PDF as a spatial data delivery format

As CJ briefly showcased at the CSI Nairobi meeting, ArcGIS can export layered maps into a nicely packaged PDF file that users can turn on and off different layers to overlay multiple spatial information.

Sure it’s not enough for us to do any analysis on it, but can be a really handy vehicle to deliver seriously layered spatial information to public. Since, hey, not everyone we interact with has to have a GIS software (or bandwidth-intensive web mapping apps), but everyone seems to have PDF reader.  Besides, you know, it’s so much better to send a one PDF with 10 maps than 10 map files (in whatever format). I also found a nice showcase place at http://acrobatusers.com/gallery/geospatial.

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I played this a little bit recently, and I soon realized the conversion process is, well, not a single-button process (why no one is surprised?).. I think (surely!) a lot of careful designing stage should be established to take a full advantage of this technique.

So, I wondered if anyone else has experience with it. Are you currently using it? Would you recommend it? Any good (or bad) experience? Would it be useful to collectively create some type of layout guideline or template to help facilitate data delivery process?

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