01Microsoft Visio is a powerful program to draw your project and illustrate where equipment is being installed. Having a “marked up” floor plan is as part of your documentation is often required and is always appreciated. Some integrators will draw an actual floor plan using the walls and doors shapes from Visio, but that is a lot of work and it is even more difficult to match the correct dimensions of each room. Inserting a floor plan “image/file” is a far better option.

D-Tools SIX users often open support tickets complaining that their floor plan is blurry, or that the dimensions are not correct. While there is never a “canned” response to those cases, I enjoy speaking with each of those users and showing them all options they have in order to have a perfect looking drawing.

Based on my experience inserting floor plans into Visio, I noticed that some methods produce excellent results while other ones produce less desirable results. Let me go through each method and show you what works best. We will also cover an important topic related to this, which is the page scale and re-sizing.

BEST METHOD

The BEST method involves two different approaches to obtain the same result. The option “A” assumes you have a native AutoCAD “.dwg” file while the option “B” assumes you have a “.pdf” file.

A: Native CAD file

The best way is to use an AutoCAD floor plan. This is what we recommend because the floor plans are actual vectors rather than a static image, which translates to best quality and the lowest size. Large Visio drawings can become unstable and corrupted (keeping the Visio files under 10 MB is “good practice”). Ask your architect or builder to provide you with a DWG file floor plan as it will save you a lot of time and it can be added into Visio very quickly. Assuming you have a CAD drawing and that was provided by your builder, it is critical that you perform some preparations to the CAD drawing. Please review the details of those preparations on this link.

B: PDF -> CAD conversion

Shown below is a screen shot of the original PDF file outside of Visio. This is for reference for all PDF methods described below.

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Since there are more and more builders and architects unwilling to provide a native CAD file due to proprietary rights, we need to review all the other options available, plus be creative so we can achieve the best result regardless of what was provided. In case all you have is a PDF file floor plan, you will want to convert it to a DWG file. This method also allows to re-save the DWG file back into PDF without losing any quality.

Download and install a free trial of the pdf2cad converter: http://visual-integrity.com/products/pdf2cad/

Open the pdf2cad and select the PDF file. Click Add:

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Click the [Options…] button:

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Under General Tab change the CAD Format to DWG. Click [OK]:

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Click [Next>]:

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On the Conversion Summary Window, verify the file name and its path, then click [Convert]:

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The conversion should take just few seconds, but it can vary depending on the size and complexity of the cad file. Click [Exit]:

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Open the project in Visio and on the Insert Tab click “CAD Drawing”:

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Point to your file and define the scale. Please note that unchecking the lock size and position allows you to move the entire CAD drawing around and you can resize it with the correct aspect ratio by using the scale ruler and the diagonal handle.  Make sure to note that you need to lock the size and position when finished scaling the CAD file. We highly recommend the background image to be locked down otherwise it may be difficult to work with other images or shapes on top of it.

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Zoom in and out to verify the quality of the floor plan. For comparison purposes, here is a zoom in into the laundry room:

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Zoom Test #2

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Metrics/Ratings:

Quality: Excellent

File size: The conversion of the PDF into CAD drawing generated a file of size similar size.

 

BETTER METHOD (PDF -> JPG)

Assuming all you have is a PDF floor plan and you don’t want to convert into a CAD drawing, the second option is to convert the PDF as an image (e.g. Jpeg) and then insert into Visio. The only real advantage of this process is that a PDF to Image converter can be found for free on the web. We have tested with Bullzip PDF Converter (free version) and with PDF2Image (trial version) products and they both produce similar results. Bullzip PDF Converter acts as a virtual printer while pdf2Image is a stand-alone program.
To use Bullzip PDF Converter, open the PDF floor plan and then select print, choose Bullzip PDF Printer. To create an image/picture file, choose the file extension of your choice. There are several to choose from. The steps below outline the procedure for the pdf2image software:

Download and install a free trial of the pdf2image converter: http://visual-integrity.com/products/pdf2image/

Open the pdf2image and browse for your file:

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Click the [Options] button:

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Verify the settings. Here you can change the Image Format, Image Size, Page Size, and additional Image settings such color balance and transparency. When you are finished with those settings, click [OK]:

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Click [Next] and then [Convert]:

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Click [Exit]

Open the project in Visio and on the Insert tab click “Picture”:

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Browse the Floor Plan image (e.g. jpg) and click the [Open] button:

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Your background page is now inserted in Visio. The next step is to reduce the amount of “white space” from the image. I recommend you using crop function within Visio as shown below:

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You can drag and drop the sides of the image and it will crop out the excess white space.

Now that the excess white space has been removed, to bring the JPG floor plan image to the correct size, you can expand or contract it by clicking on the corner and moving in the screen.

Zoom in and out to verify the quality of the floor plan. Example:

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Zoom test #2

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Metrics/Ratings:

Quality: The quality is still good but as you zoom in, it starts to blur. You may not necessarily need to zoom in as much as I did on my test but if you do, you may want to consider using a CAD drawing.

File size: The converted file size was nearly doubled after the conversion.

 

NOT GOOD METHOD

If all you have is a PDF file, and you are unable to convert into a CAD drawing or an image, you can still insert a PDF into Visio. This is definitely the fastest and simpler process and the only real problem is the quality of the image.

Open the project in Visio and on the Insert Tab click “Object”:

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Select “Adobe Acrobat Document”, click the “Create from file” radio button and then browse to your PDF file:

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Browse the Floor Plan PDF and click [Open]:

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The image is now inserted. It looks good when you are not zoomed in

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But it becomes blurry when zoomed in:

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Metrics/Ratings:

Quality: Average to Poor

File size: The file size will be exact the same since there was no conversion.

 

Resizing the Floor Plan

After the file has been converted from PDF into CAD, JPG, or even inserting the PDF directly, it is very important that you properly resize your drawing. The dimensions of your drawings needs to respect the size and scale of the page, so each product you add will have the correct size in respect to the floor plan.

D-Tools provides you with a measuring tool (Universal Dimension Shape) which you can use to “calibrate” your drawing to the correct size/scale. This shape can be found under Custom -> DT Annotation. We recommend you using a door, or another known dimension in your drawing to check for the correct size and scale. For example, I measured a door opening on my drawing. It measures 30” which is a standard size for a door. Of course there are doors of different sizes, but a 30” door can be found in most building and it is known to be a standard size.

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It is critical that you lock down the underlying jpg floor plan so once it is placed in the drawing, the image cannot be selected or moved.  We recommend the background image to be locked down otherwise it may be difficult to work with other images or shapes on top of it. The best way to lock down the image layer is by using the layer function, see the “Locking Layers” section below.

 

Locking Layers

Select the floor plan, go to Home tab -> Assign to Layer Menu

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Click [New] and give it a new layer name (for example, Floor Plan 1)

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Click [OK] and then [OK] on the Layer window.

Go back to the Layers menu, but this time, select Layer Properties.

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Check the Lock box then press OK.  This will lock the layer from being selected and/or move.

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