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Extract Data from a PDF
Tip# 3420 By Bonnie Bilski On 17-May-2010
Rated By 1 users
Categories : Image
Software type : AutoCAD 2010
Rename File To : No Files to download.
Pull an image from a PDF document to place it in an AutoCAD drawing or other file type.

Bonnie Bilski shares a tip on extracting image data from a PDF to use in another file type.

"Sometimes clients or vendors provide you with PDF files instead of DWG files, and you need to get the data out of the PDF and into your drawing or report. The following steps explain how to extract an image from a PDF document so you can place it in an AutoCAD drawing file, a Word document, a presentation, etc.
1. You must have Adobe Acrobat installed on your hard drive.
2. Once you have opened the PDF, choose Tools > Select & Zoom > Snapshot Tool
3. Click the upper-left corner of the image or figure you want to copy, and hold the mouse button down while you and drag a rectangle around it. Release the mouse button and Acrobat will copy the selected area to the clipboard.
4. Paste the image or figure into an AutoCAD drawing file or other type of file.
You can manipulate the sharpness of the pasted image by increasing or reducing the magnification of the image."
Notes from Cadalyst Tip Patrol: PDF files are common file formats that are used throughout the design world. They aren't that easy to work with, however, if you need to use the data contained in them.

Using proprietary software that can edit PDF files, like Adobe Acrobat, is a great way to go. Not only can you select portions of the PDF file and copy them, you can also extract image files from the PDF. You can even convert PDF files into other image types (like JPG or TIF). AutoCAD can reference PDF files directly into your model or drawing as an overlay (if you lack access to Adobe Acrobat, you can work with them this way). If the PDF was made from another AutoCAD file, and was made with AutoCAD's print-to-PDF tool, then the linework will retain its layering and you can snap to the objects.

Plotting AutoCAD files to PDF using AutoCAD's tools is a great way to protect your data when you send it to outside groups; it provides the data in a form others can work with, but protects it at the same time. You might also want to try DWF files.


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User comments
Comment by Anonymous
Posted on 2010-05-17 14:27:53
With Design Review it seems a little easier. Just open a pdf file in Design Review and it converts it to a dwf file. From there it is a little easier to clean up the drawing and it means you do not have to have the Adobe program thus saving you more money/time.
Comment by Kellogg,c. Frank
Posted on 2010-05-17 16:27:46
I also use the Adobe snapshot tool extensively, to measure lengths and areas. I take a snapshot of the area, and paste it into a basic Paint program. Then I save it as a monochrome bitmap. Next, I bring the file into ACAD (Insert | Image), and scale it to full size, using a known dimension (helps to have a dimension in the snapshot). By saving as a monochrome bitmap, the raster image takes on the on the properties of the layer it is on, and the lines are not fuzzy. Then I can draw all over the place and check dimensions that were not provided. For instance, I draw one long polyline following the perimeter of a corridor, to get a lineal footage for baseboard trim. One hitch, the raster image keeps jumping to the front, and I keep having to draworder it to the back. A setting I recently found in Adobe, is under Edit | Preferences | General, there is an option to set the snapshot tool resolution to a fixed number. I use 300pixels/inch and, however far I am zoomed in or out, the image is the same precision. The snapshot tool should be available in any of the free downloads of Adobe Reader, but it may not show up. You have to look for it in the View | Toolbars | More Tools, down under the Select & Zoom toolbar. Also, there is a print screen option for doing the same thing. Holding the Alt key while hitting the Print Screen key will place the currently active window onto the clipboard, and from there, that image can be pasted into another program, or into Paint, to crop it down. After cropping, just Ctrl A to select all and copy/paste it again without even having to save the image as a file.
Comment by Anonymous
Posted on 2010-05-18 08:53:56
Sometimes you can actually extract vector data from PDF's. If you zoom in on a PDF and the linework stays clear you have a good chance of extracting the vetor data from it, otherwise if it's real fuzzy it's probably a bitmap image. To get the linework out of the PDF I use CorelDraw. I think this can be done with Illustrator too. I simply import the PDF and select Ungroup All; this is similar to explode in AutoCAD. Then I simply export it to a DWG. The text and dimensions come in exploded so that usually has to be redone but it beats redrawing the whole drawing.