Microsoft Visio and Adobe InDesign and Illustrator are popular source programs for producing layered PDF files. Visio gives you the power to use one document structure and layer the information and data as needed. InDesign and Illustrator offer collections of PDF presets for export, and you can specify separate layers in most of those presets.
Why Bother with Layers?
In some cases, you should always flatten a document, such as a drawing certified by an engineer, to preserve its integrity. In other cases, feel free to layer away. A layered PDF document can be a terrific advertising tool. Instead of showing your customer one product image and some color swatches, put the alternate colors on different layers and let your client click through bookmarked layers, viewing the product in its varying colors.
Layered Visio Files
Layers convert using the settings you choose in Visio's Layer Properties dialog box, such as visibility, locks, and names. In the Adobe PDF program menu, choose Adobe PDF > Convert all Pages in Drawing to include all layers, including the background. Select basic conversion options as with the other PDFMakers.
The Visio PDFMaker settings include options for embedded data. Choose Adobe PDF > Change Conversion Settings to display the Acrobat PDFMaker dialog box. In the Application Settings area on the General tab, look for options to include Visio properties, as well as how to manage objects without custom properties (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 Specify how to handle objects and their data in the dialog box.
The conversion process in Visio uses a multipanel PDFMaker. As you step through the PDFMaker, be sure to identify how you want to manage the exported layers. For ease of use in the exported PDF, consider grouping layers into layer sets.
Layered InDesign Documents
You can export documents from InDesign (CS and newer) with retained layers that display as PDF layers in Acrobat.
Choose File > Export and select PDF from the Save As Type pop-up list in the Export dialog box. The Export Adobe PDF dialog box opens automatically (see Figure 2).
Figure 2 Define layer settings when exporting a PDF from InDesign.
Layered Illustrator Documents
As in InDesign, you choose a preset for converting to PDF. Unlike in InDesign, however, you don't export the file; instead, you simply choose the File > Save As command. The default Illustrator Adobe PDF preset includes exporting layers (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 Choose layering options in a PDF file saved from Illustrator.
Using the AutoCAD PDFMaker
Acrobat 9 Pro includes a Windows-only PDFMaker for AutoCAD. Here are some tips for working with the AutoCAD PDFMaker:
- Page size and plotting information transfer from AutoCAD to the PDFMaker automatically to specify the right page size.
- Click PDF Layer Settings to open a menu listing settings previously created and saved. Choose the setting you want to use, and click OK to return to the Acrobat PDFMaker dialog box, where the selected settings are displayed.
- After you convert an AutoCAD drawing to PDF, you have to resave the AutoCAD drawing again to store the PDF settings.
- Use the Named Layer Filters options in the Acrobat PDFMaker dialog box to select a filter that fits specific criteria. If you want to use all layers except those filtered on your named criteria, click the Invert option.
- Click Create Layer Set to add a folder to the Layers in PDF list, and then add layers to the folder. After you convert the document to PDF, when you open it in Acrobat, the layers in the original AutoCAD drawing are arranged in layer sets, which makes it much simpler for users to view specific parts of a drawing.
Issues When Exporting Layered PDFs
Keep these ideas in mind as you prepare for a PDF export:
- Compatibility must be set to Acrobat 6.0 (PDF 1.5) or higher to support the layers.
- Make sure that Create Acrobat Layers is selected in the Export Adobe PDF dialog box.
- Select the layer options from the Export Layers pop-up menu—choose from Visible, Printable, and Visible & Printable options.