Skip to content

FME & PDF: Bringing Geospatial Data Together for Non-GIS Folks

Neogeography is catching attention, bringing with its popularity a new question:

Neogeography is catching attention, bringing with its popularity a new question: “Can we make our spatial data available to people outside the GIS department?” One format that answers this question is something we’ve received a lot of requests to support: Adobe® Geospatial PDF.
Nearly every computer has the free Adobe Acrobat® Reader, and most users are familiar with receiving information in PDF documents. Adobe has also recently introduced the ability to store geo-referenced data – including latitude/longitude information – in PDF files, bringing the PDF format into the world of spatial data.

We introduced write support for geospatial PDF in FME 2009 making it possible to use PDF as an integration and sharing format. Now data can be pulled together from GIS, CAD and raster files, and pushed out into PDF files for non-GIS folks to view. Without requiring users to have knowledge of industry-specific applications, sharing data in PDF allows users to view data in a spatial context, and provides the ability for users to filter their view of data by turning layers on and off.

Since the release of FME 2009, our developers here at Safe have continued to add functionality to our support for PDF. Upcoming in FME 2010 is the ability to create links in PDF outputs. This opens up a whole bunch of possibilities like making symbols on a map hyperlink to web pages with further details, providing visual navigation, and embedding FME Server services links into PDF files.

For example, a municipal mapping department can set up its map to contain symbols for community pools and ice rinks, each which contain a hyperlink to the events web page for the respective facility. Then locals can visit the PDF map and click the symbol for the nearest ice rink to find public skate times. This can also be applied by public transportation organizations to identify bus stops with symbols which, when clicked, take the user to a web page that provides the schedule for that stop.

Another example comes in handy for larger maps. Instead of requiring users to download a full map file, consuming time and bandwidth, a PDF file can be published that contains a portion of the map that users most often need. Users can then access other portions by clicking a navigation link on the mini overview of the map that is located at the bottom of the PDF page, just as the screenshot here demonstrates.

This is accomplished by using FME to prepare PDF files that are tiles of the large map, which each include cross-referencing links between one another. Alternatively, using FME Server, these PDF files can be created on-demand to reflect data up-to-the-minute; when a user clicks a navigation link, a workspace is initiated to deliver the PDF file the user is looking for. Other links to published workspaces can also be provided in PDFs, including data download and streaming capabilities.

Check out sample PDFs containing hyperlinks by visiting: safe.local/2DPDFDemo to play with ready-made geospatial PDFs or use the latest beta at safe.local/beta to create your own.

Safe product icons
Reach out and get started with FME today

Real change is just a platform away.