23.8.16

PDFium GeoPDF driver in GDAL 2.1



GDAL is a very popular open-source library for decoding/encoding of geospatial data formats and raster processing. It is used by QGIS, Grass, MapServer, but also by Google Earth or ESRI ArcGIS and many other GIS software tools. It powers our MapTiler software too.

A new implementation of efficient reading of PDF and GeoPDF file formats is available in GDAL library since version 2.1. Klokan Technologies GmbH team is behind the implementation of this format driver, which has been accepted and merged by Even Rouault and released publicly in May 2016.

The driver is powered by the open-source PDFium library, which has been released by Google Inc. for easier previewing of the .pdf files used in the open-source Chrome/Chromium browser. The free PDFium library is BSD licensed light version of the PDF Foxit framework. We have prepared compiling scripts for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, which were adopted, included and documented as part of the GDAL.

The advantages of the new PDF driver:
  • Significantly higher performance (compared to the previous PoDoFo and Poppler engines)
  • Support for larger PDF files with smaller memory footprint - even large AutoCAD plans or huge GeoPDFs can be processed efficiently now.
  • A non-restrictive BSD license! The copy-left GPL prevented the existence of applications supporting both PDF and MrSID/ECW formats for example.


The driver is in production use in our MapTiler software for over a year now.

We are pleased to share the source code with the community and offer it for integration in all open-source projects and third-party products. Next time, when you launch your favorite open-source GIS tool after the GDAL library has been updated, you may benefit from the faster PDF reading thanks to our work!
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