PDF File Conversion and Viewers

Snowbound Software’s products offer powerful, flexible support for PDF documents (including batch conversion to PDF) tailored to your development and business needs. Our technology allows access to PDF documents from memory or a directory and is contained in a compact library under 1 MB. The library supports both Type 1 and Type 2 fonts.

What Is The PDF Format?

PDF or Portable Document Format is a file format developed by Adobe Systems, for representing two-dimensional documents in a device/resolution independent fixed-layout document format. The format is highly portable across computer platforms. PDF captures formatting information from a variety of desktop publishing applications making it possible to view documents (through a monitor or printer) as they were intended to be viewed. PDF documents maintain the original font, images and layout of the original file and are traditionally viewed using Adobe’s free Adobe Reader software, which can be used regardless of operating system, original design application or fonts.

The advantage with PDF is that the PDF file is not subject to the vagaries or other document formats. Adobe holds a number of patents relating to the PDF format and licenses them on a royalty-free basis for use in developing software that complies with its PDF specification. This is another advantage to PDF as anyone may create applications that read and write PDF files without having to pay royalties to Adobe Systems.

PDF is primarily the combination of three technologies:

  • a sub-set of the PostScript page description programming language, for generating the layout and graphics
  • a font-embedding/replacement system to allow fonts to travel with the documents
  • a structured storage system to bundle these elements and any associated content into a single file, with data compression where appropriate

The Evolution of PDF

When PDF first came out in the early 1990s, it was slow to catch on. Adobe launched its Acrobat 1.0 (and PDF 1.0) product line in 1993. The first Acrobat products were touted as being "a PostScript-based file format that can describe documents in a completely device and resolution independent manner." At the time, not only did the only PDF creation tools of the time (Acrobat) cost money, but so did the software to view and print PDF files. Additionally, there were competing formats such as Envoy, Common Ground Digital Paper, DjVu and even Adobe's own PostScript format (.ps).

Adobe soon started distributing the Acrobat Reader (now Adobe Reader) program at no cost, and continued to support PDF through years of ramp-up and development. In addition to an evolving distribution method, the products themselves evolved from simply allowing you to view and print a document to providing a way to extract specific selections of text or images from the file, password-protect areas of the document, and much more.

Today, Adobe PDF has achieved widespread use and is now a streamlined format for exchanging documents. One notable high ranking success is the adoption of PDF as the standard format for the electronic submission of drug approvals to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and for electronic case filings in U.S. federal courts.

Snowbound PDF Document Viewing and Conversion Solutions:

Additional Resources for the PDF File Format 


  • PDF writing is standard in all Snowbound Extended Library RasterMaster and FlexSnap products. PDF reading is an added cost option.
  • Snowbound's Java PDF technology requires JVM/JRE version 1.3 or higher.
  • Our library supports Type 1 and Type 2 fonts.
  • Our library does not support double-byte or composite fonts.


Important: Avoid surprises and delays. Snowbound Software recommends that, as part of your evaluation process, you test your own sample documents against our products. Though we've been in the document business for almost 20 years, modifications to document formats occur from time to time. Often they don't conform to specifications, but you may find it important to work with them. Snowbound, unlike most of our competitors, develops it own technology. If in the rare case you come across a problem or non-conforming document or image, we can often quickly fix it.

Learn more about Snowbound Software's solutions for check imaging, image conversion and batch file conversion.

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