PDF Publication

PDF Publication

A PDF Publication can be done in several ways:

  • Option 1 : Making a HTML publication (with a standard Simplicité Publication Template or a Mustache Custom Template). It will open a new tab the user can then “print as” pdf from its own brower. This is the cheapest option.
    • Upsides : beautiful, easy-to-develop, easy-to-maintain publications
    • Downsides : impossibility to generate the PDF on the server (to send by email, or save on the object for example)
  • Option 2 : using a HTML publication + a third-party service to turn the generated HTML/CSS/JS into a PDF document.
    • option A: rolling an on premise service with tools like https://wkhtmltopdf.org/ [free] or https://jsreport.net
    • option B: using an online service (there are plenty) (generally not free)
    • Upsides: same as option 1 + reliability & server-side rendering
    • Downsides: external service, either not free or with maintenance
  • Option 3 : using a HTML publication & buy and add the iText library to your project to turn the generated HTML/CSS/JS into a PDF document. (we have not tested this option)
    • Upsides: same as option 1 + reliability & server-side rendering + full Java (no external process to install)
    • Downsides: library price + install complexity to add lib
  • Option 4 : use a PDF publication using open source Apache PDFBox
    • Upsides: reliability & server-side rendering + full Java (no external process to install)
    • Downsides: dev complexity (PDFs are hard to generate this way)


HTML Publication (1) HTML Pub + HTML to PDF service (2A) JSON to PDF service (2B) Java iText HTML to PDF (3) Java Apache PDFBox (4)
Code complexity / Maintainability easy easy none easy hard
Install / Operations complexity none hard (on premise) easy (cloud) / hard (on premise) medium (include external lib) none (lib included)
PDF rendering (server=> consistent+PDF savable and sendable by mail) client side (HTML page > save as > PDF) server (Simplicité calls webservice) server (Simplicité calls webservice) server server
Template editable by client Edit HTML in Simplicité Edit HTML in Simplicité Editable & user-friendly No No
Open Source / Free yes yes no no yes

Disclaimer: Simplicité contains an old iText “open source” 2.1.7 version, which is currently used by Simplicité’s PDFTool. We are planning to move away from iText 2.1.7 for licensing matters, so even though it is shiped with Simplicité we do NOT encourage you to use it in your custom code.

Option 4 is documented below.

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Example Publication with Apache PDFBox

Object Configuration

- Publication
  - MyPublication
    - Usage: ...
    - Grantable: no
    - MIME Type: PDF
    - Type: Method
    - Method: pubPdf

Code Example

package com.simplicite.objects.Demo;

import com.simplicite.util.*;
import org.apache.pdfbox.pdmodel.*;
import org.apache.pdfbox.pdmodel.font.*;
import java.io.ByteArrayOutputStream;
import java.io.IOException;

 * Customer business object
public class DemoClient extends ObjectDB {
	private static final long serialVersionUID = 1L;
	//inspiration : https://www.tutorialspoint.com/pdfbox/
	public byte[] pubPdf(){
		ByteArrayOutputStream byteArrayOutputStream = new ByteArrayOutputStream();
			// init
			PDDocument document = new PDDocument();
			PDPage page = new PDPage();
			// content
			PDPageContentStream contentStream = new PDPageContentStream(document, page);
			contentStream.setFont(PDType1Font.TIMES_ROMAN, 12);
			contentStream.newLineAtOffset(25, 500);
			contentStream.showText("Hello world");
			// save
		catch(IOException e){
			AppLog.error(getClass(), "pubPdf", "Error creating PDF", e, getGrant());
		return byteArrayOutputStream.toByteArray();
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