Why Autodesk should 'Open' DWF

Beyond the Paper's Scott Sheppard recently pointed to McDwiff as the first partial example of a Mac-based DWF viewer. Unfortunately for the DWF starved Mac community McDwiff is simply a wrapper around a WebKit browser window pointed directly at Autodesk's own Project Freewheel web service. It fails to qualify as a true desktop application for a number of crucial reasons:

  1. It does not (yet) add functionality beyond what is present in the Web-based Freewheel viewer.
  2. DWF files must be first uploaded to the Autodesk web service.
  3. There is no off-line mode or local caching to improve performance.
  4. The lifespan of the software is entirely dependent on the existence of the host service.

Note: These limitations are not the developers fault as they have obviously only just initiated the project. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Another DWG/DWF search engine

An the subject of search engines for DWF and DWG files there is cadbot.com. Unlike DocuPoint Discovery, cadbot.com is not intended for internal sites and instead just allows you to search for CAD files available on the public Internet. Whilst it is not as useful as searching your own resources it is still nice to keep in mind if looking for a CAD model of some description.

Reviewing Autodesk Design Review

Recently Autodesk dropped the price tag off their Autodesk Design Review package making it far more accessible to the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. Design Review is a DWF-centric tool for viewing and reviewing 2D and 3D design documentation. Prior to becoming freely available Design Review appeared to the casual observer as a useful tool for those heavily into Autodesk products but not the mainstream audience. This pricing shift changes the game and enables the software to compete against Adobe Acrobat as the primary, general purpose viewing tool for design documentation. With this in mind I took a fresh look at the software and what follows is what I found.