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Easily inspect DXF files with de-caff DXF Viewer

29 August 2014, Mike Williams

DXF is a very popular CAD file format which has been around since 1982, so you might expect there to be plenty of good viewers around by now.

Unfortunately, the reality is very different. DXF can be complex, and while there are free viewers to be found, they’re generally not much use.

We didn’t have much hope for de-caff DXF Viewer, then. But it didn’t take long to realise this program was a little different.

This DXF Viewer doesn’t just leave you guessing what it can and can’t do, for instance. The program website actually lists the entities it supports (all the basics, but not so much from AutoCAD R13/ 2013), so if you have specific needs then you can check them in seconds.

The viewer is convenient to use, too, arriving in the form of a 2MB Jar file which should run on any system with Java 6 or later.

You can view your DXF file in many ways

The developer hasn’t wasted any time on building a flashy interface, but that’s fine with us: just click File > Open, browse to your target DXF and it should open.

Our test files were all displayed correctly, and proved easy to navigate. Clicking and dragging with the mouse spins the model, rotating the mouse wheel zooms in and out, and a toolbar offers plenty of other zoom, rotation and viewing options.

That’s probably already enough for a novice user, but if you’re interested in the file or model structure then there’s much more to explore. Selecting the Layers tab on the right lists the model’s layers and makes it easy to turn them on and off individually. Clicking View > Model displays thumbnails of the various named views, and the DXF Tree allows you to zoom in on individual elements, perhaps one of the entities, and inspect its properties in-depth.

Once you’ve found the view you need, solid export options then allow you to save that image as a BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, PDF, Postscript or SVG file.

As with any DXF file viewer, there are no guarantees. If your target files make heavy use of AutoCAD’s encrypted entities or other recent features then the program may not tell you very much.

We found de-caff DXF Viewer delivered great results with simpler drawings, though, and its various viewing modes and export options are another plus. If you ever need to inspect a DXF then this is the program we’d try first.

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