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DXF/DWG Import from Illustrator Not Working

donald_6donald_6 Member Posts: 3
Hi Folks,

I'm trying to use Adobe Illustrator (CC v19.1.0) to export either a DWG or a DXF to import into Onshape, but I'm getting the same error each time. Onshape says "Some entities could not be converted properly".

I've tried exporting as both DWG and DXF, in each of the formats Illustrator provides:
  • R13/LT95
  • R14/LT98/LT97
  • 2000/LT2000
  • 2004/2005/2006
  • 2007/2008/2009
  • 2010/2011/2012
None of these export formats work. I also tried fiddling with the "Preserve Appearance/Maximum Editability", and the "Alter Paths for Appearance" and "Outline Text" options, none of which seem to matter.

If I export from Inkscape (which seems to use the R14 variant of DXF), I can get it to work in Onshape, though the Inkscape exports seem to need cleaning up as well.

I've tried exporting some basic text converted to paths, as well as just a drawing of a single ellipse. Nothing from Illustrator imports.

Does anybody have thoughts on what I should try next? Is export from Illustrator working for anybody? Could it be an import bug?

Thanks,
Donald


PS I know Illustrator isn't CAD software, but it's the best drawing tool I've got for now.

Best Answer

Answers

  • jakeramsleyjakeramsley Member, Moderator, Onshape Employees, Developers Posts: 583
    Hi donald_6,

    Are any of these dxf/dwg files ones that you are willing to share?  It's hard to make any conclusions without inspecting them.
    Jake Ramsley

    Director of Quality Engineering              onshape.com
  • donald_6donald_6 Member Posts: 3
    Hi Jake, thanks for the quick reply! Sure, I can post a couple that didn't work.

    The file called "text outline.dxf" was exported using Adobe Illustrator's "R14/LT98/LT97" export option. The file called "circle.dxf" was exported using the "2010/2011/2012" export option.

    The forum evidently doesn't allow .dxf upload, so I've compressed the two files into one ZIP.

    Interestingly, the "text outline" file will partially import, but only the straight lines. It would appear that curves of any type don't work at all, but straight line import works decently in the "R14" export.
  • donald_6donald_6 Member Posts: 3
    That's helpful information! I previously knew no things about splines versus poly-lines, but your comment prompted a web search, which brought me to this document: http://https//forums.adobe.com/thread/911561?start=0&tstart=0

    For those of you who may have the same issue as me, what you need to do in Illustrator is use the Object»Path»Simplify menu item, and then check the "Straight Lines" option. You may need to use the "Object»Paths»Add Anchor Points" menu item a few times before simplifying to straight lines gives you enough detail.

    It's not going to give you perfect editable curves, but it might give you something you can use...
  • andy_elderandy_elder Member Posts: 3
    Hi all!

    I'm new to OnShape, and am trying to figure out how to use this software with my 3D printer.  It looks like I have the same issue that donald_6 has - I would like to import dxf/dwg files from Illustrator, but am unable to.

    It sounds like this has been added to the improvement request - is there any way that I can track these sorts of things?  Is there someplace that I can watch for improvements to Onshape, and wait for this feature to be improved?

    Thanks all for your help, and sorry if this question has an obvious answer :-)

  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭
    andy_elder
    Did you try
    what you need to do in Illustrator is use the Object»Path»Simplify menu item, and then check the "Straight Lines" option. You may need to use the "Object»Paths»Add Anchor Points" menu item a few times before simplifying to straight lines gives you enough detail.

  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2015
    andy_elder

    If you want to be notified when/if the IR is actioned, you could raise a ticket under "Feedback" from the Onshape CAD zone, asking to be added to the improvement request, and quoting the URL of this thread
  • andy_elderandy_elder Member Posts: 3
    andrew_troup

    Thank you very much for your help!  I just raised a ticket as you described, so hopefully I will be added to that improvement request.

    Also, I did briefly try your method of Object --> Path --> Simplify, but that option in Illustrator was not available to me (it was grayed out).  I had imported a .pdf file into Illustrator, and was able to convert it to a vector object using the "Image Trace" feature.  The "Image Trace" was successful, but I was unable to Simplify the Path.  I'll have to track down that AI issue today on the Illustrator forums - unless you happen to know what my problem is? :-)

    Thanks again!
  • andy_elderandy_elder Member Posts: 3
    andrew_troup

    Never mind, I think I figured it out!  I'm trying to figure out both AI and OnShape at the same time, and there's a little bit of a learning curve :wink: 

    I was able to get your workaround to work, and it looks like it should be sufficient for me at this point.

    Thanks!
  • andrew_troupandrew_troup Member, Mentor Posts: 1,584 ✭✭✭✭
    @andy_elder ;
    donald_6 's  workaround from further up the page
  • frank_kroondijkfrank_kroondijk Member Posts: 3
    I wasn't having success with Illustrator too but once I exported as EPS and then converted to dxf here: https://cloudconvert.com/eps-to-dxf I was able to successfully import the dxf. Fairly complex dxf files do take a long time to be rendered though. Hope this helps..
  • lars_sohllars_sohl Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2015
    This setup works

    For those of you who may have the same issue as me, what you need to do in Illustrator is use the Object»Path»Simplify menu item, and then check the "Straight Lines" option. You may need to use the "Object»Paths»Add Anchor Points" menu item a few times before simplifying to straight lines gives you enough detail.







    ;)


    Lars

  • brucebartlettbrucebartlett Member, OS Professional, Mentor Posts: 1,861 PRO
    If there is not already one, somebody should start an improvement request to have a direct import of .ai files as well as .dxf and .dwg
    Engineer ı Product Designer ı Onshape Consulting Partner
    Twitter: @onshapetricks  & @babart1977   
  • jan_rychterjan_rychter Member Posts: 19
    I've been trying to import DXF files exported from Illustrator, Corel Draw, and Inkscape, using various option combinations, and nothing works. "Some entities could not be converted" is as far as I usually get. I once got to a "degenerate geometry". I can't try the workaround, because I don't have Illustrator myself, I need to ask our graphics designer to do that.

    I think the DXF import feature should be renamed — if it only works for a very specific use case, it would save us all some frustration and work to know that it most likely will not work.


  • NeilCookeNeilCooke Moderator, Onshape Employees Posts: 2,327
    @jan_rychter - DXF is an Autodesk file format designed for transferring 2D drawings from one CAD system to another and we support it very well. I imagine those artwork programs are not quite adhering to the standard.
    Neil Cooke, Director of Technical Marketing, Onshape Inc.
  • SquidLordSquidLord Member Posts: 15 ✭✭
    NeilCooke said:
    @jan_rychter - DXF is an Autodesk file format designed for transferring 2D drawings from one CAD system to another and we support it very well. I imagine those artwork programs are not quite adhering to the standard.
    "Very well" is perhaps a bit of an overstatement. As long as the DXF is made up purely of straight line segments, and the number of points is under a couple thousand, "reasonably well" is better phrasing if you take into account that you won't be able to fillet or chamfer the edges derived therefrom the vast majority of the time for anything other than a straight line. 

    I'd be willing to bet Adobe Illustrator's DXF standards-adherence up with anything else short of Autodesk themselves -- and it's very, very solid knowledge to me that unless you convert a vector graphic using "only straight lines" before export, it fails on the Onshape side of the world. You fail on dealing with DXF arcs specifically.

    But let's assume that what you're saying is true, despite the DXF output of both Illustrator and Inkscape working with naive, straightforward arc-described shapes working just fine with other software. Isn't one of the biggest selling points of OS "it just works?" Right now, it pointedly doesn't "just work" for importing DXFs created externally. Even if we accept for the sake of argument that they create somewhat flaky output, isn't it in the interests of OS to accept that and work rather than just fail with a vastly uninformative error? I'd think it would be.

    This rather egregious pain along with the inability to import SVG is my biggest pain right now. Ironically, I end up using Fusion 360 to import my vectors (as SVG for extra irony), creating an extruded solid, then exporting from there as a Parasolid to get things even reasonably neatly into OS. 
  • NeilCookeNeilCooke Moderator, Onshape Employees Posts: 2,327
    Thank you @SquidLord for your detailed reply and ongoing support of Onshape.

    As a drawing transfer capability, DXF import as a drawing works just fine. With regard to importing into a sketch, the issue as stated above is related to discontinuous or closed splines in the DXF file which are not supported by some of the software components we license. The fix is not easy, but we're working on it.

    In the meantime, the solution is to convert the splines into polylines. You can do this by opening the DXF file in DraftSight or AutoCAD and re-exporting as DXF R12, or upload the .ai file to https://cloudconvert.com/ and download as DXF.

    You also need to consider when importing artwork with "a couple of thousand" points that the sketch environment is a 2D constraint solver and is not intended for sketches of that magnitude due to the sheer number of simultaneous equations that need to be solved. 

    Hope this helps,
    Neil.
    Neil Cooke, Director of Technical Marketing, Onshape Inc.
  • SquidLordSquidLord Member Posts: 15 ✭✭
    @NeilCooke

    The state of the DXF specification is a bloody mess and I'm generally impressed that anyone can get it to do anything much, in general. Between the issues of ownership, the multiple reference builds, and painful parsing architecture, if it weren't just the center of inertia for absolute tonnes of CAD software on the desktop which barely update often enough to keep interoperability with themselves on new hardware, no sane person would get near it.

    Which really goes to the heart of the conflict when it comes to OS, no? If the promise of online, rapid-updating CAD in the Cloud is your thing, you can step away from being tied to painful legacy systems and adopt more effective solutions. If polyline DXF suffices to support the folks migrating out of the morass of traditional CAD systems, that's fine. But OS needs to support something better, not just accept the bad solution as good enough. A better, more flexible, clearer vector asset format would be a solid step there. SVG is probably the widest-accessable and used vector format out there right now, but supporting Illustrator files or even PDF-as-vector files would be a tonne better than DXF. Better architectures, better libraries, more efficient, and more intuitive creation 

    Believe me, I don't want to work with sketches of a couple thousand points, but polylines require that for any outline with a significant degree of compound curves -- and if they weren't complex outlines in the first place, we probably would have redrawn them with in-sketch tools in the first place. Give me the ability to import splines along with the ability to "solidify" a sketch to tell the constraint solver "no, there's nothing more to do here; only resolve constraints from other entities to these entities, never from these to other entities" and I think you'll find that the number of control points necessary to describe even convoluted forms and their resultant impact on calculation will be cut back a lot.

    Honestly, OS is currently the most comfortable tool to do parametric modeling in I've found. FeatureScript basically lets you turn interested community members with the most motivation into free devs, and that never hurts. But actually buying into the "in the cloud, we can do things different and better" has to go along with taking on the desktop CAD traditions that get in the way, too. Only having DXF as a sketch-import format is one of those ties that really need to be cut.

    Hey, at least I'm not asking about sheet metal.
  • brucebartlettbrucebartlett Member, OS Professional, Mentor Posts: 1,861 PRO
    @squidLord you make some good points here. I would love to see some way to import vector's straight out of Inkscape or illustrator, which come into the sketcher in a very usable state. Maybe import SVG in the way to go. My experience with Onshape in this area has been disappointing, I found that the only way I could even scale a imported profile was first extrude it to a solid then work with the solid to get what i wanted. 
    Engineer ı Product Designer ı Onshape Consulting Partner
    Twitter: @onshapetricks  & @babart1977   
  • dave_cowdendave_cowden Member, Developers Posts: 445 ✭✭✭
    Hi, all: 
    Sorry i'm late to the party.  During the creation of an 8020 Profile generator and AISC Steel Profile generator, I faced the 'dxf' problem.  I ended up creating some routines that import DXFs and import them into Onshape in a reliable, 'works every time' way ( IE, i had to clean them up, and import them so that they can produce sketches without dealing with the OS sketch solver and the need to manually import the DXF into the sketch.

    As a result, I was able to import thousands of DXFs ( including some pretty complex ones for 8020 profiles) and get them all closed and tidy.   I'd love to re-purpose those tools and make them more helpful, if I can....
  • curtis_vancuracurtis_vancura OS Professional Posts: 18 PRO
    ...And that's all?
    Almost a year later, and dave_cowden's comment isn't commented on? He alludes to having a 'fix' that 'works every time', would like to be helpful, and no-one answers? I have come in search also of a way to import sketch curves (from Corel) for use in OS. Am I missing something?
    I tried an import, and was greeted with a VIEW button which opened into a black unintuitive workspace with no arcs in my vector conversion, and a link to purchase the right to use it for $250/year? OUCH!
    Could someone please let me know if there has been progress on this, please?
  • brucebartlettbrucebartlett Member, OS Professional, Mentor Posts: 1,861 PRO
    @curtis_vancura was it a dxf you imported?

    Engineer ı Product Designer ı Onshape Consulting Partner
    Twitter: @onshapetricks  & @babart1977   
  • MBartlett21MBartlett21 Member Posts: 1,611 EDU
    edited May 2018
    ...And that's all?
    Almost a year later, and dave_cowden's comment isn't commented on? He alludes to having a 'fix' that 'works every time', would like to be helpful, and no-one answers? I have come in search also of a way to import sketch curves (from Corel) for use in OS. Am I missing something?
    I tried an import, and was greeted with a VIEW button which opened into a black unintuitive workspace with no arcs in my vector conversion, and a link to purchase the right to use it for $250/year? OUCH!
    Could someone please let me know if there has been progress on this, please?
    @curtis_vancura

    Import it into a sketch. That tool that you opened it with is the Graebert Kudo viewer
    MB - I make FeatureScripts: view FS (My FS's have "Official" beside them)
  • adrian_zloteaadrian_zlotea Member Posts: 1
    2019, no fix!
  • tyler_popetyler_pope Member, Developers Posts: 20 PRO
    NeilCooke said:
    Thank you @SquidLord for your detailed reply and ongoing support of Onshape.

    As a drawing transfer capability, DXF import as a drawing works just fine. With regard to importing into a sketch, the issue as stated above is related to discontinuous or closed splines in the DXF file which are not supported by some of the software components we license. The fix is not easy, but we're working on it.

    In the meantime, the solution is to convert the splines into polylines. You can do this by opening the DXF file in DraftSight or AutoCAD and re-exporting as DXF R12, or upload the .ai file to https://cloudconvert.com/ and download as DXF.

    You also need to consider when importing artwork with "a couple of thousand" points that the sketch environment is a 2D constraint solver and is not intended for sketches of that magnitude due to the sheer number of simultaneous equations that need to be solved. 

    Hope this helps,
    Neil.

    Once in DraftSight if you use the Explode command that sometimes breaks up the polyline so it will import into Onshape. 
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