Viewing DWF Files in Mac OS X
What is a DWF file and how can I view it in Mac OS X?
Any version of Mac OS X (v10.4.8 or newer recommended) and FireFox (v2.0 or newer recommended)
AutoDESK (authors of AutoCAD) came up with the idea of DWF (Design Web Format) files as an easy way for folks to view and markup drawings without needing to own AutoCAD. Rather, users could use any of the free AutoDESK DWF viewers or those from third parties. While we won't get into the specifics of DWF here, please feel free to read AutoDESK's white paper on the subject
While AutoDESK announced support for a Mac OS X Native DWF viewer in 2003 (read the AutoDESK press release ), and despite heated debate in their own forums for quite some time (AutoCAD forum threads here and here ), the product is still vaporware. The threads linked earlier are an interesting read and while we take exception to many of the comments made regarding Mac's not being mainstream in the business world AutoDESK does provide some interesting spin which could hold water from a technical aspect as to why the promised viewer has yet to materialize (the jury is still out in our minds as to the validity of the claimed delays).
All our investigation into the subject thus far has yet to yield a Mac OS X DWF viewer application but if you find one please post a comment on this thread or drop us an email. However -- all is not lost for reading a DWF on the Mac -- read on
What To Do
As of this writing, version 2.04 of Safari in Mac OS X 10.4.8 with the Java update of February 18, 2007 (Intel Mac's)
will not workwith the steps noted below. There is an error when clicking on the Foldericon described above and the url / file path cannot be uploaded to the server. Pity but at least FireFox is a free download
To view a DWF file in Mac OS X, do this:
- Launch the FireFox web browser (version 2. (click here to get FireFox )
- Visit the Project Freewheel web page at http://dwfit.com/
- Click on the
FolderIcon and press Browse
- Navigate to the
*.DWFon your local hard drive. Select the file and press Open
- Result: The file is uploaded to the
Project Freewheelwebpage and is displayed in your browser window
Hint: You can use the
Printer Iconin the Viewer Window to Print the DWF file to PDF . Saving/Printing the PDF file to your local hard drive will allow you to view the file offline. While the resolution of the PDF file isn't as good as the DWF (it's printing a preview image from the viewer window) it might be sufficient in some cases. The Viewer Window does allow panning and zooming so you can explore the DWF file in detail online.
Note: It's possible that the Project Freeware solution also works with other browsers in Mac OS X besides Firefox but we simply haven't had an opportunity to try them all. If you use a different browser and the solution works, please post a comment below with the browser name and version number along with what version of Mac OS X you're running. ~ Thanks in Advance.
Suffice it to say we're not big fans of DWF files for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the lack of a DWF viewer for Mac OS X. However, given DWF files are created by AutoCAD, we think that using DWG is the logical approach since that's the native format used to generate the DWF content. In most cases, for consultant coordination, the DWG file is what's required anyway so going through the extra steps of saving as DWF just doesn't seem to make sense in the long run. Furthermore, while AutoDESK makes several arguments about how DWF is better than Adobe Acrobat PDF format (we're still evaluating that content but thus far we find it hard to swallow), we see little reason for not using PDF as it is a
While the online work around isn't perfect, at least it's glimmer of light in the dark tunnel that is viewing DWF in Mac OS X and we hope it helps.
If you found this article or the website in general to be helpful, educational or a time and money saver you can show your support. Thank you ~ Brian (huc) Huculak