How to ensure transparent background when exporting a map from ArcGIS Pro to PDF?

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03-30-2021 11:48 AM
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RachelPasser1
New Contributor II

Is there a way to export a PDF from ArcGIS Pro to PDF, ensuring there truly is no background? When I export from ArcGIS Pro to PDF, even when I specify that the map frame be transparent and the layout be transparent, when I export the map to PDF it still maintains a white background layer.

To see this in action, I went to Adobe Illustrator. I opened up 1 map PDF where I did include a white background, and then opened another map PDF where I specified a transparent/no background. I made a teal rectangle in Illustrator and dragged it to the bottom of each map to see what was covering it, pictures below.

I couldn't find much online, only this link: https://community.esri.com/t5/cartography-and-maps-questions/how-to-make-a-layout-background-transpa...

1st pic, in Pro I specific this map have a white background. It has 2 white backgrounds layers in AI, highlighted.

1st pic - I want a white background1st pic - I want a white background

2nd pic, in Pro I specified the map frame have no background. It has 1 white background layer in AI, highlighted.

2nd pic- Do not want a white background2nd pic- Do not want a white background

 

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7 Replies
DanPatterson
MVP Esteemed Contributor

There is a 7 page protracted link about transparency and pdf

Image Transparency Issue While Exporting To PDF - ... - Esri Community

an interesting read with some tips for a variety of scenarios


... sort of retired...
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RachelPasser1
New Contributor II

Those situations don't quite apply to my problem. The workarounds suggested take more time than removing the white backgrounds in Adobe Illustrator. I don't have any rasters on these maps and everything is set to transparent. This discussion sounds more like the issue I'm encountering: https://community.esri.com/t5/cartography-and-maps-questions/how-to-make-a-layout-background-transpa... 

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SarahHartholt
Occasional Contributor III

I don't believe PDF's honor transparency. You would be better off trying to export the map as a different file type (png?)

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RachelPasser1
New Contributor II

I am building an interactive map in Adobe Acrobat Pro DC, so I'm afraid using a PNG and rasterizing the layers is not viable.

 

Using ArcMap, I am able to honor transparency when exporting to PDF (set the background to transparent and under the Advanced tab, ensuring the Layers and Attributes is set to Export PDF Layers Only). When I bring those PDF maps into Acrobat, it does include the background, but as a separate layer called 'Background' or 'Other' that can be removed. However when I bring the maps exported from Pro into Acrobat, they still have the background, and it's not a separate layer that can be removed. I have to go into Adobe Illustrator to find it and remove it.

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DanPatterson
MVP Esteemed Contributor

Well, this might the "solution"

BUG-000131365: When exporting a map layout to a PDF with a transpar.. (esri.com)

There are others

Esri Support Search-Results but I haven't checked them all

 


... sort of retired...
Sarah_Bell
New Contributor

Hi Rachel, It looks like you may have an Adobe CC license. Have you tried the new AIX export option available with ArcGIS Pro 2.6 and later? The AIX is a new file format that was designed for optimal use in Illustrator. To open the AIX in Illustrator, you also need to install ArcGIS Maps for Adobe Creative Cloud, which is a plug-in for Illustrator. When you're signed into that plug-in with Illustrator opened, you can then open the AIX file. The export panel in Pro will have settings that pertain to this background as well. If your final desired file format is PDF, then you can save the AIX file you open in Illustrator as a PDF file. There is more information on this option here. Please let me know if this information helps. 

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RachelPasser1
New Contributor II

Hi Sarah, I do have the plugin and use it as a regular part of my workflow! I have been following your team's work and look forward to seeing more.

However, the project in question uses Adobe Acrobat heavily to build a PDF product. We make several statewide maps at a fixed scale, export them to PDF and then use the Import Layers tool within Adobe Acrobat Pro DC to merge & layer the maps into an interactive PDF map. Ultimately the maps need to go from GIS to PDF. When using ArcMap, there was no issue with a background transparency, so the process didn't require using Illustrator to remove a background color. I am trying to convert this workflow to ArcGIS Pro for the GIS part, since our team relied on ArcMap to do this in the past. When I was troubleshooting, I brought the PDFs into Illustrator, which is how I determined ArcGIS Pro still keeps a white background on PDFs despite me telling Pro to make it transparent. In cases where the map background does have a color, the map has 2 white background layers once opened in Illustrator. So, in this case, if I go to Illustrator to remove the background color either exporting to PDF or AIX, it's still an extra step when compared to exporting a PDF from ArcMap. I will need to export 2-3 dozen maps to layer in Acrobat, so efficiency is key. Until Esri fixes Bug 00131365, it looks like my options are either 1) go back to ArcMap or 2) add an extra step to remove the background in Illustrator.

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