Advanced PDF parser for Java

iText is my PDF tool of choice these days.

  • The complete visible text

“Visible” is a tough one. You can parse out all the parsable text with the com.itextpdf.text.pdf.parse package’s classes… but those classes don’t know about CLIPPING. You can constrain the parser to the page size easily enough.

// all text on the page, regardless of position
PdfTextExtractor.getTextFromPage(reader, pageNum);

You’d actually need the override that takes a TextExtractionStrategy, the filtered strategy. It gets interesting fairly quickly, but I think you can get everything you want here “out of the box”.

  • images

Yep, via the same package classes. Image listeners aren’t as well supported as text listeners, but do exist.

  • links

Yes. Links are “annotations” to various PDF pages. Finding them is a simple matter of looping through each page’s “annotations array” and picking out the link annotations.

PdfDictionary pageDict = myReader.getPageN(1);
PdfArray annots = pageDict.getAsArray(PdfName.ANNOTS);
ArrayList<String> dests = new ArrayList<String>();
if (annots != null) {
  for (int i = 0; i < annots.size(); ++i) {
    PdfDictionary annotDict = annots.getAsDict(i);
    PdfName subType = annotDict.getAsName(PdfName.SUBTYPE);
    if (subType != null && PdfName.LINK.equals(subType)) {
      PdfDictionary action = annotDict.getAsDict(PdfName.A);
      if (action != null && PdfName.URI.equals(action.getAsName(PdfName.S)) {
      } // else { its an internal link, meh }

You can find the PDF Spec here.

  • input elements

Definitely. For either XFA (LiveCycle Designer) or the older-tech “AcroForm” forms, iText can find all the fields, and their values.

AcroFields fields = myReader.getAcroFields();

Set<String> fieldNames = fields.getFields().keySet();
for (String fldName : fieldNames) {
  System.out.println( fldName + ": " + fields.getField( fldName ) );

Mutli-select lists wouldn’t be handled all that well. You’ll get a blank space after the colon for empty text fields and for buttons. None too informative… but that’ll get you started.

  • document meta tags like title, description or author

Pretty trivial. Yes.

Map<String, String> info = myPdfReader.getInfo();
System.out.println( info );

In addition to the basic author/title/etc, there’s a fairly involved XML schema you can access via reader.getMetadata().

  • only headlines

A TextRenderFilter can ignore text based on whatever criteria you wish. Font size sounds about right based on your comment.

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