Autodesk Design Review

What is it? Autodesk Design Review is a downloadable computer software, designed to allow collaborative design markups and notes on designs and blueprints.

You can create and edit DWF files in Autodesk Design Review and is suitable for combining, publishing, or sharing 2D or 3D design files. 

Autodesk Design Review

How Does It Work?

Autodesk claims that their design review software helps to “accelerate projects from start to finish.” They describe their software as “the all-digital way to review, mark up and track changes to 2D and 3D designs”.

The free software is designed to work in conjunction with AutoCAD, Inventor, and Revit programs to allow you to edit, mark up, make notes on design files. It also means you can share the design files with clients, consultants, or other team members, so they can track the changes and make edits themselves. 

The process of creating and reviewing DWF design files is as follows: 

  • Create designs – most designs start in other Autodesk programs and are either a digital drawing or model blueprint. 
  • Receive – the reviewers are invited to receive the initial DWF design file in Autodesk Design Review. 
  • Review – Those involved in the review of the design make markups using text, shapes, stamps, callouts, or custom symbols. 
  • Return – Reviewers can send the edited file back to the person who originally published it. 
  • Revise – The creator reviews the comments and makes necessary changes to the document as appropriate. 
  • Republish – After revising the design document, the publisher can choose to republish the edited design file to reset the workflow system again and give the reviewers an opportunity to give notes on the updated DWF file. 

What Files Is It Compatible With?

Autodesk Design Review is suitable for use with DWF (Design Web Format) files. According to vectorworks.net, “DWF is a format developed by Autodesk to allow efficient sharing of design drawings with colleagues who do not have access to AutoCAD or other design software.

DWF files are highly compressed, device and software independent, and can include 3D models.”

Autodesk Design Review software allows you to convert DWG files into DWF files, so you can view and edit them in the program. This means that the software technically isn’t compatible with DWG files, but it can be if you choose to convert them.

You should be able to convert them back afterward without losing the changes. This is helpful if your team usually works with DWG CAD(Computer Aided Design) files. 

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Digital Design Review Software?

Using an all-digital system can save you and your team time and money. You can save on office materials such as printer ink and paper, as well as saving man-hours.

Without using a design review software, your designer would have to either draw out the designs by hand on paper and then show the rest of the team, or design on the computer and then print out a copy for review.

Other team members would then need to write their notes and markups onto the paper design. If multiple people needed to approve the design, that would mean printing several copies or waiting for the one design copy to circulate the office.

That is, assuming all team members who need to review are in the same office space. Then what about the client or consultants on the project? Getting a physical copy to them and then back to you with notes will take time and resources, especially if they aren’t in the same part of the planet as you.

Whereas now, Autodesk Design Review eliminates the need for a physical copy of a design to be printed. It’s quick and simple to share the file with co-workers and clients for review with this software that anyone can download. 

Which Computers Is It Compatible With?

The Autodesk Design Review 2018 software is compatible with Microsoft Windows 10, Microsoft Windows 8.1 with the KB2919355 update, and also Microsoft Windows 7 SP1. It is also now available in the App Store for use on iPhones and iPads, so you can edit and view designs on the go.

Autodesk Design Review is also available (at long last) for MAC OS systems. You will need to select the Browser download (called Download for students and educators) and it will operate through a website on your browser, rather than from a downloaded application like on Windows. 

This has caused no small amount of discontent from customers and would-be customers who have Apple systems rather than Windows.

While it is possible to use the Autodesk Design Review software on MAC computers, it isn’t quite as simple as downloading the program and getting to work wherever you are, whether you’re online or not.

If you have a Windows computer, though, you’re in luck, as the software is absolutely designed for you. 

How Much Does Autodesk Design Review Cost?

Autodesk’s AutoCAD, Revit, and Inventor software do cost, (and quite a bit, at that) but Autodesk Design Review is free. Because the Autodesk Design Review software is designed to be compatible with other Autodesk design programs, there is no cost for the download or use.

If you don’t have an Autodesk design program such as Revit, Inventor, or AutoCAD, then you might find it harder to use Autodesk Design Review. It is free, as we’ve said, but it is also mainly compatible with DWF files, which are unique to Autodesk programs.

If you use DWG design files, you can convert them in the Design Review program, and you will need to do this before you can view or edit the original design file.

The Autodesk Design Review download is designed for sharing, viewing, and editing existing design files. It is not the best for creating the designs themselves. If you’re looking to invest in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) program, then Autodesk has several. 

What Are The Options For Autodesk CAD Programs? 

AutoCAD offers two varieties. The first is suitable for creating 2D and 3D designs on your computer. The other is AutoCAD LT which is suitable for 2-dimensional drafting and drawing only. The price difference between the two is unsurprisingly vast.

Autodesk uses yearly subscriptions rather than one-off fees to buy the software. This might keep the prices slightly lower than if you were to purchase the software outright, but it means you need to factor in the costs into your company’s yearly budget for as long as you’ll be using it.

AutoCAD is one of the few MAC-compatible software from Autodesk. They seem to be a little resistant to the world domination of the Apple company.

Lots of designers and creatives choose a MAC computer for the design elements, but there aren’t many Autodesk software programs that are compatible. A surprising gap in the market, perhaps? 

Revit is the name of Autodesk’s building modeling and infrastructure design tool. It can handle 3D parametric modeling, structural steel modeling, and documentation, and can also analyze and simulate structures.

This makes it the ideal software for architectural, preconstruction design, and structural engineering design. More expensive than AutoCAD by around $1000, it’s a specialized tool to assist those involved in structural design.

Autodesk does usually offer free trials for their software, so you can feel free to try before you buy. 

For an extra $1000, or thereabout, you can get an integrated bundle containing architecture, engineering, and construction technologies.

This gives you access to integrated BIM (Building Information Modeling or Building Information Management) and CAD software specifically for infrastructure design, engineering, and construction design. This software bundle helps you to create a smooth workflow from concept to completion.

It generates realistic-looking images and turns models into immersive user experiences, so you can see your design from every possible angle. The software also conducts advanced BIM structural analysis and verifies whether your model is building code compliant.

That will save you some research time if you are a structural engineer or an architect.

Inventor is another Windows-only creation software. Inventor has its own digital review system, but you can still use the Autodesk Design Review if some of your stakeholders don’t have the Inventor software.

The design tool has material categories, including sheet metal, pipes, and tubing, to create realistic 3-dimensional mechanical designs. Conceptualize, visualize and create your mechanical inventions with Autodesk’s Inventor software. 

Alternatives to Autodesk Design Review? 

For an alternative free software that deals with DWG files instead of DWF, Autodesk has a free downloadable program called Autodesk DWG TrueView. Alternatively, you can get a program called DraftSight which is a 2D

Computer Aided Design (CAM) tool that claims to be easy to use and has some advanced architecture features. This software used to be free, but now requires a subscription.

When compared with the CAM products from Autodesk, though, it is very modestly priced and yes, it is suitable for MAC 10.14 onwards, so you really can use your MAC computer for design, as it was intended.

DraftSight also runs on Linux operating systems, which is good news for Linux users. 

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we find that Autodesk Design Review is a valuable piece of software that allows seamless communication between several members of the team to design, edit and make notes on CAD files.

If your team uses Autodesk software as a virtual design tool, then downloading the free version of Autodesk Design Review will help different departments to collaborate more efficiently without a doubt.

Having said that, if you use other design software in your office, you might be better off with an alternative design review program that deals with DWG files.

Also, if your team operates MAC computers then Autodesk may not be your best choice as it has limited MAC compatibility since it is designed for Windows.

Michael Moore
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