For a couple of years now I've noticed that ArcGIS Desktop 10.0 & 10.1 have issues working with PDF exports from a map layout. If you build a map layout and embed some of your map layer attributes tables in it, then export to PDF directly from ArcMap, the grid lines disappear. Other files types (i.e. JPEG) work fine.
However, if you try to do the same thing from Python code, the tables disappear altogether. This is true for any image type. It seems in order for the table to export properly, the MXD has to be physically launched in ArcMap to get the tables all assembled, then export. Doing it through Python doesn't seem to build the tables in the layout properly.
Now I've tried all sorts of tricks to work around this issue. I have to assume that there are many others out there who, like me, would like to automate their soft copy map updates. A colleague of mine managed to write an ArcMap add-in that will let you point to a folder full of MXDs and open each one individually and Export to PDF. For the project that we were working on that was great. Now I'm trying to fully automate the entire process for another project Since October of 2010 two separate (but duplicate) bugs were logged but ESRI tech support for this issue (NIM062177 and NIM063441). Recently when I made another request for support on it, I was told that the bug had been eliminated because according to the development group that this functionality is not part of the design of the software. Then why do the arcpy modules (ExportToPDF) even exist is they don’t fully function? So according to ESRI tech support I have to post this issue here to see how much attention it gets. Anyone who stumbles upon this posting, please comment so that they can see that it’s something that would benefit all of us if it was fixed.