PDF Export (Pattern Maker)

Hello all!

I have been making an app for my students called Pattern maker (https://github.com/digitalcoleman/generativeExamples/tree/master/patternMaker_v2) which includes the ability to drag and drop svg files, create patterns with them, and export a pdf which we will later translate for a plotter.

The problem is that the more complex the svg file, the less likely that a pdf is generated. I do not know if there is a crazy lag time and that is affecting the button from the GUI or what, but some svg might take upwards of 30 clicks on the export button, and others never produce a pdf at all. Is there any way to better understand what is going on with the pdf export to know if it is working at all, so I know if it is a GUI or library issue?

Any ideas are appreciated!

import controlP5.*; //add the GUI library
import drop.*; //add the drag and drop library
import processing.pdf.*; //add the pdf library

SDrop drop; //make an instance of the sDrop library

PShape myShape; //make a shape variable to hold the svg file

ControlFrame cf; //will help us make a second window for the controls

int space = 40; //some initial settings = spacing
float scl = 40.0; //the scale of each object
float noiseScale = 200.0; //the scale of the noise (how smooth)
float noiseEffect = 0.0; //the strength of the noise affecting the position
float noiseRot = 0.0; //the strength of the noise affecting the rotation
float seed = 1; //the noise seed
boolean pdf = false;
int pdfCount = 1; //starting number for the exported pdf

void settings(){
  size(800, 800); //setup our stage/canvas

void setup(){
  rectMode(CENTER); //for the starting rectangles, center them
  cf = new ControlFrame(this, 300, 300, "Controls"); //make a new window at 300 wide and 300 tall
  surface.setLocation(320, 10); //move the main window over to make room for the control window
  drop = new SDrop(this); //setup the drag and drop

void draw(){

  if(pdf)beginRecord(PDF, "pattern" + pdfCount + ".pdf"); //if the button is pressed, begin recording to make the pdf
  for(int x = space/2; x < width; x+= space) { //iterate across the canvas
    for(int y = space/2; y < width; y+= space) { //iterate down the canvas
      float nx = x + noiseEffect * 2*(noise(seed, y/noiseScale, x/noiseScale)-0.5); //compute the x position noise
      float ny = y + noiseEffect * 2*(noise(x/noiseScale, seed, y/noiseScale)-0.5); //compute the y position noise
      float rot = 4 * PI * (noise(x/noiseScale, y/noiseScale, seed)-0.5) * noiseRot; //compute the rotation noise
      translate(nx, ny); //move the shape into place
      rotate(rot); //rotate the shape
      if(myShape !=null){ //if we have dropped on an svg, then use it
        shape(myShape, 0, 0, scl, scl); //draw the svg
        rect(0, 0, scl, scl); //otherwise, use some squares
        //ellipse(0, 0, scl, scl); //or some ellipses
  if(pdf) {
    pdf = false;

void dropEvent(DropEvent theDropEvent) { //this takes care of the drag and drop
   if(theDropEvent.isFile()) {
    // for further information see
    // http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4.2/docs/api/java/io/File.html
      String myFile = theDropEvent.filePath(); //get the filepath
      myShape = loadShape(myFile); //load the svg into our shape variable

//everything below this makes the control window

class ControlFrame extends PApplet {

  int w, h;
  PApplet parent;
  ControlP5 cp5;

  public ControlFrame(PApplet _parent, int _w, int _h, String _name) {
    parent = _parent;
    PApplet.runSketch(new String[]{this.getClass().getName()}, this);

  public void settings() {
    size(w, h);

  public void setup() {
    surface.setLocation(10, 10);
    cp5 = new ControlP5(this);

       .plugTo(parent, "space")
       .setRange(1, 400)
       .setPosition(20, 20)
       .setSize(200, 30);

       .plugTo(parent, "scl")
       .setRange(10.0, 400.0)
       .setPosition(20, 60)
       .setSize(200, 30); 

    cp5.addSlider("noise scale")
       .plugTo(parent, "noiseScale")
       .setRange(20.0, 1000.0)
       .setPosition(20, 100)
       .setSize(200, 30);

    cp5.addSlider("noise effect - pos")
       .plugTo(parent, "noiseEffect")
       .setRange(0.0, 300.0)
       .setPosition(20, 140)
       .setSize(200, 30);

    cp5.addSlider("noise effect - rot")
       .plugTo(parent, "noiseRot")
       .setRange(0.0, 1.0)
       .setPosition(20, 180)
       .setSize(200, 30);

    cp5.addSlider("noise seed")
       .plugTo(parent, "seed")
       .setRange(0.0, 10.0)
       .setPosition(20, 220)
       .setSize(200, 30);

       .plugTo(parent, "pdf")
       .setPosition(20, 260)
       .setSize(50, 30);

  void draw() {



  • You should provide an example file and a list of steps/slider settings that duplicates the problem. I ran your code and I was able to generate a couple of pdf files with no problem. The pattern you are referring to is based on the sliders or is there something extra not included in this current post (I didn't look at your link btw)


  • edited January 2018

    Thank you for your response! I have added an svg here: https://github.com/digitalcoleman/generativeExamples/blob/master/images/scales2.svg If I make the scale and spacing equal 100, then I have to press Export PDF about 30 times. If I leave it on the default settings, no pdf is ever created.

  • Are the SVGs all coming from the same source and being created in the same way, using the same subset of SVG features? PShape, Processing and its libraries only implement a subset of all SVG features, so there could definitely be SVG files there that just don't work no matter what.

    That said, if you are getting variable time delays then something else is (also) going on....

  • can you post the source svg?

  • My apologies, - I posted an example problem svg above, not a pdf (edited). The problem occurs with many different svg files, some created in Affinity Designer, some created in Illustrator, but the issue is directly related to the number of points and paths in the svg and then how many time I am repeating the Pshape in the patternMaker sketch. I guess on one level it is good because if the students are using too many paths and thus making something that will overtax the plotter, it just doesn't export ;)

Sign In or Register to comment.