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DXF or DWG file import in Affinity Designer

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My company is looking at purchasing a new photo/vector suite for all our locations, and Affinity is a major contender, largely due to their pricing structure (buy to own, not "subscribe") and their modern, easy to learn UI. However, there's two points holding us back:

  1.  DXF import/export is absolutely mandatory. We often convert sketches or images to lineart, and convert it to DXF for running CNC machines. An absolute must have feature in this industry.
  2. No AI exporting ability. On rare occasions, we need to modify and AI file provided by a customer, and send it back to them for verification. Not having this ability would be a nuisance, but workable. I understand that Adobe owns the rights to that file format, and thusly, Serif would be intruding on patent rights to include such capability in their software. However, I feel that if Designer supported export plugins, the community is big enough that there would be 3rd party solutions to this problem, that Serif would not be responsible to.

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13 hours ago, Display Name. said:

Its March 2020 now, Affinity Designer update 1.8.1... Still no .dxf export possible?!

When can we expect this to happen?

Hello @Display Name.,

welcome to the forum. In case you did not read this entire thread before posting I want to point you to the following statement (from page 5):

In other words it is not likely to see this feature in the 1.X line of the software. But this is just a guess from my side based on the statement above. For sure it will not be available within a short time since it is not part of the current beta versions. Only features that are in beta are close to be included in the next update.

Cheers,
d.


Affinity Designer 1.8.5 (beta 1.9.0.734)   |   Affinity Photo 1.8.5 (beta 1.9.0.734)   |   Affinity Publisher 1.8.5 (beta 1.9.0.742)
Affinity Designer for iPad 1.8.4   |   Affinity Photo for iPad 1.8.4

Windows 10 (1809) 64-bit - Core i7 - 16GB - Intel HD Graphics 4600 & NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M
iPad pro 9.7" + Apple Pencil

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Importing DXF format exported from CAD programs in order to create visually appealing commercial artwork suitable for product marketing is squarely within the purview of general-purpose vector-based mainstream 2D illustration and design programs.

And that's why most competing programs provide for it.

And that's why I fully expect that Affinity will also provide for it—when the time is right from a development standpoint—which is entirely and appropriately at the discretion of the company which owns and develops the program.

Like many other desired things, DXF is simply not, at present, at the top of the development priority list, nor should it be. It's not even at the top of the wish lists of most users. And yes, I say this as a technical illustrator.

Affinity is still very much a work-in-progress, and there is still much work of a more foundational nature that needs to be done or tuned.

Meanwhile, there are multiple online and open-source DXF converters. Claiming that Affinity is 'un-usable' is just as silly in this context as it is in any of the threads demanding far more broadly-desired features.

JET
 

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On ‎2‎/‎27‎/‎2020 at 9:34 PM, idealman said:

On rare occasions, we need to modify and AI file provided by a customer, and send it back to them for verification.

It's a good thing those occasions are rare. I would not do that with any drawing program other than Illustrator, regardless of whether the other program can Save As… .ai format. Moreover, if I were the customer, I would utterly disallow it.

For example: CorelDraw can Save As… .ai. But that doesn't make it appropriate for use as a round-trip editor in a workflow that requires starting and ending with a native Illustrator file.

The very same goes for the inverse situation: Illustrator can 'open' a CorelDraw file. (It cannot export a .cdr file). But were I a customer creating original .cdr files and then sending them to a service provider for round-trip editing, I certainly would not allow that provider to use Illustrator for that workflow.

Each application has its own proprietary native constructs which differ from corresponding constructs in competing programs. Merely having Save As… or Export filters for competing native file formats doesn't change that.

What if the CorelDraw file contains a native Contour object? Or a native Cone grad? Illustrator doesn't know what to do with those. What if the Illustrator file contains live Pattern Brush elements? CorelDraw doesn't know what to do with those.

Native file formats are not the same thing as mere import and export filters. Cross-program filters have to try to re-interpret foreign constructs into their own nearest-corresponding native constructs or (quite commonly) de-construct them into more basic constructs. Depending on workflows like you describe is begging for problems.

Not being able to export to .ai format is a non-issue. After all, even Adobe likes to claim that PDF is 'Illustrator's native format.'

Save your Affinity file as PDF or SVG. Illustrator can open those. And good luck with that, too, in a round-trip editing workflow.

JET

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2 hours ago, JET_Affinity said:

Importing DXF format exported from CAD programs in order to create visually appealing commercial artwork suitable for product marketing is squarely within the purview of general-purpose vector-based mainstream 2D illustration and design programs.

And that's why most competing programs provide for it.

And that's why I fully expect that Affinity will also provide for it—when the time is right from a development standpoint—which is entirely and appropriately at the discretion of the company which owns and develops the program.

Like many other desired things, DXF is simply not, at present, at the top of the development priority list, nor should it be. It's not even at the top of the wish lists of most users. And yes, I say this as a technical illustrator.

Affinity is still very much a work-in-progress, and there is still much work of a more foundational nature that needs to be done or tuned.

Meanwhile, there are multiple online and open-source DXF converters. Claiming that Affinity is 'un-usable' is just as silly in this context as it is in any of the threads demanding far more broadly-desired features.

JET
 

As moving designs between several different CAD/CAM programs using DXF as the standard interchange format is a fundamental and essential part of my workflow, it proved to be too much of a headache to use external format converters (which usually mangle the drawing in the process), and in the end I went back to the more mature vector drawing program I was using before I tried out Affinity. As I'm no longer an Affinity user I don't know what "more foundational" deficiencies you are hinting at, but perhaps if Affinity is at as such a primitive stage of development, it should still be in beta and not a commercial product with version number 1.8.whatever.

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Posted (edited)

Yep, we need this too. We've recently upgraded CAM software for our laser cutter, the new software doesn't play well with Inkscape's DXF output. I've had a friend send me DXF from Illustrator and it works, but we need to use it maybe only once or twice a month so not real keen to pay the monthly subscription for Illustrator.

I've already purchased Designer for personal use, employer would be happy to pay again for DXF import / export.

Edited by TheSpiceIsLife

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Greetings. Love your software!

Simply wanted to add my name to the list of people who would like to see .dxf support, especially the ability to make / display scaled dimensions. I dropped Corel for Affinity, I rave about your software to all who are still using other suites.

Can't wait for your video editor. 

Eskimo Tom

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Just adding my support for this. Given the plethora of free SVG to DXF converters available online it feels like this should be a very simple thing to add to the list of file types that can be imported and exported. I frequently use Affinity in my CAD and CNC workflows and the extra round trip to online converters a real pain.

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We need to keep this topic live, so here is my two cents  :) I have recently bought complete Affinity software with the intention to stop my Adobe CC subscription. So far, so good. But as other people above I often work with CNC cutter. My is Silhoulete plotter and the software only supports DXF import.

I think I can survive with online converters, but direct support in Affinity bundle would really be welcome. I recently convinced whole pre-press studio to take a look at the bundle. They have old Adobe CS suite and they consider shifting to Affinity too. Also, DXF support for daily use is a mandatory there. By the way, you really make a good impression by Furrier Transform filtr in Photo, they often scan old newspaper images and this feature is lifesaver for them...

 

So, please! Add DXF support ❤️

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I'm an architect looking for an alternative for Adobe CC and I love the ambition of the Affinity suite of design software and the predictable, one-time purchase price model. Importing DXF files (and being able to select curves based on properties such as colour, linewheight, fill colour, etc) are the features that keeps me attached to Adobe.

Hope to see support for DXF in the near future! Keep up the good work! ❤️

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Today I had to do what I hoped not to do.. start the subscription of Adobe Illustrator again.. only because need the DXF import and export. 
 

I have tried some other options as Inkscape and others, but they really suck.. in my opinion. 
 

hope this DXF feature will be here soon! 

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I'd also like to request DWG/DXF support as there are designers who work in commercial printing, engineering, construction, planning, environment (and more) who needs CAD compability to make Affinity Designer a desirable alternative. The feature would support LOTS of jobs.

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Posted (edited)

Signed up to add my name to this request...

Trust me, nearly every architect and architecture student uses Illustrator to give their AutoCAD .dwg proper lineweights and hatches, and it's not because Illustrator does this well. It doesn't.
Please give me an excuse to switch. I've already abandoned PS and ID for Affinity products, please help me cut the Creative Suite cord!

I had the software loaded in my cart today until I came here to discover it wouldn't do this. I just can't reasonably buy it without it.

Thank you thank you in advance.

PS if anyone has tips on a workflow even with an intermediary I'm all ears...

Edited by pragmatist

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Posted (edited)
On 3/10/2020 at 8:18 AM, JET_Affinity said:

Meanwhile, there are multiple online and open-source DXF converters. Claiming that Affinity is 'un-usable' is just as silly in this context as it is in any of the threads demanding far more broadly-desired features.
 

This is true, there are a few online & offline DXF converters. HOWEVER, most of them don't actually work that well, some screw with the scale, and many of them don't even output a proper DXF file, which is required when importing into CAD/CAM software such as Siemen's NX suite, and especially critical when loading directly onto a CNC machine. Adobe Illustrator excels at this: it's a single step process to import/export DXF files, there are no additional conversion/import processes that can mess up scales, layers, and add in-explainable flaws... what you see in the editor is what you're going to get 98% of the time. When a conversion is not handled natively, such as when you export a file, re-import into an external converter, then export to a DXF file... well, in addition to the additional time required, you explained the issues with that well in your second post, which follows:

On 3/10/2020 at 8:50 AM, JET_Affinity said:

It's a good thing those occasions are rare. I would not do that with any drawing program other than Illustrator, regardless of whether the other program can Save As… .ai format. Moreover, if I were the customer, I would utterly disallow it.

For example: CorelDraw can Save As… .ai. But that doesn't make it appropriate for use as a round-trip editor in a workflow that requires starting and ending with a native Illustrator file.

The very same goes for the inverse situation: Illustrator can 'open' a CorelDraw file. (It cannot export a .cdr file). But were I a customer creating original .cdr files and then sending them to a service provider for round-trip editing, I certainly would not allow that provider to use Illustrator for that workflow.

Each application has its own proprietary native constructs which differ from corresponding constructs in competing programs. Merely having Save As… or Export filters for competing native file formats doesn't change that.

What if the CorelDraw file contains a native Contour object? Or a native Cone grad? Illustrator doesn't know what to do with those. What if the Illustrator file contains live Pattern Brush elements? CorelDraw doesn't know what to do with those.

Native file formats are not the same thing as mere import and export filters. Cross-program filters have to try to re-interpret foreign constructs into their own nearest-corresponding native constructs or (quite commonly) de-construct them into more basic constructs. Depending on workflows like you describe is begging for problems.

Not being able to export to .ai format is a non-issue. After all, even Adobe likes to claim that PDF is 'Illustrator's native format.'

Save your Affinity file as PDF or SVG. Illustrator can open those. And good luck with that, too, in a round-trip editing workflow.

And you're right; exporting to a non-native file format and expecting the results to be accurate when opened in a different program is foolish, especially for the purposes of proof-reading. However, there are plenty circumstances where it would be nice to be able to do that, even knowing the results may not be perfect, at least for a while. And no, don't know if you've tried exporting as PDF and importing in the AI, but the results are so bad on any moderately complex vector design, it's not even worth considering that as a valid option.

I could go on, but anyhoo we all get the gist, .AI export would be a great nice to have. Exporting to DXF... well, there really is no reliable solution that I'm aware of at the moment that can provide a guaranteed accurate result... aside from native support by Designer. There is a HUGE market out there for DXF support, as shown by this thread. 

I come from the manufacturing side of things, both small scale and large scale... there are plenty companies out there that begrudgingly own a subscription to Adobe Illustrator, solely for the purpose of importing a graphics file provided by a customer, sketching out the outlines, and exporting it as a DXF to be imported into CAD/CAM software or directly into a CNC machine. Designer is poised to be a perfect solution for thousands of small businesses that don't care about all the bells and whistles of AI, and just need something that can reliably generate outlines, manually correct them as needed & convert them to DXF, without breaking the bank.

Edited by idealman
better phrasing

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I have a friend who has a CNC Plasma cutting table, its 5 feet by 10 feet.  Currently he's using it to build flat brackets for the specialty automotive market. He's not CAD-savvy and uses Seimens free Solidworks program to make simple part shapes.  We are both gear heads LOL, and I asked him if he could cut a flat pattern for a radiator shroud.  Thats the tray/box like thing behind the radiator where the fan goes.  I'm not very CAD savvy myself, so I created a detailed dimensional drawing in VISIO, and saved it as a PDF.  I was also able to extract the main piece without dimensions and then save that to DWG in Visio.  What is pretty cool is that I emailed him the files and he was able to open and edit my DWG-saved file.  We haven't cut the shape yet, there's a bit of a logistical problem with him being 100 miles away, but here's an image of my two drawings, and a quick "Illustration" I created in Photoshop plus some test-fit pix. Only used PS because I haven't yet grasped all the image manipulation aspects of Affinity Photo. Just for kicks, I have built a few prototypes to check for fit and dimensional reference, and its worked out pretty good.

Bottom line is that I think DXF and DWG... being the world standard for CAD should get the utmost consideration. I haven't looked at Affinity Designer, but if I could create a component design in Affinity Designer that could be exported as a DXF/DWG I'm halfway on board. Getting Affinity to import/export DXF, DWG, and CDR... well, ca-ching, there goes my credit card.  Please work on this.

Sketch-Prespective-1.jpg

MyShroudSample-01.jpg

TestFit-5534.jpg

MyShroud-XDRev3-041420.pdf MyShroud-XX-Rev4-041420.dwg

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+1 here

Please add dxf/dwg import, maintaining the dwg layers.

This is THE killer feature architects and designers miss in Affintiy Designer. I know it from myself and my friends.

 

 

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