More Ramblings from a Los Angeles Programmer

December 21, 2006

Slashdot | Autodesk Suing to Keep Format Closed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Josh DeWald @ 4:00 am

Apparently, AutoDesk is rather angry that the Open Design Alliance in adding what is essentially an AutoCAD ‘watermark’ to AutoCAD DWG files produced by it’s libraries.  When I first read the headline to the /. article, it implied that AutoDesk was directly trying to step the reverse-engineering for the format itself. On further reading (of the article itself as well the comments on the /. article), it’s more that AutoDesk doesn’t want the ‘TrustedDWG’ data to be applied.

Now, this does effectively mean that you can’t produce files outside of AutoCAD because apparently it will only read DWG files that are marked in this way. And that’s the real issue in the matter. For people using AutoCAD, all is fine because obviously all the bits will be properly set and encrypted. However, if you’re working with somebody who isn’t using AutoCAD, but another program capable of producing DWG files, both you and he lose out because the files will be unreadable.  The files may be exactly the same as what would have been produced by AutoCAD but still won’t be readable.

So, even though they are apparently fine with people reverse-engineering the format, they are still saying that if you are using AutoCAD, then every person or company you work with better be using it as well.

Keep in mind that the OpenDWG is capable of producing the ‘TrustedDWG’ data, but is no longer making that code available out of respect for the lawsuit. This really makes me want to obtain the code (if it was already available) or attempt to reverse the format myself.

What AutoDesk should do is add a dialog when opening the ‘open’ files that says ‘Warning: This file was produced outside of AutoDesk’. But whatever.

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