DXF Tags

A Drawing Interchange File is simply an ASCII text file with a file type of .dxf and special formatted text. The basic file structure are DXF tags, a DXF tag consist of a DXF group code as an integer value on its own line and a the DXF value on the following line. In the ezdxf documentation DXF tags will be written as (group code, value).

Group codes are indicating the value type:

Group Code Value Type
0-9 String (with the introduction of extended symbol names in DXF R2000, the 255-character limit has been increased to 2049 single-byte characters not including the newline at the end of the line)
10-39 Double precision 3D point value
40-59 Double-precision floating-point value
40-59 Double-precision floating-point value
60-79 16-bit integer value
90-99 32-bit integer value
100 String (255-character maximum, less for Unicode strings)
102 String (255-character maximum, less for Unicode strings)
105 String representing hexadecimal (hex) handle value
110-119 Double precision floating-point value
120-129 Double precision floating-point value
130-139 Double precision floating-point value
140-149 Double precision scalar floating-point value
160-169 64-bit integer value
170-179 16-bit integer value
210-239 Double-precision floating-point value
270-279 16-bit integer value
280-289 16-bit integer value
290-299 Boolean flag value
300-309 Arbitrary text string
310-319 String representing hex value of binary chunk
320-329 String representing hex handle value
330-369 String representing hex object IDs
370-379 16-bit integer value
380-389 16-bit integer value
390-399 String representing hex handle value
400-409 16-bit integer value
410-419 String
420-429 32-bit integer value
430-439 String
440-449 32-bit integer value
450-459 Long
460-469 Double-precision floating-point value
470-479 String
480-481 String representing hex handle value
999 Comment (string)
1000-1009 String (same limits as indicated with 0-9 code range)
1010-1059 Double-precision floating-point value
1060-1070 16-bit integer value
1071 32-bit integer value

Explanation for some important group codes:

Group Code Meaning
0 DXF structure tag, entity start/end or table entries
1 The primary text value for an entity
2 A name: Attribute tag, Block name, and so on. Also used to identify a DXF section or table name.
3-4 Other textual or name values
5 Entity handle expressed as a hex string (fixed)
6 Line type name (fixed)
7 Text style name (fixed)
8 Layer name (fixed)
9 Variable name identifier (used only in HEADER section of the DXF file)
10 Primary X coordinate (start point of a Line or Text entity, center of a Circle, etc.)
11-18 Other X coordinates
20 Primary Y coordinate. 2n values always correspond to 1n values and immediately follow them in the file (expected by ezdxf!)
21-28 Other Y coordinates
30 Primary Z coordinate. 3n values always correspond to 1n and 2n values and immediately follow them in the file (expected by ezdxf!)
31-38 Other Z coordinates
39 This entity’s thickness if nonzero (fixed)
40-48 Float values (text height, scale factors, etc.)
49 Repeated value - multiple 49 groups may appear in one entity for variable length tables (such as the dash lengths in the LTYPE table). A 7x group always appears before the first 49 group to specify the table length
50-58 Angles
62 Color number (fixed)
66 “Entities follow” flag (fixed), only in INSERT and POLYLINE entities
67 Identifies whether entity is in model space or paper space
68 Identifies whether viewport is on but fully off screen, is not active, or is off
69 Viewport identification number
70-78 Integer values such as repeat counts, flag bits, or modes
210, 220, 230 X, Y, and Z components of extrusion direction (fixed)

For explanation of all group codes see: DXF Group Codes in Numerical Order Reference provided by Autodesk

Extended Data

Extended data (XDATA) is created by AutoLISP or ObjectARX applications but any other application like ezdxf can also define XDATA. If an entity contains extended data, it follows the entity’s normal definition data.

But extended group codes (>=1000) can appear before the XDATA section, an example is the BLOCKBASEPOINTPARAMETER entity in AutoCAD Civil 3D or AutoCAD Map 3D.

Group Code Description
1000 Strings in extended data can be up to 255 bytes long (with the 256th byte reserved for the null character)
1001 (fixed) Registered application name (ASCII string up to 31 bytes long) for XDATA
1002 (fixed) An extended data control string can be either “{”or “}”. These braces enable applications to organize their data by subdividing the data into lists. Lists can be nested.
1003 Name of the layer associated with the extended data
1004 Binary data is organized into variable-length chunks. The maximum length of each chunk is 127 bytes. In ASCII DXF files, binary data is represented as a string of hexadecimal digits, two per binary byte
1005 Database Handle of entities in the drawing database, see also: About 1005 Group Codes
1010, 1020, 1030 Three real values, in the order X, Y, Z. They can be used as a point or vector record.
1011, 1021, 1031 Unlike a simple 3D point, the world space coordinates are moved, scaled, rotated, mirrored, and stretched along with the parent entity to which the extended data belongs.
1012, 1012, 1022 Also a 3D point that is scaled, rotated, and mirrored along with the parent (but is not moved or stretched)
1013, 1023, 1033 Also a 3D point that is scaled, rotated, and mirrored along with the parent (but is not moved or stretched)
1040 A real value
1041 Distance, a real value that is scaled along with the parent entity
1042 Scale Factor, also a real value that is scaled along with the parent. The difference between a distance and a scale factor is application-defined
1070 A 16-bit integer (signed or unsigned)
1071 A 32-bit signed (long) integer

The (1001, ...) tag indicates the beginning of extended data. In contrast to normal entity data, with extended data the same group code can appear multiple times, and order is important.

Extended data is grouped by registered application name. Each registered application group begins with a (1001, APPID) tag, with the application name as APPID string value. Registered application names correspond to APPID symbol table entries.

An application can use as many APPID names as needed. APPID names are permanent, although they can be purged if they aren’t currently used in the drawing. Each APPID name can have no more than one data group attached to each entity. Within an application group, the sequence of extended data groups and their meaning is defined by the application.

String Value Encoding

String values stored in a DXF file is plain ASCII or UTF-8, AutoCAD also supports CIF (Common Interchange Format) and MIF (Maker Interchange Format) encoding. The UTF-8 format is only supported in DXF R2007 and later.

ezdxf on import converts all strings into Python unicode strings without encoding or decoding CIF/MIF.

String values containing Unicode characters are represented with control character sequences.

For example, ‘TESTU+7F3AU+4E4FU+89E3U+91CAU+6B63THISU+56FE’

To support the DXF unicode encoding ezdxf registers an encoding codec dxfbackslashreplace, defined in ezdxf.lldxf.encoding().

String values can be stored with these dxf group codes:

  • 0 - 9
  • 100 - 101
  • 300 - 309
  • 410 - 419
  • 430 - 439
  • 470 - 479
  • 999 - 1003

Multi Tag Text (MTEXT)

If the text string is less than 250 characters, all characters appear in tag (1, ...). If the text string is greater than 250 characters, the string is divided into 250-character chunks, which appear in one or more (3, ...) tags. If (3, ...) tags are used, the last group is a (1, ...) tag and has fewer than 250 characters:

... TwoHundredAndFifty Characters ....
... TwoHundredAndFifty Characters ....
less than TwoHundredAndFifty Characters

As far I know this is only supported by the MTEXT entity.

Tag Structure DXF R13 and later

With the introduction of DXF R13 Autodesk added additional group codes and DXF tag structures to the DXF Standard.

Subclass Markers

Subclass markers (100, Subclass Name) divides DXF objects into several sections. Group codes can be reused in different sections. A subclass ends with the following subclass marker or at the beginning of xdata or the end of the object. See Subclass Marker Example in the DXF Reference.

Extension Dictionary

The extension dictionary is an optional sequence that stores the handle of a dictionary object that belongs to the current object, which in turn may contain entries. This facility allows attachment of arbitrary database objects to any database object. Any object or entity may have this section.

The extension dictionary tag sequence:

Hard-owner ID/handle to owner dictionary

Persistent Reactors

Persistent reactors are an optional sequence that stores object handles of objects registering themselves as reactors on the current object. Any object or entity may have this section.

The persistent reactors tag sequence:

first Soft-pointer ID/handle to owner dictionary
second Soft-pointer ID/handle to owner dictionary

Application-Defined Codes

Starting at DXF R13, DXF objects can contain application-defined codes outside of XDATA. This application-defined codes can contain any tag except (0, ...) and (102, '{...'). “{YOURAPPID” means the APPID string with an preceding “{“. The application defined data tag sequence:


(102, 'YOURAPPID}') is also a valid closing tag:


All groups defined with a beginning (102, ...) appear in the DXF reference before the first subclass marker, I don’t know if these groups can appear after the first or any subclass marker. ezdxf accepts them at any position, and by default ezdxf adds new app data in front of the first subclass marker to the first tag section of an DXF object.

Exception XRECORD: Tags with group code 102 and a value string without a preceding “{” or the scheme “YOURAPPID}”, should be treated as usual group codes.