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.

What is a PDF renderer?

1 min read

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A PDF Renderer is a piece of software which can take a PDF file and create an image version of what it would look like to view in a PDF Reader such as Acrobat.

A PDF file is more like a Vector Graphic or a program which needs to be executed to create the actual output. So a PDF renderer needs to include a PDF parser (which can build a view of the pages in memory) and the ability to write this out in an image format.

Why convert PDF files to images?

The reason to convert PDF files is to make them easier to display in web applications. An image of the page is much easier to show than a PDF page, and it protects the original content.  This is still one of the big use cases for our JPedal PDF library, which can convert PDF pages to multiple image formats such as PNG, TIF and even HEIC.

What are the disadvantages of rendering PDF files?

The biggest disadvantage of rendering a PDF file is the loss of the interactive features. So text cannot be selected (unless you create an invisible text layer over the image), Forms cannot be edited, the Document cannot be marked up, etc.

A second issue with a PDF as an image is that pixelation will occur when you zoom in.

Are there any other alternatives?

A popular way to consume PDF files in the viewer is now to convert them into HTML, either dynamically using a JavaScript Viewer such as PDF.js, or convert them into HTML or SVG on the server using a library such as our BuildVu software. The advantage or using HTML or SVG is that you retain much more functionality and information and package size is smaller.



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.

Do you need to solve any of these problems?

Display PDF documents in a Web app
Use PDF Forms in a web browser
Convert PDF Documents to an image
Work with PDF Documents in Java
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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