Acrobat 3D Version 8 – Part 3 (First Impressions)

Nothing like a small vacation to refresh the mind. I returned to find that, as promised, Adobe had sent me a beta of their Acrobat 3D 8 software. After firing it up the first thing I did was to test their 3D file importers. File->Create PDF->From File brings about the File Open box. I was amazed to find that I could import these many 3D file formats.

3D Studio ASC (*.asc)
3D Studio MAX ASCII (*.ase)
3D Studio Mesh (*.3ds, *.prj)
3DXML (*.3dxml)
ACIS (*.sat, *.sab)
Autodesk AutoCAD (*.dwg, *.dwf, *.dst)
Autodesk DXF (*.dxf)
CADDS (*.cadds, *._pd, *.pd)
CATIA V4 (*.model, *.dlv, *.exp, *.session)
CATIA V5 (*.catproduct, *.catpart)
CGR (*.cgr)
I-DEAS (*.mf1, *.arc, *.unv, *.pkg)
IGES (*.iges, *.igs)
InDesign (*.indd)
Inventor (*.ipt, *.iam)
JT (*.jt)
Lattice XVL (*.xv3, *.xv0)
Lightwave (*.lw, *.lwo, *.lws)
Microstation CAD Graphic (*.dgn)
NX (Unigraphics) (*.prt)
OneSpace Designer (*.pkg, *.sdp, *.sdpc, *.sdw)
Parasolid (*.x_t, *.x_b)
PRC (*.prc, *.prd)
Pro/ENGINEER (*.prt, *.xpr, *.asm)
Rhinoceros 3D Model (*.3dm)
Right Hemisphere (*.rh)
Softimage XSI (*.xsi)
Solid Edge (*.par) …….. surprisingly no *.asm???
SolidWorks (*.sldprt, *.sldasm)
STEP (*.step, *.stp)
STL (*.stl)
Universal 3D (*.u3d)
VRML (*.vrml, *.wrl)
Wavefront Object (*.obj)

Judging by how Acrobat imports 3D files, I get the impression that Adobe is more interested in having PDF files contain tesselated models only. Many proprietary formats cannot be imported as NURBS, even if I set the “3D conversion settings” to “Data Exchange”. However, I may be doing something wrong here.

The DWG import feature is a disaster. Like the earlier version, Acrobat tries to start “the application that created the selected document”, something which comes with its own set of problems. DXF file import is direct like the others. I do not expect Autodesk to license their RealDWG library to Adobe so that Acrobat can import DWG files decently. The Open Design Alliance may be able to help here.

As regards exporting to 3D formats, one would expect Acrobat, like any other 3D application, to have an “Export” menu item in the “File” menu. It does. But there is no way to export to a 3D format from there. You have to right click on the model and then select “Export Data”, which, by the way is present only if the model is a NURBS model. If the model is a mesh then you have to choose “Edit in 3D Toolkit” which opens the mesh in another application called Adobe Acrobat 3D Toolkit from which I could find a way to save only U3D files.

These are my first impressions. I am sure there are easier ways to do the things I am trying to do, but they do not seem apparent. I am not the kind of guy who has the time to sit and go through tutorials. I install a software, fire it up and expect the most simplest things (such as file import and export) to be pretty simple and straightforward. But I guess Acrobat is not meant for data exchange and, in its present state, is surely not designed to be used as such.

I have to play around more to figure out how Acrobat treats 3D data, be it tesselated or NURBS.

More later.