Autodesk Design Review is now Free

Let me begin by saying that I know less about design review software than…..anyone in the world. What I can tell you is I regularly watch developers bring in several rain forests worth of rolled-up e-size bundles (often a push-cart full) to our county’s building inspection/plan review/etc. agencies, often having to return again with another rain forest on their backs if they had a non-compliant toilet lid in the first set of plans. I can also say that I’ve had the pleasure of trying to get some old plans brought back from a warehouse someplace for a project with a local university, and that was so horrendously difficult that I don’t think anybody had ever attempted it before (at least none of the five people I talked to could figure out exactly how to do it). I ended up with a truckload of paper for each building, when what I really needed was about five sheets of paper.

So, I’m all about design review software and digital submittals, and I don’t care whether it takes a bazillion dollars and proprietary software to get there.

It may take some proprietary software, but not necessarily the bazillion dollars. Autodesk has released Design Review 2007 (formerly DWF Composer) for free.*

Design Review lets users review, markup, and share 2D and 3D plans/models in their DWF format - an open standard - though it also imports DXF and DWG files. It provides for precise measurements with software measurement tools, project tracking, integrating other documents into the project, concise markup and annotation tools, including redline, freehand, stamping, and custom symbols tools, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Sure, Autodesk is giving this out for free with the idea of having you buy all sorts of other tools it will integrate with. Vendor lock-in isn’t as big of an issue with the DWF format being an open standard, however, and if you are watching a forest of paper come through the door with every plan, it might be worth a look.

*It was originally $200 a license, but they planned on making Design Review 2008 free, and due to some scheduling and billing issues, they decided to go ahead and shell out 2007 for free until 2008 is released in Aprilish 2007.