Besides Adobe's, numerous third-party libraries can also produce PDF directly. Below is a list of some of the PDF libraries we are aware of.
There are three common ways to produce a PDF file:
Print to PostScript, via Acrobat Distiller/GhostScript to PDF
Print via Acrobat PDFWriter to PDF
The first method is most commonly used as it theoretically works with any application, and provides high quality output. However, it's a multi-step process that's just doesn't have the mettle for use in a high-speed web environment. Secondly, the licensing restrictions of Acrobat Distiller require that each producer of a PDF has an Acrobat license - this prevents its use in a Internet environment (unless you have obscenely deep pockets).
Fast, direct, and maybe even free
Enter the third-party libraries that produce PDF directly. These libraries have a number of advantages and disadvantages; the most significant issue is that if you choose to utilize a library then you are going to need to layout and format each page yourself. A benefit is that the process is both speedy and more robust due to the reduced number of steps involved - namely one. In fact, some of the libraries will return PDFs in just a few seconds. Furthermore, many of these libraries are low cost, royalty free or free for non-profit use.
Please note - I am the CEO of Debenu - the creator of Debenu Quick PDF Library.
Debenu Quick PDF Library
Debenu Quick PDF Library Lite
Debenu Quick PDF Library Lite is a free pdf library that offers a subset of the functionality found in Quick PDF Library. It provides the ability to convert images to PDF, add links to the web, get and set document properties, rotate pages, merge documents, analyze document security and add images and text to documents. As well as QR bar codes. It works with any language that supports ActiveX.
PrimoPDF's PDF API enables programmatic access to all PrimoPDF settings, allowing developers to add 'print to PDF' functionality to any application. A silent installer allows developers to seamlessly bundle and redistribute PrimoPDF within their existing desktop- or server-based applications without the need for a separate installation or any form of manual intervention.
PDFlib - Thomas Merz Consulting and Publishing
PDFlib is a development tool for PDF-enabling your software. PDFlib frees you from the intricate details of PDF generation by offering a simple-to-use API for programmatically creating PDF files from any software. While you (the programmer) are responsible for retrieving or maintaining the data to be processed, PDFlib takes over the task of generating the PDF code which graphically represents your data. Although being far from complete, PDFlib already offers many useful functions for creating text, graphics, images and hypertext elements in PDF files.
Data2PDF - SANFACE Software
data2pdf is a powerful application developed with the core of the SANFACE txt2pdf script. The idea is very simple, data2pdf gives you a number of blank pages that you use to layout and design your PDF. You can include text and JPEG images. Formatting of the PDF is achieved through the use of an internal metalanguage and the PDF syntax. With data2pdf it's possible to set the background design, background text and background images (a background design can be used on every page).
PDF Library - Adobe Systems
The Adobe PDF Library is an object code library that is made available for the development of applications that are consistent with Adobe's market objectives. The PDF Library can be linked into applications to enable reading and writing of the PDF file format.
FOP: An Open-Source XSL Formatter and Renderer
FOP is another direct to PDF package that renders XSL formatting objects.
XSL is easier to use for layout and typography than the PDF syntax, FOP is now an Apache project
and supports tables and graphics. You also need to know a reasonable amount of information about XML and XSL to use it.
SPDF Library Overview
The SPDF Library by Appligent is an implementation of many of the routines found in the core three layers of the Adobe Acrobat Application Programming Interface (API). These layers are Portable Document (PD), Acrobat Support (AS) and COS. SPDF has been designed from the ground up to be fast and reliable.
PDF Core Library - Zeon Corp.
PDF Core Library is a set of API functions (C and C++) that help developers to create PDF related applications without in-depth PDF knowledge. Starting from DocuCom 4.0, Zeon has re-engineered the PDF Core APIs to make them compatible with popular APIs published by the other vender in order to reduce the learning cost. DocuCom PDF Core supports the direct manipulation of PDF objects, as well as the PDF viewing and printing capabilities.
OK, so you want to stamp your document. Maybe you need to give reviewers some advice about the document's status or sensitivity. This tip from author Ted Padova demonstrates how to add stamps with the Stamp Tool along with related comments.