I have used for several years Adobe Livecycle in an enterprise environment. I am looking for an alternative, that would be able to meet the same usage needs that I had on that scenario. We had:

1 - Designer to create PDF templates, that could be fed with data to be dinamically generated

2 - API for generating PDF document based on template and data

3 - Code that could call that API and retrieve the generated document.

Adobe Livecycle had a designer where I could create the templates, it had a server component, working on top of JBoss, and every application we developed would access the server component through a web service, tell the server component which template to use and the data to feed into it, the server component would generate the PDF and send it back, and we would receive the binary in our caller application.

I have implemented a similar solution using Apache FOP. Apache FOP has a server component that can be installed into Tomcat, I added an abstraction layer in PHP on top of that, that is responsible for executing the FOP endpoint with the appropriate template and data, and return the data to the caller. This in turn can be called by any application as an external API, and PDF documents would be generated. For designer I am using a cloud based designer that fits the needs but is not 100% accurate, I end up having to make changes to the generated xsl for the generation to work.

I have seen that there is another thing called Apache PDFBox, which I do not know if I can use with the same purpose, and I am also on the lookout for a different designer, either for FOP or for the PDFBox solution.

Ultimately, what I want is to be able to design templates, place them on my server and consume them from any app I develop in a flow like this:

Any App > PHP endpoint > FOP/PDFBox Connection > Document Generation from Template

which is similar to what I could do using adobe livecycle:

Any App > Adobe Livecycle Server Connection > Document Generation from Template

I want to be able to setup this one as I did with FOP, and from then on only care about Template design and maintenance, and the apps that connect to that platform.

I would like to use a server component that is free, open-source or similar, like Apache FOP or PDFBox, and that allows me to use a designer to create the templates, without having to manually edit xsl...

Any suggestions?

Thank you


1 Answer 1


I've never used their backend, but we also don't collect data from the forms, our internal application handles that. I've been using the designer to layout forms ever since Delrina FormFlow now using LC. When done I print the forms as an EMF metafile, then in C# I enum the metafile on a dib and merge the backend text data from our SQL servers using EF6 and then pass the rendered stream back to the application. The other bonus is I can now render directly to a printer, a PNG or XPS/PDF. The printer function we use internally, but our web site can easily show low res png's or thumbs and then produce a high quality vector PDF all with the same code.

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