Correcting PDF Validation Issues

OSHPD FDD electronic plan review requires PDF be created by a PDF compliant application.  There are three types of documents that are routed to FDD’s electronic plan review software: Plan, Calc, and TIO.  These three documents types must pass our validation before they can be uploaded to e-Client Access (eCA).   Simply exporting to PDF from a CAD program does not make a file PDF compliant.  And, forms like TIO with filled form fields must be flattened.

Is My PDF Ready for Electronic Plan Review?#

To confirm your files will pass our validation during upload to eCA, you can use PDF Scout.  PDF Scout is a free validation software tool that will check your PDF files for the following:

  • File is accessible (not password protected or encrypted)
  • PDF version
  • File is optimized
  • File size (under 300 Megabytes)
  • All pages have same orientation (warning only)
  • All pages are readable
  • No unexpected annotations (Comments, SHX Fonts, etc.)
  • File has good resolution

NOTE:  The most common issue identified is “unexpected annotations”.  These are comments added to the PDF that exist in a different layer than the document.   Also, AutoCAD SHX fonts are a form of comment that will appear as an “unexpected annotation”.  

To validate files, click the button above and load your PDF files and check them for known issues.  If issues are identified, the issues must be corrected before uploading to eCA.  

How Do I Make My Files PDF Compliant?#

Save As#

Save As is the first option to correct PDF issues. A simple SAVE AS procedure will correct most issues with a PDF.  “Save” will not correct issues, it will only save new content.  “SAVE AS” will recreate the file and correct issues while saving.

 

  1. With your PDF file open in Adobe Acrobat DC, select File > Save As. When prompted, browse to the appropriate location enter a different filename and click Save.  
  2. Acrobat will process the file flattening and optimize most content.
  3. Once complete, compare the file size of the new document to the original. If different, changes have been made to the document.  If no change in file size is shown, the file was not modified by the Save As. 
  4. Check the new file with PDF Scout. If the file does not pass, continue to the next option.

PDF Optimizer#

Adobe Acrobat has a feature to optimize a PDF.  Optimizing a PDF is the best method to correct issues.  Optimizing will remove unwanted content and flatten comment and SHX font layers into the document layer.  Optimizing should not increase the file size dramatically.

  1. With your PDF file open in Adobe Acrobat DC, select Tools > Optimize PDF > Advanced Optimization as shown in figure 1.
  2. The PDF Optimizer window will open
  3. Under ‘Discard Objects’, check ALL boxes as shown in figure 2. (Do not click OK)
  4. Under ‘Discard User Data’, check ALL boxes except the second one as shown in figure 3.  The important ones to check and uncheck are:
    1. Uncheck – “Discard document information and metadata”
    2. Check – “Discard all comments, forms and multimedia”
    3. Check – “Discard all object data”
    4. Check – “Discard hidden layer content and flatten visible layers”
  5. Click OK.
  6. When prompted, browse to the appropriate location and enter a different filename and click Save. Note: this process can take a while depending on the file size and the quantity of metadata on the file.
  7. Check the new file with PDF Scout. If the file does not pass, continue to the next option.

Print to PDF#

Printing a document to PDF within a PDF compliant application combines all the above options to correct issues.  Unfortunately, it can increase the file size to an unusable value for eCA (300MB or greater).  If only a few pages fail validation, you can print those specific pages to PDF and replace them in the original file.  To print an entire document to PDF, follow these steps.

  1. With your PDF file open in Adobe Acrobat DC, select File > Print.
  2. When the Print window appears, select the options as shown in figure 4 and click Print.
  3. When prompted, browse to the appropriate location enter a different filename and click Save. Note: this process can take a while depending on the file size and the quantity of metadata on the file.
  4. Check the new file with PDF Scout. If the file does not pass, continue to the next option.

Additional Assistance#

Contact FDD Program Technicians

FDD provides a service for clients that do not have a PDF compliant software.  FDD will provide a secure site for you to upload your files.  FDD will optimize the file and return them to you on the secure site. Contact FDD at Sacramento PT.Sac@oshpd.ca.gov (916-440-8404) or Los Angeles PT.LA@oshpd.ca.gov (213-620-2451).