The iText® software, iTextSharp and ABCpdf .NET PDF library comparison

We are occasionally asked how ABCpdf® compares to the iText® or iTextSharp PDF libraries, so we've highlighted a few core differences here on this page.

iText® is a registered trademark of 1T3XT BVBA CORPORATION BELGIUM and the iText® software is available from the web site.


The iText® PDF library

The iText® PDF library is open source. To quote from the GNU Free Software Definition,

"Free software" is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in "free speech", not as in "free beer".

So although technically you can use the iText® PDF library for free under the Affero General Public License (AGPL), you will generally find that you will end up having to purchase a license. If you do not do this you are legally obliged to do the following.

  • Distribute all source code for your application - even web applications
  • Allow free use of your own product under the AGPL
  • Make prominent mention of iText® and the AGPL
  • Maintain the PDF producer section of PDF documents untouched

So how much are these licenses? Well it's difficult to say because the cost is dependent on the application and the company does not publish prices on its web site.


ABCpdf is closed source. Why is this? Well we do lots of clever things under the hood and we don't want our competitors to know how we've done them. In other words, you'll find ABCpdf will do stuff that frankly no other PDF component can.

If guaranteed access to source code is an important requirement for your organization, you may be interested in our software escrow agreements...

We offer a single 'free of charge' license for the standard edition of ABCpdf, subject to the terms of our current special offer. The professional edition of ABCpdf may also be used free of charge for the first thirty days, as trial period, during which time it operates as the fully functional product. We also grant free licenses of the professional edition to worthy causes.

If you need to purchase a license for ABCpdf, we offer a single, multiple, enterprise and redistribution licenses at stable and predictable prices. Please see our license page for further details, or feel welcome to contact us if you have other queries.

Developer Support

The iText® PDF library

Direct support from iText® developers is not generally available unless you have purchased a commercial license.

If you don't have a commercial license you will need to look for support within the internet community, via mailing lists, on forums and newsgroups.

iText® developers participate via these channels but they say that you should not expect that you will always get an answer for free.


All our license holders enjoy free technical support, including those on a 30-day trial.

We offer a priority support channel for a small premium. If you take up priority support and you don't feel you've made good use of it you can even get your money back!

What's more, when you ask for support you'll generally get direct access to the people who know - the people who develop the product.

Documentation and Example Code

The iText® PDF library

iTextSharp is a port of the iText® Java library and the documentation for the iText® PDF library is reasonably comprehensive. However documentation for the .NET languages appears to be rather limited. Try a search on-line for "where is the documentation for itextsharp" and you'll see what we mean.

On the iText® web site you'll find an API reference. Although this is written for Java, .NET developers should still find this a useful resource. For the official documentation, including tutorials and example code (in Java), you may want to purchase the book "iText in Action" by Bruno Lowagie.

Scattered examples of iTextSharp in various .NET languages can be found around the web.


Documentation for ABCpdf is provided on-line and free of charge.

The API is covered extensively and each major function contains example code in both C# and VB.NET.

We've also packaged a dozen or so example projects, which can be freely adapted to suit your needs.

Product Features

The iText® PDF library

A quick overview of iTextSharp features:

  • Reading, writing, and manipulation of PDF documents.
  • Low-level access to PDF objects.
  • Basic building blocks for constructing documents, such as Chunk, Phrase and Paragraph.
  • Common image type support such as JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG etc.
  • Partial support for HTML and XML importing.
  • Document signing and encryption.
  • Interactive forms / AcroForms.

Note that iTextSharp doesn't include PdfGraphics2D - the iText® PDF library abstraction of Java's drawing class.

For comprehensive details of the iText® PDF library features see the web site.


The Professional edition of ABCpdf features:

  • Reading, writing, and manipulation of PDF documents.
  • Low-level access to PDF objects.
  • Native drawing operations, AddText, AddLine, AddImage etc.
  • Common image type support such as JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG etc.
  • A wrapper class for .NET's System.Drawing class.
  • Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) / Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) Support
  • Full support for real world HTML, CSS and JavaScript.
  • Both IE style HTML interpretation and FireFox style HTML interpretation.
  • Built-in Flash rendering engine.
  • Office document import, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, RTF, etc.
  • Exotic image type support including XPS, EXIF, SWF, EPS, PS.
  • Document signing and encryption; 40-bit, 128-bit, 256-bit AES.
  • Interactive forms / AcroForms.
  • Transparency Flattening.
  • Text Vectorization.
  • PDF Size Optimization.
  • PDF Conversion to formats such as HTML, DOCX, XPS and PostScript compatible EPS/PS.
  • Rendering of PDF documents to bitmap and vector images in a multitude of formats and color spaces.
  • Printing of PDF documents via raster or vector rendering.

A comprehensive list of ABCpdf's features can be found here on our product comparison page...

HTML Web Page Conversion

The iText® PDF library

Converting complex web pages to PDF is outside the scope of the iText® PDF library.

The XML Worker add-on provides a level of HTML and CSS support. However creating an HTML layout engine is a major and ongoing task even for companies like Microsoft and Google.

So source HTML needs to be well controlled to achieve a good output quality.


ABCpdf makes web page conversion easy! It enables you to style and format documents using whole pages or snippets of HTML.

With full and built-in support for HTML, CSS and JavaScript, including native support for Flash, there's no need for additional libraries.

Using Microsoft's XML engine (MSXML), ABCpdf faithfully renders complex HTML documents so they appear as you'd expect to see them in Internet Explorer.

Using ABCGecko, ABCpdf renders real world HTML documents so they appear like you would expect to see printed via FireFox.

Office Document Conversion

The iText® PDF library

The iText® PDF library doesn't support Microsoft Word, or other MS Office document conversions.


ABCpdf makes Office document format conversion simple!

Install Microsoft Office, or integrate WordGlue .NET and ABCpdf.NET will use these when converting:

  • Microsoft Word (.doc)
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt)
  • Rich Text Format (.rtf)
  • WordPerfect (.wpd)
  • ... and more!

Although we use best efforts to ensure the accuracy of this content, things do change. This page is based on information obtained 13 March 2013.If you should find an inaccuracy or a statement that appears to be out of date please contact us with details.