Layers and PDF exporting

Community Beginner ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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After I export my layered file to PDF, the layers in Acrobat show up under a tree, under the indesign file's name. My die cutting software sees it as one layer. Is there a way to export so the layers aren't nested in a tree? 

thanks

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Adobe Community Professional , Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

Jeff said: "I cannot use InDesign to make my die lines? It has to be from Illustrator, in order to get the un-nested layers?"

 

Hi Jeff,

here is another idea.

Export PDFs from InDesign without the layers enabled.

Do that separately for every layer you like to see in the final PDF.

 

In Acrobat use the function "Import as Layer" to assemble your layers that will be not nested.

 

Acrobat-ImportAsLayer-Function.PNG

 

Regards,
Uwe Laubender

( ACP )

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Enthusiast , Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

Hi,

 

Maybe you might find of interest this JavaScript that unnests the layers in a PDF. I have just tried it with a PDF in Acrobat DC latest version (Windows 10) and it seems to work.

 

(link and explanation here: https://www.uvsar.com/projects/acrobat/indesignfixups/ )

 

All thanks to its creators.

 

Hope it helps

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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It all depends on the settings you make in the Export Adobe PDF dialog box. 

 

ExportAdobePDF.png

If the PDF Preset you chose has Compatibility (circled) to Acrobat 6 or 7, you'll have the option to turn on Create Acrobat Layers (circed)

 

If this is checked, you'll see layers in Acrobat in the Layers panel (see below):

 

LayersOn.png

 

If it is unchecked, then there will be no sublayers:

 

NoLayers.png

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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Thank you for the reply Steve. 
My issue isn't how to export layers, it's how to not have the nested layers (in your example, the layers are nested in a tree, under "layers.indd, in the layers panel). How do I export to have them be separate and un-nested, as in this image:

8168A7B0-E216-46CA-9DC9-21597EA79E58.png

 The die cutter technician says the software is reading my layers as one layer, because they're nested like in your example.

 

Thanks

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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I have no idea whether that's possible in an InDesign-created layered PDF. Here's the Acrobat Help file on editing layers, and I don't see that as an option:

 

https://helpx.adobe.com/acrobat/using/pdf-layers.html#editing_layered_content

 

How was the layered PDF file which is NOT nested (that you show in the illustration) created?

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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I've done my die cuts as a spot color with the die line set to overprint. Would that possibly work for your software?

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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I wish, David. I guess our software is picky. 🤷🏻‍:male_sign:
The technician says it has to be lines on specifically named layers. One layer for the registration marks, one for the cut line, one for the crease lines, etc. 

 

My issue is when I export the PDF (with layers), they show in Acrobat "nested" under the file name (like in Steve's example). The die cutter tech says they can't be nested, and need to be "separate", as in my photo example.

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 28, 2021 Dec 28, 2021

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Since you are using a die cut, I'm assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that it's not a large page-count job. InDesign makes a nested layer group by default. Illustrator will create the layers without the nested document name. Would that work?

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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David is correct, as I just confirmed. It could work for simple artwork and a few pages. I created a test file again here:

 

Screen Shot 2021-12-29 at 4.34.14 AM.png

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Steve and David,

  • Steve, I did not create my un-nested example (I just found a screenshot online).
  • So...if I'm understanding you both correctly, I cannot use InDesign to make my die lines? It has to be from Illustrator, in order to get the un-nested layers?

 

Thanks,

Jeff

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Honestly, I think it's time to look for new software. You're working backwards trying to get InDesign to fit into your die cutting software instead of looking for software that works with industry standard PDFs.

 

I used David's method (spot set to overprint) more than 20 years ago on distilled PDFs from Pagemaker. This was before exporting and layers were even a thing. Either that or export the dies seperately.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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I'd agree with Bob, it seems to be your software which is inflexible and not fitting with current industry standards.

 

Btu if you have to continue to use it, I think you'll have to create the die lines in Illustrator because there is no obvious way of editing the exported layers from InDesign.

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Participant ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Ive run a custom signage shop, and my go-to always workflow was this:

 

  • Create art with die lines in mind in a separate working file
  • In InDesign, I will have two layers. The top layer would be my die cut layer built from Illustrator - which was formed from my original working file - could be ID, PS, whatever as long as I can draw live paths. This top die layer would be the live line work set to whatever spot color my rip was using.
  • The 2nd layer is a raster of the art. No exceptions. Now, my rips can read this PDF I export including the die line, and if you or the artist need to revise the artwork, it can be done without hurting the integrity of the PDF for production unless the die line needs revising

Never failed me in even the most complex jobs.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Jeff said: "I cannot use InDesign to make my die lines? It has to be from Illustrator, in order to get the un-nested layers?"

 

Hi Jeff,

here is another idea.

Export PDFs from InDesign without the layers enabled.

Do that separately for every layer you like to see in the final PDF.

 

In Acrobat use the function "Import as Layer" to assemble your layers that will be not nested.

 

Acrobat-ImportAsLayer-Function.PNG

 

Regards,
Uwe Laubender

( ACP )

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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I tried playing with that last night, Uwe, but it's very painful and confusing to use the Import as Layer method. Illustrator is a lot easier.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Uwe: Your method achieved the desired result!

 All: Generally speaking, my die files are only going to need a few layers, so Uwe's method is preferable...sticking with InDesign (I don't want to have to use Illustrator). It's a real shame InDesign applies the "layer group nesting", but Uwe's fix is pretty simple, in Acrobat.

 

With regards to the software, the machine is a new Duplo DPC-600 using DPC Connect. I hear everyone saying "I've been making die lines for years", and I completely relate. So have I! 😉 I have no idea why this software is being so picky...it may be the tech training us.

 

Thank you to Steve, David, Bob and anyone else who replied! Deeply appreciated.

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Hi Steve,

one could also use "Import as layer" together with the function "Merge layers" in Acrobat in several steps to merge nested layers with new imported layers that have no contents one by one.

Required for that: a PDF with no contents and no layer exported from InDesign with the same page size.

 

This as suggestion if it is too time consuming for Jeff to recreate the artwork in Adobe Illustrator.

I wonder how many layers Jeff's PDFs must have to qualify for the workflow.

 

Regards,
Uwe Laubender

( ACP )

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Jeff hasn't given us a very good idea about what the artwork looks like in terms of complexity and length. It's rather hard to tell what the best solution might be.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Steve, 

It's a pocket folder, and I really only need 3 layers (cut, crease, and registration marks).

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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If you die cut can be anywhere in the layer panel but just not part of the layer group, there is a variation of the workflow:

(This is easier than it looks...)

  1. Export from ID with layers--name your die cut layer consistently on each job (this will make it easier in Acrobat). 
  2. Export PDF with layers.
  3. Hide all layers except die cut layer.
  4. Print to PDF print driver (easier if on Windows). Since die cuts are usually simple lines, "refrying" the PDF layer shouldn't matter.)
  5. Import die cut layer back in. It is now separate from the layer group.
  6. Use Preflight to remove old die cut layer. (This is where using the same name consistently helps.)

 

Original PDF layers:

image.png

 

Imported refried die cut layer:

image.png

 

Preflight fix (can be saved for future use):

image.png

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert

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Enthusiast ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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Hi,

 

Maybe you might find of interest this JavaScript that unnests the layers in a PDF. I have just tried it with a PDF in Acrobat DC latest version (Windows 10) and it seems to work.

 

(link and explanation here: https://www.uvsar.com/projects/acrobat/indesignfixups/ )

 

All thanks to its creators.

 

Hope it helps

 

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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>Maybe you might find of interest this JavaScript that unnests the layers in a PDF.

 

I was googling like crazy trying to find something method of doing this. I figured there had to be a way but couldn't find anything (at least using my search terminology). Thanks, Gusgsm!

 

David Creamer
Adobe Certified Instructor, Adobe Certified Professional, and Adobe Certified Expert

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Adobe Community Professional ,
Dec 29, 2021 Dec 29, 2021

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@david, Don't feel bad, I had the same problem last night on the problem. I thought there should be a script or app which could unnest Acrobat layers but never found it.

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Community Beginner ,
Dec 30, 2021 Dec 30, 2021

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Nice find, Gusgsm!

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