Last time, we showed you how to write your own PDF file. This is useful for understanding the complexities of PDF files (and why you really want to use a PDF SDK to create and edit PDF files). Hopefully, we convinced you it was a bad idea…
The easy way to generate a PDF file is to get a computer program to generate it for you – many programs can generate PDF files directly either are part of their printing features or offer direct PDF export. You can also use an SDK such as IText (which was written for creating and editing PDF files programmatically).
The advantage of this is that you do not need to know anything about PDF. The disadvantage is that you are trusting in the PDF creation tool. Some common software tools (Quartz on MacOS as one example) tend to make a mess of PDF files.
There are tools that produce very good quality PDF files that are small and useful while others are not so good. Often it is very hard to tell from looking at a PDF how ‘well-made’ it is. Many PDF files also contain errors which complicate how different tools will later handle them.
If you want to start learning about PDF files, we have a large number of blog posts on the subject of the PDF file format where we document all the features you may find and show some nasty bugs. Two good places to start are:-
- Understanding the PDF File Format: Overview
- Understanding the PDF File Format: Bugs, Gotchas and Tips
Next time we carry on looking at PDF files with a discussion on the text in PDF documents.