PDF reporting and invoice generation take place in many applications. You can find PDF documents in financial apps, healthcare platforms, utility billing tools, and other solutions.
Yet, despite the variety of PDF libraries and ways to implement PDF rendering, reporting services are tricky. Adobe Acrobat PDF is a complex format with extensive capabilities. If you decide to build PDF reporting from scratch, get ready to work hard. Your engineering team will have to study hundreds of pages of PDF specifications and spend months coding.
But if you already have an application and need to power it with PDF reporting, there is a shortcut. By generating documents in HTML and then programmatically converting them to PDF you can automate PDF invoices. Invoice templates (i.e., Python or PHP invoice templates, depending on the programming language you need) are another option to note. They allow creating professional invoices from textual content without manual PDF generation.
To explain how to create PDF bills, invoices, and reports, we prepared this overview. Read on for the highlights of programmatic PDF reporting using HTML to PDF rendering and invoice templates.
Integrated Programmatic PDF Reporting vs. Free Open-Source Solutions
Businesses that want to outsource invoicing and reporting services to a third-party vendor prefer open-source invoicing systems. Web-based services like Invoice Ninja or open-source invoice templates cover the majority of basic invoicing needs. But what if you need to make PDF reporting a part of your internal and customer solutions? In this case, open-source invoice templates fall flat. They require too much manual effort and are not suitable for multi-functional platforms with invoicing. Using open-source invoice templates, you won’t be able to automate PDF reporting in an application, web platform, or website. Hence, automation becomes the only right option.
Let’s talk about the key differences between programmatic PDF reporting and open-source invoice templates below.
Programmatic PDF Reporting and Invoicing
Programmatic PDF reporting means that software automatically creates PDF documents based on custom settings and triggers. These are recurring invoices, bills, reports, and other kinds of documents requested by end-users. Unlike open-source invoice templates, programmatic reporting doesn’t require you to fill out any custom fields manually. The rendering services automatically retrieve source information and create a PDF file. Simply put, programmatic PDF generation happens as an integral part of your existing software.
Who needs it: Any tech company that designs software with PDF rendering capabilities needs programmatic PDF reporting. It enables software developers to add automated PDF generation to the product. Businesses that have their custom products and need PDF reports may also need to add PDF reporting on the top of their solutions.
Open-Source Invoice Templates and Services
Free invoicing templates and solutions offer minimum or no automation. They are suitable for small business owners who cannot afford to build or integrate PDF reporting programmatically. Such organizations are forced to create invoices and send PDF documents manually, wasting their time. This way, open-source invoice templates may be an option in two situations. You either use PDF reporting occasionally or need to generate PDF documents only for a short time. If you expect prolonged PDF reporting usage, you should do it programmatically.
Who needs it: Small businesses that test different reporting options and are not sure whether they need automated PDF rendering. Open-source invoice templates and services can also help if you have batches of reports in HTML or other formats and need to turn them into PDF. But keep in mind that manual HTML to PDF rendering often entails formatting mistakes.