pdfChip Use Cases

There are a number of obvious use cases and workflows where pdfChip can easily add value; this chapter lists the most important of those. Use these as inspiration if you want but don't let it stop your creativity to find other, novel, uses!

Variable data PDF creation and transactional printing

In these workflows the HTML template is typically relatively simple. The challenge is to produce a thousand, or a million pieces that are all customised and to do so in a speedy way while producing an optimised PDF document. pdfChip can easily read data from XML or CSV and can repeatedly output the same page or pages into a PDF document, where each copy is customised. Because this customisation uses Javascript it's fast and very flexible; it allows customisation of text and graphics with ease.

Creating long documents is a stronghold of pdfChip, its processing time scales up nicely with longer documents and the PDF documents it creates are optimised as much as possible. Images that appear multiple times for example, are included in the generated PDF document only once which helps keep the generated PDF file as small as possible.

Finally, in variable data and transactional workflows, the ability to include barcodes used for marketing purposes (such as QR codes) or administrative purposes (such as data matrices) is of great benefit.

Online editing

More and more web sites provide the possibility to select a template for a publication and then customise it in more or less complex ways - ranging from adding text to changing fonts, colors and images. The challenge is to provide an online tool which lets the user make choices and then provide an instant customised PDF of the final piece.

Because pdfChip uses HTML templates, the editing part could be built simply using those HTML templates and pdfChip could be used in the background to convert the template into PDF. pdfChip is fast and uses little resources, so it could be called while editing to provide instant feedback. When using the PDF to give feedback to the customer, there are no suprises at the end of the cycle (no differences between the preview of the template and the actual printed final piece).

Imposition workflows

The fact that pdfChip is capable of 'importing' PDF files into the final output PDF it creates, makes it ideal for workflows where impositioning or any other composition of PDF documents needs to be done. In such workflows it is of primary importance that the imposition or composition process doesn't break the PDF files that are combined and pdfChip is an excellent tool to ensure that.

On top of that the support for SVG should be taken into account here as well, SVG is ideal to add additional information to imposed sheets, whether they are printer or registration marks, color bars or various bits of text. Together with the built-in support for barcodes that provides an excellent environment to decorate the final PDF with all necessary information.

Creating downloadable web content

In many cases web sites contain or generate information that at some point needs to be printed or delivered in printable format to a visitor of that site; PDF obviously is the ideal medium for that. The fact that pdfChip consumes an HTML template is ideal in many ways:

  • Simply changing the CSS file is sometimes enough already to provide a nice, printable view on the information on the site. pdfChip can then be used to convert that printable view into a perfect PDF document.
  • If the information comes straight out of a database, the HTML template can use Javascript to read the correct data and modify the HTML template.
  • Because pdfChip can produce standards-compliant PDF/X or PDF/A documents, it is ideal for documents that need to go through a publishing or archival workflow afterwards.
  • pdfChip works with HTML templates; the skills to edit such templates are wide-spread and the templates are easy to maintain, fit into a version control workflow and share. pdfChip is also a self-contained solution, it does not need other libraries or tools (such as Adobe InDesign Server for example) to fill the templates with actual data.

The environments where this could be used are very diverse; it could range from generating sales literature on the fly (and customised for the web site visitor) to the generation of receipts, tickets, real estate property information, recipes... Anything that is normally shown on the web site itself but at times needs to be available in a printable form as well.

Magazine and Newspaper publishing

In many cases magazine and newspaper publishing workflows entail a fair amount of composition, ranging from adding advertisements, to titles, page numbers or barcodes. The same advantages for imposition workflows play here again, PDF files (with ads for example) can be added without any loss of quality or fear that the placed ad might be changed and the HTML templates with its Javascript support are extremely flexible when it comes to adding additional content to the publications.

In some workflows (think of specialty magazines or newspapers for example) the complete template could be done in HTML; with the support for CSS regions in pdfChip that certainly becomes a possibility. In that case pdfChip provides a lightweight and very flexible publication composition engine.

Book publishing

The challenge of book printing (and even more so for on-demand book printing) is to take lots of relatively simple but structured content, and produce a relatively long, nice-looking, PDF. The advanced pagination features of pdfChip come in to play to deal with page numbers, running headers and so on.

Because pdfChip can convert multiple HTML files into a single PDF file, it's ideal in environments where a book is delivered in pieces (one HTML file per chapter for example). The Javascript support even lets the template pull the information out of an XML file making links with a database easy.