Best pdf software

Just wondering what the best pdf creation software is out there. Just received the GF and am trying to figure out which software is the best. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Best is a pretty subjective term.

What operating system?

Windows 10

@hansepe is right, it’s very subjective.

for sure, adobe illustrator is the choice of most professional designers, since we’re fairly tied to the full adobe suite. but it’s also by far the most expensive choice.

lots of others here use inkscape and affinity designer. inkscape is free (i think?) and AD has a minimal cost.

there are others out there. it really depends on your budget and how you like to work. for pure use, i am an illustrator guy. but i’m already using it at work and already paying for a home license for the full suite.

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Agree with the above. Inkscape is free - I use that, and Gimp for raster editing.

I am wondering, however, why you want to use PDF.


Ok thank you very much. We are new to this and saw many of the files in pdf form and wasn’t sure if this was the correct route to take. Trying to do all of the homework before diving into it.

Nothing wrong with PDF but SVG is the most common for vector design work. All of the recommended apps can save as PDF, but it’s not their “native” format.


Many folks swear by using PDF for GF. Never understood why, except maybe they don’t have to learn a new program. Have exclusively used Inkscape SVGs for more than two years. Maybe just my preference.

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probably because i’ve never seen a “my PDF file won’t load right” thread here. but i’ve seen TONS of “why is my SVG file the wrong size?” threads. not to mention winding errors and other things. and there’s no converting text to outlines before exporting, PDF handles that. and, if you’re using illustrator, a PDF saves layer info in native format. and if you don’t mind a larger file, you can save it as an illustrator PDF and it’s basically an AI file that you can upload, so only one file needed.

SVG may be better in inkscape since it’s inkscape’s native format, but it’s not native to all programs.

i’m not saying one is better than the other (although I do obviously have my personal preference), but i don’t think it’s hard to understand why someone would use PDF.


One of the most vocal “only PDF” folks just did in the last month. Found an issue they couldn’t resolve with the PDF file but the SVG version worked fine.

He decided he was no longer relying solely on PDF files.

Once you choose the design software you’re going to need to fall in love with and learn backwards and forwards (over time) if you want to design your own stuff, then you can worry about “best” PDF or using SVG. It will be up to your workflow.

The built-in MS PDF in Windows works fine, you can get other free or paid versions of PDF generators as well. I’m an Adobe CC subscriber so I use Acrobat because I can. I’m also an SVG fan, but as @shop noted, you rarely see a “my PDF file won’t work” thread here unless somebody was new and didn’t realize that you need vectors to cut regardless of SVG or PDF format.

So pick a software package to design in. Check out the Glowforge Tips and Tricks section and the tutorials. You’ve got lots of options in design software including free (Inkscape & GIMP and others), low cost (Affinity Designer & Photo), and more expensive (Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator). Also, so our Corel Draw fans don’t feel left out we’ll mention them too :slight_smile: This is not an exhaustive list and if you already have a favorite design program that exports to SVG or PDF stick with it.


i missed it, but i’m not completely surprised. the point i was making is that it isn’t common. and sure, part of that is because people recommend SVG (including GF). but PDF was really designed for applications like this (essentially print). SVG has been adapted to work in applications like this (as evidenced by the need to assign DPI when you export to translate to physical measurements).

again, either can work. neither is perfect. but my point was that there are lots of good reasons to use PDF over SVG.


good point, i completely forgot. which is sad, since that was my entry into the graphic design world (Corel Draw and Ventura desktop publisher). and corel draw is still a big player in the sign making world.

And still my go-to :slightly_smiling_face: Fusion 360 for 3D and sheetmetal designs. Inkscape for students since I can’t know they can (or want to) pay for AI or Affinity.

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SVG was designed to be an open, royalty free alternative to PDF and other proprietary formats that popped up in the 90’s. The subset of capabilities is intentional.

PDF absolutely supports more functionality. In the past, it has also been less “accessible” to those outside the professional design and print industries.

I know this wasn’t in response to me, but my comment was that PDF isn’t either.

Again, I’m not saying SVG is better, or PDF is worse. It just seems SVG is far more common in CNC and Laser applications.

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i didn’t say it was. it’s not, by default. but if you’re using illustrator, it can essentially be, if you save with illustrator compatibility on (as mentioned in a later post).

i think some of why it’s more common is because of some dislike of adobe. i’ve seen that here when i mention using PDF.

again, though, a lot of this conversation came from me giving reasons why some people use PDFs, not necessarily trashing SVG. and i think we’re on the same page that either will work.

Thank you for all the insight. I appreciate the information

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I already have SolidWorks. My workflow: model, make a drawing in Solidworks at 1:1 scale, save as PDF. Easy peasy and works great.

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