Converters, tools and services

Note

The opinions expressed under “Personal rating” are those of the maintainer of this project (Andreas Jung). The ratings are mostly based on personal experience, evaluation work and project work.

PDFreactor

  • Current version: 8.1
  • Website: http://www.pdfreactor.com
  • CSS Compliance
  • Sample documents: http://www.pdfreactor.com/samples/
  • Pricing:
    • 4 CPU server license: 2950 USD
    • personal non-commercial license: free
  • Personal rating:
    • Excellent workhorse, very compliant and complete implementation of the CSS Paged Media standard.
    • Extensive and good documentation (Javascript API could be better documented with examples).
    • Reasonable pricing.
    • Good and responsive support.
    • PDFreactor is now our premier choice in customer projects.

PrinceXML

  • Current version: 10 (revision 7)
  • Website: http://www.princexml.com
  • Sample documents: http://www.princexml.com/samples
  • CSS Compliance
  • Pricing:
    • 4 CPU server license: 3800 USD
    • academic server license: 1900 USD
    • personal desktop license: 495 USD
  • Personal rating:
    • Similar quality and similar level of complicance as PDFreactor
    • Still poor and unstructured documentation
    • Good and responsive support
    • A bit too expensive compared to PDFreactor
    • We used PrinceXML for many years before we discovered and switched to PDFreactor

Antennahouse CSS Formatter

  • Current version: 6.3 (MR2)
  • Website: http://www.antennahouse.com
  • CSS Compliance
  • Pricing:
    • AH Server license with one CPU: 5000 USD (+ 4000 USD per additional CPU)
    • AH Lite version (various restrictions): 2000 USD (+ 1600 USD per additional CPU)
    • for all prices see here
  • Personal rating:
    • Perhaps the formatter with the best quality and typographical features (in fact it is based on their own XSL-FO converter Antennahouse V 6.2).
    • high price

Vivliostyle Formatter

pdfChip

  • Current version. 1.1
  • 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 beat. Entry level costs 5.000 EUR and is is crippled down to 25 pages per document. What the fuck...this is ripping of customers.
    • We evaluated pdfChip several times and there is not much that we could not do with PrinceXML or PDFreactor. It seems that pdfChip provides a 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 not worth a single EUR...PDFreactor or PrinceXML are in general the better option (you get PDFreactor for less than 3000 USD without any limitation compared to a castrated pdfChip version (limited to #pages per document and # documents per hour).
    • pdfChip appears like a completely overpriced barcode generator.
    • pdfChip is not included with the tests for the reasons given.

Weasyprint

  • Current version: 0.24
  • Website: http://www.weasyprint.org
  • Pricing:
    • free, open-source
  • Personal rating:
    • Free alternative with a PDF rendering quality that is average.
    • Weasyprint only implements a subset of the CSS Paged Media standard
    • Various errors found during evaluation.
    • If you need a cheap and average PDF engine then Weasyprint might be an option. Don’t use it for professional enterprise projects. Tinkering with bugs and limitations costs more time, money and nerves than investing some money for PDFreactor or PrinceXML.
    • Weasyprint is not included with the tests for the reasona given.

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 does offer better JavaScript parsing on top of the PrinceXML engine.
    • Using DocRaptor requires sending your document 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 pick them up or they must be embedded with 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 like images, CSS, fonts etc. instead of differentiating between source input and resources.
    • Pricing is based on conversion volume and appears reasonable. Not sure when a self-hosted version of some other professional converter is cheaper when a self-hosted version of some other professional converter is cheaper and the better option in the long run). See their TCO calculator (however TCO are only one factor out of many for making technical decisions).

RenderX Cloudformatter