For example, say I have some streets I would like to show up, and streets are only set to appear at certain zoom level, well that layer does not get exported. There must be a way to do this for pdf, am I right?

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    Can you just change the zoom level that the streets show up at? And make it the same zoom level as your pdf being exported? – Daniel LaFlash Dec 16 '14 at 17:21
  • No I do not want the streets to show up at full extant, the map looks too cluttered. – user9698 Dec 16 '14 at 18:13
  • Can you add a little bit more background on why you need this functionality within a PDF? – Cody Brown Dec 16 '14 at 18:36
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    I need the functionality because i need a client to review and draw/ comment on a large hi res map so i can make changes. The streets at higher zoom levels will give client valuable points of reference. – user9698 Dec 16 '14 at 19:07
  • @user9698 there are three ways to go. The GeoPDF commented below sounds like it could work although I've never tried it, Create a web app via ArcGIS Online or QGIS or Be Cartographically awesome with your map creation so that that the user will be able to use the map despite the zoom level. Have good small detail and large points of reference. Make major streets and cities labels large while keeping civic number and local street labels small and detailed. – Cody Brown Dec 16 '14 at 22:52

Negative. Adobe Acrobat or Professional is not the program to achieve what you are trying to do. PDF's are meant to be sheets of paper on your screen, that's why they are hard to edit and reproduce.

I've done a similar thing with Zoomify, but that doesn't change the layers based on zoom level.

Really I think you need a web application to do this. If you have ArcGIS, head over to ArcGIS Online upload your layers and share your map with your clients or partners or whoever. This way you can have a dynamic easily shareable map. You can even embed it in a website for sharing.

Depends on your needs with your client and the reason for doing this. There are ways to do it, but a PDF is not one.

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  • I am not an ESRI employee, despite how this answer sounds. – Cody Brown Dec 16 '14 at 18:34
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    This document claims that it is possible to set scale range for the layer visibility cityplanning.lacity.org/MapGallery/Image/…. – user30184 Dec 16 '14 at 21:42
  • @user30184 nifty! Never heard of GeoPdf or whatever that was called. Put that in as an answer! – Cody Brown Dec 16 '14 at 22:00
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    As a print professional, I strongly disagree with PDFs being hard to reproduce. – Logarr Dec 16 '14 at 22:41
  • @Logarr sorry I meant to say that a PDF is harder to reproduce than say say a word document or graphic. A word document or graphic in PDF form needs to be converted back to its original form to edit. It's not to say you can't mark it up or erase parts, it's just harder in the PDF format that in its original format. – Cody Brown Dec 16 '14 at 22:46

I agree to have scale dependency set in your layers use an online mapping service or map server. the easiest and free is https://github.com/klokantech/tileserver-php QGIS Server or QGIS Cloud

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The previous answers are not complete/correct. There are two options for creating spatial functionality in a PDF. The first is the open standard Geospatial PDF. Users do not require the any proprietary plug-in to read geospatial PDFs created following the PDF 1.7 specification, which was published as ISO 32000-1 standard. Geospatial PDF's can be create using ArcGIS or a number of other tools. However, a Geospatial PDF does not support scale dependency. Functionality is limited.


You can create additional geospatial functionality using a propriety system called terraGo that creates an extended PDF called a "GeoPDF".


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