Reading exported .ai files in vector editors other than Illustrator

I am trying to open a .ai file exported from rhino in an application other than Illustrator ( Affinity Designer by Serif), however I am getting the following error message " Failed to Open PDF file, the file cannot be parsed".
I posted this to Serif’s forum and the response was that the ai file might not contain a PDF stream ( since that is what is read by Affinity Designer). Can this issue be solved? Else is it possible to export a file from rhino as a pdf and maintain the structure of layers as to edit in any other vector editor other than Illustrator?



Have you tried exporting a pdf, by using a pdf programme/‘printer’ ? I use PDF24, which is available free of charge, though they probably welcome donations.

If the serif programme doesn’t import ai, somewhere I red up on the trick of importing the ai file into Scribus, which is an open source programme, then exporting it as an SVG from there, which I have then imported into Inkscape, another open source programme. I am not sure about preserving layers, though. . .

Hey Ben,
The Affinity designer does import ai, if the file is directly created in illustrator and saved as an ai. However, if the ai file is exported from rhino it doesn’t open it.
You can directly print to a pdf on a mac ( vector output), however you loose the layers ( and becomes very tedious to edit).

One thing noticed is that when you open the rhino exported ai file in illustrator, you get a [ converted] beside the name of the file, and when saving, it does a ‘save as’ instead. once it is saved through illustrator , you can open it in the Affinity designer normally.
I guess the issue is with the way rhino exports the .ai file.

Do you prefer affinity to ai or are you more familiar with it ?

It is pretty good and very fast compared to Illustrator ( from early trials). It doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee and it costs around 40 pounds . It is not only about the software rather it is a matter of principle.
New Tech companies will proliferate and will be able to create competitive software that rivals the “standard” ones for a fraction of the price. This makes interoperability pretty important .

Have you tried Inkscape ? It is Open source, hence free, like Ben said.

I use Illustrator, because I have been since version 2 or 3 and i am used to working in both Illustrator & Rhino, to do 2D lines for concepts. I also use Adobe Line & Draw on the iPad which makes it even better to work out ideas while on the road and know I can access it from home or office. Not sure if these are free.

The converted added is because Rhino exports to an older version of Illustrator, not sure which one.

So maybe you should be modelling with Blender, it’s free and OpenSource

It sounds like it is the way Affinity Designer is importing the AI files. I have never had issues with layers in Illustrator from Rhino.

All the best if finding a solution.

the same is for Preview and inkscape and numeroous other applications

there is simply no other way than to resave it in illustrator,
c4d opens it but that only works in matters of 3d construction
if you need to make it up graphically you are stuck.

Preview usually opens any kind of ai. just not the one created from rhino mac
the same is for Affinity Designer, it opens any kind of ai,
even whole pdfs with pages into layers

but they all give up on this ai created by rhino. i also tried an online converter…
it spat out the listing of the commands implemented in the header of the file
or so i guess. but the pdf was not usable…

and yes printing a pdf from rhino is really not usefull…
it converts lines and solid hatches into segments…
like autocad doing a pdf… its just not possible to reedit that
without having to tear the whole document apart…

i guess its not affinity or preview, its how rhino saves it that only adobe illu can open it.
really not usefull for people who dont own or rent Adobe stuff!

maybe Rhino could get an svg exporter implemented…
at least check how the ai is being created if there is somebody out there reading this

Try EMF - works fine with Affinity Designer and creates very small files compared to AI.

The AI that Rhino writes is the old Illustrator 8.0, EPS based format. The newer AI format is PDF based.



I think we should insist that the old AI format be brought up to date. I export / import between the 2 regularly.

I already started a WISH here ,

This would maybe be a good idea as well, but update AI format first.

Maybe the update AI format request should be in Meta ?


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not sure which software to use to get an emf? this seems pc only.

what about Meta? you mean this thread or there is one in Meta?
i read something recently not sure where.

Hm - I don’t use Rhino on a mac so I don’t know.
Rhino on PC offers EMF export.
If you need another software to translate, it makes no sense.



Here is what we get for export options on a Mac.

I suppose they assume that Mac users don’t need Enhanced MetaFile format, which is essentially true.



I rephrased my question, it is about asking for an updated export to AI format.

emf seems to be a microsoft thing.

yup… not very smooth :slight_smile:
but this has been discussed for a long time now
it has just not been taken too serious.

I see in rhinorudis list above the EPS format (I don’t seem to have that in Rhino 5 on Windows) is that basically the same as the old AI or does Affinity Designer maybe read it? Did anybody try that on OSX?

And yes, EMF is the Enhanced Metafile Format which superseded WMF, Windows Metafile Format IIRC.
Not widely used on Windows either :wink:



it the same in piece resting ancient post script as for the ai… not useful :smiley: unfortunately :sob:

I believe so, And I am not sure what Affinty Designer reads, since i don’t use it. Work does the Adobe thing for me here & home.

it reads every pdf and current ai files, its very effective otherwise.

Ah, too bad about the EPS.
I was a bit surprised about the lack of deeper import options in Affinity myself and raised it during their Windows beta phase - funny enough they support Freehand 10 and 11 - but they didn’t plan to support the old AI format, it also seems that newer Adobe SDKs no longer offer that option either so they would have to find some old SDK version that still contains it…



I was surprised by that when I looked at it a few weeks ago. I thought it was a Mac only. Glad it went cross platform. For the price you can’t beat it. That is why Sketch became so big as an AI alternative in the web graphics world.