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Edit Vector PDF – Know Your PDF File Types

Vector or Raster PDF?

vector or raster exampleIt’s easy to tell the difference between vector and raster PDF files by viewing them 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:

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.

scanned drawing raster PDF

A scanned drawing as it opens on-screen in Acrobat (It has not yet been selected).

scanned drawing when selected turns blue raster PDF

Once you click anywhere on the scanned drawing, the entire drawing is selected and turns blue to signify this.

 

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%.

When magnified, a scanned drawing will look jagged, noisy, blurry or dirty. If you are uncertain, magnify some more. The higher the resolution of the drawing, the more magnification it needs to degrade. Vector files will look perfect at any resolution.

When magnified, a scanned drawing will look jagged, noisy, blurry or dirty. If you are uncertain, magnify some more. The higher the resolution of the drawing, the more magnification it needs to degrade. Vector files will look perfect at any resolution.

Side-by-Side Comparison to See the Difference Between Vector and Raster PDF

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. It would be possible to edit the vector PDF on the left but not the raster PDF on the right.

difference between vector and raster PDF file

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The current versions of pdf2cad are:
  • pdf2cad v12.2020.2 released in January 2019 for Microsoft Windows
  • pdf2cad v11.0.12, released in December 2019 for Mac OS X Catalina. v12 expected in 1Q2020

How to find your current pdf2cad version number

If you do not know your current version of pdf2cad, launch the software. Click “Cancel” to bypass the file selection screen. Then, select the box with two arrows in the lower left of the window. Once it opens, it will inform you of your version and build number. If you do not have the latest build, you can Upgrade.
Advantage Support Subscribers get a free upgrade to v12 along with all other subscriber benefits. These perks include updates, upgrades, new versions, replacement software and support as needed. Access your Advantage Support account on our web-site and download the latest version . If you purchased a from a reseller such as IMSI Design, Novedge, Component Source, Autodesk or Apple, please contact us to set-up an account
 

Purchase Protection

If you bought pdf2cad v11 after June 1, 2019, you qualify for to a free upgrade to v12. We will contact you with details on how to access your upgrade. if you don’t hear from us, we may have outdated contact information for you or you purchased from a reseller. In these cases. please contact us.

 

about-pdf2cad-dialog

 

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Your drawing is probably scanned. This process flattens it into one bitmap raster image which removes all the information about how the drawing was created or what it even is. As a result, it can not be redrawn or exploded into objects by pdf2cad. The most we can do with scanned files, is to create a high-quality copy to be used as a tracing layer in your CAD program.
If you look in the directory where the file was saved, you’ll notice that two or more files were created – a DXF and at least one TIFF or JPEG image. The DXF references the image(s) and assembles them on-screen when loaded. They must be in the same directory as the DXF file or the DXF file will look empty. This blank page effect will also occur if your CAD package does not support raster images.

If you want to try to create vector objects from a scanned drawing, you need a different class of software called “raster to vector”. This is an extremely difficult thing to do well. We recommend you start at trixsystems.com. They have a good product which performs specialized raster-to-vector conversion.

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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 raster PDF (scanned drawing) – jagged and grainy at 500% – you need raster-to-vector software to trace or recreate this or you’ll need to manually redraw it.

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.

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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.

page range options

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pdf2cad, PDFin (formerly pdf2AutoCAD) an pdf2bricscad are different types of products. pdf2cad is an advanced, standalone PDF conversion program while PDFin and pdf2bricscad are plug-ins that require another program to run. PDFin requires AutoCAD or another Autodesk program that supports their extension API (Autoloader API). pdf2bricscad requires BricsCAD.

pdf2cad is a powerful standalone program available for both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It opens PDF, EPS and AI  files as editable DWG, DXF or HPGL files. It provides many advanced features and user-definable conversion options. With pdf2cad, you can convert multipage PDF files, control layers based on color or other attributes, rotate your file during conversion and more. It converts multiple files and full directories with ease. pdf2cad costs $199.

PDFin and pdf2bricscad are plug-ins. PDFin is Autodesk Approved and available in their Autodesk Exchange | Apps. pdf2bricscad is available from Bricssys. Both will open any one-page computer-generated (vector) PDF file using controls within these programs. All objects can be modified and the file will be saved as DWG or DXF. Text will be editable as long as it was stored as characters in the original PDF file. If it was “plotted” as pen strokes, the text will appear but can not be edited. The plug-ins arenot for scanned drawings and other raster PDF files.

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How to Convert PDF to DWG and DXF on Mac

This tutorial assumes that you have already installed pdf2cad on your Mac and that you can access it from the Applications Folder, the Dock or the Desktop. Choose your preferred method and launch pdf2cad.

Select files to convert

select-files

 

Choose Conversion Preferences

preview-drawing

The selected files will be displayed in the preview pane on the left. On the right, are the most used settings. These defaults should be correct for most conversions. Click OK to continue. If you find that you need to change rotation or fine-tune the process, there is a Preferences button where more settings can be applied. If you do not need to make any adjustments, click OK to run the conversion. The Preferences are covered at the end of the tutorial.

Conversion Summary pdf2cad

final-summary

The conversions to be performed will be summarized on screen. Choose where the results will be stored. The default is in the same directory as the original file. Click Convert to proceed.

final-mac

The converted files will be in your file system, usually in the same folder as the original folder. You can now open them in your CAD application. At this point, you can choose New Conversion to perform more operations or Exit the application. If there are any warnings, check the Details button to review them. In almost all cases, these will be warnings about fonts which were in the original PDF file but are not on your Mac, meaning that a substitute font will be used. Errors are very rare and if you encounter one, please report it to us along with the file.

Preferences

When you click on Preferences after selecting your files for conversion, you will see a number of options to define the conversion parameters. A description of each of the 4 tabs follows – General, Fonts, DWG/DXF and Advanced.

general-mac

General Settings Tab

  • Characters as Strings Combines characters into words, and words into text strings, based on context.
  • Convert Characters to CurvesCreates a visual graphic match for text defined with unknown or unavailable fonts.
  • Rotate: Rotates drawing any degree in either direction.
  • Scale Text: Enlarges or reduces the size of the text in the converted file.
  • Emulate PDF cropping: Cropping removes unnecessary outer areas of a drawing. PDF supports cropping but some vector formats (WMF, CGM, DXF and HPGL) don’tWithout cropping, these formats would transfer unwanted elements during conversion. Activate ‘Emulate PDF cropping’ to ensue clean borders. Using this feature, the resulting file will match the original.PDF.
  • Show Font Warning: If the fonts in a PDF file are not installed on your computer, the text will not look right. Font mapping ensures the closest match possible. It also compensates for different font naming conventions across systems.
  • Ignore paths, text images: Turn certain elements on or off during conversion.
  • CAD Format: Choose your output format. DWG for AutoCAD, DXF for most engineering and technical programs and HPGL for plotter specific applications.

Fonts Settings

font-mac

Font Mappings Tab

Text converts fine when PDF files use standard fonts. If text converts but doesn’t display right, you have a font mapping issue.
Fonts are a tricky subject. Installed fonts differ from system to system. Sometimes, the same font may even go by different names. For a perfect conversion, the same font needs to be on the source and target system. License agreements protect font vendors from illegal use of their typefaces. Embed only system fonts and permitted fonts. For more detail on font issues, read PDF Font Mapping When Converting Files.
Document fonts display based on comparing the font name in the PDF file with the font name on your system. If the fonts on your PC match the PDF, the file will look perfect. Often, the font names don’t match and the text looks ‘off’ . The first thing to check is whether you have a font name mismatch. Arial Bold, for example, may be “EHJPKB+Arial-Bold” in the original file. The same font is “Arial” on your PC. When you match the two, it’s known as “Font Mapping”. In this example, map “EHJPKB_Arial-Bold” to “Arial” with font style “Bold”. If you can’t make a successful match, we substitute the closest font. This is “Font Substitution” and is automatic.

dxf-mac

DXF/DWG Settings

The DXF/DWG options apply specifically to the attributes of the CAD drawing. Here you can adjust scale as well as treatment of layers and composition.

Scaling Factor:  CAD programs define dimension in units. These units disappear when creating a PDF file but the scale remains. You can set a scaling factor for the x-y relationship during conversion. You can also set the units when you open the converted file in your CAD program. By default, pdf2cad uses 1mm (0,03937 inch) = 1 unit in the CAD output.
 
Precision Factor: The default precision is set to 10. Sometimes, it will help increase coordinate accuracy to change this to 1 or to 100. If none of these settings provide desirable results, please send us the file to diagnose.
 
Paths as Polylines/Polygons: PDF doesn’t understand objects or their relationships. To compensate for this,, use our object recognition engine. It identifies lines and curves and renders them as shapes. Polylines are a connected sequence of lines and arcs that create a single object. Polygons are shapes with straight sides.
 
Layers: By default, all objects are on one layer. You can separate layers by color, line width, PDF layers, spot colors or a combination of color and line width.
 
Minimum line width: Defines the smallest line width for each vector object in mm. The default is 0.
 
Zero line width: Removes 3D effects
 
Dashed and Dotted lines as segments: PDF sees dashed and dotted lines as lots of individual lines. By selecting this feature, the lines will converted into whole lines with a pattern.
 
Fill option: Sometimes, white fills in a PDF file show up as black fills in a DXF file. If this is a problem, use this option to ignore white fills.

 

advanced-macAdvanced Settings

Recognize Circles/Ellipses: Our object recognition engine identifies closed polygons and circular paths. Convert them into circular and elliptical shapes.
 
Recognize Horizontal/Vertical Dashed Lines: Create one line object with a line-style attribute.
 
Error Tolerance: This is a tolerance level set for recognition of CAD objects. If one point on the closed polyline is outside of the specified range, it will remain a polyline.
 
Kerning Factor: This setting controls the space between letters or characters. Apply a kerning factor to make the space between characters wider or more narrow. A factor of 1.2 would increase the space by 120%, Important Note! A spacing problem may not be a kerning issue at all. It may be due to a font mismatch and is best solved through font mapping.
 
Compound Objects: A compound object is a group of objects that make up a discreet item. The object recognition engine identifies objects to group into compound objects. If you want all graphics to remain as singular objects, turn this off.
 
Convert Hidden Text Objects: PDF files can have transparent text or text hidden under an object. This option converts all text on the page, including hidden text.
 
Fit Drawing: This option scales the converted PDF to be fully visible on the page when opened in a CAD program.
 
Include AI Prologue File: Early Adobe Illustrator files (v8 or earlier) need an AI prologue file to convert. Only use this option if needed. Starting with Illustrator version 9, the AI file is PDF compatible.
 
Custom Line Styles: Map line styles in the PDF to custom line styles in the CAD file.
 
Use True Color: Uses RGB true color values in the CAD file. By default, files use an indexed 256-color table. 

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An error in a VPORT table is not a common error and needs to be diagnosed. It could result from a corrupted input file, a partial conversion or an importing error. To troubleshoot, please send the original PDF file to us at support@visual-integrity.com. We will test the file and get back to you with a solution.

 

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Yes. pdf2cad and PDF FLY can both generate DWG. In addition to the native AutoCAD format, both products can also produce DXF and HPGL.

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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.

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Yes! We have developed a intelligent mechanism to “recognize” circles/ellipses out of a set of polylines or bezier curves. It’s a standard feature of pdf2cad.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The software has been designed to be very easy to use and involves just a few simple steps:

  1. Select the PDF file you want to convert
  2. Change or customize settings by clicking on the Options button
  3. Change the name and location of the output file, if desired
  4. Convert!

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PDF Conversion Options

Below is a summary of all PDF conversion options available in pdf2cad, pdf2picture and PDF FLY. These options and more are also available to developers via the PDF Conversion SDK/API or command line tools.

Conversion options - general settings

General Settings Tab

  • Characters as Strings Combines characters into words, and words into text strings, based on context.
  • Convert Characters to CurvesCreates a visual graphic match for text defined with unknown or unavailable fonts.
  • Rotate: Rotates drawing any degree in either direction.
  • Scale Text: Enlarges or reduces the size of the text in the converted file.
  • Emulate PDF cropping: Cropping removes unnecessary outer areas of a drawing. PDF supports cropping but some vector formats (WMF, CGM, DXF and HPGL) don’tWithout cropping, these formats would transfer unwanted elements during conversion. Activate ‘Emulate PDF cropping’ to ensue clean borders. Using this feature, the resulting file will match the original.PDF.
  • Show Font Warning: If the fonts in a PDF file are not installed on your computer, the text will not look right. Font mapping ensures the closest match possible. It also compensates for different font naming conventions across systems.
  • Ignore paths, text images: Turn certain elements on or off during conversion.
  • CAD Format: Choose your output format. DWG for AutoCAD, DXF for most engineering and technical programs and HPGL for plotter specific applications.
font mapping dialog

Font Mappings Tab

Text converts fine when PDF files use standard fonts. If text converts but doesn’t display right, you have a font mapping issue.
Fonts are a tricky subject. Installed fonts differ from system to system. Sometimes, the same font may even go by different names. For a perfect conversion, the same font needs to be on the source and target system. License agreements protect font vendors from illegal use of their typefaces. Embed only system fonts and permitted fonts. For more detail on font issues, read PDF Font Mapping When Converting Files and PDF Fonts: Embedding and Substitution from Adobe
Document fonts display based on comparing the font name in the PDF file with the font name on your system. If the fonts on your PC match the PDF, the file will look perfect. Often, the font names don’t match and the text looks ‘off’ . The first thing to check is whether you have a font name mismatch. Arial Bold, for example, may be “EHJPKB+Arial-Bold” in the original file. The same font is “Arial” on your PC. When you match the two, it’s known as “Font Mapping”. In this example, map “EHJPKB_Arial-Bold” to “Arial” with font style “Bold”. If you can’t make a successful match, we substitute the closest font. This is “Font Substitution” and is automatic.
PDF conversion page options

Page Settings Tab

The Page Settings control options that apply to all files. All of the other option vary depending on whether you choose a vector or bitmap output format.

Crop Picture: Remove Margin: By default, the margins of the PDF file are used. This setting can adjust or remove white space.

Page Size: pdf2cad will automatically figure out the page size. If you want to force a standard or custom page size, select it or enter dimensions.

Convert Range: pdf2cad, by default, will convert all pages of a file. You can set a page range if you only want selected pages.

Page Mapping: By default, a multi-page PDF file converts into a vector page for each PDF page. Other choices included include merging all pages into one file and applying horizotal or vertical alignment.

PDF to DWG DXF format specific options

DWG and DXF Format Specific Options

The PDF Conversion Options for DWG and DXF options apply to specific CAD drawing features.
Scaling Factor:  CAD programs define dimension in units. These units disappear when creating a PDF file but the scale remains. You can set a scaling factor for the x-y relationship during conversion. You can also set the units when you open the converted file in your CAD program. By default, pdf2cad uses 1mm (0,03937 inch) = 1 unit in the CAD output. To learn more about CAD units, read Units and Scales
 
Precision Factor: The default precision is set to 10. Sometimes, it will help increase coordinate accuracy to change this to 1 or to 100. If none of these settings provide desirable results, please send us the file to diagnose.
 
Paths as Polylines/Polygons: PDF doesn’t understand objects or their relationships. To compensate for this,, use our object recognition engine. It identifies lines and curves and renders them as shapes. Polylines are a connected sequence of lines and arcs that create a single object. Polygons are shapes with straight sides.
 
Layers: By default, all objects are on one layer. You can separate layers by color, line width, PDF layers, spot colors or a combination of color and line width.
 
Minimum line width: Defines the smallest line width for each vector object in mm. The default is 0.
 
Zero line width: Removes 3D effects
 
Dashed and Dotted lines as segments: PDF sees dashed and dotted lines as lots of individual lines. By selecting this feature, the lines will converted into whole lines with a pattern.
 
Fill option: Sometimes, white fills in a PDF file show up as black fills in a DXF file. If this is a problem, use this option to ignore white fills.
Advanced PDF Conversion Options

Advanced DXF and DWG Options

Recognize Circles/Ellipses: Our object recognition engine identifies closed polygons and circular paths. Convert them into circular and elliptical shapes.
 
Recognize Horizontal/Vertical Dashed Lines: Create one line object with a line-style attribute.
 
Error Tolerance: This is a tolerance level set for recognition of CAD objects. If one point on the closed polyline is outside of the specified range, it will remain a polyline.
 
Kerning Factor: This setting controls the space between letters or characters. Apply a kerning factor to make the space between characters wider or more narrow. A factor of 1.2 would increase the space by 120%, Important Note! A spacing problem may not be a kerning issue at all. It may be due to a font mismatch and is best solved through font mapping.
 
Compound Objects: A compound object is a group of objects that make up a discreet item. The object recognition engine identifies objects to group into compound objects. If you want all graphics to remain as singular objects, turn this off.
 
Convert Hidden Text Objects: PDF files can have transparent text or text hidden under an object. This PDF Conversion Options converts all text on the page, including hidden text.
 
Fit Drawing: This option scales the converted PDF to be fully visible on the page when opened in a CAD program.
 
Include AI Prologue File: Early Adobe Illustrator files (v8 or earlier) need an AI prologue file to convert. Only use this option if needed. Starting with Illustrator version 9, the AI file is PDF compatible.
 
Custom Line Styles: Map line styles in the PDF to custom line styles in the CAD file.
 
Use True Color: Uses RGB true color values in the CAD file. By default, files use an indexed 256-color table. 

expert options

Expert CAD Options

Password Protected PDF. If the PDF file you are converting has a password, enter it here.
 
First Page Number. When unchecked, the first converted page will be the same as the file name. For example, page one of myfile.pdf becomes myfile.dxf. Checking this option adds a numeric suffix. In our myfile.pdf example, the first page comes out as myfile-1.dxf (followed by myfile-2.dxf, etc.). 
 
Number of Digits. If you choose the ‘First Page Number’ option, enter the number of digits for the suffix. A value of 0 makes page 2 of myfile.dxf will come out as myfile-2.dxf; page 3 as myfile-3.dxf, etc. Setting this option to 4, will add a 4 digit suffix (myfile-0002.dxf). Using this feature ensures logical alphanumeric listings in document management systems.
 
Filename is directory. When checked the file destination is a new directory. The directory is the chosen output name with no file extension. The converted files save to this directory using only their page number.
 
Show image warning. Check this option if you want alerts when the input file (PDF, EPS or AI) contains images. Images appear in the CAD output as non-editable IMAGE objects.
 
Z-Order Image Objects. Z-Order refers to the order of overlapping objects. The order in the PDF file is the default. You can place images at the back or reversed at the back of the drawing. This is useful when PDF images are transparent since IMAGE objects in DWG or DXF are opaque. 
 
Convert cropped images to color lines. DWG and DXF don’t support image cropping. Using this option is useful with small cropped images. It converts them to color lines and crops them that way.
 
Ignore Image Objects Size Less Than. This option strips small image objects during conversion.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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pdf2cad will convert a “batch” of files when requested by the user. It’s as easy to convert an entire directory of files as it is to convert one file. That said, sometimes, companies want to use a watch folder or use scripts to automate conversion. When this is required, you’ll want to use FLY Batch. PDF to DXF is one of the modules in FLY Batch, a command line driven batch conversion engine that’s easily scripted for automated, central, high-volume or real-time processing. It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux and UNIX platforms.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 support@visual-integrity.com for an update on availability.

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PDF Fonts Not Displaying Correctly?

Using the perfect font can make or break the impact a document has. Fonts are also complicated. If you have a PDF file which is not displaying well, it’s likely that PDF font mapping is the culprit.

A PDF document expects to have its fonts installed wherever it’s viewed. When it’s opened, the PDF matches its referenced fonts to the local system’s fonts. If all the fonts are available, the document looks great. Success relies on the set of fonts available of the viewing PC. Using standard system fonts as much as possible will help prevent font mismatches. An exception is branding, where the font used is a valuable, recognizable asset. It should never become compromised.

Listing of standard fonts by system

Top 5 Reasons Fonts Don’t Display Right

1. Font Substitution

When the PDF file can’t find the same font on the reader’s PC, it will choose the closest substitute. This may be almost impossible to see or very obvious. It all depends on the font chosen as a substitute. There are three basic options when dealing with font substitution:

  • Accept the substitution if it’s a minor difference
  • Buy the missing font and install it on your system
  • Define a font-mapping (see below) if possible

Example of a font substitution with a minor difference.  Adobe does a very good job when substituting fonts. They get close in most cases. Close enough that there’s no need to purchase fonts or spend a lot of time troubleshooting. In the example below, substituted text (yellow) is placed over the original embedded font text (red). The visible red marks show where the substitution deviates from the original font.

font mapping example of embedded text

Example of original embedded font text

font mapping comparison of substituted text to embedded text

Yellow substituted font text is placed over original red embedded font text.

2. Embedding Fonts to Avoid Font Substitution not Possible

Several PDF creation tools allow you to embed fonts or font subsets. Embedded fonts travel with the PDF file and ensure accurate display on any system. Be careful because they will increase file size, usually at least doubling it. Due to license restrictions, embed fonts at your own risk. You can only embed fonts with permission. Even free, open source fonts can have restrictions. Example of Adobe’s Font Embedding Policy

A note about Visual integrity Software and Embedded Fonts. In compliance with font rules, our programs do not embed fonts by default. We reference the fonts by their names. If fonts, with the same names, are on the target PC, the file will open and display as intended. If the same fonts are not on the PC, which is much more likely, the text includes the closest allowable font. If you need fonts embedded for a project, we can do that for you as a custom service, with proof of license.

How to see what embedded fonts your document contains.
Open the PDF in either Reader or Acrobat. Bring up the document properties (Ctrl-D or Cmd-D), then go to the Fonts tab. Here, you can see the state of each font. The two examples below show the same font when it’s embedded and when it has been substituted.

embedded font

Embedded Font

Substituted Font - Adobe Sans MM

Substituted Font – Adobe Sans MM

3. When PDF Document Font Names Don’t Match PC Font Names, Use Font Mapping

For fonts to display as intended in a PDF file, the same font with the same name must be on both systems. Unfortunately, the exact same font may go by several different names. Arial Bold on your system, for example, may be “EHJPKB+Arial-Bold” in the original file. Even though these are identical fonts, the PDF does not know it because they have different names. You have to tell it with a PDF font mapping. In this example, map “EHJPKB_Arial-Bold” as “Arial” with font style “Bold”.

font-mapping

Mismatches are common. Resolve them whenever possible through font mapping. If mapping the font is not possible, it’s substituted as described above.

4. Unknown Font in the PDF Document

Ensure an exact match by converting formatted text to bezier curves. When you need a precise match, but the source font is unknown or not available, it’s best to convert the text to a graphic. This is an excellent approach for logos and other brand assets. It’s also recommended for technical text like equations and formulas. Once converted to graphics, they are no longer editable and there’s no possibility to introduce error during font substitution.

A note about Visual integrity Software and Text as Curves. Our programs offer a “Characters to Curves” option. Using it, each character renders as a bezier curve object. This graphical representation of the character uses font information stored in the PDF. If the font was not embedded in the PDF, we refer to the /fonts/ directory in the installation folder. Add Type 1 or TrueType fonts to this folder as needed to ensure a perfect match. To outline specific fonts during conversion, contact us.

5. It’s a Kerning Issue, Not a Font Issue

When PDF is converted into vector formats such as SVG or EMF, kerning may be the culprit if the text doesn’t look right. Kerning is the process of adjusting space between characters to make the text more visually appealing.  This feature is only available for use with proportions fonts; not fixed width fonts. Please contact us if you need more information how to configure thus. Turning this option on could improve the WYSIWYG matching of the text strings.

In Summary….

Look for Font Warnings. Many programs that output PDF produce error and warning logs. Check these if you create or receive a PDF file that doesn’t look right.

Contact Us. We have 25+ years of expertise built up around PDF, file formats and fonts. We may be able to help you make sense of your font issues.

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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 support@visual-integrity.com if you want to add font glyphs.

13 Standard PostScript fonts:

  • Courier (Regular, Oblique, Bold, Bold Oblique)
  • Helvetica (Regular, Oblique, Bold, Bold Oblique)
  • Times (Roman, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic)
  • Symbol

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