PDF's using iText in 10 lines

May 2011 ยท 2 minute read

There are some getting started tutorials for the iText library but I don’t think they really capture how fast and easy it is to get working PDF’s.

Your standard servlet hello world example is 10 super simple lines.

In your servlets doGet method:

	Document document = new Document();
	try {
		PdfWriter.getInstance(document, response.getOutputStream());
		document.add(new Paragraph("Hello world"));
	} catch (DocumentException e) { //handle the error }

to break that down:

First you need to let the browser know via the http response headers that the content is a pdf.


Next you need to creat the document object that will house your pdf.

Document document = new Document();

Then get an instance of the PdfWriter to create the pdf using the contents of your document and output them to the response stream.

PdfWriter.getInstance(document, response.getOutputStream());

Finally you need to open and populate your pdf with whatever you want.

document.open(); document.add(new Paragraph("Hello world")); document.close();

If you want to create a PDF in a file its the same thing except easier because you don’t have to worry about the content type you just replace the response.getOutputStream() with a valid FileOutputStream and your all set.


At the time of writing IText is at version 5.0.6 but starting with version 5 the license was changed to the Affero General Public License. If that is a problem you can still use 2.1.7 which from my experence is fairly compatable with version 5 except for the package names and is bound by the LGPL.