Unicode characters and PDF export

My typical Igor workflow is to make a bunch of graphs, add them to a layout and export to PDF. From there I usually go into Illustrator to add lettering (A, B, C etc). When I import the PDF into Illustrator, "special characters" (i.e. Unicode from graph axes) get converted into non-text objects and it's annoying to edit them back. I understand that the problem is with Illustrator but I'm wondering why Unicode characters in the exported PDF from Igor can't be read by Illustrator. In R you can specify useDingbats=FALSE to force ggsave to output a PDF that uses a standard character set which I think cures this problem from R. Is there an Igor option or something I'm missing?

I'm on IP8.04 macOS 10.15.6, but it's been like this as long as I've been using Unicode characters in Igor.

I don't think the problem is with Illustrator.

Unicode is very complicated. What you get when you export to PDF will depend on how exactly you exported to PDF (did you embed fonts or not), which Unicode characters are included in the export, and which font(s) you are using. Sometimes it is easy to change how you export to keep the characters, and sometimes it is not. For Igor 9, on Windows, this problem is (as far as I understand) mostly solved. I'm not sure if it's solved on Macintosh or not.

It would be useful if you can share an example that fails for you, and provide the SavePICT command you're using to export. Feel free to send this to support via email instead of posting here if you'd like. If nothing else I can test your example in Igor 9 to see if it handles the export better than Igor 8.

I am sure you have very good reasons for your workflow. I am just curious why you would want to take the extra step via illustrator 'just' for adding lettering A, B, C... when it literally takes seconds to do this in Igor itseft. Just for the record, I was using extrenal programs for many years before coming to the conclusion that this extra step of exporting just eats time for no benefit most of the time.

I have had a similar, annoying experience with IP 8.04 Windows 10 Enterprise. I had two graph axes labels with units of micron (officially micrometer), displayed in the graph with IP's 'special character' mu and lower case 'm'. When I saved the grahics as pdf, the 'mu's  were replaced by an unrecognizable character.

Thank you for the reply Adam. Here is a MWE:

Make/N=10 ddd=10+gnoise(1)
Display/N=theGraph ddd
Label/W=theGraph left "Measurement (\u03BCm)"
Layout/S theGraph
ModifyLayout frame=0;DelayUpdate
ModifyLayout width(theGraph)=200,height(theGraph)=150
SavePICT/E=-2 as "test.pdf"

This graph has a unicode "mu" on the y-axis.

Import test.pdf into Illustrator, a dialog pops up saying "The document contains PDF objects that have been reinterpreted:" and in the list below "To preserve appearance, some text has been outlined". Without the mu character this dialog doesn't appear.

In reply to by chozo

@chozo That's a fair point. I was simplifying my case for the purposes of the question. I tend to add more than just lettering, i.e. images and  stuff from other programs. For figures that are "all Igor" you are right. Just putting everything together in a layout works really well.

I don't have Illustrator, so I can't test whether the PDF that Igor generates causes the reinterpreted message in Illustrator. Maybe this is an Illustrator issue, not an Igor issue. I originally thought you were saying that the symbol characters didn't look right in the PDF (this is the typical complaint), but that's not what you actually said.

I have created several different versions of your test case on Macintosh IP 8.04 and IP9. 

When viewed in Preview, all 5 of the attached PDF files render the mu correctly.

The MacIP8_Igor.pdf file uses /E=-8 instead of /E=-2. This uses the new PDF generation code in IP9 which may help in your situation.

The EF1 and EF2 files were generated using /EF=1 and /EF=2.

Yes, the appearance is fine, the issue is how it gets re-interpreted in Illustrator. Thank you for generating all of those examples. I took the mac PDFs you generated and put them all into Illustrator. The MacIP9_Igor.pdf works fine and the text is editable after import. With all the others, the mu gets redrawn. So it looks like the new PDF generation code is the solution. I guess I hold tight for IP9!

You might try printing to PDF. If you are using Igor PDF, it's possible that it encountered a non-standard (meaning? I don't know) character and turned into an outline. The Print to PDF driver may be more sophisticated than Igor.

Thanks for the reply. I figured as much. Great that you could find a (future) solution for your problem.

@johnweeks Thanks. I hadn't tried that, but the resulting PDF from the print dialog also gets redrawn.