The Export Document to Geospatial PDF utility exports a MAPublisher document to the Adobe Acrobat geospatial PDF format. It has the ability to retain georeferencing and attribute information (however image attributes are not supported). All layers can be exported to PDF, including non-MAP layers (regular Adobe Illustrator layers).

The geospatial PDF files exported from MAPublisher are compatible with Adobe Acrobat 9 and higher. The Adobe Acrobat Analysis Tools allow viewing and marking coordinates, viewing attributes, measuring distances, perimeters and areas.

With Acrobat Pro and Pro Extended (version 9), the measurement tool is always enabled. To enable this tool in Acrobat Reader (standard), the file must first be opened in Acrobat Pro to enable annotations on the PDF (go to Comments > Enable for commenting and analysis).

information Geospatial PDF files can also be opened in Adobe Acrobat 8, however no geospatial information will be visible, only attributes.


Export Document to Geospatial PDF can only be used with MAPublisher documents, meaning that it must contain at least one MAP View with a specified coordinate system. All coordinate systems within MAPublisher are supported, including user-defined systems*. Multiple MAP Views are supported with no limitation. Individual document size must be smaller than 14,400 pixel by 14,400 pixel to maintain correct georeferencing.

* With some unusual coordinate systems, measurements in Adobe Acrobat may not give proper results. This is an Adobe Acrobat limitation. Predefined coordinate systems with an EPSG code will provide accurate results.

Adobe Illustrator documents created using MAPublisher legacy versions (8.1 or earlier) as well as documents created by third-party software (such as Cartographica) must be opened, saved and closed with at least MAPublisher 8.3 prior to exporting to geospatial PDF. If these steps are not taken, a warning may be prompted on export and the Adobe Acrobat data tools will not function properly.

information Some Adobe Illustrator effects are not supported during export. The attributes will not be visible for objects with the following effects:
• All Adobe Photoshop effects
• Any effect that modifies the outline shape of the artwork will cause attributes to fail. (e.g. Warp effects, Convert to Shape, 3D effects, Distort and Transform, and some of the Pathfinder effects).
• Any effect that rasterizes the art will cause attributes to fail (several SVG filters do this).
• Gradient Fills are supported, although transparency gradients (going from opaque to transparent) and Gradient Mesh are not supported.

Geospatial Information Extents

A geospatial PDF only contains geographic information in the extent covered by a MAP View. In other words, Adobe Acrobat Geospatial Location Tool and Measurement Tool will not work outside the spatial extents of a MAP View. To increase the extents of the MAP View so that it covers a larger part of the document, create a polygon on a MAP area layer.

Layers and MAP Views Structure

All layers in the Adobe Illustrator document are exported including locked and hidden layers. The visibility status is maintained in the exported geospatial PDF, however not the locking status. Locking layers must be done within Adobe Acrobat.

Layer name and order are maintained as they are in the Adobe Illustrator document (with the exception of nested layers). Layers must have a unique name. If multiple layers have the same name, a warning message is prompted upon export. Adobe Acrobat does not support nested layers and only the top most (parent) layers are shown in the Layer List. Objects in nested layers are still exported but they are included in the parent layer. Use caution when using nested MAP Layers and non-MAP layers together.

All MAP Views are exported in the order that they appear in the MAP Views panel (alphabetical): the top most is exported first and lowest is exported last. If some MAP Views are overlapping, the positions shown in Adobe Acrobat are calculated based on the coordinate system of the first exported MAP View (the top most one in the MAP Views panel). When working with inset maps, the inset MAP View should be placed at the top of the tree in the MAP Views panel (using an appropriate MAP View name since the order is alphabetical).

information Due to Adobe Acrobat limitations, attributes of Text layers cannot be exported. In addition, <compound path> objects that have an element outside the artboard are exported without attributes.

Attribute Names

Only visible attributes for map objects are exported to PDF. The attribute name displayed in the Adobe Acrobat Model Tree Property list corresponds directly to the attribute Display Name specified in the MAP Attributes panel.

Prior to exporting, delete or hide/display relevant attributes in the MAP Attributes panel (through the Edit Schema dialog box or using the Show/Hide button). The Edit Schema dialog box is also used to change the attribute display name:


Using Export Document to Geospatial PDF

To export to geospatial PDF, click Export > Export Document to Geospatial PDF on the MAPublisher Toolbar.

The Geospatial PDF Export Settings dialog box opens to offer the export options described hereafter. After settings are made, click Export to choose an export directory and file name.

If a preserved geospatial PDF is opened in Adobe Illustrator and some changes are made, the file will have to be exported again using the Export Document to Geospatial PDF function. Simply saving the document will not maintain the geospatial capabilities of the PDF.

To save geospatial PDF export settings, click the Save Settings button, choose a location and specify a filename. Files are saved as *.pes format. To load a geospatial PDF export settings file, click the Load Settings button and browse for a *.pes file.

The Profiles drop-down list contains pre-configured optimization settings. Choose from Standard, No Layer List, No Model Tree, No Attributes or Avenza Maps (the mobile app). The No Layer List profile removes Layer List settings so that layers do not appear in the Layers List in Adobe Acrobat. The No Model Tree profile removes Model Tree settings. The No Attributes profile removes all attribute settings. The Avenza Maps profile removes Layer List and Model Tree settings and disables the Embed AI file within PDF option to minimize file size. Choose Standard to enable all standard settings.



In the Content tab check or uncheck the MAP Layers to include or exclude during export to geospatial PDF. It is the default tab when the Geospatial PDF Export Settings dialog box opens.




Layer List & Model Tree

The Layer List & Model Tree tab provides all the settings to customize what will be displayed in the Adobe Acrobat Layer List and Model Tree.


By default, all available MAP Layers that can be exported are listed. To prevent specific layers from being exported, click the Content tab and uncheck the check box beside a layer. Layers not being exported are grayed out in the Layer List & Model Tree tab.

information Disabling layers in the Content tab or loading a settings file that may have a different layer order will cause the document to reflect the changes after export. After export, use Undo to restore it to its current state.


To group layers, select multiple layers and click the Group button. Grouped layers can be included in both Adobe Acrobat Layer List and Model Tree, however, its sub-layer names are not shown in the Layer List (the features are shown under the parent group name). Click the Group or Sort settings drop-down list to quickly group by MAP View or by feature type; or sort by name or by feature type. Click Ungroup all to ungroup everything at once.


To include a MAP layer or group in the Adobe Acrobat Layer List, select a MAP layer or group in the list on the left and check the Include in Layer List option. An icon indicating that it will be included in the Layer List will be visible in the list.


The sub-layer icon appears when a MAP layer is currently a sub-layer (i.e. child of a parent layer). Sub-layers cannot be included in the Adobe Acrobat Layer List, only its parent layer can be. However, a sub-layer can be included in the Model Tree.


To include a MAP layer or group in the Adobe Acrobat Model Tree, select a MAP layer or group in the list on the left and check the Include in Model Tree option. An icon indicating that it will be included in the Model Tree will be visible in the list. This option enables additional Model Tree settings. Enable Include feature attributes to include all visible attributes of the layer. Enable Use attribute for feature name to use an attribute value as the name for each feature. Use the Attribute and Sort order drop-down lists to choose the appropriate settings.


It his highly recommended to enable these settings. By default, the name of the objects displayed in the Structure Pane of the Model Tree are derived from the map object's name as shown in the Adobe Illustrator Layers Panel. The default names given by Adobe Illustrator to objects are often meaningless an end user. For example, lines and areas have a default name of <Path> or <Compound Path>, points have the name of the symbol or ordering number. In Adobe Acrobat, the Model Tree displays a list of all the map objects in the document along with their attribute information (if applicable), organized in a tree structure in MAP View/Layer Name/Object Name—see next section on how to view a geospatial PDF.



In the Options tab, the Embed AI file within PDF option preserves Adobe Illustrator editing capabilities in the exported geospatial PDF. This option is enabled by default. When the Adobe Illustrator editing capabilities are preserved, users will be able to retrieve MAP Views, MAP Layers and MAP Attributes when opening the geospatial PDF in Adobe Illustrator (see more about Geospatial PDF Import). When this option is disabled, the geospatial PDF will open in Adobe Illustrator with no georeferencing or attribute information and all layers will be merged into one—this may be useful for secured documents.



The exported geospatial PDF can be opened in Adobe Acrobat—the geographic reference and attribute information are available for query (see next section).

The default PDF settings are applied, regardless of any specific preferences set elsewhere:

Compatibility: Acrobat 8, PDF 1.7.

General: Embed Page Thumbnails and Create Acrobat Layers from Top-Level Layers.

Compression: no image compression, Compress Text and Line Art is enabled.

Security: no master or user password required.


information After export, the document will be modified and an Undo will be needed to restore it to its current state.

information Layers exported without attributes can be seen in the Adobe Acrobat Layers panel, but not in the Model Tree.

information During export, a warning may appear: "Multiple Art Objects Matched - One or more features shared the same geometry". This simply states that the layers listed in the warning have objects that are close enough in proximity to each other that they are indistinguishable. There is an option in the warning to select these objects in the event that the user may want to work on them.

To change PDF file settings (compression, password access, etc.) open the exported geospatial PDF file in Adobe Acrobat Pro or Pro Extended (version 9) and resave the document.

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Last updated: 4/12/2019