It's a funny thing, but even today, almost 25 years after the portable document format was originally introduced, the challenge of delivering and rendering a PDF file within a webpage is still a bit of a challenge. If necessity is the mother of invention, then annoyance and aggravation must be necessity's ancestors, because it was the frustration of working with PDF files that motivated Bruno Lowagie to develop the iText PDF software.
"When I wrote my first PDF library back in 1998, I read the PDF spec and I really hated PDF," said Lowagie. But after working with the PDF spec and maintaining a library that helped integrate PDF files into applications, Lowagie says he finally saw the light. "After a year, I started to love PDF instead of hating it." And while Lowagie admits that the PDF format might initially seem a bit awkward, "there are a lot of advantages to it, and once you realize the power of PDF, you realize it's a really cool format."
The hazards of using open source software
iText's CEO Bruno Lowagie
The iText PDF tool that Lowagie and his team has developed has licensed itself as open-source software in a number of different ways over the years, making Lowagie a bit of an expert in terms of the various corners vendors can back themselves into when using what they believe to be free software. One piece of advice Lowagie has for developers scouring the internet in the hopes of finding a solution to their current development problem: "If you find code online and it doesn't have a license, you should treat it as proprietary," said Lowagie. "There is always a copyright on code."
To learn more about iText PDF software and find out why iText has become a household name in terms of integrating PDF files into web-based applications, watch the full interview between TheServerSide's Cameron McKenzie and iText's CEO Bruno Lowagie.