Saturday, March 7, 2015

Layered PDFs and performance

Anyone have any experience with making layered PDFs? I mean, I've done it before, but I have a PDF with 22 layers in it, and it's PATHETICALLY slow. I'm not sure if it's something about the file that Scribus made for me, or just that it's got so many layers.

All my layers are made of 8.5x11" PNG files that fill the whole page. Is that an issue? Would the performance be dramatically better if the images were smaller? Seems like it'd be a pain to line things up.

Advice is welcome. The alternative would be to make lots of pages of single-layer PDFs. I'm guessing a 20 page PDF with layers for just the registration marks would be faster than a 1 page PDF with 22 layers.


  1. I don't remember my orc banner bash to have been that slow...
    Of course, it was made of only 15 layers that took a very small part of the page.
    Do you really need to have full page layers ?
    With Adobe Illustrator, I was able to import a layered PSD file and convert it into a layered PDF file, without having alignment issues.
    If you want, i can try to create a layered PDF for you to see if it's as slow as before...

    1. So, the reason I've been exporting full page layers is because I am a GIMP user, and I don't have an easy way to go from GIMP layers to a layered PDF file. That means I manually make the layers in something like Scribus. It's all free software, which is what I'm striving for. ;)

      So, based on your feedback, I went back and re-exported the layers as small as possible, and it dramatically improves things. Acrobat repaints every layer that may be impacted by another layer being added or removed, and so the way I was doing it, it was repainting every single layer on every single visibility change. I guess I was hoping it would have been smart enough to handle the transparencies better...

      I'll try to find the time today to finish exporting my 3" wall PDF - I've only had time for the left side features. Once that's done, I think I'm going to work on a fold-flat building using the textures, just to begin work on those template files too.

    2. I came up with a workflow that is tedious but simple, and the results are a PDF that is less than half the size and very performant. I don't care much about the size, but I do care about how tedious it is to turn layers on and off. Thanks for the hint, Alex!

  2. You're welcome!
    FYI, Adobe did released, some time ago, all CS2 versions of its suit for free. That's how I got Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and more... I might have the installer somewhere if you need.