The answer is no. You can put a password on the electronic file but you can't open the file without the password. There is no way to put a password on a drawing so that It is only able to be opened as read only!.
I made this request to AUGI as part of their wish list items that are submitted to Autodesk.... Autodesk themselves call me to explain that my request was not even considered do to the fact that you can output a drawing in other media types..... (like DWF, PDF etc.). I heavily disagreed. It was a non-discussion though (I was surprised as how closed minded the individual was ).
I have customers that continually request autocad drawings of our product (so they can cut and past into their system drawings) problem is, once they do that they end up manipulating the product in some way. What they expect to get, is not what we designe and supply.... in turn they "forgot" to follow up with us on their modifications to our autocad drawings....
Frankly it ends up costing us money, as the customer is always right. So we bare the cost of making it right, like we did something wrong...
Lol..... yea, next thing you know, you are going to tell me the sky is blue...
I'm a designer/draftsman with 18yrs in, no one listens to me, I don't have an engineering degree.... at least that is the mentality here...
At a competitors office, a disgruntled employee, password locked (and protected) all the excel files on the network, then quit. They still haven't recovered all the data. Password protecting a file is a bad idea, unless you also provide a way to break the password (thereby making it useless).
PDF, DWF, TIF, JPG, PNG, etc. files are the better option. If the client pays for the DWG file, he should get an editable DWG.
Not the client but mostly other engineers who need to use your dwg files are using your files/property.
As a civil engineer I need to pass my files to surveyors, contractors etc who's arguments are that they just need to measure straight from my dwg (which is not possible with pdf).
You will always run the risk of disgruntled employees. No different then someone who works with cad drawings, modifying dimensional features on standard drawings that have already been checked and are certified correct. After all machined has been completed you find out that you are 0.003" under on a bearing journal dia. and have to scrap a $5,000.00 shaft. Check the ownership of the cad file under it's properties and permissions to find out that the last person to access the drawing quite 3 months ago. Even then, it's no guarantee that the individual who sent it to production did not open and save.
There are legal ramifications to action of disgruntled employees though. Including jail time for the individual who locked the files or maliciously altered drawings upon leaving a business. I can guarantee you that the majority of businesses have enough money to start the legalities... the disgruntled employee doesn't... it's funny how fast passwords are remembers or people fess up to wrong doing.
If during your install of your autodesk product you were asked for a master override password (as you mentioned) to undo issues. it could be the dept. standard or in the hands of the IT guys, used only when needed.... I would venture to say, you really would not use it that much.
Just my 2 cents..
Oh, I hear what your saying... I understand, in my experience it has been a tricky issue having people take measurments directly from someone elses cad files... funny how some people do not drawing acurately and fudge numbers so mathmatically it works out, they also use inaccurate scales or use geometry that is generic in nature... gets to be kinda dangerous.... we have an old timer here that generates just terrible drawings.... but he does his best and is extremely accurate mathmatically.... you just cannot take a number from his cad geometery!
You do have the option to publish to DWF... you can make measurements of the drawing thru design review....
All necessary dimensions should appear on the drawing, but that aside, we often collaborate with other suppliers and share files during that collaboration. beyond the use of the file, each party is responsible for the accuracy of their own files. Another supplier cannot screw up my contract drawing because I still have control of the issued (stamped) drawing.
There is a third party - cadlock - that will do what you want, but note locking a dwg is dangerous. One of the worst things autocad initiated was allowing password protection - for the very reason posted by another user here.
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