ODA Cracks DWG 2010

Today the ODA let its members know that they could download DWGdirect 3.0.0, the alpha release of the new version of the DWGdirect SDK that can read and write the DWG 2010 format.

The new SDK supports DWG as well as DXF files created by AutoCAD 2010. However, some new objects introduced in AutoCAD 2010 such as AcDbGeoData, AcDbSubDMesh and constraint related objects are loaded as proxies. But I guess that will change in due course of time.

When I met Neil Peterson, the CTO of the ODA, at the ODA World Conference in Leiden, Holland, I asked him how DWG 2010 was treating him. “Not too bad“, was his reply. He went on to explain his plan. “We will first release a version of the SDK that reads and writes the current set of entities so that our members can add initial DWG and DXF support to their products. Thereafter we will add native support for the new entities and other stuff that has been added to the DWG 2010 format.” Seems like things are going according to plan. Full support for DWG 2010 is expected at the end of year.

I have always wondered why Autodesk has this self imposed three year cycle for the DWG format. Since it takes about a year for the ODA to completely reverse engineer a new DWG format, if Autodesk changed the DWG format every year, that would keep the ODA on its toes all year round. And that would give it less time and resources to do other stuff like building an alternative DWG based CAD platform, which is far more damaging to Autodesk than a reverse engineered DWG read/write SDK. In fact, I once posed this question to a senior Autodesk executive. His reply was noble, to say the least. “We do not believe in troubling our customers more than we need to. We understand that file format changes can create a lot of inconvenience to our customers and affect the way they collaborate with other people. That is the reason why we have decided to change the DWG format every three years.

But he wasn’t quite ready for what I asked him next. “That’s great“, I said. “But then why do you change the Inventor format every year?” Needless to say, he did not have a noble answer to that one.

I guess Inventor customers have a higher capacity for pain.

  • Kenneth Wong

    As I recall, file format change in DWG 2007 prompted Wright-Pierce's IT chief to issue a press release in April 2008 announcing he's delaying migration to AutoCAD 2008 because of "poor performance issues." According to him, it choked WAN accelerators like Riverbed. I haven't followed up on it, so I don't know if it's been resolved. I'm guessing file format change can cut both ways. It compels Autodesk's rivals to keep up with the change; but it probably also demands a fair amount of resources from Autodesk to test software, middleware, and system compatibility to make sure it doesn't wreck havoc for their customers.

  • Kenneth Wong

    As I recall, file format change in DWG 2007 prompted Wright-Pierce's IT chief to issue a press release in April 2008 announcing he's delaying migration to AutoCAD 2008 because of "poor performance issues." According to him, it choked WAN accelerators like Riverbed. I haven't followed up on it, so I don't know if it's been resolved.

    I'm guessing file format change can cut both ways. It compels Autodesk's rivals to keep up with the change; but it probably also demands a fair amount of resources from Autodesk to test software, middleware, and system compatibility to make sure it doesn't wreck havoc for their customers.