of the first two sheets.
Now let's talk about the changes between the sheets:
The results were basically as expected:
T 3 2147157453,286666
T 4 2147155874,285519
T 4 2147155155,284997
T 4 2147127624,264994
|In revision2: |
T 3 2147157453,286666
T 4 2147154821,284754
T 4 2147139027,273279
T 4 2147127624,264994
My work with polygons today reminds me of a line from a Todd Rundgren song called " Born to Synthesize":
Pyramids, spheres, and obelisks are the patterns of all creation
But the red polygon's only desire is to get to the blue triangle
Red is the lowest color in the spectrum. Blue is higher. A triangle is the most stable 2D polygonal shape. In short, the polygon wants to better itself. Now on what other CAD blog will you get rock 'n' roll trivia like that?
The Version Compare feature errs on the side of caution. It is better to identify a piece of geometry as changed, although it may not really have, instead of ignore a piece of geometry that really has changed. This should be taken into consideration when using the feature. Version Compare can't determine if the polygon has made it from red to blue, but it sure can tell when geometry becomes a triangle.