Plot (or create) assembly drawings with searchable text

Hi all,
I need to create assembly drawings. To accomplish this task I am using the plot command (file -> plot)
To create a more readable document I need to use a different scale but unfortunately in “Plot” menu the Scalling menu is grayed.

On the other hand the text exported looks like not searchable (the text is actually there, but the search command cannot found it)

Do you know an easy way to change the scale of the layout leaving the title as is?
How can I export the text of the layout as native text so it is useful in the drawing.

Thanks in advance.

It looks like “Scaling” options are available only for Postscript and HPGL file formats - and may not do what you’re trying to do. I have never played with these output options, but experimenting with them may give you some ideas for how to solve your problem.


Postscript is quite close to PDF, so you could try this ?

PDF readers often also allow Print Window, but that’s a manual print-time step.

I think the originator wanted to scale (magnify) the layout traces and/or component outlines, but leave the title block and border at their original size.

When I create assembly sketches at 2:1 scale, my procedure is:

  1. PLOT the “Assembly” layer to a *.PDF file.
  2. Using command-line instructions in Ghostscript, crop away everything but the image area of interest.
  3. Save as a (different) *.PDF file.
  4. Open in Acrobat Reader, and print from Acrobat Reader. The “Print” function allows scaling in 1% increments.
  5. From Acrobat Reader, you can even “print” to another *.PDF file, at a scaled size, if you need a copy of the image for incorporation into some other documant.

This whole process works, but it is a tedious process and a P.I.T.A. I wish there was a less cumbersome alternative!


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Acrobat allows a ‘Current View’ and then ‘fit’ to scale the screen viewing window to the printer.
That should allow you to skip 2, 3 ?

I guess for #1, they could always put the paper thru twice :wink: - ie pre-print some borders.

Have you tried SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)?


The most annoying issue is that even if I plot in PDF. The text exported is not searchable. Then… useless.

CAD tools use stroke fonts, so getting search items involves another step.
The ones I’ve seen have a ghost text potted at the same XY as the stoke, and that you can search.
This gives the illusion of a searchable drawing.

Just tested Kicad v5 rc2, and it does do this - the master PDF is searchable.

Load that PDF into Acrobat Reader and print using Microsoft’s PDF printer, and that search-ghost seems to be lost. :frowning:
Load the PDF into LibreOffice and you can see the search ghost (seems white flipped to black), save as PDF does still search, but visually you have doubled-items - not ideal.

Given original print does work well, just lacking the scale, I’d suggest you raise this as an enhancement request, and refer to this thread of what does work, and what almost works…

An alternative to Scaling, would be an option to ‘pdf Plot screen window’ like Acrobat has.
Scaling alone will have origin issues, but screen window allows users to control the scale/offsets visually.
Another easy-to-use plot choice is ‘Zoom to fit’, which gives the easiest to read output.

I think ‘leave title as is’ request is too hard, as title is usually part of the drawing.
Easy enough to ensure a name string is inside the window when plotting ?

pdf files are an ancient file format leftover from long ago.
It was originally developed as a post production process for books before they were sent to a book press factory.
The goal was that the printed book would look exactly like the PDF.
Therefore, for example the concept of a new line does not exist in pdf files.
Each text string has it’s own coordinate.

Paragraphs or Columns of text also do not exist in a pdf file, they are just optical illusions as a consequence of the places where the text strings originate. This leads to a lot of problems when you for example want to read a pdf file on an E-book, with a screen that is so small that re-formatting of the pdf is required.

PDF’s should have been rendered obsolete 15+ years ago, but because they have become the defacto standard for a lot of files (datasheets for example) we are probably going to be stuck with it for some time.

There are also many different versions of the pdf file format. The most reliable is probably PDF/A, which is standarized and and meant for archiving files.

The age of the PDF format is a consequence of it’s robustness and the fact that it has been an ISO standard since 2008.

It’s development had nothing to do with publishing books, it’s not even a preferred format of most book publishers.

This would be a problem with the E-book, not the file format. I have certainly never seen a PDF file “reformatted” on a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

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