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.
Click the links in the table below to learn about each library.
|PDF Development Libraries
|PHP class for generating PDF documents
|Create, render, print, split, merge, alter, verify and extract text and metadata
|Library for rendering PDF files, and examining or modifying their structure
|Print formatter driven by XSL formatting objects
|Reporting engine written in Java
|Parse PDF files and modify their contents into memory
|Library and programs that inspect and manipulate the structure of PDF files
|Library for creating and editing PDF files; fork of iText
|Library for generating PDFs
|Fully color managed PDF generation library
This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.
|Read 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.
There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.