CLEAR Research

Maps on the Web


Pros/Cons GeoPDFs are still relatively new, so people are just learning about them. To use a GeoPDF you need only Adobe Reader and an additional free GeoPDF toolbar. With a GeoPDF you can access and search feature attributes, turn layers on and off, make length and area measurements, pass locations to and open Google Maps, view positions in up to 3 coordinates systems as you move the mouse around the map, import and add shapefiles, KMLs and other spatial formats, add mark-up elements to maps and export them to KML and shapefile formats.
Required in order to Create To create a GeoPDF you need a mapping application like ArcMap and a GeoPDF authoring program such as TerraGo Technologies Map2PDF. ArcMap 9.3 can create a geographically enabled PDF but it is not as easy to use as one created with Map2PDF. To enable a GeoPDF so it can be marked up in Adobe Reader, you need Adobe Acrobat Professional.
Know-how Necessary Basic ArcMap. Leverages some of the power of Acrobat Reader that many people may not know exists.
Cost $1400 ~ commercial cost Map2PDF for ArcGIS.
$2700 ~ commercial cost Map2PDF bundle for ArcGIS.
$1000/year for a University 10 seat license (includes TerraGo's Map2PDF bundle)
Free toolbar for the user (Adobe Reader).
Requires to Use User needs only Acrobat Reader and the GeoPDF toolbar (both free). Publisher needs a Terrago software license.

Creating GeoPDF Documents

With the Map2PDF extension (or Map2PDF bundle) for ArcGIS installed, any map document can be exported as a GeoPDF (File menu > Export Map > choose Terrago GeoPDF as the type).

You have the ability to choose which layers will be exported and which layers will have attributes associated with them. It's also worth noting that ArcGIS scale-dependent layer visibility is maintained in the exported GeoPDF. GeoPDF is a great way to share maps with users who are not GIS users but may benefit from some geospatial functionality beyond a static PDF.

GeoMark Enabling GeoPDF Documents

You can enable a GeoPDF for mark-ups using just Adobe Reader but you will need the Professional version of Adobe Acrobat to enable it (Comments > Enable for Commenting and Analysis in Adobe Reader...).

Using GeoPDF Documents:

When a user tries to open a PDF document that has been stored in the GeoPDF format, Acrobat Reader will automatically detect that the file is a GeoPDF. If the user does not have the free GeoPDF toolbar installed, the following pop-up will appear:

This will send the user to the Terrago website to download the toolbar

With the GeoPDF toolbar installed in Acrobat Reader a user can:

Getting feature information (attributes) relies on the Adobe Reader Object Data Tool (see Tools > Analysis in Adobe Reader). Using the Object Data Tool, a user can click on a map feature and retrieve its associated attributes. (Note: When creating a GeoPDF, you specify the layers for which you want attributes exported. As the number of layers with feature attributes to be exported increases, the size of the resulting GeoPDF increases and its performance decreases.)

If the GeoPDF is GeoMark Enabled, then the user can “mark up” the document with symbols (stamps), lines or polygons, and then add comments to those “GeoMarks”. The user can save the “GeoMarks” within the GeoPDF document and/or can export them to a shapefile or KML file.

Question - What version of Adobe Reader is required? You need Adobe Reader version 5 or above. Terrago recommends users have at least version 7. We suggest you use version 9. Object data is handled as a comment (post it) in the older versions.

Question - Can you rearrange the order of the layers in a GeoPDF? No, the order is set in ArcMap before the GeoPDF is created.

Question - Can you look at a a layer's entire feature attribute table? No, but for each feature (object) in those layers that had attributes exported, the GeoPDF lets you display the fields that were set as visible (set as a layer property) in your ArcMAP project.


Activity Link The GeoPDF activity will introduce you to the various functions that can be performed in Adobe Reader using a geospatially enabled PDF.  You will explore a GeoPDF that has multiple map layers, scale dependencies and feature attributes and you will create new data and export it into KMLs and shapefiles.