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Title(s): AutoCAD DWG, DWG File Format, "Drawing" File Format, AutoCAD Drawing

Version ID: AutoCAD 2010

Date released: 2009

Date: 1999

Creator(s): Mike Riddle

Contributor(s): AutoDesk Inc.

Relationships: Bently, the Free Software Foundation, and the Open Design Alliance

  • Family Format(s): AutoCAD

Description: The AutoCAD DWG format is designed for the proprietary application AutoCAD and also works with other CAD applications via a licensing agreement with AutoDesk. This is the primary CAD format used today and is capable of storing 2D and 3D data and metadata. The specification for this format has not been released by AutoDesk and there are protections placed on DWG files to prevent any unlicensed program from reading or writing DWG files.

History: Below is a short history of the format:

  • 1977 - The DWG format is invented for the Interact CAD packaged by Mike Riddle
  • 1981 - AutoDesk co-founded by Riddle among others and Interact rewritten in C
  • 1982 - DWG file format official licensed by AutoDesk Inc.
  • 1998 - OpenDWG released as a free read/write/view DWG application.
  • 1998 - AutoDesk adds file verification scheme DWGCHECK to AutoCAD and the DWG file format.
  • 2007 - AutoCAD 2007 and DWG specification changed to include AutoDesk "TrustedDWG technology"
  • 2008 - An open alternative to the DWG format is listed as 9th on the Free Software Foundation's High Priority Free Software Projects list.

Example(s): An example of a DWG house can be found here. No sample is provided because the author had no DWG reader.

Identifier: [1]

Documentation: [2]

File Extensions: .dwg


  • Native application(s): AutoCAD, ItelliCAD, and CADdie
  • Interoperable applications: Interoperability is possible only by licensing from AutoDesk or by converting from DWG to some other format.

Magic numbers: Unknown


  • application/acad
  • application/x-acad
  • application/autocad_dwg
  • image/x-dwg
  • application/dwg
  • application/x-dwg
  • application/x-autocad
  • image/vnd.dwg
  • drawing/dwg

Rights: Proprietary license strictly distributed and managed by AutoDesk Inc. AutoDesk has sued in the past to protect the "DWG" and AutoDesk trademarks in order to eliminate open libraries that can read/write/view their dwg files.

Sustainability Factors: - AutoDesk will most likely continue to maintain and support for many years as this is their native file format. In the future, their may be a move to a more open format but this will stay well supported in the foreseeable future.

  • Standardization: All attempts to open or standardize this file format have been stopped by legal or software measures by AutoDesk.
  • Technical protection considerations: In 1998, AutoDesk introduced file verification in response to the OpenDWG libraries then added "TrustedDWG technology" in 2008.

Typical use: CAD

File classification: - Specific properties that pertain to this engineering format.

  • Type {Binary, Text}: Binary

NOTE: It is unclear what data and representations the DWG file supports because the author of this entry could not view any DWG files and the specification is not open or even discussed.

References: - A list of references regarding any aspects of this engineering format; any reading material supplemental to this page.