Mark Stephens Mark has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and is a big NetBeans fan. He enjoys speaking at conferences. He has an MA in Medieval History and a passion for reading.

How to make a PDF file manually

1 min read

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PDF Files are very complex files and we always recommend you use a library such as JPedal when working with them. But it is possible to make a PDF file manually using nothing more than a simple text editor. Here we show you how.

You don’t need to be a magician to create PDF’s

A PDF file is a complex file format. Originally designed by Adobe, it is now an ISO standard of over 1000 pages. PDF files are unusual in that they do not contain the actual content (like a Word or Text file), but the information needed to create the display of the content when the PDF viewer puts it all together.

It is a simplified version of PostScript, where you create a program which runs to generate the output. This is why they are very hard to hack – you are editing the program to generate the content, not the actual content.

A PDF file contains a set of objects with a table telling you where the objects are all located in the PDF file. The objects themselves contain a mix of binary and text content. If you know what you are doing, you can create it yourself.

If I still have not put you off,  my colleague Daniel shows you how to build a really simple PDF file in this series of posts (and that is nasty enough). It is not for the faint-hearted……

Part 1: PDF Objects and Data Types
Part 2: Structure of a PDF file
Part 2.5: Create a non working PDF
Part 3: DIY Blank Page
Part 4: Hello World Pdf
Part 5: Path objects
Part 6: Graphics State



Are you a Developer working with PDF files?

Our developers guide contains a large number of technical posts to help you understand the PDF file Format.

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Mark Stephens Mark has been working with Java and PDF since 1999 and is a big NetBeans fan. He enjoys speaking at conferences. He has an MA in Medieval History and a passion for reading.

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