Hello Bruno, I'm sure you discuss this in the book (which I am hoping to win ;-), but I'm curious as the what motivated you to build the iText library and when you started building the library? I kow that currently there are quite a few such libraries both in the open source / "shareware" community and the commercial marketplace (none of which I have any experience with). I'm assuming that when you started building the library you were motivated by some lacking in the existing libraries that were available at the time. Also, are there any existing libraries, either open source or commercial, to which you would compare/contrast iText, in terms of feature set, licensing, etc?
Originally posted by Mark Allenb: Hello Bruno, I'm sure you discuss this in the book (which I am hoping to win ;-), but I'm curious as the what motivated you to build the iText library and when you started building the library?
If you download the first chapter (available for free at Manning), you'll see that I started writing iText in 1999 (I started reading the PDF Reference manual in 1998). At that time, there weren't many PDF libraries around. I only knew of PJ and retep, but none of these were suitable for the project described in the book. Many people compare iText with FOP, but that's a mistake. That's like comparing a restaurant with a movie theatre. If you're hungry, you'll be very disappointed after your visit to the movie theatre; if you want to see a movie, don't go to a restaurant. Of course you can go to a movie theatre and visit a restaurant afterwards. Even if I had known about FOP back in 1999, it still wouldn't have been the tool we needed. For instance: at Ghent University we are generating PDF documents with 27,000 pages, one per student (for instance: a letter inviting them to elect a students' representative; or an overview of their curriculum). If you did this with FOP, you'd need an enormous amount of memory. Also with iText you can design a template in PDF (for instance using Acrobat) and fill in specific fields (fed from a database) with iText.
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