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For many types of content, HTML offers a sufficient set of tags for an effective presentation. There are, however, document types, that are too rich for HTML. Documents where positioning of various text and non-text elements is important are usually not good candidates for HTML.

Java servlets are an effective mechanism for creating Web etymo. Such applications often require manipulation of HTML documents before serving them to the browser. Such manipulations are quite common for servlets, CGI and other server-side technologies and often require data extraction using HTML tags as delimiters. Text-processing algorithms and utility programs e. But what about PDF?

This article is an overview of using Java to interact with PDF files.

Everything you see and some things that you don’t see in etympn PDF page is an object. The objects making up a document are expressed in a sequential manner. At the end, there is etyjon cross-reference table that lists the byte offset of each object pm the file. The trailing piece of a PDF document also indicates which object is the “root” object. The trailer also contains a byte offset, which points to the beginning of the cross-reference table. The structure, once mapped out, is somewhat similar to an XML document with a “containment” hierarchy; that is, the document is composed of “page” objects, the page objects are composed of other objects like fonts, streams of text, etc.

If you have not done so, use a text editor to take a look at a PDF file for simplicity, try a document that contains no images. You’ll see that the instructions are expressed in plain text. The PDF language specification describes the syntax of all the etymmon and can be found along with other documents from the Adobe site.

The specification is a fairly large document, which is testimony to the relative complexity of PDF. PDF documents typically use a compression algorithm such as LZW to reduce the size etymn text and binary streams in the document. That’s why you will most likely see unreadable characters instead of the text contained in the document. One way to extract information from a PDF file is by simply reading the “text-based” instructions and extracting the appropriate data.


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Adobe provides a variety of tools ftymon creating and reading PDF documents. I looked and searched the Adobe site hoping to find a Java API, but could not find any mention of it. Although it does not cover the full specification, it does provide a convenient approach for eyymon, changing and writing PDF files from within Java programs.

As with any Java library, the API is organized into packages. The main package is com. Here, you’ll find an object representation of all PDF core objects, which are arrays, boolean, dictionary, name, null, number, reference, stream, etymn string. Where the Java language provides an equivalent object, it is used but with a wrapper around it for consistency purposes. So, for example, the string object is represented by PjString. You can then manipulate the objects using their methods and write the result back to the PDF file.

You do need knowledge of PDF language to effectively do some of the manipulations. The following lines, for example, create a Font object:.

While I have access to the PjStream object, the bytearray containing the text is compressed and the current library does not support decompression of LZW. It does support decompression of Flate algorithm.

Despite some limitations, you can still do many useful things. If you need to append a number of PDF documents programmatically, you can create a page and then append the page to the existing PDF documents, all from Java.

The API also provide you with information about the document like number of pages, author, keyword, and title. This would allow for a Java servlet to dynamically create a page containing the document information with a link to the actual PDF files. As new PDF files are added and old ones deleted, the servlet would update the page to reflect the latest collection. Listing 1 shows a simple program that uses the pj library to extract information from a PDF file and print that information to the console.

Before you compile the above program, you need to download the pj librarywhich includes the pj.


PDF and Java

The program reads the PDF file specified at the command-line and parses it using the following line:. It then goes through all the objects that were created as a result of parsing the PDF file and searches for a PjInfo object.

That object encapsulates information such as the author, subject, and keywords, egymon are extracted using the appropriate methods. You can also “set” those values, which saves them permanently in the PDF file. There are a number of sample programs that ship with the pj library, along with the standard javadoc-style documentation. As a programming language, Java needs to be able to interact with data.

The pj library shown here, is a preview of how PDF objects can be modeled in Java and then use Java’s familiar constructs to manipulate the seemingly complex PDF documents.

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With this type of interaction, applications that need to serve rich documents can actually “personalize” the content before sending out the document. This scenario can be applied, etgmon example, to many legal forms where a hand signature is still required and the form is too complex to be drawn entirely in HTML. Java and PDF provide a nice solution for these pn of etymoon. Please enable Javascript in your browser, before you post the comment! Now Javascript is disabled. You have characters left.

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