PDF is both a Visual Integrity input and an output format. Developed and released by Adobe Systems in 1993, Portable Document Format (PDF) is the defacto, worldwide standard for capturing, reviewing and exchanging information from almost any application or computer system and sharing it with others. Although sometimes sharing is enough, often people need to extract useful data from their PDF files in order to feed content managements systems, publish to the web or edit drawings and illustrations. Visual Integrity has been offering reliable and accurate solutions to convert, create, merge and modify PDF files for more than 17 years.
Frequently Asked Questions
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)
Visual Integrity is well know for turning PDF into other formats but our software is also an excellent choice for creating PDF files. Unlike other technologies which use printer-drivers as an intermediate step to create their PDF-files, we have developed core technology which generates the PDF-file directly from within our engine. This leads to a faster, more accurate conversion.
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.
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.
Products from Visual Integrity are designed to convert all well-formed PDF files. If a PDF file was created in an application, it should convert successfully in either vector or image mode. However, if a PDF file was created by a scanner and has already been reduced in the process to a flat image, it will only convert in image mode. If you encounter a file that does not convert or returns errors, send it to us so we can troubleshoot it. These problems are most often caused by poorly formed PDF files.
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”.
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.
- Convert the PDF file to WMF, EMF or SVG (see which format produces the best results for your file) using pdf2picture. WMF and EMF are the native vector graphic formats for Microsoft applications. SVG is supported by Visio and is the standard vector graphic format for web-sites.
- Open the converted file in Visio. You can do this by “right-clicking” on the file and choosing “Open with Microsoft Visio” or by selecting “Open, File” (choose the correct file type, for example, Windows Metafile (WMF). > details (PDF)
- Adjust your drawing. You should see your file on the screen now. Adjust your paper size and orientation if necessary. Ungroup the Drawing. Select “Shape, Grouping, Ungroup…” to explode the drawing into individual editable objects and you are ready to make any changes that you want.
- Save as Visio Drawing. That’s it. Once you save the drawing, it is now in the native .vsd format and ready to share with your colleagues if necessary
A Few Words of Caution
- Is your drawing scanned? Before converting, make sure that your PDF file in not a scanned image. If it is, it can not be edited at the object level using this approach. To see if your file can be converted or not, open it in Adobe Acrobat and magnify it to 1000%. If the lines look smooth, you’ll have success. If the lines look jagged or boxy, it is scanned and you will need to use a different approach. > more on how to determine what type of PDF file you have.
- Text as curves. Sometimes, when drawings are originally authored in CAD systems, the text is “plotted” when it is saved to PDF. This means that the text is converted to a series of pen strokes or “curves” and the character information is lost. In this case, you will not be able to edit the text but you will have a graphical representation of it that you can use or replace in context. If you just find that the font does not match the original file, you may need to use the font mapping feature during conversion.
- Objects or shapes? When the drawing is saved to PDF, all information about pre-defined shapes is lost. When opened in Visio, an octagon is eight lines which can be grouped or ungrouped.
- Mind your Memory. Because of the large number of objects in many Visio drawings generated from PDF files, you’ll need a bit of power on your desktop. Every file is different so it’s hard for us to make general recommendations. If you find that the file is opening slowly or takes a while to refresh, you’ll need more memory. It’s not unusual for a converted PDF file to be comprised of more than 50,000 individual objects. This may sound intimidating but pdf2picture makes quick work of it!
- Ask for Advice. If you try to convert a PDF but are not getting the results you expect, ask us to troubleshoot it for you. It’s free and we are happy to help you achieve optimal results. Just send your PDF file tous along with a brief description and your contact info. The most complete requests are handled first.