XVL files.

The XVL file format displays high-quality 3D images and designs. It’s a smaller, more agile file type than average 3D formats, which can be difficult to share and view. Discover the pros, cons, and uses of the XVL format and learn to create your own. 

XVL marquee image

What you’ll learn.


  • What is an XVL file?
  • History of the XVL file
  • How to use an XVL file
  • Pros and cons of XVL files
  • How to open an XVL file
  • How to create and edit an XVL file
  • XVL files: frequently asked questions


What is an XVL file?

XVL stands for Extendable Virtual World Description Language. It’s a popular file format for sharing AutoCAD 3D designs in fields like engineering, manufacturing, and architecture. Because it’s a vector file, it displays images thanks to a complex formula of lines, points, and mathematical algorithms that make it infinitely expandable without becoming pixelated.


A single XVL file can accommodate more than a gigabyte of CAD data. It contains highly accurate geometry, as well as additional information like materials and assembly instructions. Users can even store designs from multiple CAD files and formats in a single XVL making it an extremely versatile design format.



History of the XVL file.

Lattice Technology launched the XVL file in 1997 to overcome the unwieldy file sizes associated with CAD drawings and designs.


Today, Toyota owns a significant stake in Lattice Technology and is also a major customer. Large manufacturers like Toyota can share designs from multiple CAD programs across different automotive fields — like car and train parts, designed on CATIA and CREO and ensure consistency.


While XVL is a proprietary file format to Lattice Technology, XVL viewers are free, so any user can open and view a file without paying licensing costs.  


How to use an XVL file.

A wide range of industries use XVL. Let’s take a look at why these files are so popular.


CAD file compression.

One of the main highlights of XVL files is their ability to compress a CAD design to a far smaller file. An XVL can reduce a design to 1% of its original size while maintaining all its essential data for design, assembly, service, parts, and catalogs.


These small file sizes help designers collaborate on projects, share them with stakeholders, and send them to customers.


Multi-CAD use.

The XVL file format allows users to convert and update design files from any 3D CAD format and even incorporate designs from different programs into a single XVL file. This is invaluable to large manufacturing and engineering organizations that work across different design fields.


You can share CAD designs with other users and authors who need or want to add instructions, interactive documents, and catalogs to the file. 


Discover more vector file types



Pros and cons of XVL files.

There are many XVL advantages and disadvantages to consider before using this file format.


Advantages of XVL files.

  • With their lossless compression, XVL files retain the same amount of data as an original CAD design, at a fraction of the file size.
  • Users can save files from diverse CAD programs as XVL to share, publish, and collaborate. These include native formats for CATIA, CREO, SOLIDWORKS, NX, and Autodesk Inventor.
  • You can easily view XVLs on different operating systems, web browsers, and programs with an XVL viewer.


Disadvantages of XVL files.

  • While your XVL file may be far smaller than the original CAD design, it will still take up more space on your computer than most raster file types. 
  • To view and edit XVL files, you’ll need to download specialist XVL players, converters, and studio programs. 



How to open an XVL file.

Follow these simple steps to open an XVL file on Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. 


  1. Open Adobe Acrobat.
  2. Click File > Open.
  3. Select your XVL file from your computer.
  4. Select Open.



How to create and edit an XVL file.

To create an XVL file in Autodesk Inventor, follow these simple steps:


  1. Download the XVL Converter Autodesk Plug-in.
  2. Save your original CAD file to XVL format. 
  3. Share your XVL as a zipped file and open it with your chosen program. 



XVL files: frequently asked questions.

What is XVL Player?

XVL Player is Lattice Technology’s proprietary XVL file viewer. It’s a free tool that provides broad viewing compatibility across a range of programs.


What is XVL Studio?

XVL Studio is another Lattice Technology tool that allows users to author and edit XVL files converted from almost any CAD design. It offers specific functionality for annotation, VR, and for creating technical documents and drawings.


Is an XVL file raster or vector?

Like all CAD file types, XVL is a vector file — meaning it’s made up of complex mathematical algorithms, graphs, lines, and points. Not only does that make it infinitely expandable with no loss to resolution, but it also makes it a valuable tool for complex designs. Raster file types use a set number of colored pixels and are more common in digital photography.


Read more about the differences between raster and vector files


What’s the difference between an XVL and a DWF?

As with XVL, you can use DWF files to share CAD designs. However, DWFs simplify the original CAD files through lossless compression which means they don’t store as much detail as an XVL.


What’s the difference between an XVL and DWG?

A DWG file is a native format for Autodesk programs. It’s an uncompressed CAD design with a large file size. Often, a DWG file will be compressed and shared as an XVL file.


What is Lattice Technology?

Founded in 1997, Lattice Technology is the creator of the XVL file. The company’s headquarters are in Tokyo, Japan.

Learn more about similar file types to XVLs.

DWF file image

DWF files

Check out this alternative format for compressing and sharing CAD files.

DWG file image

DWG files

Find out more about these large, original, and uncompressed CAD files.

STL file image

STL files

Discover more about this common vector file format for 3D printing.

DWX file image

DWX files

Learn about a CAD design saved in a secure format.

Get Adobe Illustrator

Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.

7 days free, then US$20.99/mo.