How Does an HTML-to-PDF SDK Work?

HTML documents are commonly converted to PDF files to create standardization of document access and records from various devices, browsers and/or servers.

With easy access to PDF converters, along with the help of an HTML-to-PDF SDK, this once manually coded task becomes a convenient option for developers and IT teams throughout every industry.


In this article, we will concisely examine what an HTML-to-PDF SDK consists of and how it works.

This knowledge will allow you to confidently implement more digital files into your company tasks while creating productivity, efficiency, and confidence, without compromising quality, format, or features that generate success in your business.


PDF Documents vs. HTML Pages

With ever-evolving codependency upon technology and the internet, it's become a requirement for work environments to adapt to these changes, moving closer to complete Digital Transformation.

Companies and organizations that rely heavily upon signed documents, invoices, diagnostics, and other printed documents are now able to utilize more web-based features. Compliant-heavy industries, such as government, healthcare, finance, and solution providers use these documents on a daily basis.

To comprehend the dynamic differences between PDF documents versus HTML pages, we must first understand the basic overview of what each component brings to the table. By briefly evaluating the benefits of using a SDK, you'll notice the compelling advantage PDF has over HTML for many types of documents, including electronic documents that were once necessary to print and format relevant documents. With a better understanding of the workings and the usage of an HTML-to-PDF SDK, you will be able to utilize these resources to benefit your company.



Why Convert an HTML to PDF?

When it comes to sharing documents that are intended to have specific formatting, HTML tends to be more error-prone due to incompatibilities with different browsers, operating systems, and software. However, PDF is a reliable replica of the original file, as well as universal – allowing anybody with a PDF reader installed on their computer to open the file.

PDF files maintain precise formatting and give you the ability to make changes or copies between a single shared file. PDF's also allow access to secured content offline. Once an HTML is converted to PDF, the user has the ability to sign electronic documents and share without printing, scanning, or face-to-face interaction.

As environmental regulations and concerns rise, going paperless is another pro to using an HTML-to-PDF SDK. With quality HTML-to-PDF APIs, like those in the ActivePDF WebGrabber SDK, the user has a variety of features to help optimize the file. These features include branding and watermarking with a company's logo, customized page dimensions, embedding Flash movies, maintaining hyperlinks, and more. These conversions are fast, reliable and render a fixed layout document format.


What is an HTML-to-PDF SDK?

To fully comprehend what an HTML-to-PDF SDK is, it's important to know about each part of this process. A brief overview of what each component is and how it functions will guide us to this understanding:

• HTML  Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the language used to create electronic documents, more commonly referred to as web pages and web applications. HTML is a particular type of text document used for graphics, text, design elements, and more.

Websites are created using these short bracketed codes known as tags. HTML elements and tags are used to describe the structure of the web page. Unfortunately, opening HTML in different web browsers can lead to formatting and incompatibility issues.

• PDF  Portable Document Format (PDF) is a document file format that contains data, images, text and is an operating system, application software, and hardware independent. One single file can contain a bundle of multiple files and content.

Large PDF files are also easy to compress if necessary. PDF files provide the option for digital signatures and encryption. Anybody who has kind of PDF reader installed can view these files, and they look the same on every device.

• SDK  A Software Development Kit (SDK) is a collection of software development tools in one installable package. They ease creation of applications by having a compiler, debugger, and perhaps a software framework. SDKs normally are specific to a hardware platform and operating systems combination.

Some SDKs are required for developing a platform-specific app. For example, the development of the WebGrabber application requires an HTML-to-PDF Software Development Kit, containing multiple API's and converter tools.

• API  Every time we log into a website we are entering a realm of connected servers. When logging into a site, the browser essentially is sending a request to a remote server. The remote server receives the response, then interprets the code, and displays the output results. To the browser or the client, the server, in this case, acts as the Application Programming Interface (API).

For example, the WebGrabber SDK has powerful APIs. Within an API there are specifications for many variables including data structure, subroutine definitions, object classes, and communication protocols. An API is ultimately a translator. It allows one program to request data from another. In contrast to a remote server, an API is the part of the server that receives a request and sends a response.


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How Does an HTML-to-PDF SDK work?

The ultimate intent of using an HTML-to-PDF SDK is to turn a file coded in HTML tags into a PDF encrypted file. To do this, you will first need to access an HTML-to-PDF converter, such as WebGrabber by ActivePDF.

Installing WebGrabber

WebGrabber by ActivePDF enables rapid, high quality, and server-based HTML to PDF conversion. It's simple to use and best of all, you can download a free, single developer trial that includes unlimited assistance.

Once downloaded, you'll go through a typical installation phase. Simply follow the Quick Start Installation instructions, and in the WebGrabber Internet Explorer Login Information section, when prompted for IE login, enter the WebGrabber user account.

WebGrabber works with VB.NET, VBS, ASP, PHP, CF, and Ruby as well. If you want to see how to convert HTML to PDF in those languages take a look at some of the code examples on our site.

WebGrabber was made to be as simple as possible. The PDF API calls you'll be adding to your application are simple and straightforward. For a more deep dive into how to install WebGrabber, visit our Learning Center article titled How to Convert HTML & URLs to PDF in 6 Easy Steps.

In the meantime, here's a quick overview of what you'll need to add ActivePDF's .net DLL(s) to your app and instantiate the object. By default, the .NET Assembly can be found at http://documentation.activepdf.com/webgrabber_api/Content/d_appendix/Instantiation.html.

using System;
class Examples
   public static void Example()
   string strPath;
   WebGrabberDK.Results.WebGrabberResult results;
   strPath = System.AppDomain.CurrentDomain.BaseDirectory;
   APWebGrabber.WebGrabber oWG = new APWebGrabber.WebGrabber();

With high-end converters like WebGrabber, the SDK allows you to have centralized control of the PDF and the conversion settings. With added dynamic headers and footers, Flash movies, and image vector embedding, it is possible to maximize the potential of your file during this conversion process. You can customize the output page dimensions, maintain any hyperlinks, as well as any other traits of the original HTML.

Another feature to take advantage of is the ability to brand your company by adding your logo or trademark as a watermark on the document. The use of your company's logo watermark will also deter the misuse or theft of the material.

Once the HTML-to-PDF process is complete, you will have one single compressed document that is secure, easy to access, and in a uniform format, regardless of which operating system or software you're using to open the file.


With a more thorough understanding of each component of an HTML-to-PDF SDK, you now have the ability to incorporate and customize compressed PDF files to match the needs of your company. In the many industries mentioned above, the ever-increasing demands for electronic signatures and e-documents with encryptions can advance business endeavors, allow high-volume opportunities, and instill client confidence.

By dismissing the need to print and no longer requiring face-to-face interactions, accomplishing these tasks in a more convenient and timely manner provides a profound advantage. By utilizing an HTML-to-PDF API, solution providers can handle any business scenarios, without worrying about access to important shared documents, brochures, catalogs, invoices, and more.

Recognizing the functions of HTML-to-PDF SDKs and maximizing the use of such an API are resourceful ways to bring a multitude of benefits along with a basic need of simpler fixed layout file sharing.

If you still have questions or need help converting HTML to PDF with WebGrabber, reach out to our technology advisers. We're happy to answer your questions, find solutions, and give you a greater turnaround time than any other PDF solutions provider.

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In Conclusion 

We talked a lot about WebGrabber in this article. If you want to see this popular HTML-to-PDF SDK in action, read the case study from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). This powerful government agency uses WebGrabber to automatically convert paper documents into highly-secure and accessible PDF documents.

Another informative case study is that of PPR Travel Nursing. The healthcare job placement organization uses WebGrabber to automate and digitalize their application process. WebGrabber reduces the manual workload of the PPR Travel Nursing staff and provides an easy-to-read, user-friendly application process.

These are just a few ways businesses are implementing HTML-to-PDF processes with WebGrabber. To see how other organizations are using WebGrabber, visit our Case Studies homepage.

For the full list of configurable options provided by WebGrabber access the user’s guide at http://documentation.activepdf.com/WebGrabber.

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ActivePDF WebGrabber is a .NET developer tool to convert webpages or raw HTML files into PDF documents. Consistent, reliable, and accurate, WebGrabber generates high-quality, compact PDF files from HTML or URLs using a familiar standards-based language. WebGrabber’s .NET SDK provides ease of navigation within the PDF, while creating a more natural web-style viewing experience to access targeted content.

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