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Jeremy Jameson - Founder and Principal

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HTML-to-PDF converters

Here is one more quick post this morning so I can get rid of yet another item on my Windows desktop that I should have deleted a long time ago -- this time a small Excel worksheet that I created back in late 2010. [Wow, where does the time go?]

I mentioned in a previous post how I created a custom "document publishing" system for a client based on the Web Content Management features in SharePoint, which included an "Export to PDF" feature.

While researching HTML-to-PDF converters, I created an Excel worksheet to capture some notes about various products, pricing, etc. This formed the basis for providing my recommendation to the client (Securitas).

Rather than attaching the Excel worksheet to this post, I'll simply copy the content into a table.

Warning - Internet Explorer Users

While publishing this post, I discovered the following table looks really ugly in IE9 (since the width is not properly constrained to the content area). I spent no less than 20 minutes trying to force IE to make it look as nice as it does in Firefox and Chrome (e.g. by adding a width attribute to the table and even explicitly specifying column widths using a colgroup element. However, none of those hacks worked.

While I would normally invest more effort trying to find a workaround for this bug in IE, I've got more important things to do this morning. If you are using IE and you find the following table difficult to read, may I suggest using a better different browser (e.g. Firefox)?

HTML-to-PDF Converters
Product URL Pricing Comments
Adlib Software EXPRESS http://www.adlibsoftware.com Priced by server, starting at $20-24k Uses Amyuni libraries (according to Gabor Fari); extensive SharePoint integration (for document conversion); major focus on life sciences and other industries with strict regulatory requirements
Altsoft Xml2PDF http://www.alt-soft.com Professional - $2,099 (includes 1 year maintenance); $550/yr maintenance Built on .NET platform; company based in Belgium
Amyuni PDF Converter http://www.amyuni.com $459 per developer; $689 per application; $399/yr maintenance Conversion appears to be through "print to PDF" (even for server applications -- e.g. "lock"/"unlock")
Antenna House Formatter v5 http://www.antennahouse.com Server - $5,000 for first CPU, $4,000 each additional proc; $3,000 Developer license Company Web site looks very elementary
Ibex PDF Creator http://www.xmlpdf.com $999 per developer (includes 1 year maintenance); $350/yr maintenance "Team licensing" available for groups of ten or more developers; separate .NET and Java versions
Prince XML http://www.princexml.com $3,800 per server; $950/yr maintenance Current version is 7.1 (May 2010); original 1.0 version released in April 2003; support appears to be through email only
RenderX XEP http://www.renderx.com $4,400.00 per CPU core "written in Java" (http://www.renderx.com/tools/xep.html)
XSL:FO + Apache FOP http://xmlgraphics.apache.org/fop Free FOP is Java-based
Note
The pricing shown above has likely changed in the time since I gathered the data, and there may very well be additional products available today that I did not come across during my research.

My intent for this post is not to provide an exhaustive list of the current options for converting HTML to PDF. Rather I simply wanted to share the information that I captured just in case it proves useful to others. [Something I should have done long ago.]

Based on platform, suitability for a "server-side" solution, and pricing, we decided to evaluate Altsoft Xml2PDF, Ibex PDF Creator, and Prince XML. Of those three, I found Prince XML to be the most robust in terms of CSS support and consequently recommended that product to Securitas.

One of the other products I evaluated (honestly, I can't remember which one) had a strong tendency to crash when I tested it against the sample content and CSS files that I developed. The other got some of the formatting right during the conversion, but left a lot to be desired.

Prince, on the other hand, was very good at rendering the PDF nearly identical to the on-screen version of the HTML content.

Comments

  1. # re: HTML-to-PDF converters

    February 23, 2012 12:12 PM
    Tyler
    Gravatar
    My company has a product called DocRaptor that converts HTML to PDF format with an HTTP POST request. DocRaptor uses Prince to render PDFs, and operates on a monthly subscription basis.

    DocRaptor is less expensive to use than Prince, and produces great looking documents as well.

    Here are some links:

    DocRaptor's home page: http://docraptor.com/

    DocRaptor code examples: http://docraptor.com/examples

    DocRaptor API documentation: http://docraptor.com/documentation
  2. # re: HTML-to-PDF converters

    July 25, 2012 5:44 AM
    Dmitry Fedorov
    Gravatar
    I use pdfizer library (http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfizer/) for my needs. It's free and opensource. There were some amount of issues but they were easily solved and it's works quite well.

  3. # re: HTML-to-PDF converters

    October 21, 2015 1:51 AM
    JOEANN GERMAIN
    Gravatar
    Thought-provoking ideas . my friend a few weeks ago found http://pdf.ac/6MoT10 to edit pdf . It's noticeably simple to navigate and it's practical , I was told that they will give a 7 day trial ongoing

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