Options for PDF Generation from
Queried Web Data
FAST – in partnership with Roundarch
The Challenge of PDF
• There are many different server-side solutions that enable the
dynamic creation of PDF documents. These solutions include full
server packages that operate in a more robust manner as well as
simple COM or Java components that require significant custom
development services to implement correctly.
• Printing in a pixel-perfect manner is challenging regardless of what
solution is being utilized:
– Image Quality
– Linking / Hyperlinks
– Rich Content Embedded within a PDF (Charts, Graphs, Video)
– Document Security
– Pixel-Perfect Design (based on templates and rendering capabilities)
Standard PDF Generation Workflow
• Regardless of PDF generation technology, the workflow of
generating the documents is fairly consistent.
Data Structure is
Search / Filter Data
Web Graphical Passed to Server
for Desired Printed Rendering Engine
User Interface Application (XML,
Objects) Additional Data
PDF Generation Options
• There are many different options in the marketplace for the dynamic generation of PDF
files. Based on what we currently understand about this project, and integration with
the Microsoft FAST search product, we have filtered this list down to the following three
server products which represent a range of capabilities.
– activePDF Server – Solution for PDF generation, but
also supports other image and document formats
outside of Adobe PDF.
– WebORB PDF Generator(*) - Flexible component for
the generation of PDF files that match look & feel
requirements through a robust template system.
– Adobe LiveCycle – Very Robust PDF creation,
management and delivery platform.
PDF Generation Risks
• The Adobe PDF file format has become increasingly popular due to advanced
features of the Adobe Acrobat reader, allowing developers to embed dynamic
and multimedia content into documents, and because of the consistency that
the format provides for printing. One of the primary reasons that the PDF
format has become a standard for printable documents is due to the “what
you see is what you print” standardization that the platform offers.
• There are generally two major considerations when choosing a PDF rendering
– Document Layout Integrity – Print handling and document creation is a challenging prospect
regardless of what platform is selected. Producing “Pixel Perfect” documents in a
programmatic server environment requires a fair amount of trial and error, and expert
knowledge of document template creation, along with a solid understanding of the document
rendering engine and Adobe Acrobat (or capable ) viewer.
– PDF Generation Threads – The generation of robust Adobe Acrobat PDF files on a server can
be quite processor intensive. Because of this fact, it is important to choose a solution that will
maximize ROI and provide the ability to scale without breaking the bank.
• WebORB PDF Generator is an engine and framework for creating PDF documents from Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). The
product plugs into WebORB Server and exposes its core functionality as a remoting service accessible from Microsoft
Silverlight, Adobe Flash, Flex and AIR as well as AJAX clients. PDF document generation is driven by templates describing the
structure of the document as well as the data sources for dynamic content. There are two types of templates supported by
– Server-side XML templates. This approach is available for all supported clients (Silverlight, Flash, Flex, AIR and AJAX).
– Client-side templates. Available only for Adobe Flex and AIR clients in the current release. Adobe Flash and Microsoft
Silverlight will be supported in the future releases.
The diagram provides an overview of the PDF
generation workflow. A client application
makes a request to the WebORB PDF Generator
service. The client identifies a template to drive
PDF generation from. Flex and AIR clients can
use client-side templates. The generator creates
a document and delivers the document's URL
back to the client.
• PDF Generator costs $1999/server plus quot;optionalquot; support & maintenance of $400/year. It is a
server-side solution so you have no client-side or per impression fees.
• WYSIWIG PDF template design increases developer productivity and speeds time to deployment.
• Custom Rendering provides maximum flexibility for achieving completely custom design for the
• Graphical Template Design using FlexBuilder (available now) and VisualStudio (coming soon)
enables developers to easily create templates from within the development environment they are
• Flexible Data Binding methodologies provide greater options for developers to include content
from the application domain as well as external data sources without being intrusive.
• Server-side PDF Generation centralizes administration, making installation and management easy
and cost effective with a single install per server and no client fees.
• Embeddable Flex/flash content such as chat and streaming media can be rendered within a
generated PDF document to unlock many opportunities to streamline worker productivity and
improve user interaction and satisfaction with web forms and PDF generated content.
Weborb – Key Features
• Ease of template development – developers can use the development environment they are already
familiar with to create customized templates. For instance, Flex developers can use Flex Builder for visual
template editing. Future releases of the product will support Visual Studio-based template authoring.
• Advanced workflow support – advanced features such as PDF forms and embedded Flash/Flex content can
streamline business workflow and improve user interaction with the generated PDF documents.
• Centralized Administration – WebORB PDF Generator requires no client-side installations, which makes it
fast and easy to provide PDF generation capabilities to networked users.
• Reduced cost to develop and deploy – ease of installation, WYSIWIG template editing, non-intrusive data-
binding and server-side PDF generation make it possible to provide the benefits of PDF template design
and PDF generation at a low cost per server. Server-side deployment means there are no client fees,
putting enterprise PDF Generation in reach for any size organization.
PDF Generation Comparison Matrix
activePDF Server WebOrb PDF Generator Adobe LiveCycle
Cost $1399.00 initial license (2 server $1999/server plus quot;optionalquot; support TBD – Enterprise pricing
threads). Additional threading & maintenance of $400/year begins at 22k / processor
can be purchased for $339.00 per
Easy Template May require additional activePDF Can be created in MS Visual Studio or Templates created using
Generation products for custom template Adobe Flex Adobe LiveCycle designer
development tools or Adobe Flex.
Level of Product- Moderate expertise in activePDF Minimal - Designed for common Web Product expertise in LiveCycle
Specific Expertise platform required. developers to implement PDF Printing Suite tools recommended.
Integration with HTML/AJAX – Other technologies Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex, AJAX, and Adobe Flex
Web GUI require data translation Microsoft Silverlight
Vendor Minimal Standard & Regular Practice on case- Available but only under
Customization by-case basis. specific circumstances.
Services/Support Requires license and services
(Tuning, contract with Adobe.
• Licensed per server, activePDF Server, a dynamic PDF generator, helps companies reduce per-user software and
support costs by offering centralized PDF generation and PDF conversion functionalities. activePDF Server enables
users to easily add PDF conversion to existing business applications.
• Automated PDF Conversion - Using COM or .NET, you can easily configure the native application to script the
activePDF Server component and select the dynamically created activePDF virtual printer for on the fly PDF
generation. Don't worry if your application cannot select printers on the fly - simply call the SetPrinterAsDefault
method and immediately start printing to PDF. By setting a few properties once, you can easily concatenate
multiple jobs together, incorporate security features, or perform PDF linearization on a single document or an
entire series of documents. Converting PostScript to PDF or over 40 different image file formats to PDF is as easy
as a single method call. Literally, anything that can be printed to a printer can be converted to PDF using activePDF
Server, a robust PDF print driver.
• Highly Scalable - Licensed per server, activePDF Server is a cost-effective way to generate PDF and provide PDF
output from any business application to your entire organization. Server's unique multithreaded feature allows
users to process PDF conversions simultaneously without having to wait in a queue for their PDF output.
Specifically engineered to handle high-volume PDF generation, activePDF Server is the only PDF conversion tool
designed from the ground-up with server-side operation in mind. With tuning parameters for both single and
multiprocessor machines, you can easily harness the power of large multi-CPU machines without paying a
premium for dynamic PDF creation.
• Easily Integrated - activePDF Server's COM interface is callable from any COM-enabled environment, including
Visual Basic, Visual FoxPro, ASP, .NET, Delphi and more. Server includes a Configuration Manager module, allowing
you to quickly and easily build customized PDF configurations that you can then call from within your application
for dynamic PDF generation.
• Seamless to End Users - Capable of redirecting 'print to PDF' output from virtually any Windows® based
application, activePDF eliminates the need for end-user intervention in the PDF conversion process. Server-side
conversion takes the guesswork out of generating customized PDF output - end users are no longer troubled with
confusing PDF settings. Instead, with activePDF Server's properties and methods you take full control of your PDF
output on a job-by-job basis during the PDF conversion process.
• Precise Control over PDF Output- With activePDF Server, you gain full control over your PDF output. Conversion
options allow you to specify page size, compression and resolution options, embed text, create bookmarks,
concatenate to existing files, and more! Plus, activePDF Server includes a PDFMark interpreter, allowing you to
create feature-rich PDFs from any application capable of generating PDFMark.
• Robust Security for PDF Files - Server supports 40 and 128-bit PDF encryption, enabling you to fully secure your
mission-critical PDF documents. Security options include password-protection, allowing you to disable printing of
PDFs, prevent copying of text and graphics, and more. Additionally, Server's unique Fingerprint technology allows
you to guarantee document integrity of your PDF files. Simply apply a digital fingerprint when the PDF is
converted, and you can easily check at any point in your workflow to make sure the PDF document's content is
• PDF Linearization - Also known as web optimization, linearization is the process of preparing a large PDF
document for byte-serving over the web. Byte-serving allows an individual PDF page to be loaded instantly while
remaining pages are loaded silently in the background, instead of forcing the user to wait while the entire PDF
document streams to the browser before viewing its contents.
• Adobe® LiveCycle® ES (Enterprise Suite) solution components include Adobe LiveCycle ES Foundation software and development tools.
Adobe LiveCycle PDF Generator ES software is available in two configurations: standard and 3D.
• Streamline PDF file creation - A server-based solution, LiveCycle PDF Generator ES can be used to centrally deploy and manage the
creation of PDF files across the enterprise. Employees can easily convert most documents created within your organization into the
ubiquitous PDF format. If your organization uses PDF documents to share information or as part of an archiving solution, the flexible
deployment options in LiveCycle PDF Generator ES will complement your existing core business systems and processes.
• Manage PDF file creation and conversion on a central server - LiveCycle PDF Generator ES makes it easy to include centralized PDF file
creation within established business applications and processes. With many deployment options — network watched folder, e-mail,
web user interface, Windows® client print driver, or Java™ APIs — you can customize how employees create PDF documents. LiveCycle
PDF Generator ES creates PDF documents from virtually any file type. Plus, you help ensure that the PDF documents your employees
generate are optimized for file size, resolution, and security to support your organization's business processes, corporate guidelines, or
• Adapt PDF documents for new purposes - LiveCycle PDF Generator ES lets you assemble, disassemble, and manipulate PDF documents.
It extends many of the PDF document assembly features of Adobe Acrobat® desktop products to the enterprise server, giving you an
automated, high-volume solution for customized communications. Assemble content from diverse sources and file formats into a single
PDF package that includes cohesive pagination, indexing, resizing, addition of headers and footers, insertion or deletion of pages, and
creation of a table of contents — all according to your publishing requirements.
• Share and store business-critical documents in a consistent format - Whether employees are communicating with customers,
submitting regulatory filings, or sending final document proofs to print, LiveCycle PDF Generator ES helps your company improve
business process efficiency by leveraging a single, standard document format. With the ability to create searchable PDF documents,
LiveCycle PDF Generator ES helps you more easily find and access information, as well as comply with government regulations.
LiveCycle PDF Generator ES makes it easy to convert PDF documents to other file formats, such as TIFF, PNG, JPEG, and HTML, when
those formats are used in corporate systems.
• Comply with archiving standards by converting documents to PDF/A - Your organization can simplify content management and streamline archiving
processes by automatically converting documents into PDF/A, the ratified ISO standard for long-term archiving of digital records. LiveCycle PDF
Generator ES converts selected native file formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, to the PDF/A-1a format, while image files and
other documents easily convert to the PDF/A-1b format. New with LiveCycle PDF Generator ES Update 1 is the ability to convert large quantities of
existing PDF documents into PDF/A-1b, with a validation step that first checks compliance with the standard and then converts the file if necessary.
And to preserve digital signatures, LiveCycle PDF Generator ES works in conjunction with LiveCycle Digital Signatures ES to capture signature
validation information in the document's metadata and then insert an image of the validated signature before converting it to PDF/A.
• Protect documents by controlling who can access, print, or modify PDF files - LiveCycle PDF Generator ES lets you apply basic security settings —
such as requiring passwords to open a document — to control how users interact with PDF documents. You can also restrict users' ability to print,
copy, modify, or extract content from a document. For advanced security, deploy Adobe LiveCycle Rights Management ES software in concert with
LiveCycle PDF Generator ES. With it, organizations can apply persistent confidentiality, privacy, and policy protection to enable access control,
revocation, revision control, and audit trails to electronic documents — online or offline, inside or outside the firewall — throughout the document
• Build extended processes with additional solution components - LiveCycle PDF Generator ES integrates with other LiveCycle solution components
to support enhanced work processes such as document reviews or approval processes involving customers, partners, or suppliers. Route assembled
and secured PDF documents to stakeholders for review and resubmission using workflows created with Adobe LiveCycle Process Management ES
software. Create and publish certified documents or generate document packages that are ready to be signed with Adobe LiveCycle Digital
Signatures ES software. Store PDF files for easy retrieval with Adobe LiveCycle Content Services ES software.
• Create searchable documents from image files - LiveCycle PDF Generator ES provides enterprise-class conversion technology that can consume flat
image files and make them come alive as searchable PDF files. This is especially useful in compressing and converting from image file formats such as
TIFF. The conversion process uses optical character recognition (OCR) to associate character shapes with the characters they represent. When the
resulting searchable PDF file is opened in Adobe Reader® software, the document has the same appearance as the original and can be up to ten
times smaller than the original file. Users can select the characters (using the text tool) and search for characters, and automated search tools have
complete access to the information contained within the document. Adobe's ClearScan technology can be used to achieve compression ratios better
than JBIG2 with higher image fidelity and greater OCR accuracy.