|2D CAD | CAD Publishing | Computer Aided Design|
Essential guide to 2D CAD publishing: what you need to know for successful sharing, archiving
Once designers invest time and energy into creating a drawing, it can be used for a variety of purposes beyond the original intent. Repurposing that drawing can at times be difficult, but help is at hand with a variety of applications designed just for this task. For this 2D publishing article, we elected to focus on file repurposing--how to get a drawing file into another form to share with non-CAD users, be it to present a design for client approval, to convey design information to salespeople or others within your organization or to illustrate a detailed aspect of a project.
Although PDF (portable document format) is the most widespread file format used for such communication, it's far from the only way to distribute design information. Other file formats, created by a number of different applications, are often more compact, more quickly produced and offer more extensive security features to protect privileged or valuable information.
File size. If your goal is to distribute information electronically, file size is a consideration--the more compact the file, the faster it transmits. Recipients of the file might not have DSL, cable Internet or a T1 line at their disposal, so decisions about the appropriate software may come down to final file size. The amount of time required to generate such documents should also be brief.
Security. Whenever design information leaves the company, security becomes a concern. Many applications provide some means of password protection or, in the case of drawings included in the document, the ability to turn off or hide layers that contain proprietary information. Typically there's a way to limit printing or viewing to further protect the design information. We've noted the available security features for each application in the feature table that accompanies this article online at www.cadalyst.com/0505cadpub.
Adobe Reader. The advent of the new Adobe Reader has made markup, redlining and commenting much easier for those who use the PDF file format. PDF files created in Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional can be flagged so that anyone with the Adobe Reader can mark them up and send their input to the originator of the file. For more on Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional, see Cadalyst's review in the March 2005 issue, p. 40, or online at http://management.cadalyst.com/0305acrobat/.
Cadalyst contacted appropriate vendors to request software used to publish and repurpose 2D design content for this issue. We'll cover 3D publishing later this year.
We used the willhome.dwg file that ships with AutoCAD to test the submitted applications, with the exception of the flangedvalve.dgn MicroStation drawing used to test Net-It CAD for MicroStation from Informative Graphics. Conversion file sizes and time required for each conversion are noted in the text and in the online feature table. The feature table also notes the availability, file size and URL where users can download free viewers. Depending on the depth of features required, prices for the applications reviewed here vary from $99 to $4,995--a very broad range.
Several of the applications we looked at were in beta testing at the time of our tests, including applications from Informative Graphics and CADzation. CADzation plans to release its server-based solution, AcroPlot Auto, by the time you read this. Development is an ongoing process, with new features continually being added and old features extended. Several applications, including the latest version of Autodesk's DWF Composer, were not ready for testing at this time. We plan to cover those products at a later date.
Two sidebars accompany this article. Bluebeam Software's Pushbutton PDF (p. 24) creates PDFs and many other file types. In addition, Bluebeam recently released its Bluebeam Conversion Server for enterprise-level document generation. The latest version of Bentley Systems' MicroStation V8 2004 Edition (p. 20) generates PDF files and the 3D U3D files used by Adobe Acrobat 7 Professional.
Whatever your needs, a wealth of capable software applications is available to aid in publishing and repurposing drawing and design data while protecting your interests.
[Editor's note: The company says that its AcroPlot Jr. program translates the same DWG in about half the time with a resulting file size of 123KB.]
Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor and computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Questex Media Group, Inc.
Tags: CNC Software CAD Software CAM Software CAD 2D CAD CAD Publishing Computer Aided Design
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