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Template:Infobox file format AutoCAD DXF (Drawing Interchange Format, or Drawing Exchange Format) is a CAD data file format developed by Autodesk for enabling data interoperability between AutoCAD and other programs.

DXF was originally introduced in December 1982 as part of AutoCAD 1.0, and was intended to provide an exact representation of the data in the AutoCAD native file format, DWG (Drawing), for which Autodesk did not — and, as of 2008, does not — publish specifications. Autodesk now publishes specifications on its website for versions of DXF dating from AutoCAD Release 13 (November 1994) to AutoCAD 2008 (March 2007).

Versions of AutoCAD from Release 10 (October 1988) and up support both ASCII and binary forms of DXF. Earlier versions support only ASCII.

As AutoCAD has become more powerful, supporting more complex object types, DXF has become less useful. Certain object types, including ACIS solids and regions, are not documented. Other object types, including AutoCAD 2006's dynamic blocks, and all of the objects specific to the vertical-market versions of AutoCAD, are partially documented, but not well enough to allow other developers to support them.

Almost all significant commercial application software developers, including all of Autodesk's competitors, choose to support DWG as their primary format for AutoCAD data interoperability, using libraries from the Open Design Alliance — a non-profit industry consortium which has reverse-engineered the DWG file format.


File structure

ASCII versions of DXF can be read with a text-editor. The basic organization of a DXF file is as follows:

  • HEADER section – General information about the drawing. Each parameter has a variable name and an associated value.
  • CLASSES section – Holds the information for application-defined classes whose instances appear in the BLOCKS, ENTITIES, and OBJECTS sections of the database. Generally does not provide sufficient information to allow interoperability with other programs.
  • TABLES section – This section contains definitions of named items.
Application ID (APPID) table
Block Recod (BLOCK_RECORD) table
Dimension Style (DIMSTYPE) table
Layer (LAYER) table
Linetype (LTYPE) table
Text style (STYLE) table
User Coordinate System (UCS) table
View (VIEW) table
Viewport configuration (VPORT) table
  • BLOCKS section – This section contains Block Definition entities describing the entities comprising each Block in the drawing.
  • ENTITIES section – This section contains the drawing entities, including any Block References.
  • OBJECTS section – Contains the data that apply to nongraphical objects, used by AutoLISP and ObjectARX applications.
  • THUMBNAILIMAGE section – Contains the preview image for the DXF file.

Software which supports DXF

See also

External links

  • DXF Specifications - Autodesk documentation on versions of DXF from Release 13 to current.
  • Open Design Alliance - Non-profit industry consortium which provides program libraries to read and write DWG and DXF files.
  • Open Source software - Read, write, and draw to DXF files, export to image, print, zoom, pan

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