11 Best Free and Open Source PDF Development Libraries

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. The format includes a subset of the PostScript page description programming language, a font-embedding system, and a structural storage system.

Over the years PDF has become an extremely important file format. If you want to create documents that can be viewed under all major operating systems, PDF is the ticket, as it maintains the overall look and feel of documents regardless of what platform they are viewed under.

There is a large range of PDF-related software available with many different applications available that can both output to and open files. Many open source software save documents to this format such as LibreOffice and GIMP.

The purpose of this article is to recommend free and open source PDF development libraries. We are not considering PDF editors, PDF viewers, tools that add an OCR layer to PDF files here. This is because these categories are covered by other articles in our Best Free and Open Source series.

Here’s our recommended PDF libraries captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart.

Ratings chart

Click the links in the table below to learn about each library.

PDF Development Libraries
TCPDFPHP class for generating PDF documents
PDFBoxCreate, render, print, split, merge, alter, verify and extract text and metadata
PopplerLibrary for rendering PDF files, and examining or modifying their structure
Apache FOPPrint formatter driven by XSL formatting objects
JasperReportsReporting engine written in Java
PoDoFoParse PDF files and modify their contents into memory
QPDFLibrary and programs that inspect and manipulate the structure of PDF files
OpenPDFLibrary for creating and editing PDF files; fork of iText
libHaruLibrary for generating PDFs
pdf-libCreate and modify PDF documents in a JavaScript environment
CapyPDFFully color managed PDF generation library

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

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Serena Emmerich
Serena Emmerich
7 months ago

Hey there You have done a fantastic job I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends Im confident theyll be benefited from this site

7 months ago

You included Apache FOP and JasperReports. Only thing related to PDF in these libs are these can generate output as PDF, like most other modern libs that can export file.

Instead, you can include many other great PDF libs like following:
– PDFsharp
– CapyPDF

6 months ago

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