After upgrading to ArcMap 9.3 and exploring its many new features, one is worth noting; 9.3 has enhanced the options when exporting a map to PDF. In order to utilize this new function go to File > Export (Alt + FE) and in the Save as type: select PDF. If it isn’t expanded by default click on the options button on the bottom left of the dialog box and you’ll find a new to 9.3 Advanced tab where you can choose:
1. Not to export the map layers
2. To export only the map layers
3. To export the map layers and the feature attributes.
Opting to export the layers and attributes comes with a warning: “Exporting attributes to PDF can lead to performance problems while viewing the file in Adobe Acrobat® or Reader®. If possible, limit exported fields to one layer per map. To suppress field export, turn off field visibility in the Layer Properties dialog.”
I created a test PDF using the state of New Jersey’s Municipality Layer. Once you have a PDF exported from ArcMap (you must export directly from ArcMap, the attributes/layers will not be generated if you print the map using a pdf printer) open the file in Adobe Acrobat® 8 or later, did not work with Acrobat® Pro 6, and add the “Object Data” Tool then click on a feature of the map. It was very difficult to click just one object. It seemed to select all then on the second click it was easier to select just one. The object data shows up in the left pane as a “Model Tree”. I don’t yet know if you can edit the object data. I would make sense for that to be an option with Acrobat® Standard or Pro.
This option is a much needed addition to enhance map production and the free distribution of mapping information.
Here is a sample PDF of Well Head Protection Areas with some attribute information attached: sample_93 (for best results download and open, viewing in a browser may not work).