New to PDF? Explore 10 Unknown Benefits & Facts

PDF is a format that is extensively used in legal, academic, real estate, medical, and other industries. Small business uses PDF for storing, and sarong business-critical information as these files are highly secure for saving sensitive data. 

Apart from the businesses, these files are widely utilized by students at various levels. Whether the academic departments want to share the assignments with students or academic transcripts, PDF is the best format as it is possible to add different content types such as text, images, or even QR codes. 

Why PDFs for Data Storage & Transfer?

PDFs Are Portable

PDF stands for Portable Document Format; so, as the name suggests, these files are highly portable. It means that you can move these files, and they will appear the same on all the digital devices without any dependencies. 

Once these files are created and stored as PDF, they remain the same, no matter how you use them. No compromise will be made to the integrity of the integrated contents even if you move them across operating systems.

PDFs Are Compatible

One of the best things about these documents is that they are compatible with running over all the operating systems. So, whether you are using macOS, Windows, Linux, or any other operating system, you can create, download, edit, share, or even merge pdfs into one for extensive usage. 

If we talk about mobile devices, PDFs keep all the data intact, no matter if you are viewing them on Android, iOS, Windows, or other operating systems. The files adapt themselves to the screen size to ensure that all the information is displayed correctly on the small screen. 

PDFs Are Reliable 

Reliability in PDF is the mixture of both portability and compatibility. So, reliability here refers to the fact that when you open a PDF on a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you will not see any change in the paragraph, vector graphics, images, tables, graphs, or other content. 

Not even a minor change is made to any of the data types when you export the document to another computer or other continent. One of the reasons for the immense popularity of PDFs is that they help convey information in the original format. Organizing work or exchanging information is easy thanks to PDFs.

Let’s now discuss some facts related to PDFs in the upcoming section.

Facts About PDFs You Must Know

Most Popular File Format 

If you have ever used PDF, you must be aware of the fact that it is the most widely used file format on the internet, and the credit goes to the reliability and security parameters. These documents meet high standards of portability and compatibility aspects, which add to their popularity. 

Encapsulate Robust Security

You can encrypt the document with a password to ensure that only authorized users can view it. One protected document can only be accessed by entering the right password key. This way, it controls unauthorized access. That’s why the banks are using PDF files to share account statements and other confidential details with users over email.

Integrate Extensive Features

Those who have been using PDF for a couple of years now must know that the earlier versions used to be bulky, storage-consuming, and lacked support for hyperlinks. Today’s PDFs are packed with powerful features that make them lighter, allow for faster downloads, are more versatile, and support hyperlinks.

Accessible to Persons with Disabilities

The PDF/UA (Universal Access) version makes these documents more accessible to persons with disabilities with the use of assistive technology. Accessible PDFs make use of software such as screen magnifiers, alternative-input devices, text-to-speech software, speech-recognition software, screen readers, and similar technologies. 

Supports Interactive 3D Models 

With the release of PDF 1.6 back in the year 2004, users were given the flexibility to embed 3D models and the Product Representation Compact (PRC). It is possible to zoom and rotate the 3D models integrated into PDF. For the uninitiated, the PRC is a file format that supports an equivalent display of geometrical or physical structure for 3D graphics. 

Incorporates Multiple Layers

PDF files have different layers that users can easily view and edit as per business or personal preferences. Users can change the properties of each individual layer, merge them, rearrange them, or lock them on their computers. To view the layered PDF feature, you must use PDF 1.5 or higher version. 

Convert Images to PDF

If you have created a digital print and want to share it with someone over email or chat, you can convert the image to PDF. Similarly, you can also convert a Word file PowerPoint presentation, JPEG file, Excel document, or even a Paint file to a PDF without compromising the quality of content or changing its actual structure. 

The Conclusion

PDFs come with numerous advantages, and there are some facts related to them that most users are not aware of. The more you use PDFs, the more you become used to them. Not only are they good for sharing data over email, but they are ideal for saving data on a computer, external storage, or on the Cloud.

Organize PDF Files Online

Many people use PDF editors to add or remove text or design elements from their PDF files, but PDF editors can do much more. The best PDF editors have an array of different tools and features that allow users to manipulate the text in several ways. Not only can online PDF editors help users add or remove text or change the design layout, but they can also help users rearrange the page order, merge two files into one, and split a single file into many. There are several easy PDF editors online that are available to users that can perform these tasks and many more. 

Main Features of PDF Editor Tools

The main features of PDF editor tools include the following: 

  • PDF viewing and reading 
  • PDF editing (text, text, and dialog boxes, fillable form creation, adding design elements) 
  • PDF compression 
  • PDF conversion (from multiple file types) 
  • Security features (passwords, watermarks, digital signatures)
  • PDF templates 

Every online PDF editor will have its own unique features as well, but these features are among the most popular and sought-after. PDF editing software can also help users manage and organize their PDFs when it comes to storing or exporting them to different users or cloud-based storage servers like Google Drive or Dropbox. 

Another feature to consider when looking for a PDF editing tool is price. Many of the best PDF editors are free to use on a trial or one-time basis. Users can then sign-up for a weekly, monthly, or yearly subscription based on their usage and/or individual or organizational needs. Price ranges vary among the different PDF editors out there, but they are all reasonably priced based on the services they offer. 

Best PDF Editor Tools

There are dozens of different online and downloadable PDF editing software programs out there that it is hard to pick one. Some of the best, or most well-known, are some you may have already heard of, like Adobe Acrobat, PDFElement, and SmallPDF. But there are always new PDF editors coming out. 

One of the newer programs to emerge has been Lumin PDF. Lumin is an online PDF editor that can be downloaded onto laptops, tablets, and smartphones for offline use. Lumin has many of the features that users have come to expect from text editing, design features, compression and conversion tools, as well as easy syncing with different storage platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox. 

Lumin website

Lumin also features a wealth of different PDF templates for a wide variety of uses from legal forms, contracts, and project proposals to invitations, menus, and diplomas. Users can download these templates and then use the Lumin browser to edit them to suit their purposes, whether it is to make changes or update them completely. 

Consider the Best Tool That Suits Your Needs

One thing to consider when choosing the best PDF editor is your level of usage. Several PDF editors are much more advanced and have specialized tools and features that are aimed at the everyday PDF user. Someone who only occasionally uses PDFs may not need to shell out a lot of money for specialized PDF editing software. 

This is why online PDF editors are a good alternative. They offer all the same kinds of tools and features that specialized software like Adobe does, but in a much more user-friendly interface and at a much more reasonable price point. Users can also choose their level of commitment with their subscription plan, which they can cancel at any time, depending on the PDF editor. 

Testing PDF content with PHP and Behat

If you have a PDF generation functionality in your app, and since most of the libraries out there build the PDF content in an internal structure before outputting it to the file system (FPDF, TCPDF). A good way to write a test for it is to test the output just before the rendering process.

Recently however, and due to this process being a total pain in the ass, people switched to using tools like wkhtmltopdf or some of its PHP wrappers (phpwkhtmltopdfsnappy) that let you build your pages in html/css and use a browser engine to render the PDF for you, and while this technique is a lot more developer friendly, you loose control over the building process.

So if you’re using one of those tools or just need to test for the existence of some string inside a PDF, here’s how to write a BDD style acceptance test for it using Behat.

Setup framework

Add this your composer.json then run composer install

{
    "minimum-stability": "dev",
    "require": {
        "smalot/pdfparser": "*",
        "behat/behat": "3.*@stable",
        "behat/mink": "1.6.*@stable",
        "phpunit/phpunit": "4.*"
    },
    "config": {
        "bin-dir": "bin/"
    }
}

Initialize Behat

bin/behat --init

This command creates the initial features directory and a blank FeatureContext class.

If everything worked as expected, your project directory should look like this :

├── bin
│   ├── behat -> ../vendor/behat/behat/bin/behat
│   └── phpunit -> ../vendor/phpunit/phpunit/phpunit
├── composer.json
├── composer.lock
├── features
│   └── bootstrap
└── vendor
    ├── autoload.php
    ├── behat
    ├── composer
    ├── doctrine
    ├── phpdocumentor
    ├── phpspec
    ├── phpunit
    ├── sebastian
    ├── smalot
    ├── symfony
    └── tecnick.com

All right, it’s time to create some features, create a new file inside /feature, I’ll name mine pdf.feature

Feature: Pdf export
 
  Scenario: PDF must contain text
    Given I have pdf located at "samples/sample1.pdf"
    When I parse the pdf content
    Then the the page count should be "1"
    Then page "1" should contain
    """
Document title  Calibri : Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.
    """

Run Behat (I know we didn’t write any testing code yet, just run it, trust me!)

bin/behat

An awesome feature of Behat is it detects any missing steps and provides you with boilerplate code you can use in your FeatureContext. This is the output of the last command:

Feature: Pdf export
 
  Scenario: PDF must contain text                     # features/pdf.feature:3
    Given I have pdf located at "samples/sample1.pdf"
    When I parse the pdf content
    Then the the page count should be "1"
    Then page "1" should contain
      """
      Document title  Calibri : Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.
      """
 
1 scenario (1 undefined)
4 steps (4 undefined)
0m0.01s (9.28Mb)
 
--- FeatureContext has missing steps. Define them with these snippets:
 
    /**
     * @Given I have pdf located at :arg1
     */
    public function iHavePdfLocatedAt($arg1)
    {
        throw new PendingException();
    }
 
    /**
     * @When I parse the pdf content
     */
    public function iParseThePdfContent()
    {
        throw new PendingException();
    }
 
    /**
     * @Then the the page count should be :arg1
     */
    public function theThePageCountShouldBe($arg1)
    {
        throw new PendingException();
    }
 
    /**
     * @Then page :arg1 should contain
     */
    public function pageShouldContain($arg1, PyStringNode $string)
    {
        throw new PendingException();
    }

Cool right? copy/paste the method definitions to you FeatureContext.php and let’s get to it, step by step :

Step 1

Given I have pdf located at "samples/sample1.pdf"

In this step we only need to make sure the filename we provided is readable then store it in a class property so we can use it in later steps:

 /**
     * @Given I have pdf located at :filename
     */
    public function iHavePdfLocatedAt($filename)
    {
        if (!is_readable($filename)) {
            Throw new \InvalidArgumentException(
                sprintf('The file [%s] is not readable', 
                $filename)
            );
        }
 
        $this->filename = $filename;
    }

Step 2

When I parse the pdf content

The heavy lifting is done here, we need to parse the PDF and store its content and metadata in a usable format:

    /**
     * @When I parse the pdf content
     */
    public function iParseThePdfContent()
    {
        $parser = new Parser();
        $pdf    = $parser->parseFile($this->filename);
        $pages  = $pdf->getPages();
        $this->metadata = $pdf->getDetails();
 
        foreach ($pages as $i => $page) {
            $this->pages[++$i] = $page->getText();
        }
    }

Step 3

Then the the page count should be "1"

Since we already know how many pages the PDF contains, this is a piece of cake, so let’s not reinvent the wheel and use PHPUnit assertions:

 /**
     * @Then the the page count should be :pageCount
     * @param int $pageCount
     */
    public function theThePageCountShouldBe($pageCount)
    {
        PHPUnit_Framework_Assert::assertEquals( 
            (int) $pageCount, 
            $this->metadata['Pages']
        );
    }

Step 4

Then page "1" should contain
    """
Document title  Calibri : Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.
    """

Same method, we have an array containing all content from all pages, a quick assertion does the trick:

    /**
     * @Then page :pageNum should contain
     * @param int $pageNum
     * @param PyStringNode $string
     */
    public function pageShouldContain($pageNum, PyStringNode $string)
    {
        PHPUnit_Framework_Assert::assertContains(
            (string) $string, 
            $this->pages[$pageNum]
        );
    }

Et voilà! you should have green

Feature: Pdf export
 
  Scenario: PDF must contain text                     # features/pdf.feature:3
    Given I have pdf located at "samples/sample1.pdf" # FeatureContext::iHavePdfLocatedAt()
    When I parse the pdf content                      # FeatureContext::iParseThePdfContent()
    Then the the page count should be "1"             # FeatureContext::theThePageCountShouldBe()
    Then page "1" should contain                      # FeatureContext::pageShouldContain()
      """
      Document title  Calibri : Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.
      """
 
1 scenario (1 passed)
4 steps (4 passed)

For the purpose of this article, we’re relying on the PDF parser library which has many encoding and white space issues, feel free to use any PHP equivalent or a system tool like xpdf for better results.

If you want to make your test more decoupled (and you should). One way is to create a PDFExtractor interface then implement it for each tool you want to use, that way you can easily swap libraries.

The source code behind this article is provided here, any feedback is most welcome.

Source: matmati.net:80/testing-pdf-with-behat-and-php