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Version 14 PDF Output: What Changed and Why We Did It

Posted on 09/18/2015

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With all the new features in version 14, it might be easy to overlook one key addition: the PDF output improvement. I’m highlighting it here so that you can understand more about what went on behind the scenes — and how it will help your PDF reports and documents look great.

For the majority of our customer base, on the surface it will appear as though nothing has changed.   But underneath there have been HUGE changes to the way we handle the PDF output format.

In the Beginning: iText

Let me start at the beginning, when Windward utilized iText for its primary PDF output library. In the early days things were very good. We were able to create simple and clean PDF output while contributing our finding back to the iText code, so everyone else benefited as well.

As time charged on, we began supporting more and more functionality in Microsoft Office products to the point where we recently ran through the entire OpenXML specification to clearly list what limitations still remain. To our surprise we found that over the years we were able to accumulate about 90% of the functionality of the specification.

But all good things are not meant to last. When we started to look at upgrading iText, we found that the new licensing fees were prohibitively expensive. It became very clear that the road for improving our PDF output did not go through iText but rather internal development.

Switching to Internal Tools

With our choice made, we started the great undertaking of replacing all iText code with our own internal PDF output code.   We soon realized that there was major upside in this decision:

  • We were no longer limited by the things iText could not do. This included things like positioning of charts and drawing table objects only as grouped cell borders.
  • We finally had fine grain control over building the document structure and placement of components.   This meant we could make our PDF output better than ever and achieve a report output that very, very closely matches the template.

In the end this means greater stability in the PDF output platform for our customers and more control for Windward over the PDF format.

The Proof is in the PDF

Think you can spot the difference in our PDF output? Here are two comparison outputs of the same template, one generated with version and the other generated with our latest version, (Click on the image to open the full PDF in a separate tab.)

Version 12 output:


And the version 14 output:


If you want to experience this as you use Windward and you haven’t yet upgraded to version 14, here’s how.

Is your maintenance contract current? If yes, you are already eligible to use version 14 with these easy steps.

Has your maintenance contract lapsed?   No problem.  Contact your Windward account representative directly or our sales staff by emailing or calling (303) 499-2544.   Our staff will assist you with reinstating your maintenance and upgrading your license keys.

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Author: Ryan Fligg

Ryan, Windward's Sales Engineer, has been with Windward since 2006 in many roles as a sales engineer, IT specialist and account executive. Ryan's background fuels his desire to guide Windward's product development. He now works on the future vision of Windward offerings through creating the product roadmap, responding to customer requests, and communicating what Windward is doing and where it’s headed.

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