eDrawings – the CAD-Reviews independent review

Innovative mechanism for publishing drawings

eDrawings review screenshot

eDrawings from SolidWorks Corporation

Ever been faced with the frustration of dissecting drawings to make them faxable or the recipient of your data not having the correct CAD package or viewer? SolidWorks have addressed the need for extensive and rapid dissemination of design data for SolidWorks and AutoCad users with their innovative eDrawing format.

Intended as a mechanism for publishing drawings rather than distribution for further work, they ensure that the information appears exactly as created in a file considerably smaller than a standard DWG or DXF.

At the time of publishing, a single command click from within SolidWorks or AutoCad, it is possible to embed the viewer which for a mere 300k makes the file fully self-contained.

No software is required at the receiving end, the drawing can simply be zoomed, panned and printed by anyone using Windows.

On opening the file a simple help window appears to step new users through the key eDrawing features.

Multiple sheets are supported and accessible from a right click pop up menu.

For situations on large drawings where views from different areas of the drawing need to be seen simultaneously, custom layouts can be created using Virtual Folding.

By using the Vfold command, only the currently selected view is shown in the graphics area.

An overview window allows other views to be selected from any of the available sheets and placed into the new layout.

Positioning is dynamic with the zoom and pan adjusting automatically to suit the visible views.

These layouts can also be printed.

As if this was not a significant enough achievement, eDrawings also offer significant additional functionality when published from SolidWorks.

All within the same file size, the recipient can shade the fully annotated drawing views to reveal solids, cutouts, sections, curved surfaces and multiple components.

This becomes of significant value for rapid understanding of complex drawings and for use by non-technical stakeholders.

In shaded mode an animation command displays a dynamic transition between the views in the order that they were created.

This can be in a manual step through or continuous play mode.

Incredibly it even allows dynamic rotation of the model, including section and exploded views.

To enhance understanding still further, a coloured 3D cursor can be displayed and dragged dynamically in all views to pin-point discrete points in space.

Clicking on a section line, detail circle or view label highlights the associated view as a hyperlink, again even if the views span multiple sheets.

eDrawings are not a complete replacement file type, particularly for collaborative working, but in such cases the native file types are really the only true solution.

At present bitmaps or embedded objects are not supported and dimensional information is limited to the annotations rather than direct geometric interrogation.

There are many applications however where these smart drawings will enable far richer communication of the design than the core engineering drawing.

And the price? The publisher is available free from the SolidWorks web site.

This includes the option to install as a viewer only if required to remove the need to embed the viewer to a regular recipient.