Outsourcing work to an online API is a common practice to save expensive development time. Tricky and resource-intensive, PDF generation is a perfect case for using an API, and DocRaptor offers powerful advantages over all our online HTML-to-PDF API competitors.
But, it’s not for everyone. Let’s review why online APIs are good in general, why DocRaptor is even better, and why you might not want an API at all.
This is the reason most API users decide to use an API. It’s simply easier. You don’t have to research software libraries, try to install obscure binaries, keep track of security patches, or dissect mysterious documentation. Instead, you get simple, well-documented APIs backed by a support team. Your PDF generation project could be done in a day instead of a few weeks.
Broad customer bases allow API services to cost-effectively spread between many servers and availability zones. For larger services like DocRaptor, there’s a dedicated team monitoring the performance of the API. This level of redundancy requires additional effort and costs if you're setting up your own infrastructure.
The PDF conversion process is slower than typical web requests. It normally takes several seconds, even for a simple document. Scaling these slow requests are more difficult than many other application tasks and requires greater planning and resources, especially when a large volume of documents need created. An API can quickly convert any number of pages and easily handle load spikes.
We guarantee a minimum of 99.999% uptime. For over a decade, we've been the trusted PDF generator for organizations like Shopify, UPS, HubSpot, Square, Accenture, and many others. Our existing high-scale infrastructure ensures we can easily handle any throughput requirements.
We’re the only online HTML-to-PDF API powered by PrinceXML, the top commercial PDF generator. Every DocRaptor competitor uses less powerful generators. Most use browser-based, open-source generators. Prince’s engine is designed specifically for PDF documents and includes native support for headers, page numbers, watermarks, and much more. Yes, DocRaptor costs more than our API competition, but Prince allows us to provide higher quality documents that take much less time to develop.
We take the privacy of your documents very seriously. All documents are encrypted at rest and with our data retention setting, you can decide the correct balance between privacy and development support. With over a third of our users based in Europe, we are fully GDPR-compliant and EU-U.S. and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield-certified. For more information on our privacy and security standards, visit our help article and whitepaper.
PDFs can be surprisingly tricky to develop. Headers, page breaks, PDF accessibility, and font embedding are just different enough from typical web development to baffle and confuse. DocRaptor provides clear documentation at every level, from API references to code examples and styling tutorials. If any questions remain, our support team has years of experience with helping create the perfect PDF. They’re just an email or chat away.
Software upgrades. CSS standards improve. These are great, but surprise changes to your documents are bad. We avoid this by grouping versions of our rendering engines into distinct Pipelines. When we upgrade our software, you are not forced to upgrade. Pipelines guarantee document consistency over time while allowing you to test and upgrade to the latest rendering engines at your convenience.
For users or processes where storing a PDF after creation is difficult, we can host that document on their behalf and return a URL instead of a binary file. This allows you to provide a URL directly to your end-users or third-party tools like Zapier and Salesforce. We'll host the document on your behalf at a completely unbranded URL for as long as you want, or within the limits you specify.
The number one reason for not using an API is cost. Many developers have used open-source HTML-to-PDF libraries to meet their PDF generation needs, mostly for relatively simple documents. Our admittedly biased opinion is that this route is fraught with frustration and toil. When we compared DocRaptor’s cost to running your own generation system across a variety of scenarios, DocRaptor is almost always cheaper (assuming US-based developer salaries). Most of our users tried open-source tools before giving up and switching to DocRaptor. That said, if you have a tight budget, simple PDF requirements, low scalability needs, and plenty of time, using an open-source library may be your best option.
Despite our steadfast focus on the privacy of our users and their documents, you may have legal or logistical restrictions that prevent the usage of an outside API. In such cases, we strongly recommend our partner Prince’s commercial HTML-to-PDF engine.