Thursday, August 13, 2009

Differences between Navisworks File Formats

This is a common question I get…what’s the difference between the 3 Navisworks file formats - NWC, NWF and NWD?  Here’s how I typically explain the differences…

NWC – This is sometimes also called the Cache file.  These files can only be read into Navisworks and Navisworks cannot export out or be saved as a NWC.  NWC  is the format that is typically created (exported) from products like Revit and AutoCAD, and also is created automatically when Navisworks opens up a DWG directly.  When you open a DWG, a NWC is created and is used the next time the Navisworks project is opened unless the DWG is newer.  If the DWG isn’t newer, then the NWC is used and loads much quicker.

NWF – This is the project file.  The NWF contains all of the Navisworks data and pointers to the files that are loaded.  Think of it this way (from the world of AutoCAD)…NWF is the sheet file and that sheet file contains a bunch of XREF’s, which are the loaded (appended) files.  The content that is saved in an NWF are things like redlines, saved viewpoints, materials, etc.  Again, this is your project/working file…this is the file you use daily to update info and reload updates from the linked/appended files.

NWD – This is the equivalent of a DWF or PDF.  Typically, you take your project file (NWF) and publish it to NWD…which removes all links and keeps everything in the NWD.  Again, to relate it back to AutoCAD…it’s like binding the XREF’s in the sheet file.  This allows the ability to share a project with someone externally without having to send all of the linked/appended files.  A NWD can be opened with any Navisworks program, especially Freedom Viewer.


  1. Many thanks.
    This helps a lot.

  2. Dwayne,
    Trying to create a Project .nwf with multiple levels (floors) and multiple .dwgs (rooms) in each level. What I want to achieve is a Selection Tree in Manage that just lists the Levels and if I want to I can open/expand that Level to select the individual rooms. Any suggestion on how to create this? If I make an .nwf of the rooms and call it Level 01, when I append it into a Base Model .nwf file the Selection Tree shows all the rooms (.dwgs) for Level 1 - not the Level 01 .nwf....

  3. Instead of Appending a Level 01.nwf, create a NWD of your Level 01.nwf and Append the NWD into your Base Model.nwf. This will show Level 01 in the selection tree, then allow you to expand the NWD to see everything else.