PDF is the Portable Document Format developed by Adobe. It’s an open standard implemented by Adobe in their Acrobat series of software, but implementable and extensible by anybody who’s got the time, inclination, and knack. One trick that’s got a lot of potential is using PHP to dynamically generate PDF files and serve them via the web.
PHP can do a lot for your web operation (read our PHP Tutorial for Beginners tutorial). You can generate nice-looking printable receipts, invoices, and brochures. Disc-Cover has a test site that looks up info about a CD automatically and then generates a PDF label for the CD box that you can print, cut out, and use. And there are literally one billion other possible uses for dynamically generated PDFs.
So what are you waiting for?
You have a variety of PDF-generation options. The standard, classic way of doing it is with PDFlib. Because it’s so widely used and well-integrated into PHP, that’s the library I’ll go over today. But it’s by no means the only way of doing things. PDFlib is source-available, but not free. The license specifies that PDFlib can be used and redistributed without charge for non-commercial projects, but commercial use carries a fee.
There are also a number of completely free options. These include R&OS and FPDF, Panda. The choice is yours. (I haven’t had a chance to test these free packages very thoroughly. If you have had negative or positive experiences with them, please do let me know.)
Now you can attend OSCon for free. Well, sort of. Book publisher and conference organizer O’Reilly has shared over 100 presentations from the July conference. Some speakers did not share their presentations (at an open source conference? really?), but it appears most did.
Hack this app (PDF) is technical, but a mandatory reading for PHP developers.
How to be Normal is a tough thing for a geek to achieve. Luckily, Mike Hillyer was talking about databases.
You down with ODP?
Most of the presentations are downloadable in some sort of slide format (as opposed to a web page). As I glanced through, I was surprised to see more Powerpoint (PPT) than the open document presentation (ODP) format. Strange, for an OS conference.
My tally shows that 19 supplied the Microsoft format, while 12 were ODP. I’m sure it’s a coincidence that Microsoft sponsored the presentation files page. Of course, PPT and ODP were both blown out of the water by another open format, PDF. About 70% of the downloadable presentations used Adobe’s format.
The announcement follows Adobe’s decision to relinquish control of the proprietary format first introduced in 1993. “By releasing the full PDF specification for ISO standardization, we are reinforcing our commitment to openness,” Adobe chief technology officer Kevin Lynch said in a press release.
As we noted in January when ISO approved PDF, some see this move from Adobe as a defensive move to stop Microsoft’s XML Paper Specification. Adobe denies the decision has anything to do with Redmond and instead is intended to answer a call from their users for open formats.