What is the difference between DWG and DXF?

DWG files are more compact than DXF files and can also store a greater variety of files. DWG files use binary code — that is, a computer processing language made of zeroes and ones. DXF files use text-based coding (ASCII). Binary code is more compact, so DWG files tend to be about 25% smaller than DXF.

DWG file is More Compact #

The DWG file format encodes information in 1 and 0, while DXF uses plain text. Therefore, DWG is usually more compact than DXF. In a DXF file, each element of the drawing is spelled out in plain text or ASCII format, containing all alphanumeric characters. Therefore, each character occupies more bytes. At the same time, the data in the DWG file is encoded as a series of 1 and 0. Therefore, binary files are typically 25% smaller than plain text/ASCII files.

DXF is Open Source #

DXF can be used by almost all CAD software, as well as CNC and GIS software too. This is because it is an open source file format that is free for anyone to use. The full specification for the DXF file format is available online, free of charge. Anyone who wants to write software that can read and write DXF files can do so.

Meanwhile, the DWG format is proprietary to Autodesk. As such, Autodesk designs, defines and modifies the DWG specification. Not all programs can read DWG, so you may have to conduct some unique maneuvering to view DWG files without AutoCAD. A group called the Open Design Alliance have reverse-engineered the DWG file format—the OpenDWG specification is available online.

DWG can Handle More Drawing Data #

Early versions of the DXF specification store only 2D images and may also have limits to associating related vector information such as colours and line weights, whilst DWG can handle both 2D and 3D geometry. 

DXF files do not support application-specific information—for example, they do not support AutoCAD’s dynamic blocks. This is a feature specific to AutoCAD, which changes the shape and size of the block depending on a set of rules.

Should I use DWG or DXF? #

DWG should be used if your drawing will only be accessed via AutoCAD, or a program that is capable of handling DWG files. DXF should be used if you’re sharing drawings between different CAD or vector based programs.

See more:

How to Convert DWG to DXF?

How to Convert DXF to DWG?

AutoDWG DWG DXF Converter

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