Continuing on from the the previous post, I’m going to highlight Autodesk Design Review’s raison d’être, including the obligatory Pros & Cons, then write a brief conclusion with some of my observations and closing opinions. Design Review Mobile and Autodesk 360 Design Review both use the *.dwf & *.dwfx file types supported by all of Autodesk’s CAD applications and Autodesk Vault is dependant on the DWF format for generating visualisation views and are integral within the ECO review process. So most Vaults will generally contain literally thousands upon thousands of DWF files.I personally think the Cloud based Design Review concept has a lot more potential than AutoCAD WS for external collaboration. I would bet a lot companies aren’t keen on supplying writeable and crucially usable DWG files to external users, when most companies get shirty about hosting their IP in the Cloud let alone allowing it to be freely edited. Whereas the DWF file format allows them to provide a read only CAD format with a writeable overlay to comment on and interact with the model and/or drawing.

I have to be honest and say I both respect and loath the Desktop version of Design Review in equal measure. Since the graphics are generally horrid and the measuring tools are diabolical but the markup tools are fantastic, then when you consider the drawings should be fully dimensioned anyway, its measuring inadequacy becomes less of an issue. As a result Design Reviews’ offspring do actually have a tough act to follow while floating around in the cloud and zipping around on mobile devices.

Autodesk Design Review

I was excited by the announcement of Autodesk Design Review Mobile being released in September 2011, it came after AutoCAD WS and Project Nitrous, which was to become Autodesk 360 Design Review. It seems like very little has changed with Design Review Mobile since then, whereas AutoCAD WS has been going from strength to strength. Nevertheless, it has provided a way for many users to view their files on the go, which has been much appreciated.

Like the AutoCAD WS App, Design Review's screen real estate has been restricted by oversized menus.

Autodesk Sketchbook & the Autodesk ForceEffect series both have clean and respectful UI’s when it comes screen real estate with Sketchbook being the best by far. I’m not sure why the same can’t be true for Design Review Mobile. I would only like to see the tools when I need to select them, otherwise its all about interacting with as large an object as possible when viewing and reviewing.

I love the ability to view metadata associated with the components, I wish you could control visibility


  • 2D Mark-ups.
  • 3D viewing with component properties. Very Handy! Would be even cooler if the properties grid supported hyper-links..
  • Syncs with Autodesk 360.
  • Ubiquitous desktop & mobile access, except maybe on Windows Phone.
  • The Mobile App has good navigation & rendering speeds, along with intuitive manipulation of the view.


  • No Revision Cloud.
  • Can’t be tied into a closed loop review process with Autodesk Vault.
  • No built in facility to track who created the Mark-up or its status.
  • Mark-ups aren’t passed back to the Design Review Desktop application!
  • Inconsistencies with Mark-up properties between the Mobile & Cloud versions.
  • The Cloud version struggles with processing the DWF’s at times, resulting in an error message stating: “The document you are trying to view was not processed completely…”
  • Navigation of the DWF within the Cloud version is painfully slow with rendering times being slow as well.
  • You can’t open DWF attachments directly from e-mails in iOS.

Often DWF's aren't processed correctly by Autodesk 360 Design Review, requiring them to be uploaded again.


Apple Macs are becoming increasingly common within the Review process. Management, other departments, suppliers and clients all need to review CAD documentation. As it stands, if any of those have a Mac then the drawings have to saved as Pdf’s which are less than ideal for Mark-ups whereas DWF’s are excellent. In addition, there’s a large number of Autodesk staff using Apple Mac’s, so it blows my mind that the desktop version of Design Review hasn’t been released for OSX yet.

I have been struggling immensely to establish a well documented and closed loop design review process for a project I’m currently working on, the computer literacy within the relevant stake holders is diverse and there are multiple platforms to consider. However, often clients are unwilling to install unfamiliar software and expect us to change our processes to accommodate their needs, we shouldn’t have to and they shouldn’t have to download and install software to view the drawings they are paying for. So although its about time Design Review was supported on OSX, I would much prefer Autodesk focus on taking the most important Mark-up tools from the desktop version and applying them to Autodesk 360, building in AutoCAD, Inventor and most importantly (for Vault users at least) is bi-directional Autodesk Vault integration to create a closed loop ECO review process.

@DesignReview_M tweeting to say there is some great stuff coming soon.

Based on my meeting with the Design Review/Cloud collaboration team in San Francisco back in March, I know there is indeed great stuff coming from them. It was very nice to see they were extremely keen to receive my feedback and have been very enthusiastic about my suggestions since then. Ultimately they need to recreate the ‘Old Skool’ earthy experience of reviewing multiple sheets concurrently with a healthy thrashing of new age Cloud tech, that way they will attract a following from both old and new age users.

DWF icon's showing up in AutoCAD WS suggesting they are supported

Moving on, I wouldn’t be surprised if some day AutoCAD WS and Design Review merged and supported both the DWG & DWF file formats. There’s a potential clue to that happening within the iOS AutoCAD WS app, when you browse to the Cloud documents you have access to. If you have DWF’s uploaded then they show up as if they are supported files, until you try to open one. What would you think about AutoCAD WS being the sole viewer and editor for DWG & DWF files within Autodesk 360 and on your mobile devices?

I intended for these two posts to have a few screen shots and some bullet points, but turns out I had a bit to say and couldn’t help myself. Hopefully my comments have been helpful and/or thought provoking, but to end this I should answer the question I opened the first post with.


Why are Autodesk creating two separate Cloud based tools which have Mark Up tools?


So here it is:


  • Real time collaboration by editing the DWG concurrently between multiple stakeholders.
  • Marking up or modifying the actual CAD file while off site or in a remote location.
  • I would suggest its generally used by those inside the organisation more than for external collaboration.

Design Review 360/Mobile

  • Read Only viewing of CAD data.
  • Mark ups are layered on top of the Read Only CAD data.
  • Used to allow external stake holders to participate in the review process while helping to protect IP.