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Converters, tools and services

Note

The opinions expressed under "Personal review" are those of the maintainer of this project (Andreas Jung). The ratings are based mainly on personal experience, evaluation work and project work.

PDFreactor

Prince

Antenna House CSS Formatter

  • Current version: 7.1 R1
  • Website: https://www.antennahouse.com
  • Docker images: https://hub.docker.com/r/antennahouse/ahfcmd71
  • CSS & Compliance
  • Supported PDF profiles Antenna House
  • Pricing:
    • AH server license with one CPU, ∞ cores: 5000 USD (+ 4000 USD per additional CPU)
    • AH lite version (various restrictions): 2000 USD (+ 1600 USD per additional CPU)
    • AH standalone license (includes GUI preview on Windows): 1250 USD (Lite: 400 USD)
    • For a complete list of prices, see here
  • Personal review:
    • Best available solution
    • Very compliant
    • Lots of specific extensions and features known from the standard Antenna House XSL-FO converter
    • Good and responsive support
    • Documentation is extensive, although a little unorganized or confusing in parts

pdfChip

  • Current version. 2.1
  • Website: https://www.callassoftware.com/en/products/pdfchip
  • Pricing: The various pdfChip versions are artificially limited (you pay for document volume and usage):
    • pdfChip S (1000 pages per hour, 25 pages per document, barcode support limited): 5,000 EUR
    • pdfChip M (5000 pages per hour, 250 pages per document): 10,000 EUR
    • pdfChip L (25000 pages per hour, 1500 pages per document): 15,000 EUR
    • pdfChip XL/Enterprise (unlimited): 25,000 EUR
  • Personal rating:
    • pdfChip does not claim to implement the (whole) CSS Paged Media standard. Instead, they rely on the Webkit browser engine and implement a lot of features using the -webkit CSS prefix.
    • An absurd pricing policy that is hard to get your head around. Entry level costs 5,000 EUR and is crippled to 25 pages per document. What the fuck...this is ripping off customers.
    • We evaluated pdfChip several times and it does not provide much that we could not do with PrinceXML or PDFreactor. It seems that pdfChip provides better support for Javascript libraries, since it is based on the Webkit engine, while PDFreactor or PrinceXML implement their own rendering engine.
    • In my opinion, it is not worth a single euro. PDFreactor or PrinceXML are, in general, the better options (you can get PDFreactor for less than 3000 USD and without any limitations, compared to a castrated pdfChip version (limited to #pages per document and #documents per hour)).
    • pdfChip gives the impression of being a completely overpriced barcode generator.
    • pdfChip is not included in the tests for the reasons given.

Weasyprint

  • Current version: 51
  • Website: http://www.weasyprint.org
  • Pricing:
    • Free, open-source
  • Personal review:
    • Free alternative offering an average PDF rendering quality.
    • Weasyprint still implements only a subset of the common Paged Media features. On the other hand, Weasyprint is a solid tool if you only need average PDF quality or if you do not have any fancy layout requirements.

Typeset.sh

  • Current version: 0.11.1
  • Website: https://typeset.sh
  • Pricing: 500 EUR (server license)
  • Personal review:
    • Typeset.sh is a work-in-progress product and moving fast
    • Jacob Siefer - the author of Typeset.sh - is very responsive
    • Similar to Weasyprint, Typeset.sh has its rough edges and requires more work. Typeset.sh is too young in order to value the product but I am happy to see it growing steadly.

Paged.js

  • Current version : 0.1.1 (pagedjs-cli)
  • Website: https://pagedjs.org
  • Pricing: free
  • Personal review:
    • The PagedJS is project is different from all other renders because it uses underlaying browser technology (Chromium) for rendering PDF. The main advantance is that you can directly make use of decent browser and CSS technology.
    • PagedJS is a new project and work-in-progress. I am very happy to see this project growing and moving into the right direction.

Versatype Converter (formerly known as Vivliostyle Converter)

The last editions of print-css.rocks also covered the Vivliostyle converter by Vivliostyle. Support for Vivliostyle has been removed in this edition of print-css.rocks because the Vivliostyle project broke up in 2018 into a non-commercial open-source project focused on pagination within the browser keeping the Vivliostyle brand and into a new commercial business called Trim-Marks with a rebranding of the former „Vivliostyle Converter“ as „Versatype Converter“. See https://vivliostyle.org/blog/2018/03/26/a-new-beginning/ for details. Unfortunately Trim-Marks failed so far providing any public information about their „Versatype Converter“ converter related to functionality and pricing. For this reason there is no coverage on „Versatype Converter“ in this edition. This might change in the future if Trim-Marks takes some care about public visible information.

Docraptor

  • Cloud-based conversion service running on top of PrinceXML
  • Website: https://docraptor.com/
  • Samples: https://docraptor.com/samples
  • Pricing: https://docraptor.com/signup
  • Personal rating:
    • Same PDF quality as PrinceXML, but DocRaptor offers better JavaScript parsing on top of the PrinceXML engine.
    • Docraptor currently support PrinceXML version 11 and 12 under the hood through two different conversion pipelines (6 and 7). See https://docraptor.com/documentation/api
    • Docraptor is usually one PrinceXML version behind the official PrinceXML releases
    • Using DocRaptor requires your document to be sent to a third-party, but they can delete it immediately upon processing. Images and CSS must be placed on a (public) server for Docraptor to retrieve them or else embedded in the HTML using data URIs (https://css-tricks.com/data-uris/). My recommendation to Docraptor: provide an API for accepting a self-contained ZIP archive containing the HTML source and all related resources such as images, CSS, fonts, etc., instead of differentiating between source input and resources.
    • Pricing is based on conversion volume and appears reasonable. Overall verdict undecided given that self-hosted versions of other professional converters are cheaper and may be the better option in the long run.

Vivliostyle