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Google Chrome PDF Engine is now Open Source

by Sergio De Simone on Jun 20, 2014 |

Google has open sourced Chrome PDF engine, which allows to view and print PDF files, and fill PDF forms. The announcement came earlier this month from Foxit Software, the original maker of Foxit PDF SDK, which Google chose as the base for its Chrome PDF engine. Formerly closed-source, Chrome PDF code is now hosted on Google Source as the PDFium open source project.

According to François Beaufort, open-source Chromium evangelist at Google and previously known as Chrome feature leaker, "by open-sourcing Foxit’s PDF technology, the Chromium team gives developers a robust and reliable PDF library to view, search, print, and form fill PDF files." Chrome UI engineer Peter Kasting describes PDFium as "almost certainly the highest-quality PDF engine available in the open-source world."

PDFium's wiki provides a couple of useful pointers to get started with the library:

PDFium's build system is based on GYP, which generates platform-specific build files from meta build files. Thanks to GYP, PDFium can be easily built through a makefile, a Visual Studio solution, or an Xcode project, according to the platform.

As InfoQ has had the opportunity to verify, the build process is straightforward and build files are only generated for desktop environments. It is not clear whether the library can be adapted to running on a mobile device, since Foxit also makes a specific PDF SDK for embedded systems.

With the open-sourcing of PDFium, the list of Chrome components that are openly available as Chromium becomes longer. A notable component that is not yet open source is the built-in Flash player.

The project is released under the "New BSD License".

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