Frequently asked question

What are the disadvantages to printing or exporting ArcMap maps that contain MrSID and/or ECW data?

Last Published: April 26, 2020


The MrSID and ECW formats are an excellent method for storing and analyzing large raster datasets, but these formats lose the advantage of high compression at output time. This is because ArcGIS uses Microsoft's standard for output, which does not recognize these proprietary compressions natively.

All MrSID and ECW images in an ArcMap map must be completely uncompressed before being processed by the output pipeline. Since these raster formats can be compressed at a 1:10 - 1:50 ratio, this can result in several gigabytes or more of temporary files. This can exceed the available resources of ArcGIS and the Windows operating system and result in clipped or missing output, application failures, and crashes.
It is highly recommended to use ArcGIS Pro for printing and exporting, especially when experiencing issues caused by the limitations of the ArcMap display engine. More specifically, ArcGIS Pro is not restricted by the graphical device interface (GDI) limitations that some users experience in ArcMap. For example, transparency is natively supported in ArcGIS Pro, preventing the rasterization of layers. Additionally, ArcGIS Pro supports transparency in layout elements.
ArcGIS Pro does not support exporting Adobe Illustrator files; it is recommended to export using PDF or SVG instead. Also, because ArcGIS Pro does not use the Windows GDI, font substitution or fallback does not occur in ArcGIS Pro. Boxes may appear if using characters unsupported by the chosen font.

Article ID:000007728

  • ArcMap

Get help from ArcGIS experts

Contact technical support

Download the Esri Support App

Go to download options

Related Information

Discover more on this topic