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THE INTERNET AND CAD...

PROJECT COLLABORATION - The internet is obviously here to stay. Just the fact the you're reading this means that it's a great way of communicating. Transferring letters back and forth is nice, but there is no reason why drawings can't be created, developed and revised online.
The company that I worked for (TRIRIGA) offers one solution. They link your drawings to the specification database so that all aspects of the project are available to other users via the Internet. Go to their homepage for more information.

FILE SHARING - The internet is also there for ANY company that wants to share files on-line. This can be achieved in any number of ways. At the most basic level, it can be attaching a file to an e-mail. From there, you might decide to use FTP to post files on a web server for other to access on their time. From there, a project group can 'meet' on-line and discuss and revise a drawing in real-time. Another great use of the web is to have drawings available on-line for clients to view using only their web browser and the voloview plugin. This involves using the new DWF file format.

ON-LINE LEARNING - To me this is an avenue that needs to be more developed. If you have looked around this site, you know that there are a few things that I have posted that can help you. The beauty of it is that you can access these pages 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although there is a lot on this site, there is too much in AutoCAD and its related products for one person or one site to provide all the information you will ever need. On my links page, you will find some other free sites that provide tutorials and information.

DISCUSSION GROUPS - This is a great resource for people that have a specific problem. By going on-line and finding out that someone else has encountered your problem (and solved it), you will save hours of time and frustration. Begin by checking out the list of Autodesk's discussion groups here.

WORKING WITH DWF FILES

If you haven't worked with DWF files before, there are a few things that you need to know:

They are vector based images files (unlike raster images such as JPG or GIF).
- this means that they are smaller, and still contain objects.

They are compressed files, similar in compression to ZIP files.
- they are MUCH smaller than DWG's.
They are generated in the plot command.
- what ever can be printed becomes part of the file
- XREF's are not translated and get behind.
You can add 'properties' to the file.
- insert info like copyright, date, keywords, etc.
They are NOT viewable or usable in AutoCAD.
-this maintains content security as nobody can use your designs unless you want.

They require a separate viewer.
-DWF's require either the Autodesk's Voloview viewer, or WHIP! browser plugin.
DWF files are 'web-enabled'.
You can add hyperlinks to objects in your DWG and they become part of the webpage.

CREATING DWF FILES

Here are a few basic steps needed to create a DWF file:

Complete the drawing and save as a regular DWG file.
Open up the PLOT dialog box.
In the plot settings tab, select the parameters that you need as if you were creating a
paper plot.
In the plot device tab, choose the DWF eplot option.
You will be plotting to a file, so choose your name and location.

Plot

 

And that is about all there is to it.
If you have Voloview installed on your system, just double click the new DWF file in Windows Explorer and see the options that you have available.

As you can see, this is a great way of letting people see your work. There are some limitations though:

XREF's will not be active.
3D Models are now 2D, although you can save named views and recall them in Voloview.
You can turn layers on and off.
Raster images are now vector.
People viewing your DWF file can not modify or steal your designs.

 

 

VIEWING DWF FILES

Before you can look at a DWF file, you have to have a compatible viewer:

Click on the logos below to find out more about these viewers:

Download VoloView
Voloview is a stand alone DWF viewer
WHIP! Plugin Info

Express Viewer is the browser plug-in from Autodesk used for viewing DWF's on the web.
ViewCAD Homepage
ViewCAD is a java based viewer used for sharing DWF's on the web.
AutoManager View Page
AutoManager View not only views DWF files, but 255 file types from images to documents.
CADieu Viewer
CADieu viewer is NOT a DWF viewer, but easily previews so many other CAD formats such as SV$ and BAK that I thought you might be interested.

 

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