General Software

First Look: AcroXchange

15 Aug, 2004 By: Ron LaFon

Convert PDF and Illustrator files.

TAILOR MADE SOFTWARE'S AcroXchange converts PDF and Adobe Illustrator AI files from Illustrator 9 or later to a wide array of vector, raster, and Web-ready file formats, including AutoCAD DWG and DWF. AcroXchange is essentially a command-line conversion application, with a helper application called Cad-XLaunch that provides a graphical interface for the conversion engine.


You can install and run AcroXchange independently, but it's ideally suited for a server environment. It's available for Windows and Solaris UNIX and Linux. It supports batch operations, and if you use it with a scheduling application, it automatically checks a specified directory and converts any newly added files to the desired output format.

AcroXchange converts PDF and AI files to the following Web formats: DGN V8, DWF, SVG, CGM, and SVF. Supported vector formats include HPGL, HPGL/2, DXF, DWG, PDF, PS, EPS, Illustrator, WMF, CADKEY, IGES, and more. Among the raster format options are JPG, TIF, Photoshop, EPS, WMF, Sun, Pict, BMP, and WinFax.

I tested AcroXchange using the WILHOME.DWG file that ships with AutoCAD. I generated PDF files and then examined the PDF-to-DWG conversions in AutoCAD 2005. The extensive command-line options provide a wealth of detailed conversion choices. A conventional Windows interface would be welcome.

File conversions were quick. Most applications that generate PDF files of AutoCAD drawings produce files with one artifact or another. For example, PDF files generated from Adobe Acrobat Professional v6.01 have some text problems—primarily filled openings. PDF files produced by Bluebeam Pushbutton PDF exhibited some polyline problems during conversion. All AcroXchange conversion problems were relatively minor and easily remedied. Tailor Made notes that instead of keeping text as text, Adobe Acrobat converts the text to polylines, which could explain some of the problems.

A perfect conversion from one file format to another is elusive at best, particularly when converting from one complex format to another, so the number of corrections that needed to be made to files converted by AcroXchange was relatively minor.

AcroXchanges CadXLaunch interface serves as a front-end for the conversion process that happens at the command-line level.
AcroXchanges CadXLaunch interface serves as a front-end for the conversion process that happens at the command-line level.

AcroXchange doesn't currently use passwords on drawings, but the company plans to implement them soon.

The Windows version of AcroXchange requires Windows 95/98/ME/ NT 4.0/2000/XP. The UNIX/Linux version requires Sun Solaris v2.5+, Red Hat Linux v6.1+, HP-UX v10.2.0+, or AIX v4.1.5+. An AcroXchange installation requires less than 1MB of hard disk space. A time-limited version of AcroXchange is available from Tailor Made's Web site.

About the Author: Ron LaFon