Does Vista really open DWF files?

Not according to the press release. Vista (and .NET 3.0) includes a built-in XPS Viewer (also available for Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2003), which will view any XPS format file. Apparently Autodesk plans to add support for output to XPS format in the future, and this output will be called DWFx — a new file format. It’s not clear what the difference will be between DWFx and the output produced using the Microsoft XPS Document Writer that is already available.

I installed the Microsoft XPS Document Writer and XPS Viewer on my Windows XP SP2 machine. Next, I started AutoCAD 2007 and opened “3D House.dwg” from the Sample folder. I then plotted this file to DWF, PDF, and XPS, with the following results:

Plotter Plot Time File Size
DWF6 ePlot.pc3 7 seconds 139 kb
DWG To PDF.pc3 5 seconds 165 kb
Microsoft XPS Document Writer 34 seconds 829 kb

I’m not suggesting that these files all contain the same content, I’m merely suggesting that DWFx/XPS may have some undesirable tradeoffs in practice.

This whole issue about “native Vista support for DWF” may be nothing but smoke and mirrors. There is no guarantee that publishing CAD data in the XPS format will be efficient. So what will happen if users can choose between a compact DWF, a slightly less compact but ubiquitous PDF, or a very space-hungry DWFx? Time will tell, but I think this issue of DWF in Vista is getting way to much spin and not enough critical analysis.

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