File Sharing/Publishing

Autodesk DWF Composer aims at Acrobat

16 Feb, 2004

Autodesk plans a new product called DWF Composer, a DWF viewing and markup tool similar to Adobe Acrobat (hence its code name Twister). It includes a set of markup and annotation tools that Autodesk calls “assistive”—for example, when you place a note on other data, it automatically adopts a semitransparent fill so information underneath is still viewable. You can also measure and cross-section objects in drawings.

Different types of documents can be combined into one DWF file. You can reorder and republish multisheet drawing sets and track the status of action items. Security features include password protection, support for digital signatures, and the ability to leave out layer information.

When used with AutoCAD 2005, DWF Composer lets you transfer redline markups directly into AutoCAD, using the Sheet Set Manager.

DWF Composer

Figure 1. DWF Composer tracks markups.

The Markup Set Manager is accessible through the Markup command or from the Open Markup DWF dialog box. The Markup Set Manager displays in tree view the list of markups in the current markup set, organized by sheets. Only those sheets that contain markups are shown in the tree view. From the Markups tree, you can republish markup DWF files, open sheets with associated markups, and change the markup status.

You can also walk through a drawing set. DWF Composer comes with a DWG viewer so you can view and print DWG files.

Pricing for DWF Composer was not yet finalized, but Autodesk plans to sell it for less than $500.

DWF is Autodesk’s own compressed format for communicating design data. It preserves external references, pen tables, fonts, and other information required to view a drawing. Composer supports previous versions of the DWF format.

Composer is complemented by DWF Viewer, Autodesk’s free DWF viewing application for those who simply want to view and print DWF files, and the new DWF Writer, a printer driver that generates DWF files from any Windows application. Autodesk says that customers have downloaded more than 1.3 million copies of the Express Viewer. The Volo View viewer (US$99) provides markup and redlining tools as well as support for more file formats, including Inventor and raster files.