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Relating AutoCAD 2005 to DWG Details

AutoCAD has been around a long time — since 1982. AutoCAD ushered in the transition from really expensive mainframe and minicomputer CAD systems costing tens of thousands of dollars to merely expensive microcomputer CAD programs costing a few thousand dollars.

AutoCAD is, first and foremost, a program to create technical drawings; drawings in which measurements and precision are important, because these kinds of drawings often get used to build something. The drawings you create with AutoCAD must adhere to standards established long ago for hand-drafted drawings. The up-front investment to use AutoCAD is certainly more expensive than the investment needed to use pencil and paper, and the learning curve is much steeper, too.

To take full advantage of AutoCAD in your work environment, you need to be aware of the DWG file format, the format in which AutoCAD saves drawings. In some cases an older version of AutoCAD can't open a DWG file that's been saved by a newer version of AutoCAD.

  • A newer version of AutoCAD always can open files saved by an older version.
  • Some previous versions of AutoCAD can open files saved by the subsequent one or two versions. For example, AutoCAD 2004 can open DWG files saved by AutoCAD 2005. That's because Autodesk didn't change the DWG file format between AutoCAD 2004 and AutoCAD 2005.
  • You can use the "save as" option in newer versions to save the file to some older DWG formats.

Table 1 shows which versions use which DWG file formats.

Table 1 AutoCAD Versions and DWG File Formats

AutoCAD Version

AutoCAD LT Version

Release Year

DWG File Format

AutoCAD 2005 ("A2k5")

AutoCAD LT 2005

2004

Acad 2004

AutoCAD 2004 ("A2k4")

AutoCAD LT 2004

2003

Acad 2004

AutoCAD 2002 ("A2k2")

AutoCAD LT 2002

2001

Acad 2000

AutoCAD 2000i ("A2ki")

AutoCAD LT 2000i

2000

Acad 2000

AutoCAD 2000 ("A2k")

AutoCAD LT 2000

1999

Acad 2000

AutoCAD Release 14 ("R14")

AutoCAD LT 98 & 97

1997

Acad R14

AutoCAD Release 13 ("R13")

AutoCAD LT 95

1994

Acad R13

AutoCAD Release 12 ("R12")

AutoCAD LT Release 2

1992

Acad R12

Working with AutoCAD is easier when your co-workers and colleagues in other companies all use the same version of AutoCAD and AutoCAD-related tools. That way, your DWG files, add-on tools, and even the details of your CAD knowledge can be mixed and matched among your workgroup and partners. In the real world, you'll probably work with people — at least in other companies — who use AutoCAD versions as old as Release 14.

Many programs claim to be DWG-compatible — that is, capable of converting data to and from AutoCAD's DWG format. But achieving this compatibility is a difficult thing to do well. Even a small error in file conversion can have results ranging in severity from annoying to appalling. If you exchange DWG files with people who use other CAD programs, be prepared to spend time finding and fixing translation problems.

AutoCAD 2005 — like AutoCAD 2004 — does not include an option for saving files to the R14 DWG file format. This omission creates problems if you want to send DWG files to clients or consultants who are still using AutoCAD Release 14. (And there are a surprising number of these folks — R14 was popular, and AutoCAD 2000 through 2004 didn't tempt everyone to upgrade.) To get around this limitation, you can save to the R12 DXF format, which AutoCAD Release 14 will open.

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