Thursday, October 7, 2010

DWF Files - A Challenge to You!

I challenge you to program a Open-Source DWF file viewer!!!

I love Computing and Linux in particular, I even know some C++, Basic, Fortran Pascal, VBasic and Gambas, but beside "Hello World!", I'm rusty, very rusty.....

Yesterday after upgrading my Ubuntu desktop to 10.10 on 5/10/2010 (Establish of Portuguese Republic, National Holiday), I took a look at Ubuntu new software center and went to - Science - Engineering, and as usual, a couple Math programs, a dozen electrical simulators/ designers, etc, etc... So I thought, what the hell.... There are only programs useful for Electrical Engineers.....

Why is that??? Easy, Electrical Engineering courses have a great component of computer science and programming, that why this engineering side has such nice software.....

So, since I'm not one of them (my area is more like machines, pipes, rivets, nuts, bolts, ducts), :) please help us..... I'm not talking for myself, I know there are a lot of Engineers, mechanical, civil, and even Architects that would love to have a DWF file viewer.

As you know Linux now has DWG capable software natively, but as PDF is to DOC files, DWF is to DWG files, and we are missing DWF.....

"Design Web Format (DWF) is a secure file format developed by Autodesk for the efficient distribution and communication of rich design data to anyone who needs to view, review, or print design files." in: Wikipedia

Nowadays it is used by Portuguese Government entities to distribute designs to contractors, note that, at Portugal this is LAW, Decreto-Lei 60/2007 says that PDF should be used for written elements and DWF for drawings (really nice lobby for Autodesk).

But, DWF is an open format based on ISO/IEC 29500-2:2008, and Autodesk provides a Open-Source Toolkit for developers That's Halfway there .....

Do you think you can do it? I believe that are others that can do it too. The first will get the gold...

So, who would be the first to get there??? I'm expecting to see one of this names:

- Evince (I have great confidence in you guys!!!)
- Bricsys (Closed-Source, with a dwg software and project management interactive with Lotus)
- Graebert (Closed-source, also with dwg software, in there ARES beta there was a reference to dwf)
- QCAD (maybe yes, maybe not, I think they are too busy dealing with DWG support first)
- Adobe (Why not??)
- CUPS (They can make print to DWF "cups-dwf" :), the way back sure it will be really simple)
- Inkscape (The experts in vectorial files...)

And don't forget Antitrust (2001) Gary's words "We work hard to stay ahead because we know any kid working in his garage can put us out of business".

I think if you are in one of these teams you would be happy to get there first than the others.... I also believe that it will get your piece of software ahead of the others in a big niche (Engineering and Architecture)...

It is easy, so let's get to work....

Note that I will always be here to do beta testing in a daily basis (it's my job working with those files), and also provide you files to test.....


  1. I haven't encountered DWFs yet. While it would make the most sense to implement them on Evince and Okular as view-only, if mark-ups are to be supported then other apps may be a better choice (unless they implement mark-ups for PDFs also).

  2. How about you and other people who like/needs DWF support start a donations project? Like in

    People who need DWF support start making bets, a small amount per person, and you offer the accumulated donation to the first project which will add support for DWF files.

    Only because GNU/Linux is free it doesn't mean someone will just start to work for free. If you make such a donations project you will get a lot of support and it cost you only a small fraction per person.

  3. I agree with Erwin. This is kind of a specialized thing that isn't widely needed. If the people in the engineering community can't write something like this themselves then why not offer a bounty for whoever does it?

  4. More than 10 years ago our field service engineers needed about 400 MB of wiring diagrams (in DWG format) on their laptop, with then quite small harddisks. We made the switch to DWF and that collection of diagrams only took 23 MB. It saved us a fortune not needing to upgrade 2000 laptops with larger hardisks.
    The Autodesk DWFviewer also gave us fast and user friendly zooming/panning that no PDF viewer can match. Besides that PDF is too bulky in size.
    A DWF viewer on Linux will be very popular with people who handle DWGs.

  5. A while ago I wrote a perl script that uploaded a DWF to autodesk's online viewer, then used the online viewer to export the dwf as a bitmap at whatever the highest resolution was available. I packaged up the bitmap inside a PDF, then was able to view and print it using evince or acroread. It actually worked fairly well for the company I was working at.

  6. "As you know Linux now has DWG capable software natively"

    Can you enlighten me? qcad doesn't support DWG - and I cannot find any open-source DWG capable apps.

    For DWF, there is - (which I think is what Marcus was refering to) - I have a simple script that uploads a DWF file to an apache2 server, and launches firefox with appropriate URL, and after some delay, removes the file from apache2.

  7. Haven't really encountered DWF,I am still learning and playing with DWG.I really liked your blogs including this and previous one of ARES commander edition.

    Tried ARES its great very very similar to autocad which I use in college(except for glossy ribbons and tool bars but then who needs them?).But today its last day of use(trial version).

    I am also linux fan and use ubuntu 10.04.You really provide good information about linux softwares related to mechanical engineering.I will be looking forward to your next posts.

  8. do you really need a dwf viewer for linux? I am pretty sure that the people receiving your projects will be using windows and those are the people that need a viewer. if you can already work with dwg in linux, all you need is to convert that dwg to dwf (yes, it would be nice to be able to look at the result but the important is that the conversion is correct).

    anyway, I guess that down the line you will also want to sign dwf in linux. I can do that (well, almost, I can sign dwfx) right now but I am not targeting linux, just the mac (search for mydwfsigner if interested). I don't think there are enough architects using linux to justify the effort....

    1. "I don't think there are enough architects using linux to justify the effort...." because there isn't an option for linux and people have to work every day! So, they forced to use windows...

      Why tablets if people have pencil and papper? there were no users for tablets as well... --'

  9. Sir I am working in ubantu operating system and i have to develop software in java which has DWF file as a input then i have to view it on my local browser and when i click on specific part of that file it will highlight that part and show its related information in list format.

    Please give solution for this problem

  10. After reading some of this comments I wonder why should we move from paper, pencil and meter to CAD...


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