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How to Build an HTML5 PDF Viewer

Illustration: How to Build an HTML5 PDF Viewer

In this tutorial, we’ll show how to build an HTML5 PDF viewer with the PSPDFKit HTML5 PDF library.

HTML5 (HyperText Markup Language) is a markup language used to create the structure of webpages. It’s the foundation of the web, and it’s an essential language for web developers. It’s based on tags, and tags tell the browser how to display content on the screen.

You can think of HTML as a skeleton for your website. After writing the markup (skeleton) for your website, you can style your website using CSS to make it look the way you want it to look.

We offer a commercial HTML5 PDF viewer library that can easily be integrated into your web application. It comes with 30+ features that let you view, annotate, edit, and sign documents directly in your browser. Out of the box, it has a polished and flexible UI that you can extend or simplify based on your unique use case.

  • A prebuilt and polished UI for an improved user experience
  • 15+ prebuilt annotation tools to enable document collaboration
  • Support for more file types with client-side PDF, MS Office,and image viewing
  • Dedicated support from engineers to speed up integration

Example of Our HTML5 PDF Viewer

To demo our HTML5 PDF viewer, upload a PDF, JPG, PNG, or TIFF file by clicking Open Document under the Standalone option (if you don’t see this option, select Choose Example from the dropdown). Once your document is displayed in the viewer, try drawing freehand, adding a note, or applying a crop or an e-signature.

Adding PSPDFKit to Your Project

  1. Install the pspdfkit package from npm. If you prefer, you can also download PSPDFKit for Web manually:

npm install pspdfkit
  1. For PSPDFKit for Web to work, it’s necessary to copy the directory containing all the required library files (artifacts) to the assets folder. Use the following command to do this:

cp -R ./node_modules/pspdfkit/dist/ ./assets/

Make sure your assets directory contains the pspdfkit.js file and a pspdfkit-lib directory with the library assets.

Integrating into Your Project

  1. Add the PDF document you want to display to your project’s directory. You can use our demo document as an example.

  2. Add an empty <div> element with a defined height to your HTML file where PSPDFKit will be mounted:

<div id="pspdfkit" style="height: 100vh;"></div>
  1. Include pspdfkit.js in your HTML page:

<script src="assets/pspdfkit.js"></script>
  1. Finally, initialize PSPDFKit for Web in JavaScript by calling PSPDFKit.load():

<script>
	PSPDFKit.load({
		container: "#pspdfkit",
  		document: "document.pdf" // Add the path to your document here.
	})
	.then(function(instance) {
		console.log("PSPDFKit loaded", instance);
	})
	.catch(function(error) {
		console.error(error.message);
	});
</script>

You can see the full index.html file below:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
	<head>
		<title>My App</title>
		<!-- Provide proper viewport information so that the layout works on mobile devices. -->
		<meta
			name="viewport"
			content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, minimum-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no"
		/>
	</head>
	<body>
		<!-- Element where PSPDFKit will be mounted. -->
		<div id="pspdfkit" style="height: 100vh;"></div>

		<script src="assets/pspdfkit.js"></script>

		<script>
			PSPDFKit.load({
				container: '#pspdfkit',
				document: 'document.pdf',
			})
				.then(function (instance) {
					console.log('PSPDFKit loaded', instance);
				})
				.catch(function (error) {
					console.error(error.message);
				});
		</script>
	</body>
</html>

Serving Your Website

  1. To serve the website, install the serve package:

npm install --global serve
  1. Serve the contents of the current directory:

serve -l 8080 .
  1. Navigate to http://localhost:8080 to view the website.

Information

Interact with the sandbox by clicking the left rectangle icon and selecting Editor > Show Default Layout. To edit, sign in with GitHub — click the rectangle icon again and choose Sign in. To preview the result, click the rectangle icon once more and choose Editor > Embed Preview. For the full example, click the Open Editor button. Enjoy experimenting with the project!

PSPDFKit Demo

If you want to download PSPDFKit manually or integrate it as a module, you can check out our JavaScript getting started guide.

Adding Even More Capabilities

Once you’ve deployed your viewer, you can start customizing it to meet your specific requirements or easily add more capabilities. To help you get started, here are some of our most popular HTML5 guides:

Conclusion

You should now have our HTML5 PDF viewer up and running in your web application. If you hit any snags, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Support team for help.

You can also integrate our JavaScript PDF viewer using web frameworks like Angular, Vue.js, and React.js. To see a list of all web frameworks, start your free trial. Or, launch our demo to see our viewer in action.

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