Back to the Drawing Board

Importing and Exporting DXF Files

AutoCAD DXF (Drawing Interchange Format) is a data format that was developed by Autodesk to facilitate the exchange of data between CAD applications. Back to the Drawing Board can import 2D data from DXF files created by AutoCAD or other applications and can export drawing files to DXF for use in these applications.

Importing DXF files

DXF files from other applications can be imported into Back to the Drawing Board by selecting the Open a drawing tile in the Home view or by selecting the Open tool under File in the top app bar.

Exporting DXF files

Your current drawing can be exported to DXF using the Export tool under File in the top app bar.


There are some fundamental differences between AutoCAD drawings and Back to the Drawing Board drawings.

3D data
Back to the Drawing Board currently supports only 2D data. Any 3D data in a DXF file will be ignored on import.
Text layout
Back to the Drawing Board uses OpenType fonts to render text objects. While these fonts produce exceptional quality text on printed documents, the layout characteristics are fairly rigid. AutoCAD drawings can include text drawn with vector fonts that can be scaled to any horizontal width. As a result, the width and layout of text strings in imported documents may not match the original.
Back to the Drawing Board does not support AutoCAD viewports. Drawing data displayed in AutoCAD viewports may not appear in the same location when imported.
Most objects will appear as expected when converted, however the underlying object may not be converted literally. For example, dimensions should be rendered correctly after import or export but they will be come across as simple lines and text instead of native dimension entities.
Drawing extents
AutoCAD drawings are typically created in real-world coordinates and scaled to fit on an output device at the time they are printed. Back to the Drawing Board uses a different metaphor where a drawing is considered to be a document of a particular printed size that contains data that is drawn in real-world coordinates. As a result, AutoCAD has no problem handling data which is outside of the drawing sheet. Back to the Drawing Board expects all drawing objects to reside in the document's coordinate space.
Layers and other properties
Back to the Drawing Board and AutoCAD have very similar concepts and rules concerning layers, colors and line types, however there are some subtle differences. One example is the AutoCAD concept of "color by block" when overriding layer colors. Back to the Drawing Board achieves a similar result by extending the concept of "color by layer." In most cases, the results are the same but there will be times when an object in a symbol instance will be a different color after conversion.
Other differences
There have been numerous releases of AutoCAD and DXF over the years. There are also many third-party applications that use the DXF format. We certainly haven't had a chance to test them all. If you have problems converting DXF files we would be very interested in analyzing them so that we can improve our interoperability in future releases. If you're willing to share your problematic DXF files, please send them to us at