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Illegible Mac Bricscad pdf text output when viewed in Adobe Reader

I've found when I plot to pdf from my Mac BCAD, then view the resulting pdf in Adobe Reader, the curved portions of all the text objects are smeared (for want of a better word). When viewed in Preview all is clear and sharp. As I zoom into the pdf, the letters become clearer and I can see the "smearing" coming from the curves (actually the angle points of the facets that make up the curves) of the letters. This is problematic when I send pdfs out to clients and consultants who work on Windows PCs as they are difficult for them to read. My repro shop does not see this problem as they have told me they use different PDF software. Attached is a pdf and a screen shot of a typical pdf output. Has anyone else out there had this problem? Any solutions?

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pdf text example.pdf
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Screen Shot 2020-03-27 at 1.01.00 PM.png
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Comments

  • We had something like that a few years ago. It wasn't the same distortion, but it was similar in that it was only visible in the PDF file and it disappeared as one zoomed in. I myself didn't have the problem, but other people in the firm, who were using Autocad, did.

    I experimented and discovered that it happened only when they used the Publish command. If they printed individual sheets and then bound them together with Acrobat there was no distortion.

    The distortion was visible in any PDF reader I tried it in. Curiously, if I took the PDF files they created in that way and re-distilled them with PDF Creator, that made the distortion go away. Have you tried a different PDF printer? Or printing as individual sheets?

  • @Jeff King

    Your pdf-file does not contain any text (in a technical sense, because all font glyphs have been exploded to curves).
    I guess you had set PDFTTFTEXTASGEOMETRY to 1 when exporting or printing to pdf. This is generally a bad idea; it increases file size considerably, and decreases print and display quality, sometimes drastically. You should try again with pdf export settings as depicted in PdfExportSettings.png.

    If you are interested why the kinks around some of the characters occur, have a look at PdfTextAsGeometry.png, this is a close-up of your file re-imported into BricsCAD:
    The filling of curved font outlines has been triangulated. If you now imagine the triangle borders getting rendered with a stroke width (many pdf-viewers apply a minimum width to zero-width vectors), it becomes clear that this has to produce kinks overshooting the character boundary - the smaller the character gets displayed, the worse this effect hits...

    PdfExportSettings.png
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    PdfTextAsGeometry.png
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  • Knut,
    many thanks, changing PDFTTFTEXTASGEOMETRY to 0 worked. Now I've got clarity of text!

  • Hmm, I just posted on a similar issue I have only with BricsCAD PDF's and only when viewing with SoftMaker FlexiPDF. FPDF works fine on any other PDF, including AutoCAD plots to PDF, and the BC PDF plots look fine in any other viewer that I've tried. This issue has persisted through multiple versions of FPDF and of BC.

    I'm going to go check that variable, set it to 0 if not, and retry.

  • PDFTTFTEXTASGEOMETRY was already set to 0. Tried it at 1 just for giggles, no improvement. Since I'm using a SIMPLEX-based style, I also tried PDFSHXTEXTASGEOMETRY both ways. No improvement. Also PDFEMBEDDEDTTF and PDFIMAGEANTIALIAS with no improvement.

    Found that the problem persists with all the SHX fonts I tried, but tried a couple Windows TTF fonts and those work fine. BUT....I tried both settings of PDFSHXTEXTASGEOMETRY and neither works correctly. Hmmm.....

  • I can confirm that PDFSHXTEXTASGEOMETRY seems to have no effect, at least not on V19 and V20 on linux - SHX texts are always exported as curves. Why these curves display so badly in FlexiPDF can probably only be answered by its developers.
    As a workaround you could use a ttf-version of the simplex.shx font (easily found), like the one attached.

    zip
    zip
    Simplex.ttf.zip
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  • The issue with TTF fonts for me is that I map colors to lineweights (I'm one of those dinosaurs that learned to draft in pencil on vellum and ink on Mylar, so a good look for the drawing is a must for me). If you use a TTF font, the PDF printer ignores the color and it doesn't apply the lineweight.

    I like FlexiPDF because it has a pretty clean UI and would have liked to use it, but I browsed various settings (both in FPDF and for the virtual PDF printer in BC), and couldn't find anything that made any difference. Instead, I just upgraded to the paid version of my default reader, PDF-XChange, so I get the PDF utility functionality I need (merging files, inserting, excerpting or deleting pages, rotating pages, etc., not really much PDF generation per se, but more just PDF document composition). FlexiPDF has a bit cleaner UI, but PDFXC is still pretty good in that respect, plus has a couple functionality advantages of its own as well (in addition to actually working, of course!)

  • In fact, I actually change the color of text to something that stands out on screen and prints on paper extra bold to denote stuff that still needs editing and review. I even have lisp routines that make that functionality into a 2-character command, so it's very much part of my default workflow.

    I definitely have to have color-to-lineweight mapping work, and especially so for text, so just converting to the use of PDF-XChange as the document compilation app is a good solution for me. Thanks for helping me figure out what the issue was!

  • @SteveDaniels said:
    The issue with TTF fonts for me is that I map colors to lineweights (I'm one of those dinosaurs that learned to draft in pencil on vellum and ink on Mylar, so a good look for the drawing is a must for me).

    I drew with pencil and ink, too, for many years. At one time I thought I might be able to retire before I had to start using cad. But I started using it in 1989 and haven't touched a leadholder or Rapidograph since about 1995.

    Mapping color to lineweight isn't the only way to get lines of different weights in the PDF file. You can also do that by assigning the desired lineweight to each entity and telling your plot style table to "use entity lineweight." Or by not using a plot style table at all and instead telling Bricscad's Page Setup dialog to "plot entity lineweights." If you assign entity lineweight, you also have the option of seeing the lineweights while you're drawing, a system that was called WYSIWYG thirty years ago when all other software was changing to it.

    If you use a TTF font, the PDF printer ignores the color and it doesn't apply the lineweight.

    Lineweights don't apply to TTF characters because they aren't made up of lines. No lines, so no lineweight. Each character is a complex vector graphics image. The way to get lighter or heavier TTF text is to use the light or medium or bold version of the font and/or by applying "bold" to the text in the mtext editor. Also, larger letters are automatically darker because everything scales up, not just the height of the letters.

    If you use TTF fonts in the cad file, then the text in the PDF file will be searchable and selectable, just like text in a PDF file made from any non-Autocad-based source. And the text will be more attractive, too.

  • @Anthony Apostolaros said:
    I drew with pencil and ink, too, for many years. At one time I thought I might be able to retire before I had to start using cad. But I started using it in 1989 and haven't touched a leadholder or Rapidograph since about 1995.

    Mapping color to lineweight isn't the only way to get lines of different weights in the PDF file. You can also do that by assigning the desired lineweight to each entity and telling your plot style table to "use entity lineweight." Or by not using a plot style table at all and instead telling Bricscad's Page Setup dialog to "plot entity lineweights." If you assign entity lineweight, you also have the option of seeing the lineweights while you're drawing, a system that was called WYSIWYG thirty years ago when all other software was changing to it.

    I'm aware. Colors work better for me because they differentiate better on screen. On screen, I'd definitely not want to just use lineweights.

    Lineweights don't apply to TTF characters because they aren't made up of lines. No lines, so no lineweight. Each character is a complex vector graphics image. The way to get lighter or heavier TTF text is to use the light or medium or bold version of the font and/or by applying "bold" to the text in the mtext editor. Also, larger letters are automatically darker because everything scales up, not just the height of the letters.

    Right, once I figured out with everyone's help what was happening I wasn't unclear on the why, just don't accept it for my drawings. Also, plot-style lineweights beat built-in font versions because with plot-styles I have near-infinite resolution in how bold to make the line, as well as the option for as many lineweights as I want vs. at most two or three in a TTF font.

    If you use TTF fonts in the cad file, then the text in the PDF file will be searchable and selectable, just like text in a PDF file made from any non-Autocad-based source.

    I can see the advantage there, although for the type work that I do, I've never had the need in four decades or so to search text within a PDF of a drawing. I see how it's a definite advantage though. Strangely, it's probably not something my approach is going to cost me anyway, because I was mentioning in the other thread that when viewed in PDF-XChange the text does highlight with a mouse-swipe and cuts and pastes as text into other documents. So, I assume it's also searchable.

    And the text will be more attractive, too.

    Oh, that's where you're definitely wrong. If you use a TTF, it's going to look like a Windows document. Who would want that when you can have a real technical drawing look? I even expended effort finding single line fonts to use on the laser-engraver I use for UL nameplates so I could get a rounded-end bit-engraved look rather than a Windows document look. I'm old school, what can I tell you.

  • @SteveDaniels said:
    Oh, that's where you're definitely wrong. If you use a TTF, it's going to look like a Windows document. Who would want that when you can have a real technical drawing look?

    Each to his own taste, I guess.

    SHX vs TTF.png
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    image.png
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  • Yeah, that's a nice font! I could definitely see using it for architectural drawings or electrical or mechanical drawings for building docs. In fact, it actually looks like my lettering when I was in that business for a few years. I'm in OEM equipment and controls, though, so the standard is a neutral style like we learned to do in school (and the rounded-end thing is just a traditional preference on my part so it doesn't look like a Windows or a typewritten font) except for the occasional goofball that thinks you can base an acceptable drafting font on the TXT SHX font! Since I started using AutoCAD in 1984, I've been using SIMPLEX because it approximates a neutral drafting font and I'm pretty happy with it. In this case, for example, all I needed to do was get better software for compositing the PDF files.

  • Yeah, that's a nice font! I could definitely see using it for architectural drawings or electrical or mechanical drawings for building docs. In fact, it actually looks like my lettering when I was in that business for a few years. I'm in OEM equipment and controls, though, so the standard is a neutral style like we learned to do in school (and the rounded-end thing is just a traditional preference on my part so it doesn't look like a Windows or a typewritten font) except for the occasional goofball that thinks you can base an acceptable drafting font on the TXT SHX font! Since I started using AutoCAD in 1984, I've been using SIMPLEX because it approximates a neutral drafting font and I'm pretty happy with it. In this case, for example, all I needed to do was get better software for compositing the PDF files.

  • Just thought to follow up and find out if in fact the PDFs created using SHX fonts came out searchable. I thought they might be because highlighting via mouse swipe seemed aware of the text lines and cut and paste to a word processor doc worked properly, but out of curiosity I thought I'd check for sure. The following is the result of a search for "blower" across PDFs in the drawing directory. It seems I get the best of both worlds! ;)

    Searchable PDF.jpg
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