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ActivePDF Toolkit vs. FDF with ASP database integrated PDFs

Posted on 2004-04-14
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
CALLING ALL EXPERTS:

I am making PDFs based on a recordset pulled through ASP from a database.  I can do this with FDF.

I need to make one page that is identical for each recordset, and every time this PDF is pulled it will have a different number of records.  So I need one page that is re-manufactured for each recordset with different information on it per the different record.  I can do this with FDF (FDFaddTemplate) however, the viewer must have a full version of Acrobat (not just reader) to open it if it uses FDFaddTemplate.  Am I missing something?  Is there another command that can be used?

Up till now I have been against buying ActivePDF.  But I am beginning to re-consider based on the above.  It also seems like I may be able to get more help/support with ActivePDF than FDF.

Please give me your thoughts - I would really appreciate it.  Points will be awarded to most helpful or split among several most helpful.  Thanks again!
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Question by:kellybelly
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4 Comments
 
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Expert Comment

by:deighc
ID: 10831620
Well, I think you've already identified the major downside in outputting FDF content to the browser: each user must have Acrobat installed on their machine. There's no way around this. FDF files are simply form field information for PDF documents. They require another application to transform them into PDF documents.

For what it's worth I've used ActivePDF products (Toolkit and Spooler) and they work really well. Easy to use, very fast and well documented... but they aint cheap. There are plenty of competing products so do a search.

If you baulk at the idea of having to buy a 3rd party component then bear this in mind: any "application" that generates PDF's will have to pay a royalty to Adobe. So I seriously doubt that you'll find something that does what you want for free. Yes, they vary in price but "free" and "PDF" are mutually exclusive concepts in my experience.
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Author Comment

by:kellybelly
ID: 10832890
that is all very good advice.  So are you saying that in order read PDFs the user has to have a full version - not just reader??

You mentioned documentation on ActivePDF - did you mean on the website or has anyone written a book on it?  How long did you have to work with it before you felt comfortable?

Also - I need to install ActivePDF toolkit on my server to work with the commands, correct?  Is there any kind of development environment or Dreamweaver plugin that would help me work with the commands?
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LVL 15

Accepted Solution

by:
deighc earned 1000 total points
ID: 10832981
> So are you saying that in order read PDFs the user has to have a full version - not just reader??

No. To read PDF's you only need Acrobat Reader. To read a FDF file you must have the full version of Acrobat (as you stated in your original post).

> You mentioned documentation on ActivePDF - did you mean on the
> website or has anyone written a book on it? How long did you have
> to work with it before you felt comfortable?

It took me about 2 hours to take a PDF file, add form elements to it that I wanted to fill then build a test asp script that filled the PDF template. ie. It's very easy to use. The documentation is good. Definitely no need for a book...

> Also - I need to install ActivePDF toolkit on my server to work with the commands, correct?

Correct. You can download trial versions that last for a limited time (30 days I think) and stamp your PDF documents with a watermark.

> Is there any kind of development environment or Dreamweaver plugin that would help
> me work with the commands?

Sorry, don't know anything about Dreamweaver.

I use Visual Interdev. So, like any COM component, if you have the ActivePDF component installed on your local machine you will get the Intellisense pop-ups that list the methods and properties of the objects (you can just download and install a trial copy onto your local machine - it will expire after a while but you still the pop-ups).
0
 

Author Comment

by:kellybelly
ID: 11484623
thanks for your help.  I finally broke down and bought ActivePDF toolkit when I realized that I couldn't dynamically include images without it.  It's been great, although it's hard to find resources for support on it.  Thanks for your help.
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