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importing PDF's to re-create lost files

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Unhappily I lost a file tonight that will not be recovered in time it seems (tomorrow) if ever. So I am going to busy myself with importing the pdf's I took of its pages today into a new drawing to make corrections.

Does anyone have any clever suggestions on how I can make this easier or more legible (they are all 22x30 @ 300 res) ? it seems files get cumbersome with this practice.

Or maybe you guys know some things to avoid.



Mac OSX 10.6.8 with (I know its very wrong) VW 12.3

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How do you "ungroup your pdf back into lines?"

When I ungroup a PDF, it just turns into a bitmap image.

If I convert it to lines, it actually does turn into a bunch of lines. However, it's not WYSIWYG: all of the callouts, for example, are just converted into rectangles. I ask 'cause I'd love a way to convert finished drawings to WYSIWYG AutoCAD DWG drawings (you know, where text and line weights are preserved; best would be to also preserve classes & their colors, and especially not have lines stacked on top of each other...).

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PDF's can contain bitmap or vector information or both.

If you export as pdf in Vectorworks it creates both bitmap and vector images. Other programs may not.

If you import a PDF, you can ungroup it. This will create a number of objects, dependant on how the pdf was created.

Assuming that the pdf was created in Vectorworks...

One will be a bitmap, another will be a filled white rectangle which occludes the vector representations then there will be the vector data, which may be grouped per viewport, layer or class depending on the options used to export.

What you need to do is delete the bitmap and solid rectangle (possibly a few others) and you should find your vector information.


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So after you imported the PDF and ungrouped the OIP said that only 2 objects were selected? One of these was the bitmap and the other was a white filled rectangle? Nothing else?

If so, that Is not my experience.

What settings did you use when you exported the PDF AC this controls what is in the PDF. I can't think of anything that would cause only a raster bitmap to be generated.

Are you sure you definitely used the Vectorworks export function and not another method such as printing to PDF?

Another thing worth doing is checking whether the imported PDF is snapable.

It would be worth listing your OS version and Vectorworks version.

Edit: I see you have done that. Older versions of VW don't have some of the PDF capabilities. Maybe that is the problem Maybe send me a small (im on 3G at moment) PDF and I will see what it contains.

Edited by IanH
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On a clean sheet import one of the PDF pages.

cmd K to convert to group

cmd U to ungroup

cmd A to select all

How many items are listed as selected in the Object Info Palette? There are typically two or three or four.

One is the bounding rectangle - delete this

One may be a bitmap image - delete this

One may be a blank rectangle - delete this

Usually the remaining one is a group of vector lines which you can reuse. It is these that you snap to when snapping to a pdf.

I have seen cases where the resulting group of vector lines are practically useless but this is not always so, especially if they originated in VW.

If none of this works I'd import & scale the pdf and on a new layer draw over/ mask and just make it work.

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BCD said "... and just make it work"

YUP been doing just that for the last 6 hours...its my whole winters rent at stake, but I keep checking here hoping for a miracle..

I only get two things: a bitmap, a rectangle.

When I import them they are to scale exactly...should I be worried about that?

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I think the problem is with your old v12 Vectorworks. Snapable PDF came later than that (2009?) so I suspect that v12 just discards the vector data.

Any chance of getting a 2012 eval copy then you can import in that and export an older file. Not sure if 2012 exports as old as v12 so that may not work anyway.

If your life depends on it and you cant work with the bitmaps, upgrading may be best option although you would still need to check if your pdf's contain vector information in the first place.

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Anyone needig to do this please note when I took the pdf's apart figuring I could at least erase the rectangle beyond for better resolution- that was not the case..I had better res with the pdf intact and of course LOCKED in place when I had to write/draw over it.

little white boxes hid things but I sure wish I could "cut" holes in it.

making the best of a bad sitch here in the beautiful Catskills :)


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I would have upgraded in a minute last night but with no sleep, fear factor, etc thats the last thing I would have needed if you know what I mean.

But you can bet thats coming next week after I freak on my geek who detonated my time machine...I know I know I should have had another back up.

thanks all!

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