In ArcMap, when you export data to PDF it preserves the layering within the PDF so that you can turn on/off individual map layers (within the PDF itself). When I export from QGIS to PDF, I don't appear to have the option for this.

Does QGIS support preserving layers when exporting to PDF? Is there a special setting needed to enable this capability? Or has anyone wrote a plugin for this feature?

  • I have the same question and need. Look forward to presenting pdf maps with layer control. – user4784 Nov 10 '11 at 9:48
up vote 13 down vote accepted

A short guide on producing a multi layered pdf from Qgis - Mar 2015

https://lists.osgeo.org/pipermail/qgis-user/2015-March/031206.html

Below is a paraphrased version of the link above:

  1. From QGIS composer, save your map as SVG and tick the option "Export map layers as svg groups" when you have pressed save.
  2. Open the SVG file in Scribus open source desktop publishing software.
  3. Use "Window->layers" to open the layers window. Add say 10 empty layers.
  4. Ungroup the layers by right clicking and choose ungroup.
  5. Select features to be in a new layer, right click and choose "Send to layers" and choose one of the created empty layers.
  6. Export the document as PDF, with Include Layers" checked "on".
  7. It is important to export (not save as) to PDF 1.5. The default PDF 1.4 would not let you save as layers. The selection of the ungrouped layers in the SVG layer is a bit cumbersome, if the features spread across the map
  • 1
    This is the best method to get there so far. I paraphrased the email to help with context. Thanks for sharing! – RyanDalton Sep 29 '16 at 16:01
  • 1
    It is important to export (not save as) to PDF 1.5. The default PDF 1.4 would not let you save as layers. The selection of the ungrouped layers in the SVG layer is a bit cumbersome, if the features spread across the map. – AndreJ Sep 29 '16 at 17:39
  • I'd recommend Inkscape vs. Scribus - Scribus is a multi-page book/document creation software, whereas Inkscape is a vector image manipulation tool... – DPSSpatial Jan 23 at 16:21
  • You recommend Inkscape, but is there any tutorial or instructions for repeating the same there? – Ville Koivisto Sep 14 at 10:12

This was on the list of possible Google Summer of Code projects 2010 (http://www.qgis.org/wiki/Google_Summer_of_Code_2010#SVG.2FPDF_export_improvements) but I don't think anybody got to work on it.

  • Thanks for the feedback. Bummer, that would have been a great enhancement to have. Maybe next by summer... – RyanDalton Mar 11 '11 at 16:50
  • 2
    Years later, GDAL is now able to create GeoPDFs from vector and raster data, but QGIS is still behind. – AndreJ Nov 7 '14 at 15:15

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