iText history

Happy Birthday, Java!

I'll never forget my first Java book: My first Java book The year was 1997. I had discovered the JDK 1.0.2 in 1996 and after experimenting with some tutorial examples, I immediately knew that Java would be a hit.

In 1997, I worked for an integrator, and I had the chance to teach newly arrived interns how to program, so I bought myself the "Java Unleashed" book and decided to start teaching Java, a language that hadn't been used at the company up until then. We made some really cool applications. For instance: to explain networks and servers, we made a Connect 4 server using a ServerSocket and we made an applet that connected to this server socket so that two people could play Connect 4 against each other from their own browser.

In 1998, I started working at Ghent University. I was hired to write new applications for the Student Administration using PERL, but I managed to convince my employer that we should use Java. That was a risk because I advised to run the application on Apache JServ, a Java application server that was still in beta when we started the project. It turned out to be a huge success. The application was still running by the time Apache JServ was abandoned in favor of Apache Tomcat (we had a small intermezzo experimenting on jBoss, but we didn't invest in EJB).

In 2000, I released iText as an open source Java PDF library, making PDF (born in 1993) available to Java developers for the first time in history. In the years that followed, I wrote tutorials and books, which lead to my first experience as a speaker at a large conference.

In 2006, I was a speaker at the event that is now called Devoxx, but that was at that time known as Javapolis. Bruno presenting iText at Javapolis in Antwerp

In 2007, my all-time Java hero, James Gosling, wrote a blog about iText and shortly after, I met James Gosling in person for the first time in my life. I was so happy when he told me that he knew me! Blog about iText by James Gosling In 2010, the year my second book was published, I got another chance to be a speaker at Devoxx, as well as in 2014.

Since 2012, iText has been present at Java One, and in 2014, we even had a Java One talk!

Java One 2012: iText crew at JavaOne 2012

Java One 2013:

iText crew at JavaOne 2013 Java One 2014: iText crew at JavaOne 2014 The impact of Java on my personal career is huge. I am a self-taught developer, and Java made the difference! I wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for Java, so:

Happy 20th Birthday Java!

From iText with Love!

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iText news
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The new iText logo is born!

Big day today at iText! Our new logo is ready for the world to see! We thank to all our amazing users and staff who were part of this process, and our amazing agency Arketi Group who helped make this happen. We believe that our new logo reflects our belief in open source, providing a future-proof solution with features, support and reliability.

The iText group of companies has undergone a tremendous change in the past year-and-a-half. We were just nominated in the Top 3 for the Most Promising Company 2014 by Belcham (Belgian Chamber of Commerce) and Deloitte Belgium nominated us for the Technology Fast 50. We serve the biggest customers from software, government, healthcare and all other document-intensive industries with a flexible programmable PDF solution.

Starting today, you will see our new logo everywhere online. Our big reveal happens at JavaOne in San Francisco next week, where our CEO Bruno Lowagie is holding a talk called PDF is dead. Long Live PDF... and Java!

These are the three variations we finalized:

  1. Horizontal version - this is our flagship version that goes on all our web and internal documents.

  2. Vertical version – being developers at heart, we had some fun with the original version to accommodate for other spaces. What is more, with this logo version, we can demonstrate to you how to modify custom fonts, aka Type 3 fonts for PDF generation.

  3. Avatar – you will see this on our social media properties such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+.

We hope you enjoy our new logo, and stay a loyal follower for all iText has to offer. And stay tuned for our next blog on “How to generate PDF with Type3 fonts.”

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iText news

In Search of New Identity – Part 2: Getting Closer

Our exciting quest for new iText logo continues and we have narrowed down our likes to one, from our first set of logo contenders. Following our previous blog post, we are showing here the next set of “would have been-s”.

Without too much deliberation, our team got fixated on the “machine-text-like” logo, for its clarity, straightforwardness and futuristic look. We are growing as a company, but we are still developers at heart. We strive to be part of the amazing developer community using iText, helping improve developer productivity with PDF generation and “future-proof” standards compliance.

With our next iteration of logos, we are looking to fine-tune the concept and use more elements that symbolize logical concepts such as three line “equivalence” sign for the “E” in iText, and inequality signs > PDF Is Dead; Long Live PDF...and Java!

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iText news
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iText celebrates its 14th Birthday

What do you consider being the birth certificate of your product? At iText, the first company was founded in January 2008, but the product was born long before there was a company. The Trademark registration at the USPTO mentions the FIRST USE and FIRST USE IN COMMERCE on 20000214 (that's February 14, 2000). This means that iText is 14 years old today!

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iText news

MMxiii: Memorable Moments 2013

In terms of technology, 2013 was the year of memorable moments for iText 5.4.0. We released six iText versions: in 5.4.0 in February, 5.4.1 in April, 5.4.2 in May, 5.4.3 in July, 5.4.4 in September and 5.4.5 in December.

But technology is only one aspect of iText. Let's take a look at was new on the iText business front in 2013. This is the year 2013 in pictures, listing the most memorable moments.

JANUARY

Whoever reads the iText books and examples, knows that we love movies. It shouldn't be a surprise that we actively support the movie industry by participating in different Tax Shelter initiatives. One of these initiatives brought us to Cinecittà in Rome, where we visited the set of the HBO series "Rome" and where we were allowed to take a look behind the scenes of the movie "Third Person" directed by Paul Haggis and produced by Corsan. We witnessed the shooting of a couple of takes featuring Olivia Wilde and Liam Neeson.Invitation to Cinecittà regarding the movie Third Person by Paul Haggis When we look at the business side of the iText Group, we see that we had plenty of contacts with the Belgian Government in January. These contacts led to a couple of interesting projects.

FEBRUARY

In february, iText sponsored the Java Dev Room at FOSDEM:Mark Reinhold at FOSDEMA talk at FOSDEM iText is very active in different fields of technology. For instance: we were a member of the steering committee of the eID & ePassport Conference. On february 18, we had the kick-off meeting for the conference that would take place in October:eID ePassport Conference Program Committee meeting in BerlineID ePassport Conference Program Committee meeting in BerlineID ePassport Conference Program Committee meeting in Berlin

MARCH

In March, we went to Silicon Valley with two goals:

1.To attend the Open Source Think Tank:Talk at the Open Source Think Tank in Calistoga 2013 2.To talk to investors and powers that be at different companies about the further professionalization of the iText companies:Visit to Il Fornaio, the restaurant where Silicon Valley VCs meet Back home, we discovered that iText was mentioned in a Flemish magazine:Publication about iText

APRIL

In April, we went to Paris to talk to a consulting firm, but we decided against working with them. We also took a short break, but apparently we didn't take any pictures of Paris (or at least: we can't find any).

We also had a less pleasant experience: we had outsourced the design and development of a new web site for iText to a web agency, but we were very unhappy with the result. In April, it became clear that the new site didn't meet our needs. In May, we decided to kill the project.

MAY

We started the month of May with a company lunch at one of our favorite restaurants: Het Korenhuis.Lunch with the iText team One week later, we were present in Vienna for the ISO committee meetings:The International Organisation for Standards in ViennaBadge for the International Organisation for Standards in Vienna On May 28th, Bruno Lowagie presented the lessons learned from his trips to Berlin, Silicon Valley and Paris in Kortrijk. It was the first tryout for a talk, our CEO hopes to give at OSCON 2014.Meeting at BizCamp (Buda Kortrijk) The 20-minute talk was entitled "Control vs. Wealth decisions":

JUNE

In June, a handful of iText developers went to beautiful Königswinter to discuss the future of PDF:Scenic view in KöngigswinterThe Future of PDF, a talk at the PDF Conference in Königswinter We also finalized the restructuring operation of our companies. Before, the structure of the three iText companies were more or less independent from each other. By the end of the month of June, the new structure looked like this:iText: company structure

JULY

By July, the ideas of which direction to take with our companies had crystallized. There is no "foreign money" in the group and, although a couple of VCs were very interested to invest in iText, we decided to scale the group using our own resources. A first step would be to change "1T3XT BVBA" into "iText Group NV". The rules for having an NV are much stricter than the rules for a BVBA. For instance: a board of directors is mandatory for an NV. So We returned to California, first to talk to different candidates for the board, then to talk to potential candidates for the management staff.

After having dinner in a Chinese restaurant, our CEO found this message in his fortune cookie:Fortune Cookie message This is our eldest son, waiting in the lobby of the attorney in San Francisco who helped us restructuring the companies.Inigo Lowagie Once our meetings in Silicon Valley completed, we drove South towards San Diego, with a stop near San Luis Obispo to visit Montaña de Oro:The Lowagie Family

AUGUST

After his talk at the European PDF Conference in Königswinter, our CEO brought an updated talk at the North-American PDF Conference in Seattle:scenic view SeattleBadge PDF Conference Seattle This is a picture taken during Bruno's talk:Talk Bruno Lowagie PDF Conference Seattle Bruno was also a member of different panels:Panel discussion PDF Conference Seattle At the end of the month, iText Software Corp. opened an office for iText in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) near Boston:One Broadway, Cambridge In the US, we used to work with self-employed sales people on commission. From now on we work with sales people on payroll, just like we do in Europe. We took the opportunity of having an advisory board meeting in Boston, preparing for the upcoming company changes.

SEPTEMBER

Our CEO must have been flying quite some miles, because KLM switched his card from Ivory to Silver (although he flew with Brussels Airlines too this year).Sky Team Elite card Just like last year, we had a booth at JavaOne. The booth was manned by the brand new iText team in the USA and our Belgian lead developer:iText team at Java One After killing the new web site design in May, we decided to release a home-made, Drupal-based minimalistic web site. It was a much cheaper solution and although we didn't make an event out of it (we were still licking our wounds after the initial failure), the new site was well received.

OCTOBER

In October, a Wikipedia moderator nominated the page about iText for deletion. Fortunately, different people improved the page and the nomination was undone. We're still looking for people who want to translate this page into other languages (because we're not sure if we're allowed to maintain our own page).

October turned out to be a successful month. We obtained the 10th place in Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 in the Benelux. Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Benelux Top 10 Afterwards, we learned that we're on place 53 in the EMEA Fast 500. Thanks to this event, we received quite some attention from the press and we also received a certificate:Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Benelux certificate In the second half of October, we were present at the eID & ePassport conference:eID ePassport Conference Berlin: the iText bootheID ePassport Conference Berlin: the audience

NOVEMBER

In November, our CEO did a small roadshow in Belgium, talking about bootstrapping an open source business at the BetaGroup Kortrijk, Rotary Club Vilvoorde, and the Business Angels Network in Antwerp. The talks were a success, so let's hope the proposal for OSCON 2014 gets accepted.We didn't get an opportunity to present this talk for an audience of open source developers yet (and that's the target audience).BetaGroup Kortrijk: tweet about the talk by Bruno LowagieBusiness Angel Day Antwerp: panel discussion At the end of the month, we had our traditional "European Thanksgiving" dinner.iText team Europe: Thanksgiving 2013

DECEMBER

December started with yet another ISO committee meeting. This time, the PDF brains met in the offices of the National Archives and Administrative Records (NARA) in New York.ISO Committee Meeting: New York 2013 While in New York, we took the opportunity to visit some people that could help us with scaling the iText business. For instance: we had a meeting with the people at BelCham, the Belgian Chamber of Commerce that has its seat at the KBC offices in New York:Badge BelCham New York Office On December 18th, we went to a notary to sign the documents that convert 1T3XT BVBA into iText Group NV. We're one of the bigger IT companies in Belgium now. Let's make it one of the bigger companies in Europe next year.

To be continued...

What does 2014 have in store for us? We'll start by moving into a new office in Belgium, and we'll have the first board meeting of our NV in January. We'll attend the Open Source Think Tank in March. We'll have a second iText summit in June (save that date: June 17, either in Köln or in Düsseldorf). We hope to be selected for OSCON in July. We're 99% certain that we'll get another nomination for Deloitte's Fast 50 in the Benelux, but we'll also try to get nominated for the USA Fast 500. But most importantly: 2014 will be a great year if we succeed in doubling the number of employees. We'll start hiring developers, sales people and senior staff members soon, so keep watching our blog for news. What does 2014 have in store for you? We wish you all the best in the new year. If we've met or done business with each other in 2013, we hope we can meet again and continue doing business with you in 2014. If we haven't met or done business with each other, let's meet and start working together! In any case, we wish a fantastic 2014 to all!Deloitte Calendar - October 2014 P.S. Our CEO has published his personal year in pictures on lowagie.com.

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iText news

MMxiii: Memorable Moments 2013

In terms of technology, 2013 was the year of memorable moments for iText 5.4.0. We released six iText versions: in 5.4.0 in February, 5.4.1 in April, 5.4.2 in May, 5.4.3 in July, 5.4.4 in September and 5.4.5 in December.

But technology is only one aspect of iText. Let's take a look at was new on the iText business front in 2013. This is the year 2013 in pictures, listing the most memorable moments.

JANUARY

Whoever reads the iText books and examples, knows that we love movies. It shouldn't be a surprise that we actively support the movie industry by participating in different Tax Shelter initiatives. One of these initiatives brought us to Cinecittà in Rome, where we visited the set of the HBO series "Rome" and where we were allowed to take a look behind the scenes of the movie "Third Person" directed by Paul Haggis and produced by Corsan. We witnessed the shooting of a couple of takes featuring Olivia Wilde and Liam Neeson. Invitation to Cinecittà regarding the movie Third Person by Paul Haggis When we look at the business side of the iText Group, we see that we had plenty of contacts with the Belgian Government in January. These contacts led to a couple of interesting projects.

FEBRUARY

In February, iText sponsored the Java Dev Room at FOSDEM: Mark Reinhold at FOSDEMA talk at FOSDEM iText is very active in different fields of technology. For instance: we were a member of the steering committee of the eID & ePassport Conference. On February 18, we had the kick-off meeting for the conference that would take place in October: eID ePassport Conference Program Committee meeting in BerlineID ePassport Conference Program Committee meeting in BerlineID ePassport Conference Program Committee meeting in Berlin

MARCH

In March, we went to Silicon Valley with two goals:

1.To attend the Open Source Think Tank: Talk at the Open Source Think Tank in Calistoga 2013 2.To talk to investors and powers that be at different companies about the further professionalization of the iText companies: Visit to Il Fornaio, the restaurant where Silicon Valley VCs meet Back home, we discovered that iText was mentioned in a Flemish magazine: Publication about iText

APRIL

In April, we went to Paris to talk to a consulting firm, but we decided against working with them. We also took a short break, but apparently we didn't take any pictures of Paris (or at least: we can't find any).

We also had a less pleasant experience: we had outsourced the design and development of a new web site for iText to a web agency, but we were very unhappy with the result. In April, it became clear that the new site didn't meet our needs. In May, we decided to kill the project.

MAY

We started the month of May with a company lunch at one of our favorite restaurants: Het Korenhuis. Lunch with the iText team One week later, we were present in Vienna for the ISO committee meetings: The International Organisation for Standards in ViennaBadge for the International Organisation for Standards in Vienna On May 28th, Bruno Lowagie presented the lessons learned from his trips to Berlin, Silicon Valley and Paris in Kortrijk. It was the first tryout for a talk, our CEO hopes to give at OSCON 2014. Meeting at BizCamp (Buda Kortrijk) The 20-minute talk was entitled "Control vs. Wealth decisions":

 

 

JUNE

In June, a handful of iText developers went to beautiful Königswinter to discuss the future of PDF: Scenic view in KöngigswinterThe Future of PDF, a talk at the PDF Conference in Königswinter We also finalized the restructuring operation of our companies. Before, the structure of the three iText companies were more or less independent from each other. By the end of the month of June, the new structure looked like this: iText: company structure

JULY

By July, the ideas of which direction to take with our companies had crystallized. There is no "foreign money" in the group and, although a couple of VCs were very interested to invest in iText, we decided to scale the group using our own resources. A first step would be to change "1T3XT BVBA" into "iText Group NV". The rules for having an NV are much stricter than the rules for a BVBA. For instance: a board of directors is mandatory for an NV. So We returned to California, first to talk to different candidates for the board, then to talk to potential candidates for the management staff.

After having dinner in a Chinese restaurant, our CEO found this message in his fortune cookie: Fortune Cookie message This is our eldest son, waiting in the lobby of the attorney in San Francisco who helped us restructuring the companies. Inigo Lowagie Once our meetings in Silicon Valley completed, we drove South towards San Diego, with a stop near San Luis Obispo to visit Montaña de Oro: The Lowagie Family

AUGUST

After his talk at the European PDF Conference in Königswinter, our CEO brought an updated talk at the North-American PDF Conference in Seattle: scenic view Seattle Badge PDF Conference Seattle This is a picture taken during Bruno's talk: Talk Bruno Lowagie PDF Conference Seattle Bruno was also a member of different panels: Panel discussion PDF Conference Seattle At the end of the month, iText Software Corp. opened an office for iText in the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) near Boston: One Broadway, Cambridge In the US, we used to work with self-employed sales people on commission. From now on we work with sales people on payroll, just like we do in Europe. We took the opportunity of having an advisory board meeting in Boston, preparing for the upcoming company changes.

SEPTEMBER

Our CEO must have been flying quite some miles, because KLM switched his card from Ivory to Silver (although he flew with Brussels Airlines too this year). Sky Team Elite card Just like last year, we had a booth at JavaOne. The booth was manned by the brand new iText team in the USA and our Belgian lead developer: iText team at Java One After killing the new web site design in May, we decided to release a home-made, Drupal-based minimalistic web site. It was a much cheaper solution and although we didn't make an event out of it (we were still licking our wounds after the initial failure), the new site was well received.

OCTOBER

In October, a Wikipedia moderator nominated the page about iText for deletion. Fortunately, different people improved the page and the nomination was undone. We're still looking for people who want to translate this page into other languages (because we're not sure if we're allowed to maintain our own page).

October turned out to be a successful month. We obtained the 10th place in Deloitte's Technology Fast 50 in the Benelux. Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Benelux Top 10 Afterwards, we learned that we're on place 53 in the EMEA Fast 500. Thanks to this event, we received quite some attention from the press and we also received a certificate: Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Benelux certificate In the second half of October, we were present at the eID & ePassport conference: eID ePassport Conference Berlin: the iText booth eID ePassport Conference Berlin: the audience

NOVEMBER

In November, our CEO did a small roadshow in Belgium, talking about bootstrapping an open source business at the BetaGroup Kortrijk, Rotary Club Vilvoorde, and the Business Angels Network in Antwerp. The talks were a success, so let's hope the proposal for OSCON 2014 gets accepted.We didn't get an opportunity to present this talk for an audience of open source developers yet (and that's the target audience). BetaGroup Kortrijk: tweet about the talk by Bruno Lowagie Business Angel Day Antwerp: panel discussion At the end of the month, we had our traditional "European Thanksgiving" dinner. iText team Europe: Thanksgiving 2013

DECEMBER

December started with yet another ISO committee meeting. This time, the PDF brains met in the offices of the National Archives and Administrative Records (NARA) in New York. ISO Committee Meeting: New York 2013 While in New York, we took the opportunity to visit some people that could help us with scaling the iText business. For instance: we had a meeting with the people at BelCham, the Belgian Chamber of Commerce that has its seat at the KBC offices in New York: Badge BelCham New York Office On December 18th, we went to a notary to sign the documents that convert 1T3XT BVBA into iText Group NV. We're one of the bigger IT companies in Belgium now. Let's make it one of the bigger companies in Europe next year.

To be continued...

What does 2014 have in store for us? We'll start by moving into a new office in Belgium, and we'll have the first board meeting of our NV in January. We'll attend the Open Source Think Tank in March. We'll have a second iText summit in June (save that date: June 17, either in Köln or in Düsseldorf). We hope to be selected for OSCON in July. We're 99% certain that we'll get another nomination for Deloitte's Fast 50 in the Benelux, but we'll also try to get nominated for the USA Fast 500. But most importantly: 2014 will be a great year if we succeed in doubling the number of employees. We'll start hiring developers, sales people and senior staff members soon, so keep watching our blog for news. What does 2014 have in store for you? We wish you all the best in the new year. If we've met or done business with each other in 2013, we hope we can meet again and continue doing business with you in 2014. If we haven't met or done business with each other, let's meet and start working together! In any case, we wish a fantastic 2014 to all! Deloitte Calendar - October 2014 P.S. Our CEO has published his personal year in pictures on lowagie.com.

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iText news
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Birth of the iText logo

The management at iText is currently writing a new business plan for 2014-2015. This isn't work done by a single person. Both internal as well as external consultants are contributing to the plan. At times, the text is confronting for me, but that was to be expected: I'm not hiring people to say the things I want to hear; I'm hiring people to say the things that need to be said.

One (minor) example of a confronting phrase involves the iText logo:

iText's graphics are inflexible, elderly and a (bit) confusing (the current iText logo is readily confused with the letter "J").

A suggestion is made "to execute an overhaul to iText's look and feel." I've gotten so used to the iText logo that I didn't question it anymore, and I'm curious to find out if and when we're going to start working on the new look and feel. It wouldn't be the first time the logo changes. Let's take a look at the history of the iText logo:

Although I'm the original developer of iText, I didn't study computer science. I graduated as a civil engineer in architecture. I was taught how to design buildings, not software. I've always admired people who were able to combine different disciplines. An example of such a person was Henri Van de Velde, an architect who also designed the logo of the Belgian railways: This logo was designed in 1933-1935, and it's still used today. I read this article in the magazine "Kunst & Cultuur" in 1987 and I never forgot about it. I thought about it recently, when I rediscovered a funny link about the past and the future of famous logos and I wondered: do I still have the drafts I made when I designed the iText logo? When did I create the first logo?

Thanks to the Way Back Machine, I was able to find an approximate answer to the second question. In August 2003, my site looked like this: There was a "JAVA" button with coffee beans in the background, and that's it. Mind the slogan I used back then:

Men who are doers can also be thinkers, but the thinking is done on the move,  in the midst of events.

It's a quote about Caesar by Colleen McCollough in her Masters of Rome series. I had forgotten all about that quote, but I'll use it the next time I need to do a talk about iText and iText business, because it really defines what I've been doing in the past few years.

The next screen shot found in the archives of the Way Back Machine, dates from October 2003. The coffee beans are replaced by the first iText logo: I guess I must have designed that logo somewhere between August 9 and October 8. I remember that I made a drawing on one page, but I don't remember if I kept that page somewhere. Maybe some one, some day will find it in my archives.

In any case, this is what the first iText logo looked like:

It's not a very fancy logo. I didn't really spent much time on it. I was frustrated by the fact that people pronounced iText as ee-text (that's how you'd pronounce it in Dutch or French) instead of as eye-text (that's how you pronounce it in English). I thought it would help if I replaced the letter i by an abstract symbol that looks like an eye. I made one drawing, and then I started coding: the symbol is made entirely using Bézier curves (see chapter 14 of iText in Action if you want to find out more).

This rather simple and not so attractive logo has been used for over four years, but then came the plans to start up a company for iText. If we went pro, we really needed a better logo. I was still under the impression that, being an architect, I was capable of doing everything on my own. So I started drawing somewhere in November 2007: Note that this page was originally a TODO page (I've removed references to the people I had to meet). Apparently, I also had to contact SUN for something, and I drew their logo next to their name. Why? Because I like a logo that is a stylized representation of the name of the company. I wanted to visualize the company name 1T3XT as "I heart iText": I soon dropped the strict triangular structure, in favor of a more fluent typography. I wanted a logo I could write down as a signature: Once I had made up my mind, I again defined the logo as a series Bézier curves. In January 2008, we founded the company 1T3XT using this logo:

I must admit that the logo wasn't a success. The response was very negative. People didn't recognize the heart. All in all, it was too complex, so after a while it was reduced to a much simpler symbol:

I still use the "long version" of the logo for 1T3XT (2008), but for the newer iText Software companies, ISB in Belgium (2011) and ISC in California (2009), I've used the "short version" of the logo.

In any case, the current logo of iText is about 6 years old. Maybe it is time to consider a new logo that was created in a somewhat more professional way.

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iText news

The iText history

Today we received the official certificate of our 10th place in Deloitte's Fast 50 Award: If you're interested in the story that led to us getting to that 10th place, you can still register for my talk at the BetaGroup in Kortrijk, Rotary Club in Vilvoorde or at the Business Angel Day in Antwerp.

This is a short overview of the topics I'll cover:

iText's success didn't come overnight: I had my first business idea at the age of 14. I wrote a flat file database system in Basic on my first "portable", a TRS 80/4P. Different organizations brought me their member list and I sold them printed address labels. As a student I was less successful: it took me 7 years (instead of 5) to graduate as a civil engineer. That doesn't mean I didn't learn anything during the 2 years I "lost." Thanks to some of my failures, I was able to learn more than some of those who succeeded at the first try ;-)

Having a mission is important, it helps you focus on what to do and what to avoid. To achieve our mission, we decided to choose for open source right from the start. This wasn't obvious in the year 2000. Large companies were spreading FUD about open source, and from 2004 on, I decided to deal with the three main misconceptions open source was facing:  

MISCONCEPTION #1: "OPEN SOURCE ISN'T WELL DOCUMENTED"

I started a free online tutorial which resulted in two books published by Manning. More recently, I started writing a series of free ebooks.  

MISCONCEPTION #2: "OPEN SOURCE MEANS: PLENTY OF LEGAL ISSUES"

In 2006-2007, the complete code base of iText was vetted by a battery of lawyers. A complete IP review was done. This resulted in a "clean" product. Since that day, I have the discipline to document every code contribution, making sure no unauthorized code is introduced into the library.  

MISCONCEPTION #3: "YOU CAN'T BUILD A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS ON OPEN SOURCE"

I remember a "full box/empty box" discussion with a VC in 2007 or 2008. I introduced iText to an investor and and he told me all I had was an empty box. That upset me, so I replied in anger: "What are you talking about? The box is full! I bring you proven technology, a best-selling book, hundred of thousands of unique visitors a year on my site,... How dare you say the box is empty?" Today I understand what the VC meant: there was no iText business at that time.

Our good result in Deloitte's Fast 50 proves that we managed to "fill the box". In my talk, I'll explain some of the differences I noticed between doing business in the US versus doing business in Europe, and how we're trying to combine the best of both worlds with our customers and our partners:

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iText news

One message; two completely different interviews

I was interviewed twice in two weeks. The topic was identical: the history of iText, the switch from free as in free beer to commercial open source, starting up a company for iText, doing business in Europe and the US. However, when I read the two articles, it was as if two different people had been interviewed.

In one interview, written by Eva Verplaetse, you get a positive message, about the fun creating a sustainable business. Yes, there are challenges, but we have a vision, a mission, and we are successful at what we do. The article will be published in March in a magazine called Wereldwijs (by Flanders Investment & Trade). In the other interview, written by Frederik Tibau, you get a much more militant message. The article is published in DataNews and there's a fair amount of frustration shining through. I won't deny I've been frustrated at times; I guess that's inherent to starting up and maintaining a business. I hope people won't overlook the positive notes, for instance how I was helped by Andrew Binstock when my son was diagnosed with Cancer, or how the IBBT iBoot experience has helped me emancipate from a developer into an entrepreneur.

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