About DWG Files

DWG (from drawing) is a proprietary binary file format used for storing two- and three- dimensional design data and metadata. It is the native format for several CAD packages including DraftSight, AutoCAD, IntelliCAD (and its variants), Caddie and Open Design Alliance compliant applications. In addition, DWG is supported non-natively by many other CAD applications. The .bak (drawing backup), .dws (drawing standards), .dwt (drawing template) and .sv$ (temporary automatic save) files are also DWG files.

DWG (denoted by the .dwg filename extension) was the native file format for the Interact CAD package, developed by Mike Riddle in the late 1970s, and subsequently licensed by Autodesk in 1982 as the basis for AutoCAD. From 1982 to 2009, Autodesk created versions of AutoCAD which wrote no fewer than 18 major variants of the DWG file format, none of which is publicly documented.

The DWG format is probably the most widely used format for CAD drawings. Autodesk estimates that in 1998 there were in excess of two billion DWG files in existence.

There are several claims to control of the DWG format. As the biggest and most influential creator of DWG files it is Autodesk who designs, defines, and iterates the DWG format as the native format for their CAD applications. Autodesk sells a read/write library, called RealDWG, under selective licensing terms for use in non-competitive applications. Several companies have attempted to reverse engineer Autodesk's DWG format, and offer software libraries to read and write Autodesk DWG files. The most successful is Open Design Alliance, a non-profit consortium created in 1998 by a number of software developers (including competitors to Autodesk), released a read/write/view library called the OpenDWG Toolkit, which was based on the MarComp AUTODIRECT libraries. (ODA has since rewritten and updated that code.)

In 1998, Autodesk added file verification to AutoCAD R14.01, through a function called DWGCHECK. This function was supported by an encrypted checksum and product code (called a "watermark" by Autodesk), written into DWG files created by the program. In 2006 Autodesk modified AutoCAD 2007, to include "TrustedDWG technology", a function which would embed a text string within DWG files written by the program: "Autodesk DWG. This file is a Trusted DWG last saved by an Autodesk application or Autodesk licensed application." This helped Autodesk software users ensure that the files they were opening were created by an Autodesk, or RealDWG application, reducing risk of incompatibilities. AutoCAD would pop up a message, warning of potential stability problems, if a user opened a 2007 version DWG file which did not include this text string.

In 2008 the Free Software Foundation asserted the need for an open replacement for the DWG format, as neither RealDWG nor DWGdirect are licensed on terms that are compatible with free software license like the GNU GPL. Therefore, the FSF placed the goal 'Replacement for OpenDWG libraries' in 10th place on their High Priority Free Software Projects list. Created in late 2009, GNU LibreDWG is a free software library released under the terms of the GNU GPLv3 license. Despite being currently under development, it can read most parts of DWG files from version R13 up to 2004.

Also in 2008 Autodesk and Bentley Systems agreed on exchange of software libraries, including Autodesk RealDWG, to improve the ability to read and write the companies' respective DWG and DGN formats in mixed environments with greater fidelity. In addition, the two companies will facilitate work process interoperability between their AEC applications through supporting the reciprocal use of available Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Autodesk's trademark on the the term DWG is no longer active as of October 7, 2016.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.dwg which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.