What's a DWG file?
A DWG file is the most widely used CAD design data format used by engineers, architects, surveyors and construction professionals.
It's the most popular 3D CAD file format, being the native file format for AutoCAD, the industry's first CAD application.
The DWG file is a compact binary file format that stores and describes the content of 2D and 3D design data and metadata: it also contains information such as drawings, 2D and 3D geometric data, maps, area plans, photos, images, BIM data, point cloud clusters and although native to AutoCAD, it can be opened and viewed with a wide variety of other CAD software too.
The DWG file extension derives from the contracted form of the term DraWinG, 'drawing'.
Opening and viewing DWG files without using a CAD software such as AutoCAD
DWG files are very popular and, in daily practice, it is often the case that DWG files are exchanged between engineers, architects, surveyors and other construction technicians.
If you're a construction sector professional, you may have come across DWG format CAD files but found it difficult to open them without having AutoCAD installed on your PC.
There are various software solutions that can open a DWG file, even without having the original CAD from which the DWG file was created; and some are even free!
DWG viewers: what they are, how do they work, which ones should you choose
In addition to the software with which the file was saved, you can also open a DWG file with other software that support vector files, called DWG viewers.
This basically means that you don't need to buy CAD software to view the DWG file content, but you can still do it by using one of these DWG viewers.
DWG viewers can be typical desktop applications, but there are also many online DWG viewers available too that work as cloud based services which are therefore accessible from a simple web browser.