Friday, April 24, 2009

iText - Preview of things to come .. someday (RTF to PDF)

Update November 19, 2009: Unfortunately, it looks like RTF will be abandoned and moved to an incubator project.

So I have been searching around for non-commercial tools for converting rtf/word documents to pdf. (Yes, I know some of you are chuckling as you read this). The search has been interesting, and though I have not found the magic bullet yet, I did learn about some neat tools along the way, which I may write about later.

While commericial tools are probably still the best option at this point, I did come across some promising updates on the iText site. They mentioned expanding the rtf functionality to include partial support for
  • reading rtf files
  • converting rtf to pdf format.

Of course it is still under development right now. But I am looking forward to the first official release. I played around with version 2.1.5 a bit, and surprisingly I was actually able to convert an rtf file to pdf. Now since the feature is not finished, I was pleased to get any output at all. Mind you some of the rtfs I tested worked a bit better than others. A few were a bit garbled, but I am impressed. It is definitely coming along nicely. I do not know where the developers find the time ..

Now, examples for the new RTF jars are understandably a little sparse at this point. (The code has undergone some drastic changes). But for the curious, here is the code I came up with. Keep in mind I am still learning from the api. So do not take this as a model for correct code usage ;)

Java Example

import com.lowagie.text.Document;
import com.lowagie.text.DocumentException;
import com.lowagie.text.pdf.PdfWriter;
import com.lowagie.text.rtf.parser.RtfParser;

public class ConvertRTFToPDF {

public static void main(String[] args) {
String inputFile = "sample.rtf";
String outputFile = "sample_converted.pdf";

// create a new document
Document document = new Document();

try {
// create a PDF writer to save the new document to disk
PdfWriter writer = PdfWriter.getInstance(document, new FileOutputStream(outputFile));
// open the document for modifications;

// create a new parser to load the RTF file
RtfParser parser = new RtfParser(null);
// read the rtf file into a compatible document
parser.convertRtfDocument(new FileInputStream(inputFile), document);

// save the pdf to disk


} catch (DocumentException e) {
} catch (FileNotFoundException e) {
} catch (IOException e) {


Requirements: iText 2.1.5 and JavaLoader

Instructions for installing a newer version of iText without breaking ColdFusion

<h1>Convert RTF to PDF Example</h1>
As of 04/24/2009, the feature is <b>not</b> fully implemented
in iText. (In other words, do not expect it to work perfectly at this

savedErrorMessage = "";

// get a reference to the javaLoader
javaLoader = server[application.myJavaLoaderKey];

// initliaze file paths
pathToInputFile = ExpandPath("./sample.rtf");
pathToOutputFile = ExpandPath("./sample.pdf");

// create a new document
document = javaLoader.create("com.lowagie.text.Document").init();

try {
// create a PDF writer to save the new document to disk
outStream = createObject("java", "").init( pathToOutputFile );
PdfWriter = javaLoader.create("com.lowagie.text.pdf.PdfWriter");
writer = PdfWriter.getInstance( document, outStream );

// open the document for modifications first;

// create a new parser to load the RTF file
parser = javaLoader.create("com.lowagie.text.rtf.parser.RtfParser").init( javacast("null", "") );

// read the rtf file into the document
inStream = createObject("java", "").init( pathToInputFile );
parser.convertRtfDocument( inStream, document );

// save the converted document (ie pdf) to disk

WriteOutput("Finished! File saved: "& pathToOutputFile);

catch (Exception e) {
savedErrorMessage = e;

// always close the streams
if ( isDefined("inStream") )
if ( isDefined("outStream") )

<!--- show any errors --->
<cfif len(savedErrorMessage) gt 0>
Error - unable to create document
<cfdump var="#savedErrorMessage#">


Paul Hastings April 25, 2009 at 6:46 PM  

whoa i read the email concerning the "new" conversion bits & it didn't register at all. thanks for bringing this up.

cfSearching April 25, 2009 at 8:53 PM  


You are welcome. I cannot wait for the finished version. Just wish I knew when that would be .. ;)

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