Mark Stephens Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

Useful PDF tools – pdfedit

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Developing a PDF viewer means spending a lot of time ripping apart PDF files to see what exactly is going on. So I am always on the lookout for good tools which allow you to analyse and drill down inside a PDF file. With the increased used of Compressed objects in PDF files (where data is hidden inside data), such tools are increasingly required.

I wrote an article, Viewing PDF objects on Acrobat 9.0 which has a well-hidden mode to examine the internal guts of a PDF file. If you have a copy of Acrobat and work on Mac on Windows it works very well. But if you do not have Acrobat or want to develop on other platforms, there are some very creditable alternatives.

Pdfedit is a free tool for Unix and Linux systems (it can also run under Windows) which can be downloaded from sourceforge. It you are running the latest version of Ubuntu it can be installed directly from the Ubuntu software centre as well.

Pdfedit offers a multipane pane display showing the PDF, the internal PDF tree and can also show command streams and other data. Not only does it allow you to see the internals of the PDF file, but it also lets you perform some editing functions including delinearize, flatten, export and add text and images to a page. It seems to cope well with most files – it is based on xpdf which is a mature and tested PDF library.

It does not work on encrypted files

pdfedit screenshotPdfedit can be quite a technical tool to use, but then if you are hacking PDF files you will need some detailled knowledge of the PDF file format.

Pdfedit also has its own page on wikipedia so you can find out more details there. It is certainly worth a try and post what you think.

Do you have any favorite PDF tools or programs which you recommend?

IDRsolutions develop a Java PDF Viewer and SDK, an Adobe forms to HTML5 forms converter, a PDF to HTML5 converter and a Java ImageIO replacement. On the blog our team post anything interesting they learn about.

Mark Stephens Mark Stephens has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and has diversified into HTML5, SVG and JavaFX. He also enjoys speaking at conferences and has been a Speaker at user groups, Business of Software, Seybold and JavaOne conferences. He has a very dry sense of humor and an MA in Medieval History for which he has not yet found a practical use.

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