Is DWF Better than PDF?

If you ask anyone in the building services industry what they use to markup drawings, I can almost guarantee that no one will answer with Design Review. The large majority will say Bluebeam, a few will say Acrobat and then the luddites will say pen and paper.

Unlike Bluebeam and Acrobat, Design Review doesn’t implement a printer on your system to generate the files it needs, it doesn’t review PDF files and you can’t use it as a dodgy photoshop as some seem to use it for. Design Review as the name implies is made to do one thing and one thing and it does that one thing rather well.

Many had thought that Design Review had been abandoned by Autodesk, with no releases since 2013. Then Design Review 2018 happened.

Check out the process either here on REVIT.AU or watch a demo just below on Youtube.

Exporting Sheets as DWF

To get started, we need to export a DWF from Revit. That’s right, DWF files are used for more than just CostX. In this example we will be using the trusty rac_basic_sample_project.rvt

We’re also using Revit 2019 in this example, if you’re using a previous version of Revit you need to click on the Application Menu (the big R) rather than the file menu.

Just like using the default printing or DWG interfaces, select the views and sheets that you want to export

There are additional options that can be set and applied to the DWF export it’s always great to have a bit of extra metadata within your files, but only fill out if required. There is no point in providing information just because the technology allows you to.

Save your DWF in a convenient location, ready to send off to your friendly local engineer

The Design Review Interface

On opening the file you’re presented with a series of thumbnails on the left hand side of the screen which represent each of the drawing sheets and views exported from the model.

There are also additional tabs that allow you to review sheets and views in a list mode, list your markups and also and exported model views.

Navigating between sheets is as simple as a single click on the sheet in the list. This isn’t Internet Explorer, no double clicking here baby-boomers! Those extra mouse clicks are just precious time that’s wasted!

The right-hand side of the screen provides you with handy tabulated information regarding the open sheet or view. These tabs can be pinned or set to auto-hide depending on your preference.

Markup and Measure Tools

Design Review includes all the makrup and measurement tools that you need to get the job done.

In addition to the usual suite of 2D markup and measurement tools, there are a series of handy tools that can be used in 3D views so you can take sections through the model assist in the markup process.

To further assist with the markup and review process, there is a sheet compare functionality which allows you to compare drawings between two DWF files.

But what about symbols? Most engineers I’ve spoken to say that they can’t give up Bluebeam because “it has symbols”. Acrobat also has symbols. Just saying.

Design Review doesn’t rely on the set of American symbols you found on the internet, or that Bob stole from his previous company for Bluebeam.

Design Review is able to import 2D symbols directly from a DWF file. What this means is that your specific company standard of block or family libraries can be exported from AutoCAD or Revit and imported directly into Design Review.

Remember the markup tab from earlier? As you generate markups, they are listed out within the markup tab and sorted by drawing sheet.

Each markup has additional information attached, reflecting any notes on the markup and the markup history.

Wait. What? The markup history? That’s right, Design Review offers a full round trip functionality.

Why we should all be using Design Review

Have you ever noticed that DWF Markup button in Revit and wondered what it is all about?

It’s only been there for almost forever.

It’s all about Design Review.

For the longest time, we have had the ability to link in DWF markups directly to Revit and it’s a good sign that Autodesk won’t abandon Design Review.

When linking in a DWF markup file, Revit will display the sheets that include markups. Any sheets without markups will not be loaded.

When the markups come in, they overlay on each sheet.

All the information from the DWF markup flows through into Revit, making it easier for markups to be actioned quicker and hopefully more accurately.

Markups can be completed in most instances by activating the current Revit view and making changes on the spot.

As work is progressed, modellers can change the status of the markup which will highlight it as complete.

There is also opportunity for the modeller to add their own notes to the markup for when it is returned to the engineer.

Once all the markups have been completed, the drawings can be exported as DWF again for the engineer to review.

And the Best Part?

Design Review is free

One thought on “Is DWF Better than PDF?

  1. avatar Robin Capper says:

    Nice summary, have been using this workflow for over a decade (with AutoCAD before Revit) but not sure of its future. Autodesk seem to have given up with DWF as a separate format (but still use it for some things) and the viewer seems very much in maintenance mode.
    Consider saving as DWFx rather than DWF as seems to be a bit more compatible

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