It’s easy to tell whether your PDF file is a raster or vector format by viewing it in Adobe Acrobat. This is important since the two file types are converted differently. Vector PDF files are best transformed through data extraction. This is accurate and precise and involves minimal manual clean-up. Raster PDF files are traced since there is no data to extract. This is an approximation and requires operator involvement as well as manual clean-up. Visual Integrity is specialized in tools for vector conversion and will produce high-quality, accurate drawings from vector PDF input. If a raster PDF or scanned drawing is run through our software, we will turn the flat image into a tracing layer for manual work-up.
If you need to:
- Use PDF in a CAD/CAM program, look at pdf2cad, PDFin for AutoCAD, pdf2bricscad, PDF Import for DraftSight, PDFImport for ProgeCAD.
- Open and edit PDF diagrams in Visio, check out Insert PDF for Visio or pdf2picture
- Transform a PDF page into an editable PowerPoint slide, try Insert PDF in PowerPoint
- Work with PDF-based graphics such as logos, drawings, diagrams and charts, look at pdf2picture
- Convert PDF to image formats, try pdf2picture
- Convert a scanned drawing to an editable file, try the tracing tools in Adobe Illustrator or search on-line for “raster-to-vector” solutions
- Add PDF support to an application or automate a PDF conversion or creation process, check out our Developer Center
Test #1 – The Blue Test
Start by opening your PDF file with Acrobat or Acrobat Reader. Click anywhere on the drawing. If it turns blue, it’s a scanned drawing. Depending on the quality of the scan, you may have some success with a raster-to-vector tool. Alternatives are to manually redraw it or outsource it to be redrawn by a service bureau.
Test #2 – The Zoom Test
Open your PDF file with Acrobat or Acrobat Reader. Use the Magnifying Control to zoom in on a detailed section of the file. At 100-150%, it may be hard to tell the difference. Continue zooming until you are at a magnification greater than 400%.
The section of the picture should be magnified on your screen and it should become apparent whether you have a vector or raster PDF file. The Vector PDF file will look clear and smooth at any resolution while the raster PDF will become dirtier and grainier the more it’s zoomed. In the example below, the section is enlarged 400%. Sometimes, it’s necessary to magnify the file more than 1000% when it’s a high-res scan to determine the file type.
There are two types of PDF files – raster PDF and vector PDF. If your drawing will not convert, it is probably a scanned drawing saved as a raster PDF file. Unfortunately, there is no useful data in a raster PDF file for us to extract about the objects or text. When a drawing is scanned, it is reduced to a flat image, comparable to a snapshot or a photocopy. There’s nothing you can do except trace over it manually or with tracing software (raster-to-vector software). One way or another, you need to recreate it.
Our software is designed to convert vector PDF files. These files are created on computers using save, export, print-to-file, etc. These vector PDF files contain a rich data set and all the information we need to accurately extract the drawing and render it in a format Visio or AutoCAD, etc can digest.
For comparison sake, below is a snip of a raster PDF file at 500% where the characteristic “jagginess” or pixelation of raster PDF files can easily be seen. Below it is a snip of a vector PDF file which is remarkably smooth and clear even though it has also been zoomed to 500%. This visual method is a very easy and accurate way to determine if your PDF file is a raster or vector. Most people get both types of files so pdf2cad or pdf2picture may be useful for some of your files.
A sample vector PDF file at 500% – notice how smooth the lines are and how clear the text is. This type of file is best converted with vector-to-vector software like pdf2cad and pdf2picture.
Open and Ungroup PDF files in Visio
To edit PDF drawings in Visio, you can choose between Insert PDF, a handy Visio add-in, or one of our desktop programs, pdf2picture or PDF FLY. The desktop apps will give you more advanced control over conversion options while Insert PDF will quickly open the PDF file, ready to edit, right on a Visio page.
Both pdf2picture and PDF FLY can create files that Visio can import using the native Windows vector graphic format (WMF). It’s also possible for Visio to open DXF and SVG files generated by Visual Integrity’s programs although we find that WMF yields the best results in most instances.
Steps for using PDF in Visio.
Perform the following steps for using PDF in Visio. Screenshots are based on pdf2picture. Skip Step 1 if using the Insert PDF add-in.
1. Open the file using one of the methods below:
- Choose Open, File and then select File Type: Windows Metafile from the drop-down menu. It’s the last choice at the bottom of the “File Types” drop-down. Once you see your file on-screen, you are ready to move to Step #2.
- Alternatively, if you want to import the file into an existing document or presentation, open that file and select Insert Picture…., From File and choose the file from your hard drive or network file system
2. You should now see the converted drawing on your screen. Important! The drawing is imported as one grouped object and needs to be ungrouped if you wish to edit, remove or add parts of the drawing. To Ungroup your drawing, right-click and select Grouping, Ungroup.
3. When ungrouped, Visio will highlight every individual object in pink. In order to deselect everything, you need to click anywhere on the page outside of the drawing boundaries.
4. Once the drawing is ungrouped and the objects are deselected, you may select whatever you want to change and it will appear with editing handles.
Tips for using PDF in Visio
TIP! If you want to scale the drawing, make sure you “regroup” it by selecting Grouping, Group so that everything is scaled proportionately.
Contact Us if you have problems. The best way to get help is to send the file you are having trouble with along with any comments to email@example.com. We’re happy to help!
Download Tip Sheet: Using pdf2picture output (WMF) in Visio)
Sometimes there is no output file produced or it may seem as though the software has quit working. This has to do with an invalid page range setting.
All of our products can convert one page, all pages or a page range. By default, they convert all pages. If you choose a page rage, you must reset it to all pages when done since the software remembers the last settings you used. If a conversion is attempted with an invalid page range, it will not produce a resulting file. It may seem as though it is not working. Once you go to “Options, Page” and adjust Page range to “All Pages””and re-attempt the conversion, you will produce a file.
When you purchase a product from Visual Integrity, you are assigned a serial number. This code is is used along with some other unique data to license your software. It also acts as your customer number. The download that you receive upon purchase is pre-serialized and activated. All you need to do is double-click to install it. If you have an evaluation version on your system already, it will overwrite the files to unlock it. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes. pdf2cad and PDF FLY can both generate DWG. In addition to the native AutoCAD format, both products can also produce DXF and HPGL.
When a CAD drawing is saved as a PDF file, it still retains information about layers that can be extracted. When converting, pdf2cad looks at color attributes, or other definitions in the PDF file, to create layers. If the option to recognize layers is turned on, pdf2cad gathers all objects with same color and put them on one layer. If the PDF file has three colors, the resulting DXF file will have three layers. It is then easy in AutoCAD to turn off a complete layer. This setting can be found in the Options->DXF tab of PDF FLY or simply under Options in pdf2cad.
The hatching in your PDF-file is done with a pattern fill. Patterns fills are not recognized or supported in the DXF format. Since it can not understand the hatch, pdf2cad maps it to a grey value which can be manually modified once in AutoCAD or whatever editing application you use.
PDF Fly is a complete suite containing all of our input and output modules. It is used by technical writers and engineering professionals who need to convert a variety of formats with a high degree of accuracy. It costs $295. PDF Fly converts PDF, PostScript and EPS into the following formats:
- vector: WMF, EMF, SVG, CGM, EPS, PDF, PS, DXF, HPGL
- image: TIFF, GIF, JPEG, PNG, BMP
- text: stripped ASCII text, text with placement
pdf2cad is designed especially for CAD users and costs just $195. It is a subset of PDF FLY and converts only from PDF into DXF or HPGL. It contains all of the features and power of PDF FLY for these selected formats.
If you want to edit the graphics in a PDF file in Microsoft Office or Visio, you’ll want to try pdf2picture. It operates in both vector and image mode and you can choose which is most appropriate at the time of conversion. Vector mode explodes the file into editable text and objects while image mode makes a high-fidelity copy of the file in an MS Office friendly format.
pdf2image is also available as a low cost option when you just need to use raster image formats. It is ideal for those who work on websites or printed publications like newsletters, brochures and customer bulletins.
To use the graphics produced by either pdf2image or pdf2picture in MS Office, you use Insert > Picture > From File… to add the converted graphics into your document. If you used vector mode (Windows Metafile WMF/EMF), you can now edit text and graphic elements using the Office drawing tools.
Note: Neither pdf2image or pdf2picture are for converting Word documents or reports heavy in text.
No, neither Acrobat nor GhostScript are required. All of our products are standalone tools, completely self-contained, and based on our powerful engine developed, improved and extended over almost two decades. Our products are not based on print drivers as brokers so the conversions are more pure and accurate. Everything that you need to run them on your desktop or to use them for you development is included in your delivery download.
The software has been designed to be very easy to use and involves just a few simple steps:
- Select the PDF file you want to convert
- Change or customize settings by clicking on the Options button
- Change the name and location of the output file, if desired
If you are using a desktop product, there is a Help file included with the software. Just click on the Help button found in the bottom right corner of the software dialog. A new screen will open, with a table of content for all the available topics. You can expand the outline to find the section on Conversion Options or search the index using the Find command. Depending on which product you are using, there will be General Options, Page Options, Size Options and Format Specific Options.
For Developers – In the “docs” directory of the Conversion SDK installation, each option is explained in “options flysdk.pdf”. In addition to the description, for each option, the corresponding API function is listed.
rotate(0) STDAPI VgRotate(INT rotate)
rotate(0) Rotate the drawing using the angle specified. Default = 0, no rotation.
Converting multiple files is also called batch mode and all of our products support it. To specify more than one file, use the “Add” button. Once you have specified your first files, you can remove files and add files until you have the batch of files together that you want to convert.
When adding files, pdf2image, pdf2picture and pdf2cad will only display files with a .pdf extension. If the file you want to convert has a different extension, but you are sure that it is a PDF file, you should rename it to include a .pdf extension. PDF FLY is capable of digesting more input formats so it expects files with a .pdf, .ps, .eps or .prn extension.
WMF, or Windows Metafile, is the original 16-bit metafile format. It is the native vector graphics format for the Microsoft Windows platform. It is also the standard format for scalable graphics in Microsoft Office and many other Windows applications. Even though it has been enhanced and extended as a 32-bit format (EMF -Enhanced Metafile), WMF is still the most widely used and supported metafile format on the Windows platform.
Several vector formats such as WMF, CGM, DXF and HPGL do not support cropping. This is the act of cutting away and discarding the unnecessary portions of the picture such as extraneous fills and other elements. PDF and PostScript, both very robust and complete formats, do support it. To bridge the gap, Visual Integrity has developed a proprietary method to simulate cropping. When applied during conversion, the resulting file will appear cropped just like the original.
To apply it, select the “Emulate PS/PDF cropping” feature in the General tab of the Options menu.
Although pdf2cad is not available for UNIX or Linux, the PDF to DXF conversion capability is part of PDF FLY which is available on Mac OS X, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX and Linux. The Linux version, developed on Red Hat, also runs successfully on other Linux implementations, such as FreeBSD and SuSe. For all of the UNIX/Linux platforms, the PDF to DXF functionality is accessed via a straightforward command line tool, offering the same core functionality as pdf2cad on Windows. For more information, visit www.pdf-fly.com.
The DXF file format does not define physical dimensions using absolute measurements from a ruler. Instead it uses units which the user defines. When you create a PDF file from a CAD drawing, it is transformed to paper/print dimensions and the meaning of the original CAD units are lost but the xy relationship remains. As a result, pdf2cad can not restore the intended dimensions but it does preserve the scale. This means that you can calculate a scaling factor to apply during the conversion to achieve the size drawing you want. By default, pdf2cad uses 1mm(0,03937 inch) in the PDF = 1 unit in the DXF. You can change this under the DXF Options tab. You can also scale the DXF after import into your CAD application.
Tip: Sometimes pdf2cad delivers better precision and more accurate coordinates if you change one of the values in your pdf2cad.ini file. Please try setting the ctm_scale to 10.0 instead of 1.0 (default) in the pdf2cad.ini file. If this does not help, please send us the file to diagnose.
If the PDF file contains characters, pdf2cad will convert them and map them as MTEXT objects in the DXF file. Unfortunately, when creating a PDF file from a CAD drawing, the text is not always retained. Sometimes it is “plotted” as pen strokes or turned into curves. When this happens, the character definition is lost. There is nothing that pdf2cad can do about this – it can only reproduce the curves (=SPLINES entities) in the DXF file. What looks like text in the original file may actually just be an object, comprised of a series of pen strokes that looks like a letter.
Tip: to see if the text in your PDF drawing is live and searchable, open the PDF file in Acrobat (Reader) and use the Text Select tool. If you cannot highlight any words, the text is already outlined to curves. If a PDF file contains searchable text, pdf2cad will reproduce it as MTEXT in the DXF file, preserving the fonts and styles.
Tip: To create a PDF with searchable text from AutoCAD, make sure to use TrueType fonts in the drawing and ensure that your printer driver is set to retain text as text instead of converting it to curves. Text can be lost in either of these two steps in creating a PDF file. See how to create a PDF file with searchable text from CAD Digest.
Tip: if your PDF files contain non-Roman font text (such as Chinese, Arabic or Cyrillic), or if the text looks garbled in the DXF output, try using the “Convert characters to curves” option in the General tab of the Options menu of pdf2cad. This outlines the text during conversion to ensure WYSIWYG rendering (not editable).
pdf2cad is designed to convert vector PDF files which are generated by other applications using print, export or save-as. They contain all the data about the drawing which is accurately extracted as editable CAD objects. Since scanned drawings (raster PDF) have been flattened and reduced to bitmap images, we can not reassemble them into objects. We do however convert them into a tracing layer which is referenced in the DXF file and supported in programs such as AutoCAD. If you need to create a vector file from this file, you can use the tracing layer as a guide for redrawing the file or use a different class of software called raster-to-vector to try to generate objects. In order to see or use the tracing layer, your target application must be able to open DXF files and display referenced images. Our conversion of a scanned PDF produces a blank DXF file and one or more image files in either the TIFF or JPEG format. They referenced images must be located in the same directory as the DXF file to be displayed. Otherwise, you will see a blank page.
When you see a width dimension or what look like very fat lines in the drawing, you need to adjust the line width setting. It’s possible to turn off (reduce to zero) the line weight on the DXF Options tab or via Command Line. Change the value of the function zero_linewidth from 0 to 1 in the pdf2cad.ini, which is in the installation directory of pdf2cad and rerun the conversion. The installation directoryby default is C:Program FilesVisual Integritypdf2cad.
When the PDF file was created, the dashed lines were created as small individual line segments. Because of this attribute in the PDF file, pdf2cad converts them as small line segments in the DXF file. pdf2cad does not yet have an option to recognize these segments. as a line with a certain dashed-line attribute.
Not yet, but it is a frequent request and we have added it to the development schedule. We do not have a release date scheduled. Please email email@example.com for an update on availability.
This warning is to let you know that your PDF file uses non-standard fonts or font names. When this happens, you’ll probably notice that the text in your output file may look different than in the PDF when you open it in your target application. This not an error – just a reminder that some fine-tuning may be required, Please see the other entries on fonts and visit the Help system in the software for more detail.
If needed you can turn off the font messages, by adding the line: font_warnings(0) to the ini file of the application.
Probably. The file format used by Microsoft Office does not embed fonts. Instead, it loads fonts based on reference when the file is opened. If the font specified does not reside on your system, the closest will be substituted. To add to the challenge, it expects the fonts on you system to use exactly the same name as the fonts in the file which is often not the case. Two different applications may define the exact same font with slightly different names. When you want to ensure a great match, you need to create a font mapping.
For fonts to appear correctly in a vector output file, the same font with the same naming convention must be on both systems. Sometimes, any mismatch can be resolved through font mapping. If you need support on adding fonts to your environment please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Custom font mapping is available as a service but is not covered by the standard Advantage Support Subscription.
By default the fontname used in the PostScript or PDF file is used also as fontname in the vector output file. Using the Font Mapping dialog you can change this by creating a mapping between the original fontname and the fontname you want to use in the vector output file.
Fonts are not embedded in the vector output formats. Most of the vector output formats do not support embedding of font data.
After conversion, if you can not edit text, chances are that the text was already stored as graphics in the PDF original. It was probably converted to curves or plotted as pen strokes when the PDF file was created. It is no longer text, just vector curves that look like text. This often happens for example with PDF drawings are created from CAD, EDA or GIS applications as well as with print advertisements from a DTP-package to ensure font display accurately. Text is often converted to curves to ensure accurate print results and to protect against font incompatibilities. Once the text has been turned into curves, there is no way for pdf2picture to retrieve it as real text. If the text is still searchable in the PDF file, we can produce it as editable text in the conversion output.
Tip: To see if the text is searchable and convertable or not, open your PDF file in Acrobat Reader and try to “Select” some text. If you can mark it, you can convert it.
Try deselecting the “Convert Characters to Strings” option in the General tab of the Options menu. Doing so will carefully place every character individually in the output instead of trying to recreate the actual words as objects. This option is turned on by default to combine individual characters into words and words into lines during conversion. This is a nice option to ease editing when it works but is dependent on the perfect alignment of inbound text. When turned off, every character will be placed precisely as it was in the original.
If the characters are converting but not displaying properly, you likely have a font mapping issue. To comply with the licensing regulations of font suppliers, our software can not embed fonts in the vector output formats. Instead, we reference the fonts by their names. If the fonts, with the same names, are on the target PC, the file will open and display perfectly. If the same fonts are not on the PC that opens the file, which is much more likely, the text will not display properly. To complicate things, often, one font may go by several different names. Arial Bold, for example, may be referenced as “EHJPKB+Arial-Bold” in the original file. This font may be normal Arial Bold but the target application does not know it unless you tell it. This is known as font mapping. If the font is not mapped correctly, the closest font will be substituted. In this example, “EHJPKB_Arial-Bold” must be mapped as “Arial” with font style “Bold”. In order to learn more, please read the Tech Note: Font Mapping
In case of SVG or EMF as output format we support kerning. Please contact us if you need more information how to configure thus. Turning this option on could improve the WYSIWYG of the text strings.
PNG is the native format of the MusicPad Manager so you would first need to use pdf2image to convert all your music to this format. Once you have generated all of the PNG’s, you should be able to import them directly by opening the MusicPad Manager application. Then just select File/Import.
MusicPad Pro expects the files that are imported to be 600×800. This can be set by choosing width = 600 pixels under the “Options” button during conversion in pdf2image.
If you have any trouble converting your music, please email a sample PDF file to email@example.com and we will return it to you in PNG format ready to import along with any special settings that you need to select.
There are two important issues at play here.
First – make sure you choose the correct image format for your file type. If your PDF file is mostly text, you should choose GIF or PNG since they render images with few colors sharply. JPEG is better suited for photographic images which use many colors.
The second consideration is resolution or “dots per inch” (dpi). The resolution you choose determines the quality (and the size) of the output. Although a high resolution will yield a super-sharp image, it will also product a large file size which may impact performance. The rule of thumb is to use the lowest resolution which delivers the quality you need. Some guidelines are:
- For screen display (web or office) – use 96dpi.
- For images that will be printed on laser or inkjet printers – use 150 dpi
- For images that will be printed professionally – use 300 dpi
If you want to adjust the resolution, simply increase the dpi setting in the Options menu.
It is easy it is to create a PostScript file from virtually any application on a PC. Most PC’s are likely to have a PostScript printer driver configured in its printers settings. If not, you must Install a PostScript Printer Driver before going any further.
- Open your file within your application and then select “File…”, “Print”
- Choose your PostScript printer. Note that you can use any PostScript driver included with Microsoft Windows without having the actual printer since you will simply be printing to a file.
- Press “OK” to print to file. Note that the PostScript tab under Properties should be set to Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) for best results.
- You will be prompted for a file name and location. If you do not assign .ps as the extension, the default in Windows will be .PRN. Both are valid input extensions.
- Open your Visual Integrity software and when prompted for a PostScript file to convert, go to the location chosen in Step 4 and select the new .ps or .prn file for conversion.
- The extension does not matter – Some systems give printer files a default extension, like .prn or .plt. This does not matter. If the file has been created using a PostScript printer driven, the result will be a PostScript file that Visual Integrity software can convert.
- Watch out for PCL: Most HP printers use a printer language called PCL. The default mode on HP PostScript printers is usually PCL. PCL can not be converted by TGC. Be sure that your HP printer is in PostScript mode to ensure a successful conversion.
- Save directly as PostScript or EPS files – Many applications allow you to save your files as PS or EPS through their “Save as…” menu. A few even produce PostScript by default. This results in good input for our conversion engine.
- Fonts – Try to use standard PostScript fonts like Helvetica and Times New Roman. Non-PostScript fonts, such as Type 1 fonts and TrueType fonts should be embedded so that the text data is available in the PostScript file. This gives our software the best chance to preserve the fonts during conversion.
The font glyphs of the 13 standard PostScript fonts are included.
If you need to convert to an image format or the text to curves/polys (= emulate) in a vector format either the font must be one of the 13 standard fonts or the font should be embedded within the PDF or PostScript file. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to add font glyphs.
13 Standard PostScript fonts:
- The image formats used on web sites are JPEG (or JPG), PNG and GIF. JPEG is best for images with many colors such as photos. GIF is best for line art, illustrations and drawings with limited color. PNG is the most versatile and can be used quite broadly on web-sites.
- The image formats used in documents follow a similar rule. GIF, TIFF and PNG are best for images with fewer colors and JPEG is used for images with many colors such as photos. The best test is to use pdf2image to convert to a few different formats and then view them both on-screen and in print to see which gives you the desired result.
- It’s also important to determine what formats your application can import. If the program you want to use only accepts BMP, then you need to convert to this format, even if it produces larger files than PNG.
- If you are generating images for use on web sites, convert at 72 dpi (dots per inch) or 96 dpi. These settings match screen resolution pixel for pixel for the best match and sharpest display.
- For general office printing, choose 150 dpi. This will generate a crisp image with the smallest file size.
- For office publishing and high quality laser printing, choose 300 dpi. The files will be larger but the images will be very clear.
- For professional printing, choose 300 dpi – 1200 dpi. It’s best to ask your printer who will recommend the best resolution to match his equipment.