Digital Invoicing

How to Choose a Rendering Tool to Generate PDF from HTML: Free, Paid, or Custom

March 16, 2021
Author
Inkit Team

PDF rendering software and PDF reporting tools convert HTML files into PDF for extra convenience and flexibility. Unlike HTML documents, PDF files have graphic integrity. They look the same on all devices, operating systems, or applications. You can send the generated PDFs electronically, print them for presentations, or deliver by mail. Nothing will affect the formatting.

Whereas the choice of PDF as the core data visualization format is natural, the ways to generate PDF from HTML vary. Whether you need PDF rendering software or PDF reporting tools, you will have to pick between free, paid, and custom services.

The final decision depends on your budget, needs, company size, and other factors—more about them and how to choose the best PDF rendering software in this post.

PDF Rendering Software vs. PDF Reporting Tools

PDF rendering software and PDF reporting tools serve for HTML to PDF conversion. They both use HTML data to create PDFs but for different purposes. Therefore, it’s important to distinguish them.

PDF rendering solutions process HTML data to create PDF documents like invoices, utility bills, account notices, and other communications. Businesses integrate them to go paperless and bring all customer communications online. PDF rendering software is essential for companies that want to automate customer interactions. Since these tools process lots of confidential information, they must be highly secure and cover a specific company’s needs.

PDF reporting software obtains data from multiple sources to extrapolate it in charts, graphs, tables, and other visual presentation formats, including PDFs. This is business intelligence software that enables companies to easily collect various statistics in one place and create reports for analysis. Unlike PDF rendering software, PDF reporting tools for generating reports are supplementary services. They don’t directly affect business operations.

Read more about how to convert an HTML to PDF

rendering tool

If you need to leverage the rendering or data reporting functionality, you will have to choose how to generate PDF from HTML. Both types of software are available as open-source or paid solutions. You can also invest in custom software development to design a tailored rendering or reporting engine. Learn more about the available options below.

Different Types of Rendering Services Available on the Market: Free, Paid, and Custom

The choice of PDF rendering software has long-term consequences, so it’s better to weigh the pros and cons in advance. This will save you from switching to another tool later on and the related hassle, like data migration.

Free rendering software

Free PDF rendering software converts web pages to PDF documents free of charge. These are online converters where you manually upload an HTML file, click Go, and download a PDF. There are also open-source PDF rendering solutions offered for free. You can use published source code to add rendering capabilities to your existing system.

Even though cost savings are a valid reason to choose free PDF rendering software, in many cases, it isn’t the best option. Free solutions won’t work if you render a large volume of PDF documents with confidential data. They have limited functionality, lack support, and cannot ensure the necessary level of security.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • Good for beginners
  • Allows testing rendering capabilities without investment

Cons:

  • Requires more manual efforts
  • Limited functionality
  • Lower security

Out-of-the-box PDF generation

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Paid third-party rendering engines

Third-party PDF rendering software is available on a subscription basis or for a registration fee. These are multi-functional services developed by software vendors that offer continuous support and help with integration. The best thing about paid tools is that software providers regularly update them, offer various handy features, and ensure decent security. Such PDF rendering software is a perfect match for companies that want to switch to electronic invoicing and paperless communications.

Expenses and standard functionality are the drawbacks of third-party PDF rendering software. Such solutions don’t always have all the features you expect and may offer some unnecessary capabilities. After all, they are created for a large target audience.

Pros:

  • Quick deployment
  • Rich functionality
  • Regular updates
  • Customer support
  • High security

Cons:

  • Require investment
  • Some extra or missing features

Custom PDF rendering software

Custom software development means that a company designs PDF rendering software or PDF reporting tools from scratch. It can create solutions for internal use or sell them to other businesses that need to generate PDF from HTML. In this case, the software is fully tailored to the needs of a specific company. 

Small and medium businesses rarely use custom rendering software. It takes too much time and money to develop but rarely pays off. Today, it’s much easier to adopt a ready-made rendering solution like Inkit than to manage the entire SDLC.

Pros:

  • 100% customization
  • Exclusive ownership

Cons:

  • The most expensive option
  • It takes too much time to deploy
  • Not suitable for SMEs

Now that you know the key strengths and weaknesses of different rendering software types, you are almost ready to choose. But before this, check out the main factors that will additionally impact your decision, like data storage, volume, and automation.

rendering software

Top Factors that Affect the Choice of the Software to Generate PDF from HTML

Apart from the type of software, you will also need to select the right rendering capabilities. These are essential factors that vary among tools and can make a difference in your case. Here’re the main things to note:

High vs. Low Rendering Volume

Selecting PDF rendering software, estimate the volume of HTML documents you need to process. If you are a banking institution or a large organization that handles thousands of documents in real-time, make sure to adopt a powerful enough renderer. It must be automated and require minimum management. Companies that don’t need to generate PDF from HTML on the go can choose simple solutions to process PDFs in batches.

Storage Type

Since rendering tools process confidential information, you have to take care of secure storage. It must ensure limited access to information and meet security standards. If you don’t have in-house servers, which is the case for most businesses, it’s better to opt for cloud-based services. They are secure enough and allow you to scale quickly if the volume of big data starts growing.

Automation

The more you automate rendering, the better. Automation will enable you to focus on project management and delegate repetitive tasks to PDF rendering software. For large and medium businesses with a high workload, automation is life-critical. Small organizations can manually generate PDF from HTML, but this will slow down their business processes and growth. Therefore, we recommend adopting rendering tools that can independently generate PDF from HTML.

marketing automation

Inkit for Implementing PDF Rendering Software on Top of Your Current Systems

Inkit is a reach enablement platform that provides a PDF rendering tool called Render, among its other offers. It’s a cloud-based and web SaaS solution that can integrate into your product with just a few lines of code.

After a quick integration, it will automatically generate PDF from HTML. Render creates PDF documents in real-time based on triggers so that you can render as many PDFs as necessary: thousands of papers or a single invoice. This makes Render suitable both for large banks and small businesses.

Since Render is easy to connect with other systems, you won’t have to worry about interoperability. Ultimate automation of customer communications and invoicing becomes simple.

Have any questions about using Inkit for PDF rendering? Contact us to discuss them.

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The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
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