Communicating With eDrawings

31 May, 2003 By: Greg Jankowski

When you're working with other team members, vendors, or customers, your ability to effectively communicate is vital to the success of the project. There are many different ways to do this: face-to-face meetings, teleconferences, faxes, emails, and so on. While working together on a concept, it is important for everyone involved to have the ability to share the design concepts and review the design itself. That's where SolidWorks eDrawings comes in.

Why Use eDrawings?

eDrawings can be used to view, measure, markup, and print different file formats, including eDrawings parts, assemblies, and drawings; native SolidWorks parts, assemblies, and drawings; and DWG and DXF files. To view a native SolidWorks document, select the option "Save eDrawings data in a SolidWorks document" under the Tools/Options dialog box.

Native eDrawings have a smaller file size because they contain only the graphical portions of documents. This is true for eDrawings files only; native SolidWorks and AutoCAD files maintain their original file sizes.

The eDrawings recipients do not need any CAD software loaded. They can use the free version of eDrawings available from The program offers an option to create an eDrawing using an HTML page (html), an executable file (exe), or a masked executable file (ex_). When sending the HTML file, if the recipient does not have eDrawings, it is installed automatically over the Internet. If the executable or masked executable options are used, the eDrawings application is embedded into the document.


The markup function is used to add comments and visual markings to an eDrawing, as shown in Figures 1 and 2. There are two main ways to access the feature: the markup interface and the markup tools.

Figure 1. eDrawings allows you to annotate and markup your design for sharing with those who do not have CAD systems installed on their machines.

Figure 2. Also a part of the markup interface, the comment section allows you to include a threaded discussion, reply to someone's comment, or accept or reject a design change.

The markup feature is available in eDrawings Professional. If the eDrawing was created using eDrawings Professional, the document can also be marked up using the standard version of eDrawings.

These markups can be saved with the eDrawing or saved to a markup file using the Save Markup function under the File menu. These markups can then be loaded into the original eDrawing using the Open Markup function. This allows you to create different markups at the same time and then combine them into one file using the Open Markup function.

Markup and measure is available only with the Professional version of eDrawings. The ability to measure can be enabled with eDrawings Professional. This option allows users to turn the measuring capability on or off.

eDrawings can be used to collaborate with other team members for several purposes.

  • Virtual design review. The eDrawing can be sent to team members, management, vendors, or customers for review and comments. These comments can be added to a single document by routing the document. Different team members can also markup the design individually and then return their comments to the originator. The comments can then be combined into one eDrawing using the Load Markup function.
  • Customer presentation. Users can send concepts, parts, assemblies, or drawings to customers. There is an animation feature for native eDrawings that can be used to help orient someone else with the design. The animation can be played to view the design as it rotates automatically through different orientations.
  • Providing quotes to vendors and customers. The markup tool in eDrawings can be used to note any changes or additions.
  • Viewing drawings. eDrawings can be used to view all SolidWorks and AutoCAD files. And the cost of ownership is minimal.
  • Issuing engineering change notices. Route an eDrawing for checking and approving of designs and drawings. If any changes are necessary, a markup can be created and sent back to the designer.

There are two different versions of eDrawings: eDrawings Standard and eDrawings Professional. eDrawings Standard is available for free and can be downloaded from the Internet. eDrawings Professional is included in SolidWorks Office and SolidWorks Office Professional. The additional components included in the Professional Version are

  • the ability to markup documents;
  • the ability to enable markup or measure in an eDrawing;
  • dynamic cross-sectioning.

File Types

There are a number of file formats that can be viewed using eDrawings.

  • Native SolidWorks files (with SLDPRT, SLDASM, or SLDDRW extension) can be viewed in eDrawings as long as the "Save eDrawing information with document" option has been set. Their file sizes are slightly larger.
  • Native AutoCAD files (with DWG or DXF extension) can be viewed in eDrawings.
  • eDrawing files (with EPRT, EASM, or EDRW extension) are published from SolidWorks. Their file sizes are small compared to native SolidWorks documents. They're not directly tied to the original SolidWorks documents, so they'll need to be republished to be updated.
  • EXE files (with EXE extension) are used to send an eDrawing to someone else who does not have eDrawings. This function will embed the viewer into the file. Use the Send or Save As to save an eDrawing in this format. The file will be about 1.4MB larger due to the embedded viewer.
  • Masked EXE files (with EX_ extension) are similar to the EXE format; they just have a different extension to get through email servers scanning software that may block a file that ends with EXE extension. The EX_ files need to be renamed by the recipient. Use the Send or Save As to save an eDrawing in this format.
  • HTML files (with HTM extension) create eDrawings embedded into HTML pages. The viewer is not included with this file type but can be downloaded automatically if the recipient does not have it. This requires Web access to install the software. Use the Send or Save As to save an eDrawing in this format.


eDrawings can be used to communicate more effectively with team members, vendors, and customers, saving redesign time and unnecessary expense. The ability to markup a design and then share this information effectively is invaluable. The standard version of eDrawings is free and can be downloaded from

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