Design Viewer and Windows Applications (Avatech Tricks Tutorial)

16 Jun, 2008 By: Keith Bradford

The word is Word.

Editor's note: This tutorial courtesy of Avatech Solutions.

What is a DWF file? The Design Web Format (DWF) is a compressed, secure format used to publish CAD data that is native to Internet Explorer 7. Autodesk provides a free downloadable viewer on their Web site.

The Autodesk Design Review link.

We should note that you can publish Autodesk data in DWF (.DWF or .DWFX) format and view it using Autodesk Design Review. You can also view DWFX drawing content natively in the Microsoft Vista operating system and in Internet Explorer 7, but only 2D graphics display when viewing DWFX files in Internet Explorer 7. To view all graphics, use the free Autodesk DWF viewer, which can be loaded as previously mentioned.

The Save As type for either DWF or DWFx.

Using Design Review, you can present an accurate visual representation of Autodesk Inventor assembly and part files, weldments, sheet metal parts, presentations, and drawings. Published representations are used to share information with customers, vendors, marketing, and others who do not have Autodesk Inventor installed.

We wanted to show you a different approach to utilizing DWF files with Word. As many of you know Autodesk's DWF can encapsulate multiple file formats such as: Word, Excel, and others, but here is a twist on that process. We are going to use Word as our primary application and paste in a DWF file.

This technique is useful for many different applications, such as quotes, specification sheets, preliminary proposals, and even assembly documentation.

The next image shows the main interface when one issues the Publish command from Inventor's file pulldown menu.

The General tab of the Publish command.

Notice the General tab, which gives the user many publishing options that help protect your engineering intellectual property such as restricting mark-up, measure, and printing capabilities. There is also a password protection selection to add further security to your data.

Note: DWF passwords are case sensitive. The password or phrase can include letters, numbers, punctuation, or non-ASCII characters.

In this article we will not focus on the Properties tab, which gives the user the ability to filter iProperties. iProperties that are not selected will not be published to the DWF format.

The Properties tab of the Publish command.

Note: On the General tab please make note of the default output location of the DWF.

The General tab of the Publish command specifies the default output location.

Now we need to pause momentarily to inform you on a couple of technical issues.

First, make sure you have installed the correct Service Pack from Autodesk. Second, I am using Microsoft Word 2003 and Autodesk Design Review 2009 in this example. So variations between versions may apply, but the basic concept should be consistent.

Screenshot of the Service Packs found on

Now that we have confirmed we have the latest Design Review service pack installed, let's move into the process. You need to use one of the two following processes to place your DWF into Word.

  1. Drag and drop the DWF directly onto the Word canvas from Explorer.

  2. From Word: Insert / Object / Create New method. Two or three Autodesk controls may be available in the Object Type list. Choose Autodesk DWF Viewer Control and click OK to insert the embedded viewer. A common mistake is when the user forgets to select the Create From File / tab and locate the DWF. Depending on your system, there may be a slight delay until the embedding is complete.

Specifying the embedded DWF file.

Note: Choosing any other Autodesk object type from the Create New tab will fail to properly embed the DWF file.

To activate the embedded file from within Word, double click the view to utilize the Design Reivew tools. Once inside the active view you may need to add callouts or measure the geometry.

Click for larger image
The Callout and Measure tools found in Autodesk Design Review. (Click image for a larger version)

The Manage Workspace and 2D Review toolbars.
The figure below shows where to find these tools. The Manage Workspace menu turns on the 2D Review toolbar.

This is only one example of Autodesk's DWF functionality that can help with your communication of design intent. Design Review is a cost effective tool for anyone in the design review cycle, with intuitive tools for relevant users to view, print, measure, mark up, and revise 2D and 3D designs — without the need of an installed copy of the software used to create the CAD data. DWF can be created from any Autodesk design software and enables project teams to fully utilize paperless design review and approval processes. Design Review helps purge the cost and pain of paper, fax, and couriers.

About the Author: Keith Bradford

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