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Open Source Software

Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library? 132

New submitter Fotis Georgatos (3006465) writes I recently engaged in a conversation about handling PDF texts for a range of needs, such as creation, manipulation, merging, text extraction and searching, digital signing etc etc. A couple of potential picks popped up (PDFBox, itext), given some Java experience of the other fellows. And then comes the reality of choosing software as a long term knowledge investment! ideally, we would like to combine these features:
  • open source, with a community following ; the kind of stuff Slashdotters would prefer
  • tidy software architecture; simple things should remain simple
  • allow open API allowing usage across many languages (say: Python & Java)
  • clear licensing status, not estranging future commercial use
  • serious multilingual & font support
  • PDF-handling rich features, not limiting usage for invoicing, e-commerce, reports & data mining
  • digital signing should not go against other features

I'd like to poll the collective Slashdot crowd wisdom about if/which PDF related libraries, they have written software with, keeps them happy for *all* the above reasons. And if not happy with that all, what do they thing is the best bet for learning one piece of software in the area, with great reusability across different circumstances and little need for extra hacks? I'd really like to hear the smoked out war stories. It is easy to obtain a list of such libraries, yet tricky to understand whethe people have obtained success with them!

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Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library?

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  • PDFLib (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 07, 2014 @02:26PM (#47624737)

    Well, there's PDFLib, which is hideously expensive and not open source, but if you're after a professional package for serious purposes that just works I can only recommend it.

  • Re: Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 07, 2014 @02:28PM (#47624755)

    To be fair the OP does say "ideally."

  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 07, 2014 @02:42PM (#47624897)

    Yes ... and their principles are; I want somebody else to do a lot of hard work and I want the benefit for free. Oh, and I don't even want to research this myself, I want others to do the work ... for free.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 07, 2014 @05:06PM (#47626151)

    open source, with a community following


    Because maybe it's not his first project? Fine, let me ask you: how many times did you get burned by totally unmaintainable third-party dependencies, before you vowed "NEVER AGAIN will I get so utterly fucked over?"

    Was your fifth project the one where you couldn't ever port to a new architecture or OS, or was it the one where the only company who had the source, went into bankruptcy and it took years for the liquidation to happen and you never really figured out where the assets are? No wait, your fifth project was the one where they just withdrew it from the market for "strategic reasons" and you never found out why and there was no replacement. Ah, then there was the race condition that you knew you could find if only you could read through the code, but the sole developer didn't even know what "race condition" means so he ignored your bug report. And the time the DRM server incorectly said the API key had expired so you didn't get any sales that day. Then there was that time you had the source but weren't allowed to change some parts of it: I loved the comment "by reading this you are violating the License Agreement" followed by the base64 string of dynamically interpreted code. Of course you violated the agreement, and decoded it: finding a bug you weren't allowed to fix. And of course let's not forget the time the developer might have actually hypothetically allowed the code to be maintained or might have even done it himself, but he had lost it, the one and only copy in the entire world, which had been used to compile the code that literally tens of thousands of people were depending on. That one's a classic, almost right up there with the vendor who died, taking all his customers' hopes of maintenance with him to the grave.

    Holy crap. I get why the public doesn't know to demand Free Software. Even smart people can be uninformed or lack expertise outside their areas. But developers, really? You have to be LITERALLY STUPID to not see "open source" as at least a major advantage, if not necessarily always the winner. Maybe it's not always a solid requirement, but if you don't always at least start your searches that way and try to get something that at least can be maintained, then yes, you're a moron.

    "Oh no, I'm not a moron," you explain, "I just happen to think that some large projects aren't ever going to need maintenance, because surely it's simple enought that a good programmer will get everything right the first time." You're right: you're not a moron; you're an imbecil. Sorry about the mistake.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.