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What is the difference between raster and vector content in PDFs?

Background

You are uploading drawings or specifications into Procore's Drawings and Specifications tool, and you may be noticing varied results with Procore's OCR and text parsing technology. Procore recommends requesting vector PDFs from the design team as opposed to a mixture of vector and non-vector (e.g. raster).

Answer

Raster Content

Raster files are made up of a series of pixels that represent information like text and images. Because these pixels are a static grid of colored squares rather than actual lines or letters, Procore's OCR and text parsing technology will attempt to identify lines and letters in your PDF from the pixels based on their shape.

  • Raster files can be identified by attempting to highlight text in the PDF with your mouse. Text in files cannot be highlighted. Additionally, you can zoom in on the PDF to see if the image and text gets blurry or pixilated. When you scan a file to your computer, these PDFs are always considered "raster" files. If you have received a raster-based PDF, contact the design team, who can save the original content (e.g. specifications and drawings) as a vector-based PDF.
Vector Content

Line segments in vector files are made from NURBS, which is a mathematical model that creates links between two points or a series of points, and displays the line segments between them on your computer. Text in vector files is placed in around these line segments, and you can highlight and interact with the text much like a read-only Word document. This logic allows you to zoom in almost indefinitely, and the lines and text will always remain sharp. Procore's OCR and text parsing technology was built with this logic in mind, and can most easily identify text and shapes in your vector-based PDF.

  • Vector files can be identified by attempting to highlight text in the PFD with your mouse. Text in vector files can be highlighted.
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