pdfChip pdfChip

pdfChip is a command-line application for the creation of high-quality PDF from HTML (taking full advantage of CSS and JavaScript). It supports all HTML features, but extends to support CMYK, spot color, XMP metadata, PDF standards, SVG, MathML, barcodes and more. Capable of generating single and multi-page PDF documents it is ideally suited for high-volume dynamic PDF generation.

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Product information

pdfChip is a command-line application for the creation of high-quality PDF from HTML (taking full advantage of CSS and JavaScript). It supports all HTML features, but extends to support CMYK, spot color, XMP metadata, PDF standards, SVG, MathML, barcodes and more. Capable of generating single and multi-page PDF documents it is ideally suited for high-volume dynamic PDF generation.

Based on established technology

pdfChip creates high-quality PDF from HTML, taking full advantage of styling with CSS3 and optionally augmented with JavaScript. A good understanding of up-to-date web technology is sufficient to get started with pdfChip. There is no need to learn custom XML or XSL-FO based languages; anything that works in HTML is immediately usable in pdfChip.

Support for high-quality PDF

Standard HTML and CSS are limited with regards to color spaces, prepress related features like overprint, or advanced pagination. pdfChip extends the syntax of HTML 5, CSS3 and JavaScript to provide support for often needed professional publishing, print, document exchange and archival features. Some of the extensions to HTML5 and CSS3 are:

  • Advanced color space support (including support for CMYK, Lab, ICC-based color spaces and spot colors)
  • Lossless import of CMYK JPEG images, PDF pages and SVG
  • Generation of XMP metadata
  • Generation of standards-compliant PDF/X and PDF/A files

Support for advanced pagination

pdfChip provides custom JavaScript functions and objects for full control of the PDF output process. This includes extensive support of variable data type scenarios where a basic HTML template is modified at runtime using JavaScript, and pages are output for as many instances as necessary (for example based on data dynamically retrieved from a database). pdfChip can also output long documents (such as for example books). It includes a multi-pass option for advanced pagination, supporting page numbers, running headers and context dependent backgrounds or overlays.

Barcodes and other advanced content

HTML already provides numerous possibilities to describe content and apply styling; pdfChip takes this one level higher and also supports advanced scenarios. SVG is fully supported, both inline in HTML files or as a referenced SVG image; conversion from SVG to PDF is carried out without any loss of quality. MathML is also fully supported, introducing high quality PDF representation of formulas of any complexity; this is especially important for text book or scientific publishing.

And last but not least pdfChip incorporates full-featured barcode functionality. Barcodes can be inserted through easy-to-define custom objects; pdfChip supports over 100 types of barcodes used throughout the world.

Command-line processing for easy integration

pdfChip is a command-line application. Because it is easy to install (installation is basically extraction of the installation archive) and has a clear and easy-to-learn command line interface, it’s ideally suited for use on a web server to provide dynamic PDF creation. But it can just as easily be integrated in a custom application or be driven by automated solutions such as Laidback FileTrain or Enfocus Switch.

Wide applicability across different markets

With its extensive feature set and high-quality PDF output, pdfChip is ideally suited as the back-end PDF creation solution for many different applications, amongst others:

  • Imposition and content aggregation workflows
  • Composition workflows where templates and user contents have to be combined on the fly and where printable PDF documents have to be delivered
  • On-the-fly preparation of magazine, newspaper and book content or sales literature
  • Dynamic generation of one-off content such as tickets, stubs, order data, invoices … (for example in web-to-print environments)
  • Variable data printing where templates have to be filled with data coming from a data source (such as a database or CRM system)
  • Transactional printing workflows where transactional data needs to be combined with visually rich designs

Different license levels for different businesses

Because nobody’s needs are the same, pdfChip comes in four different license levels carrying a different price tag and sporting matching feature sets. Consult the table below for more information.

Flavor pdfChip S pdfChip M pdfChip L pdfChip XL Enterprise
Simultaneous conversions 1 4 8 unlimited
Pages per hour 1000 5000 25000 unlimited
Barcode support EAN 13, UPC, Code 39 & 128, ISBN 13, QR all all all
Number of pages per PDF document 25 250 1500 unlimited
Advanced pagination No Yes Yes Yes

More information about pdfChip license levels can be found here.


So, what's the price tag of each license level? Have a look at the pricing! If you are interested in pdfChip, let us know and we'll make you a quote.

System requirements

  • Mac (Intel): macOS, version 10.7 or newer, 64-bit-compliant
  • Windows:
    • Windows 7 or newer
    • Windows Server 2008 R2 or newer
  • Linux: The minimum required Linux OS versions are shown below (Linux OS versions with a higher number are always supported as well):
    • Debian 7 (and derivates like Ubuntu 12.x )
    • RedHat RHEL6 (and derivates like CentOS6)
    • SuSE SLES11 (and derivates like OpenSuSE11)
    • Note: other Linux distributions are also supported if the version of the glibc is at least v2.10
Recommended are at least 2 GB of free storage.


High-speed and high-quality PDF generation

  • Highly-optimized engine based on WebKit
  • Smallest output PDF size possible
  • Supports multi-processor environments for parallel generation of multiple PDF files
  • Generation of standards-compliant PDF files in PDF/X and PDF/A workflows
  • Dynamic inclusion of all necessary XMP metadata
  • Possibility to use the exact same HTML and CSS code on the web and for PDF generation (through use of pdfChip specific custom HTML, CSS and JavaScript where necessary)

Low entry level

  • Based on widely understood technologies such as HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript
  • No need to learn custom XML or XSL-FO based template syntax
  • Command-line integration for fast and seamless implementation of the technology in your projects
  • Easy installation through unzipping of installation archive; no dependencies on special software or hardware
  • Comprehensive user documentation and tutorial included, quick learning curve guaranteed

Wide feature support

  • Full support for SVG, either inline in HTML or through referencing separate SVG files. SVG is converted losslessly into PDF code without rasterisation
  • Support for MathML
  • Built-in support for barcode generation through custom HTML objects with support for CSS based styling

Key features

Built on WebKit

  • Support for all standard HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript features
  • Ability to use JavaScript libraries such as JQuery or MathJax to speed up development
  • Support for HTML editors to develop HTML input for pdfChip
  • Highly optimized PDF generation to overcome inefficiencies of typical HTML output
  • Support for professional TrueType and OpenType fonts

Extensions for professional PDF generation

  • Proper definition of media, crop, trim and bleed box
  • Generation of CMYK, Lab and Gray color spaces
  • Generation of ICC-based color spaces
  • Generation of spot colors (named colors)
  • Inclusion of dynamic XMP metadata
  • Inclusion of necessary PDF/X or PDF/A standard tags
  • Control over PDF specific properties (overprint, line styles…)

Custom pagination support

  • JavaScript support to modify the HTML DOM and output custom PDF pages at will
  • Support for multiple PDF generation passes to add any number of static or dynamic underlays and overlays to the final PDF document
  • Support for any page numbering pattern and running headers and footers

Integrated bar code support

  • Integrated barcode generation functionality, with support for over one hundred different types of common and specialist bar codes
  • Bar code addition through addition of easy to define custom HTML object
  • Full control over barcode appearance through HTML parameters and CSS styling

Release notes

2.2.067 21 August 2020

  • Update free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 2 with a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA)


  • Page size of a PDF created from a plain SVG file will now be derived from the height and width attributes of the SVG
  • Page size of a PDF created from a plain SVG file will use the "viewport" entry if no height and width attributes exist in the SVG [CA1029038]


  • Issue fixed, where swapping foreground/background of barcodes resulted in lines indicating the matrix of the QR code [CA1028218]
  • Problem solved, where unnecessary transformation matrix combinations avoided a successful conversion to PDF/A-1b afterwards [CA1028488]
  • Problem solved, where the area of a link annotation for text was unnecessary large [CA1028997]
  • Issue fixed, where parallel processing with a higher number than allowed by the license type was not properly handled in certain cases [FP60623; FP60642]
  • Improved handling for Code-128 barcodes to support the extension for Latin-1 glyphs [CA1029284]

2.2.064 22 January 2020

  • Update free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 2 with a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA)


  • MediaBox and CropBox are now set to 0/0 by default, even if the defined pagesize is bigger (can be deactivated by the CSS property "-cchip-media-and-crop-box-at-origin: off")


  • Problem solved, where positioning of objects resulted in an unexpected offset in certain cases (caused by rounding issues) [FP55337]
  • Problem solved, where high zoom-factor values results in invisible or shifted text in some cases [CA1028764; CA1028840]
  • Issue fixed, where a certain type of structure in a referenced PNG resulted in a missing image [CA1028799]
  • Issue fixed, where remote content could not be loaded caused by a wrong OpenSSL version (Linux only) [FP54536]
  • Problem solved, where an identical image resource became embedded multiple times when page boxes were defined [FP566448]

2.1.061 30 July 2019

  • Update free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 2 with a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA)


  • Support for activation using the callas License Server
  • Latest version of the TEC-IT Barcode Library integrated (v11.8.0)
  • Rendering mode for text can be defined (using a pdfChip-specific CSS property)


  • Problem solved, where loading of remote content failed, caused by a wrong version of OpenSSL (Linux only) [FP54536]
  • Issue fixed, where positioning resulted in a very small shift due to rounding issues in certain cases [CA1027387]
  • Problem solved, where wrong font style was used when stroke text was painted via SVG (Windows only) [CA1026074]
  • Problem solved, where a dashed line was not properly created when using SVG [CA1026030]

2.0.057 6 February 2019

  • Update free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 2 with a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA)


  • Problem solved, where performance was insufficient when a high --zoom-factor value was used [CA1027841]
  • Problem solved, where content became truncated when a high --zoom-factor value was used [CA1027260]

2.0.055 13 December 2018

  • Update free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 2 with a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA)


  • Problem solved, where hyperlinks in HTML were not properly converted to link annotations in the resulting PDF

2.0.053 21 November 2018

  • Update to pdfChip 2.0 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1 with a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA)
  • This update requires a new license and a new activation


  • Support for referencing PSD (Photoshop file format) and TIFF files in HTML
  • Optimized handling of referenced image and PDF data to avoid high memory consumption [CA1027026; CA1027354]
  • Improved handling of CSS parameter "mix-blend-mode" for PDF BlendModes [CA1026548]
  • Support for PDF 2.0 features e.g. in the PDF Header or for the Black Point Compensation entry
  • New option to disable access to remote content: --remote-content=on|off (Default: Off = no loading of external content)
  • Latest version of the TEC-IT Barcode Library integrated (v11.7.4)
  • Windows version is now available as 64-bit
  • SVG Viewport entry is automatically set to page size minus margins in PDF


  • Problem solved, where referenced GIF image could not be opened due to a missing trailer in the image data [CA1027560]
  • Issue fixed, where positioning resulted in a very small shift due to rounding issues in certain cases [CA1027387]
  • Improved handling of temporary files to avoid remaining files being saved in TEMP folder [CA1027487]
  • Problem solved, where Chinese characters were not properly encoded in QRCodes [CA1027191]

1.4.047 24 January 2018

  • Update to pdfChip 1.4 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


  • Page scaling factor (UserUnits) is used, if result PDF exceeds the maximum dimensions of PDF (200x200 inch)
  • UserUnits can be defined in HTML/CSS [CA1026402]
  • Support for defining Layers (optional content) for content objects incl. Layer groups and information for Processing steps in CSS
  • New option: --zoom-factor, the precision of placements can now be increased using the --zoom-factor parameter for applications that need very high calculation accuracy when positioning objects


  • Fixed issue, where invisible layers of positioned PDF were visible in result PDF [CA1024260]
  • Problem solved, where file type recognition for images resulted in an unstable behavior in certain cases [CA1026566]
  • Fixed issue, where result PDF showed an error when opened in certain PDF viewers [CA1026820]
  • Optimized error handling if keycode is not valid for current operating system [FP41724]

1.3.044 9 August 2017

  • Update to pdfChip 1.3 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


  • Fixed issue, where referenced images, which are using a wrong suffix of supported image format, were not properly handled [CA1026339]
  • Problem solved, where valid licenses were not properly recognized [FP35667]

1.3.043 26 June 2017

  • Update to pdfChip 1.3 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


  • Creation of barcodes: Problem solved, where unit feet ("ft") was not properly handled [CA1025920]
  • Creation of barcodes: Fixed issue, where barcodes of type "maxiCode" were not properly scaled in certain cases [CA1025848]
  • Embedding of fonts: Fixed issue, where a specified, symbolic font was not used for text (Windows only) [CA1025974]
  • Problem solved, where links without any content resulted in an error [CA1025928]
  • Problem solved, where TrueType Collections (.ttc) were not correctly handled on Windows [CA1025974]

1.3.042 27 April 2017

  • Update to pdfChip 1.3 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


  • Pass through for PNG and GIF images
    • ICC Profiles attached to the original images are maintained in the result PDF
    • Optimized performance
  • Rasterization of objects disabled (e.g. for Porter/Duff Compositing, certain Drop Shadows and some Blend Modes)
  • Enhanced pdfChip S features: “QR-Code 2005” added to range of supported barcodes [FP35667]


  • Problem solved, where font names became mingled (Windows only)
  • Improved file handling (cleanup) in case of processing errors [CA1025615]

1.2.039 2 November 2016

  • Update to pdfChip 1.2 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


  • Debug Plug-In for Chrome: Emulates pdfChip specific objects and functions to allow for using Chromes debugging features for pdfChip templates
  • Extended support for barcodes: Support for numerous parameters (approx. 150 different ones [CA1025431]
  • More coloring options for barcodes: Support for arbitrary content like images as “background” color for barcodes or matrix codes
  • InDesign template generator: Export filter for Adobe InDesign for converting an InDesign document into a pdfChip template incl. positioning, colors and styles
  • New method to wait for resources (images, barcodes): "cchip.onPrintReady()"
  • Links between merged HTML templates are transferred into the PDF result
  • Direct conversion of SVG files into PDF
  • New command line option for Debugging: --dump-static-html


  • Problem solved, where an umlaut in the file name was not properly handled (Linux only)
  • Fixed issue, where improper defined color values in Lab resulted in unstable behavior [CA1024885]
  • Fixed issue, where a SVG file in conjunction with SMasks was not properly converted
  • Problem solved, where a certain SVG could not be positioned [CA1023256]
  • Problem solved, where a pattern contained in a SVG was not properly converted
  • Fixed issue, where an embedded font did not contain a CIDSet (as requested by PDF/A-1b)
  • Problem solved, where font names were not PostScript compliant
  • Fixed issue, where fonts were embedded with a name prefix, although not necessary
  • Fixed issue, where a SVG mask resulted in an unnecessary transparent mask [FP28897]
  • Problem solved, where creation of a PDF was not successful, if a PDF was used as an image within a link tag
  • Problem solved, where no link was created for Form XObjects created by pdfChip
  • Fixed issue, where certain HTML structures could not be processed successfully [CA1024862]
  • Problem solved, where processing with a "homeless" user account was not possible (Linux only)
  • Fixed issue, where "visible" attribute in SVG was not respected properly, so that text was clipped [CA1025051]


  • Update to pdfChip 1.1.030 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


Main features

  • Support for DeviceN color spaces
  • Possibility to define the maximum number of created pages
  • Command line parameters can be passed through to the HTML template
  • Improved error reporting especially for JavaScript and placing bar codes [CA1024293]
  • Implemented a "list collector", which stores CSS marked content in a JSON file e.g. for building a table of content
  • Information about placed PDF is provided (number of pages, dimension of page geometry boxes)

Additional improvements

  • Path to activation output file can be specified [FP30305]
  • Place PDF support for Adobe Illustrator files (.ai)


  • Improved placement for PDF files to ignore minor syntax issues [FP30320]


  • Update to pdfChip 1.0.023 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


  • Several problems regarding activation, user permissions and similar topics solved (only Linux)


  • Update to pdfChip 1.0.022 free of charge for all licensees of pdfChip 1


  • Several problems with SVG (regarding masks, transparency etc.) solved


  • Initial release to the public


CS Labels Xpert intervention by Digital Printer magazine

CS Labels’ managing director Simon Smith: "This has been a steep learning curve but a very worthwhile process."

Being at the forefront of technology innovation brings its own pressures. At CS Labels in Willenhall, near Wolverhampton, innovation is seen as a point of differentiation, and that spirit saw it become a beta site for Xeikon’s new 30 metres per minute Cheetah press in March. It is, says managing director Simon Smith, 58% faster than other Xeikon presses (CS Labels is the largest reel-fed Xeikon house in Europe with five machines). Therein lay the issue however.

"While we were putting the press in, we also had to consider what we were doing in terms of streamlining studio processes to get the work through more efficiently. We were using a preflighting system but it wasn’t giving us the savings we were hoping for", he told Digital Printer

The company had met MyPressXpert sales director Kevin Caughtry at an EasyFairs event in February, and then spoke to Niall Coady from the colour calibration firm shortly afterwards at a Xeikon Café. In talking, it was recognized that there could be ways to simplify and improve the workflow at CS Labels and reduce errors in prepress.

Initially, Mr Coady worked on developing a customised, simplified report for the CS Labels sales team that showed the ink consumption required for a file received, allowing them to quote accurately on the job. It would also preflight the file and report on any fixes that needed to be made, allowing this to be done by the customer before it took up studio time. A second, more detailed, report and client proof PDF is also produced for the studio. This was all achieved to CS Labels’ satisfaction using callas pdfToolbox Server and pdfChip software (HTML5, CSS and Javascript technologies used to automate client proof creation) alongside Filetrain, a workflow management system from Laidback Solutions.

Following this, MyPressXpert has undertaken further bespoke project work for CS Labels, creating a brand new job management system for the Xeikon workflow from scratch, which interrogates an Excel (.xlsx) file from the client and automatically creates and databases all the label barcodes based on sites and quantities. It has also put in a colour management software system – ColorLogic’s ZePrA colour management server and ReProfiler Digital colour engine – which is helping to improve CS Labels’ management of process control and calibration of the Xeikon engines, providing detailed reporting on the stability of the presses so that maintenance schedules can be optimised. This has been effective to such a degree that in September the label producer stopped using the colour control system that comes with the Xeikon presses.

"All digital presses face the challenge of colour consistency from print run to print run, and we also need to ensure that our presses are optimised to achieve Pantone colours", said Mr Smith. "Invariably we are given a label to match by printing CMYK. We need to get as close as possible to achieving the Pantones consistently and measure how close in Delta E we are. This system has helped us to do that. We are of the opinion that it actually takes it to a different level."

The impact of these implementations of automated preflighting and colour management within the company is that CS Labels is able to cope with higher volumes of work while utilising the same level of human resources. "We are also shortening lead times to get work on press and we are getting far fewer mistakes where files have to go back to the studio", Mr Smith continued. "It has streamlined the whole process for us and allows the studio to move away from more mundane tasks such as putting the bleed on a hundred files – those things are automated now. The system also automates the artwork and sends a proof back to the customer."

"The ideal is that we get a PDF from our customer and it goes straight on press without a human touching it. That’s what we are looking for, and we are making fairly substantial progress."

All progress in this direction is welcome, because in December a second Cheetah press will arrive, and further efficiencies will need to be found.

"This has been a steep learning curve but a very worthwhile process", Mr Smith concluded. "The biggest benefit is that we have been able to make this system bespoke to our unique requirements, rather than buying one off the shelf."

Written by Whitmar Publications


Self driving PDF - The Future of Workflow Automation

The total dimensions of printed paper is shrinking, whereas the number of pages and files that are printed is increasing. This was only economically viable, because at the same time workflow automation was on the rise. PDF software has to support highly flexible automation rules to navigate and adjust files not only according to the job settings but also as required by the specifics of the file. Is prepress finally on its way from handcraft to industry? In this keynote, Dietrich plans to give a (vendor neutral) overview about recent software developments for PDF automation. Furthermore, he will provide a personal view on what may be the next challenges for us as a PDF vendor and for the industry as a whole.


Did you like the video? Then you might want to have a look at related videos in the following playlist!

The sense and nonsense of standardization in print

The Ghent Workgroup has been active in the 'standardization for print' arena since 2002, so for more than 17 years. But why was the group started? Where did it originate and with what purpose? And more importantly, does the effort spent on standardization - both by the GWG workgroup and local user associations - pay off? In this session, you’ll learn more about these topics and you’ll hear where the Ghent Workgroup stands today and what we believe are the biggest challenges we’re still facing ...


Did you like the video? Then you might want to have a look at related videos in the following playlist!

Webinar - What's new in pdfChip 1.2?

The pdfChip 1.2 update focuses on ease-of-use and implements improvements for barcode and SVG workflows. We held an English webinar to introduce you to pdfChip 1.2.

Webinar - What's new in pdfChip 1.1?

In order to introduce pdfChip 1.1, David van Driessche gave an English webinar. Take a look!

How to upload large files to support?


When sending problems to support or asking questions about a specific functionality, it is always helpful if you supply as much information as possible:

  • Profiles or Process Plans when working with pdfToolbox or pdfaPilot
  • Example documents 'before' and 'after' to explain the problem or question
  • Screenshots explaining the specific problem

When such files are over 2MB it is more reliable and quicker to send them to us through our Dropbox. This article describes how to do so.


  1. First of all, please give your documents a unique name. If you already have a case ID (a 5-digit number), please include this case ID in the name of the file(s) you are going to send to us.
  2. Click this link to browse to our Dropbox upload page
  3. Click 'Choose files from your computer' and navigate to the files
  4. If you are not logged into Dropbox, fill out your First and Last name and email address
  5. Click 'Upload'

You will receive an email confirming your files were uploaded succesfully.

Do you have a complete price list in Euro / USD?

Yes, the latest price list is available via distributor Four Pees. To access the Reseller Guide, go to https://www.fourpees.com. Once you have registered as reseller, and your account has been approved, you will be granted access to the reseller guide containing full pricing information for all products in Euro and USD. With any questions regarding exact pricing for specific customers, bundles etc... please contact orders@fourpees.com.

System requirements

Four Pees