To Generate PDF on the fly

PDF is a standard format for B2B or B2C process these days. I think you may have tried to download bank statement in PDF format. On web sites, the PDF documents are generated on demand. They are not generated and saved somewhere ahead.

I am doing research on how to generate PDF on the fly. I tried some products on market, but I have not found any software that can do the job for me.

This is my requirement: I have some Word template documents with merge fields that can be used to bind database data to generate real documents.
  • I already have a back-end system to generate those Word documents and convert to PDF format to print
  • The front-end system also wants to generate PDF documents on the fly when user clicks a "Get PDF" button on web page
It is too slow to convert Word document to PDF format. For some relatively large document, it may take minutes to finish. This process can be used in back-end system asynchronously, but it is not for web site.

For web site, I have to use PDF forms with form fields to bind database data. I can use PDF editor software to add form fields. But if I create both Word templates and PDF forms, it is hard to maintain both versions.

Is there a software to convert Word templates to PDF forms and to convert Word merge fields to PDF form fields? I tried Adlib, Adobe, ActivePDf, even OpenOffice. Unfortunately, none of them can do merge field conversion.

Why did we use Word template in the beginning? Because Word is better than PDF editor in formatting, and also people are familiar with Word than PDf editor too.

So, it seems I have to create and maintain both Word template (for back-end system) and PDF form (for front-end system) versions. :(

2 comments:

Rob Garrett said...

Check out XSLT awith formatting objects (FO) - it's an extension to XSL that enables creation of PDF. We used it a few years back to render XML of full text articles to PDF.

Rob Garrett said...

Check out XSLT awith formatting objects (FO) - it's an extension to XSL that enables creation of PDF. We used it a few years back to render XML of full text articles to PDF.