Vector Formats

As easy way to see if your PDF file contains vector or bitmap content is to magnify the drawing to more than 800%. If you see smooth curves and straight lines, it’s a vector file and the conversion results will be successful. If what you see on screen looks jagged, ragged or pixelated, it is a bitmap file and you will only be able to create a drawing template to aid in redrawing the file in your engineering application.

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There are two basic formats for graphics – vector and image. Vector graphics are made up of objects, lines, curves and text while images are made up of a collection of dots or pixels. Images are also referred to as bitmaps or rasters.

Visual Integrity can convert most PDF files into either vector or image formats. It’s important to know which is best for the job you are doing.

If you need to break a PDF file down into objects and text for editing, then you want to choose a vector format. The vector formats supported in our software are DXF, PDF, PS, EPS, SVG, WMF, EMF, CGM, HPGL and MIF.

If you do not need to edit the file and simply want a sharp copy to insert into a document or to publish on a web-site, you’ll want to go with image formats. The image formats that we support are TIFF, GIF, PNG, JPEG and BMP. If you will be printing the graphic on a laser or ink-jet printer, convert at 150 or 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. If publishing to a web-site, use 96 or 72 dpi is best for screen display. Keep in mind that the higher the dpi (resolution), the larger the file size. It’s best to use the lowest resolution which achieves the level of quality you want.

Note! Scanned images can not be transformed by vector mode into lines, text and other vector objects because they are not vector source files. Instead, you will get an exact replica of the PDF as an image that can be used as a tracing layer which aids in the duplication effort. To convert scanned images into vector objects, you need a special class of software called “raster to vector”.

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pdf2picture converts PDF files into bitmap images as well as WMF, the native vector graphics format for Microsoft Windows. All of the Microsoft Office applications, including PowerPoint and Visio allow import of a variety of graphic types using “Insert, Picture from File”. Depending on the job, you’ll want to convert using either vector or image mode:

Vector Mode– If you want to edit text or modify the graphic, you’ll want to choose a vector format – either WMF or EMF. Once you have your scalable file, follow the instructions to insert it onto a slide as editable objects. If you notice any problems with the appearance of your text, please see our font troubleshooting tips for how to map them. The fonts defined in the original file may not be on the target system or have a slightly different name.

Image Mode – If you want a true replica of the original file and do not have a need to modify the information, then choose image mode (PNG, GIF, JPEG). It will create a smaller file with high-fidelity.

In pdf2picture, WMF or EMF should be chosen if any of the following are of primary importance:

  • scalability
  • editability
  • ability to magnify with losing sharpness

In the following case, image mode should be chosen when:

  • No further editing is required
  • Image will not be scaled up in size
  • An absolutely identical match is required
  • to lock or protect the information from editing or copying

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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.

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The Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM) file format is used to render graphics in a wide range of technical applications. It is output by many specialized programs in the aerospace, semiconductor manufacturing, automotive and telecommunications industries. CGM is most commonly used in these organizations for product operation, maintenance, repair and other technical manuals. It is also used in the petroleum industry for mapping, lithology cross-sections, seismic traces and well logs. The U.S. military uses CGM for simple redlining on top of raster (map) data. CGM is a format supported both in print and on-line (IETMS). CGM is typically used for technical illustrations in SGML/XML documentation systems, and now, more and more, for Web-based systems like IETMS (Illustrated Electronic Technical Manuals) and e-Catalogs. Outside of these specialized, technical industries, CGM has largely been superseded by formats such as SVG and DXF. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed WebCGM, a profile of CGM enjoying specialized use of on the Web.

Over the years, several different versions of CGM have been spawned to meet the needs of various industries. There are specific industry profiles (ATA, MIL, PIP) and four different levels as well as WebCGM. As a result of this diversification, interoperability is often a problem: the target application is unable to reliably interpret the particular flavor of CGM generated by the source application. Many content creation applications have started outputting Level 3 or 4 CGM. However, many applications on the receiving end have not yet implemented full support for these higher levels.

Visual Integrity helps industry manufacturers, suppliers and software vendors turn graphical data into the CGM format. It does so for many source applications which do not offer CGM output, and also for applications which already do – but are incompatible with the end user’s target application. Input formats include PDF, PostScript, EPS, WMF and EPS.

CGM files generated are compliant with all levels and industry profiles. By default, our software produces the common denominator subset of CGM (we like to call it ‘vanilla CGM’) to ensure optimal interoperability with the viewing, authoring, and publishing environment downstream. This ‘vanilla CGM’ handles files typically produced and used in technical industries.

Notes on Visual Integrity’s Support of CGM:
•    Output supports choice of CGM Levels 1-2-3-4
•    Compliant with ATA, MIL and PIP industry profiles
•    Supports vector graphics, raster images and font-based text
•    Supports both metric and abstract scaling
•    Curves are retained in Level 3-4 compatible output

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