Working with PDF Features

This chapter discusses how you can work with various features of PDF documents using the Acrobat SDK.

PDF page manipulation

You can use the Acrobat SDK to insert or remove pages from a PDF document. For example, you can do the following tasks:

  • Create an empty page in the current document (not with IAC)

  • Insert pages from another document into the current document

  • Move a page to another location in the same document (not with IAC and AppleScript)

  • Replace pages with pages from another document

  • Delete pages from the current document

You can also access JavaScript functionality from an external application.

Page content

Page content is a major component of a PDF file. It represents the visible marks on a page that are drawn by a set of PDF marking operators. The set of marking operators for a page is also referred to as a display list , since it is a list of marking operations that represent the displayed portion of a page. For more information on page content streams, see the PDF Reference.

You can use the PDFEdit API to access PDF page contents. With PDFEdit, your plug-in can treat a page’s contents as a list of objects rather than manipulating the content stream’s marking operators. There is no JavaScript equivalent to the PDFEdit API to allow you to manipulate page content. For more information on this API, see the Acrobat and PDF Library API Reference and the Snippet Runner Cookbook.

Document logical structure

You can insert logical structure into a PDF document by creating a tagged PDF document. The PDSEdit API provides the ability to add, modify, and view this logical structure. For more information, see the Acrobat and PDF Library API Reference.

Authoring applications can also add structure pdfmarks to the PostScript language code generated when a document is printed. For more information, see the . pdfmark Reference.

Other ways of modifying PDF documents

You can use a plug-in or JavaScript to modify a PDF document by cropping and rotating pages, numbering pages, and adding headers and footers.


JavaScript provides methods to create watermarks within a document, and place them in optional content groups (OCGs). You can also add watermarks using C APIs. The Acrobat SDK contains a sample plug-in that adds a watermark. For more information, see the Acrobat SDK Samples Guide.


Acrobat provides a Spelling plug-in that can scan a document for spelling errors. Using any of the Acrobat SDK technologies, you can do the following tasks:

  • Add or remove a dictionary from the list of available dictionaries

  • Add or remove a spelling domain (search scope) from the Spell Check dialog box

  • Add or remove a word in the user’s dictionary

  • Check the spelling of an individual word

  • Ignore all occurrences of a word in a document when spell-checking

  • Scan a text buffer and return the next word

  • Set the document’s dictionary search order

  • Set the document’s dictionary search order from an array of ISO 639-2 and 3166 language codes, allowing you to identify a dictionary by language rather than by name

The following additional functionality is available to plug-ins and external applications, but is not available using JavaScript:

  • Check a text object and optionally receive a callback for each change as the user interacts with the Spell Check dialog box

  • Count the words in a text buffer that are contained in each of a set of dictionaries

  • Create a new custom user dictionary and add it to the list of available dictionaries


Multimedia objects can be included in the content of PDF documents, as well as in annotations. You can only manipulate multimedia objects and players using JavaScript; you cannot use a plug-in. Using JavaScript, you can perform the following tasks:

  • Customize the settings, renditions, and events associated with media players

  • Access and control the properties for all monitors connected to the system

  • Add movie and sound clips

  • Add and edit renditions

  • Control rendition settings

  • Set multimedia preferences that apply throughout a document

For more information, see Acrobat JavaScript Developer Guide.

Printing PDF files

Using the Acrobat SDK, you can control the way that Acrobat, Acrobat Reader, or your external application prints PDF files. Using any of the Acrobat technologies, you can customize the way that a PDF document is printed.

Since printing involves sending pages to an output device, there are many options that can affect print quality. JavaScript can be used to enhance and automate the use of these options in print production workflows. For more information, see the Acrobat JavaScript Developer Guide.

With plug-ins, you can use methods to customize and control how a PDF file is printed from Acrobat or Acrobat Reader. Depending on the methods you use, a user interface may be invoked. For example, you can use a method to print a document to the current printer using the current print settings and job settings with no user interface. You can specify a page range, a PostScript version, and whether to shrink the pages to fit the printer. For more information, see Acrobat Plugin Developer Guide.

Using the IAC APIs, you can print a PDF file from an external application. For more information, see Interapplication Communication Developer Guide.

Embedded fonts

Acrobat Distiller and the PDF Library add font embedding information to fonts that are embedded in PDF files. With the inclusion of this information, your code can determine how an embedded font can be used. These operations also may apply to code used with the PDF Library SDK.

Acrobat plug-in developers can remove and embed fonts in an existing PDF document. You can also use fonts that are already embedded in a PDF document for preview and printing, as well as editing. However, allowing editing using embedded fonts is not recommended, and in some cases it is impractical. For example, Chinese, Japanese and Korean (CJK) fonts potentially include thousands of glyphs, so applications must subset these fonts when embedding them in a PDF file. This precludes embedded CJK fonts from being used for editing by a plug-in.

PDF Library users can perform these operations using an existing PDF document, or they can create a PDF document from scratch that includes embedded fonts. Creating a document from scratch cannot be performed by a plug-in, but it can be done by using PDF Library calls from within a compiled application that includes the PDF Library.