Almost every computer in use today has on it, a copy on it of Adobe's Acrobat Reader® software. This is not surprising, because it is a most useful software tool and Adobe Systems provide it free of charge. If you print your documents or gCADPlus drawings to a PDF file, then any client or local print copy shop, can view and print your drawings without the need to own a copy of the software used to create the file.

Save As PDF

gCADPlus has a simple way of producing a PDF file. Simply choose File>SaveAs PDF.  This results in a PDF file that can be attached to an email note to the client. It has the disadvantage that you cannot produce a drawing to a nominated scale factor. It has one major advantage in that if transparency has been associated with plant symbols, these print showing transparency.

Tip: Printing to a more conventional PDF writer such as CutePDF, PDFWriter or BullZip (see below) does not show transparency and may not even cause gCADPlus to hang.

SavePDF This movie shows the SaveAsPDF option in operation. We print a design from the NE of the USA where decimal feet is used as the unit of measure.

Save PDF Here is another example of the use of the SaveAsPDF option. The figure below shows a typical landscape plan where transparency has been used to apply a 'watercolor effect'.

Save PDF

Tip: We suggest adding  a rider to the email when you attach a drawing for a client to view. Something along the following lines

"This file is in PDF format and can be viewed and printed using Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you have problems viewing the file we suggest upgrading to the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader available for your operating system. The Adobe Acrobat Reader software is FREE. If you don't have the latest version you can download it now at: "

Why use PDF?

The PDF format has been adopted by many agencies as a standard way of distributing important documents (E.g. U.S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many courts and larger organizations). Its use does help cut down on the use of paper, but there are many other benefits:

  • If you send a copy of your work to a recipient in Acrobat format, provided that they have downloaded and installed a copy of Acrobat Reader, they will be able to open the document and print it. This means that every recipient can read and print your work, even if the computer that they are using to view the file does not have a copy of the original application you used to create the work. You would not expect everyone to have a copy of specialist (and expensive) software such as AutoCAD or InDesign on it, so that problem is overcome.

  • The 'look and feel' of your document is maintained in the hands of the recipient. The page layout, graphics and fonts used by you are embedded in the document and always display correctly. In Acrobat Reader. It is possible for your client to rotate the view if needed and zoom in on any part of a document.

  • Your work is secure and can only be viewed, but not be altered.

  • In addition, Adobe PDF files have full text search features for locating words, bookmarks, and data fields in long documents.

More on Sav​eAsPDF

Any gCADPlus drawing can be printed to PDF by choosing File>Save As PDF. You can print from model and layout space and have option of printing the whole or part of a drawing. The figure below shows the location of the tool on the File drop down menu.


We have given you options to control the plot view and the resolution of the resulting PDF file.

SaveAsPDF options

The figure below shows the result of saving portion of a drawing to PDF. If you want to view the PDF file, click on the image itself. Note that no attempt has been made to optimize this print for viewing by a client - using yellow in a drawing destined to be printed in color is not recommended for PDF output. In addition, no adjustments have been made to line thicknesses. This leads to light colored PDF.

Save PDF

Tip: It is important to master the application of linetypes to elements in the drawing to get a good result while using this option.

Tip If you want to place the drawing in PowerPoint, use Tools > Export Raster rather than printing to PDF, opening the design in Acrobat Reader, then using the snapshot tool to form and image file, then place into PowerPoint.

Printing to external PDF writers - an alternative to the gCADPlus option "SaveToPDF"

If you do not want to use transparency in your landscape symbols, there are many alternative methods available for creating PDF files; some are free to use. These can result in very high quality output and rely on installing some type of 'virtual' or 'phantom' printer driver on your computer and printing to it instead of printing to a physical printer attached to your computer. These printer drivers are collectively termed called PDF writers. Once a PDF printer driver is installed, whenever you want to create a PDF file, you simply print to this 'phantom' printer, instead of the usual physical printer attached to your computer. Here is a screen grab showing printing to a driver (called PDFWriter):

Print to PDF writer

Tip: This very same writer is the only PDF print drivers that we have been able to install in the Mac/Crossover environment. It works very well there.

Other PDF writers

Adobe Acrobat

This is the premier PDF writer. If you purchase a copy of Adobe Acrobat and install it on your computer, the PDF writer will be installed along with some other very powerful tools (such as Adobe Distiller). Please note that very often, software that you are using will be modified during the installation of Adobe Acrobat. 

PDF Writer

This is a modestly priced piece of software available in most software distribution outlets.


We have some (good) experience producing PDF files with gCADPlus drawings with a free PDF writer called CutePDF. Type CutePDF into your favourite search engine and download and install a copy.


More information

Click here to download a guide to printing from gCADPlus in PDF format.

Save As PDF