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

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.

Benefits

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

1.3.044 9 August 2017

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

Fixes

  • 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

Fixes

  • 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

Features

  • 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]

Fixes

  • 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

Features

  • 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

Fixes

  • 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]

1.1.030

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

Features

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)

Fixes

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

1.0.023

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

Fixes

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

1.0.022

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

Fixes

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

1.0.020

  • Initial release to the public

Testimonials

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
www.digitalprintermag.co.uk

Support

Webinar - An introduction to pdfChip 1.2

The pdfChip 1.2 update focuses on ease-of-use and implements improvements for barcode and SVG workflows.
On November 30 at 4 pm CET Dietrich von Seggern, Managing Director of callas software and David van Driessche, CTO of Four Pees, held an English webinar to introduce you to pdfChip 1.2. You can download the used templates here. And here is the recording and presentation:


Webinar - pdfChip 1.1 introduction

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



Webinar - pdfChip introduction

callas pdfChip is a command-line application for the creation of high-quality PDF from HTML (featuring support for SVG, MathML, barcodes, CMYK, spot color and more). In order to introduce you to ​​pdfChip, on March 5 David van Driessche gave an English webinar. Here is the recording.


General License and Support Conditions

The General License and Support Conditions valid from April 27th, 2015 onward, are provided via this link.

The General License and Support Conditions are also available as a PDF document – please click here to download: General License and Support Conditions (April 2015).


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.

General questions on callas software products

Question: What is the target user group of the callas software pdfToolbox products?

Answer: pdfToolbox Desktop is targeted towards people who want to manually inspect or correct PDF files. It can be used either as a plug-in for Adobe Acrobat or as a standalone application (without requiring any Adobe software to be installed). pdfToolbox Server is oriented towards environments where fully unattended inspection and fixing is required. It can be configured with hot folders (also called watched folders) or can be integrated more closely into a solution using the available command-line interface.


Question: I am using pdfToolbox Desktop or Server 6.0 or older. Can I get the latest version?

Answer: Yes you can. Whether this will be with or without cost depends mainly on whether you have an active maintenance agreement for your software. Please contact your reseller or send an email to orders@callassoftware.com to inquire about more details.


Question: Do I need Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional to process PDF files with the callas software tools?

Answer: No. You can use pdfToolbox Desktop as a plug-in for Adobe Acrobat is you choose to do so, but it can also be used as a completely independent application. The automated solutions (pdfToolbox Server / CLI) are always completely independent.


Question: Are the demo versions identical to the full versions?

Answer: Yes, the demo versions are fully-functional. However, they have a restricted lifetime. You can test our software for 15 days without restriction or obligation.


Question: Where can I buy your products?

Answer: callassoftware has an extensive list of partners that can provide local support and help with training / installation when required. You can find the full list of partners here. Alternatively the interactive products can be bought from the callas web shop here.


Question: Who do I contact if I have general questions on a product?

Answer: Your first point of contact should always be the local reseller; they are able to provide you with local support in your own language. Alternatively, send an email to us directly and we will be happy to help. Use info@callassoftware.com for general questions and support@callasoftware.com for technical inquiries.


Question: I’m experiencing problems when installing or uninstalling software. Where can I get help?

Answer: Your first point of contact should always be the local reseller; they are able to provide you with local support in your own language. Alternatively, send an email to us directly and we will be happy to help. Use info@callassoftware.com for general questions and support@callasoftware.com for technical inquiries.


Question: How can I update my callas software product?

Answer: It’s really easy to update a callas software product – you simply install the new version on top of the old version. As always it's safest to make sure you have a backup before you install new software on a production machine; specifically of the preferences folder where all of your custom profiles are stored.


Question: How do I find out when the new version of my software is available?

Answer: Customers who have a software maintenance agreement (SMA) automatically receive a notification informing them of all version changes for callas software. They can also access detailed information on the changes made in the special SMA area of the callas software web site. Alternatively check our download page; this always lists the latests versions of all products.


Question: I urgently need a particular additional function for a callas software product. What can I do?

Answer: At callas software, we are constantly striving to improve our products. Past experience has shown us that it pays to collaborate with customers on solutions and enhancements to the CLI versions. These functions can be tested on site in real production environments and then integrated into the standard version later on. If you have questions or suggestions, please send an e-mail to technology@callassoftware.com.


Question: Where can I exchange information with other users?

Answer: callas software has a forum where interested users can exchange information about their experiences and specific usage conditions and discuss the integration of callas software into their existing workflows. Click here to visit the forum.

You might also like to visit the Swiss-based site www.hilfdirselbst.ch (German only). It contains prepress forums on the professional use of software for prepress processes, color management, and further processing. Many valuable posts about using our tools in your daily work can be found here.


Question: Is it possible to exchange profiles between different program versions?

Answer: Generally exported profiles are interchangeable within the same program generation (eg pdfToolbox 7.x). Of course, new corrections or checks that have been added in a minor update version (eg pdfToolbox 7.x), are not usable in older versions (eg pdfToolbox 6.x ). As new major versions can include fundamental changes in the profile structure, the profiles have an internal versioning. Therefore, older versions can not import the profiles of newer versions. Since these profile versions can be of interest to integrators and developers, please find the list with versions below:

pdfToolbox version Profile version Acrobat version
4.0 6.0 9.0
4.4 8.0 -
4.5 9.0 10.0
5.0 10.0 -
5.5 11.0 11.0
6.0   12.0 -
7.0 13.0 -

How to upload large files to support?

Background

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 FTP. This article describes how to do so.

 Instructions

  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. Use FTP software to connect to the following FTP server
    • Server: ftp.fourpees.com  
    • User name: supportftp
    • Password: support  
  3. Upload your file(s) to the root folder (the location you arrive in when you log-on to the above server).

This FTP server is configured in such a way that you will be able to upload files to it, but you will not be able to delete files from it. We will remove files from the folder as soon as we see they are there.


Installing on Mac OS

Question: During installation, I got a warning that the developer cannot be confirmed?

Answer: callas software is a registered developer at Apple for MacOS. Due to some quite strict security settings starting with MacOS 10.7 only software downloaded from the Mac App Store can be installed directly. Just change the system settings in “Security and Privacy” to “Mac App Store and identified developers” before installing a callas software product. You can set it back to “Mac App Store” after the installation of course.


Activation procedure for pdfChip

Background

To use any callas product on a computer, you need to activate it first. This is true if you have bought a license key but also if you want to run the trial software. This article explains how the normal activation procedure for callas pdfChip works and which steps you have to go through.

pdfChip does not have a user-interface, but is used by a command-line interface (CLI). The application needs a valid activation to run. This activation is bound to the hardware from which the activation was performed.

Instructions

Activation code request

Open a terminal window and change to your pdfChip installation directory.

Command

pdfChip --keycode <name> <company> <licenceCode> 

Parameters

  • name: Name of licensee (e.g. "Registered user").
  • company: Name of company (e.g. "User's company").
  • license code: License key obtained from the registration card.
    To make a request for a trial version, please use the keyword "trial" (for a pdfChip  trial version).

The result from pdfChip will be a number of lines of text. This text content needs to be sent to the callas activation server; the email address to be used is included in the text output.

After sending the email, the callas activation server sends a return email with the activation information attached (in a text file called "License.txt"). You can send the email to the callas activation server from a different system, but the return activation information will only be valid on the system where you ran the command in pdfChip.

Activation

After receiving the automatic email reply, the attached license file has to be saved and pdfChip has to be activated.

Command

pdfChip --activate <license file>

Parameters

  • licence file: Full path to licence file.

System requirements

Four Pees