Monday, July 28, 2014

App Review: Able2Extract 8 ( Extract CAD Drawings from PDF)

I don't know what it is, but this PDF thing is here to stay.  I know we send and receive PDF files of drawings all day almost everyday.  The big pain with PDF files and designing in CAD software is fact that they never play well with each other.  You would think the best way to get the information that you need from a PDF you receive is to just convert it, well that is what the people at Able2Extract does best.  Enjoy a great application tutorial on just how simple it is to convert a PDF file to a DWG or DXF file.

We often use PDF as a secure way to send and share drawings created in AutoCAD. Some of the main reasons for this are:

        PDF is platform-independent, which means that anyone can open and view the shared files from any device (personal computer, tablet or smartphone), running on any operating system (Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, iOS).
        PDF locks the formatting, layout and contents of the drawing (vector images and text), and thus ensures that the recipient of the file will see drawings and other files just as they were intended to be seen.
        With the right PDF maker, it is possible to create secure, password-protected files and control who can view, open, print or edit your work.

PDF, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, is not editable. It is possible to annotate it, bookmark or highlight its contents, but if you need to modify vector images and text locked n the PDF, you need to have access to the original DWG or DXF file, or convert the PDF to AutoCAD supported formats.

Chances are that you have the .dwg version of the drawing if you are the one who originally drew it in AutoCAD. But if you received a PDF from someone who expects you to change the drawing, or if you archived some of your older drawings in PDF and permanently deleted the source AutoCAD file, then a PDF to CAD converter is your best chance for getting the vector images and text recovered from PDF.

Able2Extract PDF to AutoCAD converter, developed by, is one possible choice. It is in reality a very comprehensive PDF conversion utility which converts PDF to multiple file formats like Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, OpenOffice formats, HTML, as well as AutoCAD supported formats.

Despite its comprehensiveness and variety of conversion options, the software uses a very simple and straightforward approach to extracting content from a PDF: 3-step conversion (Open-Select-Convert) to any of the available output formats.

For example, if you want to extract vector graphics and text from PDF into fully editable .DXF or .DWG files, you would start the program installed on your computer like any other piece of software and follow these three steps:

1. Open the file.
2. Select the part of the PDF that you want to convert -- it can be the entire document or an individual drawing or area -- you can virtually pinpoint the vector image or other content that you want extracted.
3. Choose your output format (AutoCAD) and Convert using the standard settings that will work for most files.

Despite the obvious simplicity of the process, you can also customize your conversion output prior to conversion. For example, you can specify the preferred AutoCAD supported format, your AutoCAD compatible color palette, units (millimeters or inches), and so on. Able2Extract also allows you to save your standard conversion settings, so you don’t have to waste time on adjusting output settings every time you need to convert PDF to AutoCAD formats.

Able2Extract works very well and the result of conversion is very good. Pro tip: If you convert to DWG and are not happy with the result, go back and convert it to DXF. The resulting DXF is usually flawless, and you can save the DXF as DWG.

Able2Extract PDF converter is available on all three major platforms: Windows, MacOS and Linux (Fedora and Ubuntu downloads are both available). It is free to download and use for 7 days. The full time license to Able2Extract can be purchased for $99.95. It can also be obtained as a 30-day subscription for $34.95, in the case that you are not a regular PDF user but only need it for a current project, for instance.