Free PDF Programming Libraries

Source Code and Libraries to Create, Access and Modify PDF Files

Free PDF Programming Libraries and Source Code

The free PDF development libraries listed on this page allow you to create, modify and access PDF files in your software, without having to re-implement the entire PDF specifications from scratch in your programs.

Note that this page is meant for programmers. If you are looking for PDF tools, please check out the list of free PDF editors, printer drivers and converters instead. Alternatively, if you only want something to view PDF files, please see the Free PDF Readers page.

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Free PDF Development Libraries


libHaru is a free, open source, cross-platform C library for creating PDF files. It can handle text and images, outlines, text annotations, link annotations, embedded PNG and JPEG images, embedded Type 1 and TrueType fonts, encrypted PDF files, a variety of character sets and encodings, etc. It has been compiled and tested in Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and NetBSD with a number of compilers, but since the source is in ANSI C, it can presumably be compiled and used under other operating systems as well. You can link the library statically or dynamically into your programs. The library is licensed under the zlib/libPNG licence.

PDF Clown Project

The PDF Clown Project is a software library that you can use in your own programs to create, access (useful if you are implementing your own PDF reader) and manipulate PDF files. It supports JPEG images, standard Type 1 fonts, embedded OpenType and TrueType fonts, device colour spaces (RGB, CMYK, Gray), a variety of page formats/sizes, creation, reading and modification of bookmarks, compressed PDF files, etc. Other features include splitting of PDF files, merging of multiple files, inserting and appending of pages to a PDF document, placing existing pages as thumbnails, adding of watermarks, adding a foreground stamp, and so on. It is written as a class library in Java and C#. The library is licensed under the GNU LGPL or the GPL at your option.


iTextSharp is a port of a Java-based PDF library (called iText) to C#. It is useful if you need to use a PDF library on the .NET platform. It allows you to generate PDF files on the fly. I'm not sure to what extent this port follows the original library (which doesn't seem to be freely downloadable any more), but the original supported the generation of dynamic documents from XML or databases, interactive features in your PDF files, bookmarks, page numbers, watermarks, automating the filling of PDF forms, adding digital signatures to PDF files, splitting, concatenating and manipulation of PDF pages, etc. A book on the original library iText in Action is available.

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