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Layer Transparency

June 23 2009 | 3 comments
Categories: Publishing

I have a question regarding multi-layer transparencies.

I have quite a few things going on in my map - I've attached a screenshot of the busiest area. I have two layers with transparency: one at 50% and one at 87% transparency. It takes a really long time to export to a pdf and when I try to send the file to a plotter, the plotter gets overloaded and will not plot. I've tried three different plotters using two different drivers (6 times total). The IT group has been working with me and just upgraded the firmware on the plotters (HP Designjet 5500PS). The pdf is less than 8 MB compressed.

I know using transparency really bogs down ArcMap and wreaks havoc on just about everything: I've tried numerous different setting combinations such as rasterizing layers with bitmap fill, embedding fonts, and selecting no layer or attribute information during the export.

Do you know of any settings that I might be overlooking in order to get this thing to export and plot sucessfully?

Mapping Center Answer:

I think this might end up begin a Technical Support question for you, but you can first try a couple of things:

  1. We have no control over the printing pipeline inside Adobe Reader, so in general you should try to print directly from ArcMap instead. Use the ArcPress printer engine – it is designed to send large plots to printers and should work much better than trying to squeeze out a PDF and then put that PDF through the normal Windows printing pipeline.
  2. The 5500PS is fully supported by ArcPress for the last few versions (although you didn't specify what version of ArcGIS you're using) so you should be good. See for steps. ArcPress is _free_ for the last few versions so there's no reason that you shouldn't try.

  3. If you still want to try exporting to PDF, try the process outlined here: "Modify the temporary metafile size limit in Advanced ArcMap Settings" which modifies the way that ArcMap processes the output when creating the PDF and which may affect performance – it's worth a shot either way.

Beyond that, you should probably contact Technical Support with this question. They may ask you to submit your map and data so that they can try to reproduce the problem if need be.

Tech Support link posted by Aileen Buckley on Jun 24 2009 8:03AM
Cassandra, one of our great tech support staff who deals with a lot of printing and output issues, sent me the following:

The direct link for submitting a support request to ESRI Support Services is as follows:
Customer number posted by Aileen Buckley on Jun 30 2009 9:55AM
Though contacting Tech Support requires that you know your customer number, don't worry about that too much as Tech Support will help to find that information on our end.
Support posted by Mark Smithgall on Jun 30 2009 12:16PM
Alright, thanks. I have not gotten around to making a pdf; however, I tried printing using ArcPress and it took over an hour to send it through to the plotter. Believe it or not, that is a huge decrease in the time it used to take. I used a simplified coastline, but did not adjust the transparencies at all.

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