Splitting large polygons when exporting to pdf

05-17-2022 09:27 AM
Status: Closed
Labels (1)
New Contributor II

After exporting a polygon from ArcGIS Pro to a PDF with a high number of vertices (>32k) and then opening the file in Adobe Illustrator, the polygon is rendered incorrectly (Figure 1).


Adobe Illustrator has a limit on the number of vertices within a single path-polygon. ArcMap cuts these large polygons into smaller pieces when exporting to PDF, and these are rendered correctly in Adobe Illustrator (Figure 2).



I propose that the Export to PDF function in ArcGIS Pro should be able to perform a similar slicing of polygons with an excess number of vertices.




@PavelSeemann We are aware of this limitation in Illustrator but it does not exist in other PDF readers. 

The recommended workflow for moving your ArcGIS content into Adobe Illustrator is to use the Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud extension in Illustrator.  The AIX export type from ArcGIS Pro is meant to be opened by Maps For Creative cloud and should provide much nicer UX for you than importing the PDF directly.  AIX also does dice the polygons to avoid exceeding the 32k vertex limit.

More info on Maps for Creative Cloud is here: https://www.esri.com/en-us/arcgis/products/maps-for-adobecc/overview


Thank you very much for your suggestion, Jeremy. I know the Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud extension. But, so far, I have some bad experiences with exporting annotations to an AIX file. The PDF annotations are exported as I need them. And I'd like to not have to export different types of geometry to different formats and then put them back together in Adobe Illustrator.


@PavelSeemann excellent, that provides some clarity as to your motivation in this regard. 

It seems what you've encountered is a bug in AIX export OR in the M4ACC extension.

Since it's a bug, we'd like to investigate further - can you provide us with some information regarding the 'bad experiences with exporting annotations to an AIX file' so that we can potentially fix those bugs?  I can share this with the developers on the M4ACC team so we can work to resolve these challenges in the future.  I'll contact you via DM to talk about getting the repro case.

In the meantime, since AIX _should_ suffice for this case (if we can fix the bug you discovered :)), I would like to close this enhancement request.  Is that OK with you?


UPDATE: it appears you have DM disabled, can you provide alternative contact info?


My solution to the situation was to split the polygon in ArcGIS Pro using the Split Tool. I came to this solution with the help of technical support (Arcdata Praha, Czechia, Case #03058238). They also recommended that I should suggest this idea to the esri community so that in the future I don't have to check if I am exporting large polygons and cut them manually.

I will contact technical support in the future about annotations in AIX. I need to investigate the whole situation a bit more. And I'm sorry, I don't have time to experiment right now. In ArcMap everything works as it should.

Thank you for your help.

(And I'm sorry. I couldn't find where to turn on DM.)


Hi @PavelSeemann  Here's a handy trick I use with split paths. This Illustrator limitation can sometimes be alleviated by using the Pathfinder -> Unite tool. It is a tool I use frequently to merge these broken filled paths. I think this solution will be quicker than editing your data in GIS. For smaller maps, using a more generalized version of the data produces a single Illustrator path (e.g. using a 1: 500 mil dataset instead of 1:1 mil on a 1:500,000,000 map, etc.). One thing to make sure to do prior to Unite, is to delete any duplicated paths paths in the Illustrator layer. Sometimes, because paths are split, there will be a couple of duplicated paths. These duplicate paths are typically unclosed, so these Illustrator steps should get you quickly to a desired layer without any GIS work: 

1. When you open in Illustrator, and see a "polygon" like this image below, lock all layers except the one with only the artwork for this split feature.


2. Find all open (unclosed) paths and duplicate paths. A hacky way I do this is to make the color for this feature very dark, and then give it opacity. This reveals overlapping artwork (spots that are darker than others, see image below).



3. Delete all duplicate and open paths. 

3. With all the artwork for that feature selected, perform the Unite tool in Illustrator. 



For annotations, the Pro-toAIX export best practices currently recommends to label the layer in Pro without using annotation for the AIX exports. The Maps for Adobe team is investigating further updates. Thanks for the note! It would be good to communicate further re: what you see with annotations. 


Status changed to: Closed

I've changed the status to _closed_ because M4ACC is the preferred and vendor (Adobe) supported way to get stuff into Adobe Illustrator.  Discussion can continue regarding the issue that Pavel surfaced regarding AIX and Annotation workflows, and I'd encourage him to get those logged so M4ACC can work towards resolving them.


@SarahBell Thank you so much for the tips, Sarah. I appreciate it.

But in the projects I'm working on, I don't mind if the paths are split like in Figure 2. Our company publishes mainly school printed maps where the splitting does not matter.


The reason I published this idea is so that I don't have to keep an eye out for polygons that have an excessive number of vertices. Now that I know about the problem, the easiest way for me is to split the polygon in GIS and export it.

Respectively, we would like to move from ArcMap (where our workflows are established and work fine) to ArcGIS Pro. However, in ArcGIS Pro I have run into a problem with unclosed paths after exporting to PDF. I now know that this is more of an Adobe and PDF issue. And the solution for ArcGIS Pro is to edit the data in GIS. Which is the easiest for our workflow.

Thanks also for the tip on AIX. But unfortunately we use annotations in our maps really a lot (see example), so reworking it into labels would be very laborious.


@JeremyWright I understand and thank you. But may I ask what the abbreviation M4ACC stands for? Thank you. 


Oh, I guess M4ACC stands for Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud 🙂 Nevermind. Sorry.


Sorry for the confusion @PavelSeemann M4ACC is shorthand we use internally for Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud extension - I should have expanded the acronym.