Importing Illustrator and PDF Files Can Be Complicated

March 23, 2015

In the past week, I’ve had two separate interactions revolving around the importing of Adobe Illustrator and PDF Files into CorelDRAW. Let’s start with the very negative reaction one commenter has made on a video I made entitled Why CorelDRAW Claims AI or PDF Files Are Corrupt. I’ll warn you that some of this person’s comments are not safe due to profanity.

Through multiple attempts to help this person, it was obvious they have no desire to solve the problem, simply to complain. It is very clear they don’t like the answers and therefore dismiss the answers we’ve provided.

CorelDRAW EPS Dialog BoxThe one comment that shows this person is confused is the difference between “placing” a file and “importing”. Newer versions of CorelDRAW have one file format that can be used in both ways, the EPS file. Look at the dialog box at right and you’ll see the two options. First, “Import as editable” will make each element of the graphic editable in CorelDRAW. This is a very complicated process and doesn’t always work perfectly.

I’ve select the “Place as encapsulated PostScript” option which simply places the file without looking inside of it at all. If the file has a bitmap header stored with it, you’ll see that header on screen. Files without a header will show nothing.

Now let’s look at PDF files. CorelDRAW always imports them, meaning that it tries to convert every single element in that PDF file into an editable object in CorelDRAW. This is quite different than Adobe InDesign which places PDF files in much the same way I showed that CorelDRAW has the option of placing EPS files. CorelDRAW does not have the ability to place PDF files, though I’m sure users would love it. I also don’t think this is a feature you’ll see in future versions, but Corel could certainly prove me wrong on that.

That leads me to my other interaction this week with PDF files in particular. I was working with a client that brings in a lot of CAD files in PDF format. Some of these files have more than 100,000 objects so it takes several minutes for CorelDRAW to import them. Two in particular were giving the dreaded “corrupt” message. One of the two was easily fixed by opening it in Adobe Acrobat and saving it to an earlier version of the PDF file format. The other was created by an obscure tool named “Bluestream Brewery 5.0”. In the limited time involved, a solution was not found to fix this file.

Similar problems occurred a few months ago when another obscure tool was used to create PDF files. Typically these obscure tools come along with “free” PDF printers. Yes, they create PDF files. But they don’t always create files that follow the PDF standard as documented by Adobe. The folks who create the tools will test them in a PDF reader and deem them good. They don’t test in all tools and so these files might fail when they are imported in CorelDRAW.

In any given year, I import more than one thousand PDF and/or Adobe Illustrator files into CorelDRAW. It is rare that I get a “corrupt” message because I know the workflow to follow to create PDF and AI files that work. Typically the files I have that do claim to be corrupt are those sent to me by others to troubleshoot. While the files I work with are not corrupt, that does not mean all elements import perfectly. Remember that Adobe and Corel are competitors so it is always a plus when the files transfer perfectly.

You have two choices going forward. Be like the person leaving the profane comments and make it clear that it will never work without providing any details or can know that there is always a way to make it work if you develop a proper workflow. My attitude in the latter and I have great success importing files.

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Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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