Web-Friendly PDFs with ngPDF - December 2020

PDFs as first-class citizens of the Web with ngPDF

The web has changed the way we look at documents. Increasingly, content is consumed on devices with wildly differing form factors. The need for content to adapt to diverging screen sizes will only increase as mobile devices displace traditional desktops and laptops. It is a common misconception that PDFs cannot be responsive.

However, since the addition of Tagged PDF to PDF 1.4, PDF readers have had the possibility to reflow text depending on the screen size. Be that as it may, users today have come to expect their documents to be accessible and legible on any of their devices, preferably through the use of a web browser. The excellent reputation of PDF for accurate representation of documents on screen as well as on paper, has caused it to be perceived to be out-of-place on the web.

At iText, we aim to be at the frontier of PDF technology. Through our continued involvement in the PDF Association and the ISO committee, we are working hard to make PDF a better citizen of the web. An algorithm recently developed by the PDF Association, makes great strides for turning well-crafted PDFs into responsive documents. The algorithm, as implemented in ngPDF and powered by iText 7, takes the idea of text reflow in PDF one step further, by automatically turning them into first-class HTML documents without manual intervention.

In this white paper co-authored with Dual Lab, we touch upon the history of semantic PDF; how we got from Tagged PDF to ngPDF today. The first part is accessible to a broader audience, the second part takes a deep dive into the ngPDF internals. Additionally, a tech preview of ngPDF is available at www.ngpdf.com. We’d very much like for you to give it a spin and let us know what you think.


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