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How to Build a TypeScript PDF Viewer with PSPDFKit

Illustration: How to Build a TypeScript PDF Viewer with PSPDFKit

In this post, we provide you with a step-by-step guide outlining how to deploy PSPDFKit’s TypeScript PDF viewer.

The State of JS 2021 results were recently published, and TypeScript is by far the most common alternative flavor of JavaScript. Developers seem to like TypeScript due to its type safety and the fact that it’s a superset of JavaScript. TypeScript adds static typing to JavaScript, which allows developers to catch errors at compile time instead of run time.

What Is a TypeScript PDF Viewer?

A TypeScript PDF viewer uses TypeScript to render and view PDF documents in a web browser without the need to download it to your hard drive or use an external application like a PDF reader.

PSPDFKit TypeScript PDF Viewer

We offer a commercial TypeScript 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
  • Annotation tools
  • Support for multiple file types
  • 30+ out-of-the-box features
  • Dedicated support

Example of Our TypeScript PDF Viewer

To demo our TypeScript 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.

Requirements to Get Started

To get started, you’ll need:

  • Node.js

  • A package manager for installing the PSPDFKit library. You can use npm or Yarn. When you install Node.js, npm is installed by default.

  • TypeScript

You can install TypeScript globally by running the following command:

npm install -g typescript

Getting Started

  1. Create a new folder and change your directory into it:

mkdir typescript-pspdfkit-viewer

cd typescript-pspdfkit-viewer
  1. Create a package.json file by running npm init --yes.

  2. Create a new tsconfig.json configuration file in the root of your project:

tsc --init

You can customize what rules you want the TypeScript compiler to follow. This post will use the following configuration:

// tsconfig.json
{
	"compilerOptions": {
		"removeComments": true,
		"preserveConstEnums": true,
		"module": "commonjs",
		"target": "es5",
		"sourceMap": true,
		"noImplicitAny": true,
		"esModuleInterop": true
	},
	"include": ["src/**/*"]
}

Check out the compiler options for more information.

Installing PSPDFKit and Configuring webpack

  1. Install the PSPDFKit for Web library as a dependency:

npm install pspdfkit
  1. You’ll use one of the most popular build tools, webpack, to bundle your project into a single file. It’ll help reduce the HTTP requests needed to load the PDF and minify your code.

Start by downloading the necessary dev dependencies:

npm i -D webpack webpack-cli webpack-dev-server ts-loader typescript html-webpack-plugin cross-env copy-webpack-plugin clean-webpack-plugin

Here’s what’s installed:

  • webpack — The webpack bundler.

  • webpack-cli — The command-line interface for webpack.

  • webpack-dev-server — A local server to run webpack in the browser.

  • ts-loader — A package that teaches webpack how to compile TypeScript.

  • typescript — The TypeScript compiler.

  • clean-webpack-plugin — A plugin that cleans the output directory before building.

  • copy-webpack-plugin — A plugin that copies files and directories to the output directory.

  • html-webpack-plugin — A plugin that generates an HTML file from a template.

  • cross-env — A package that allows you to set environment variables.

After the installation, you can see the dependencies in your package.json file:

"devDependencies": {
    "clean-webpack-plugin": "^4.0.0",
    "copy-webpack-plugin": "^10.2.4",
    "cross-env": "^7.0.3",
    "html-webpack-plugin": "^5.5.0",
    "ts-loader": "^9.2.7",
    "typescript": "^4.6.2",
    "webpack": "^5.70.0",
    "webpack-cli": "^4.9.2",
    "webpack-dev-server": "^4.7.4",
  }
  1. To configure webpack, create a config directory and place your webpack configuration file inside it:

mkdir config && touch config/webpack.js
  1. If you’re using webpack 4, use the example file. If you’re using the latest version of webpack, currently ^5.70.0, use the following configuration:

// webpack.js
const path = require('path');
const HtmlWebpackPlugin = require('html-webpack-plugin');
const CopyWebpackPlugin = require('copy-webpack-plugin');

const filesToCopy = [
	// PSPDFKit files.
	{
		from: './node_modules/pspdfkit/dist/pspdfkit-lib',
		to: './pspdfkit-lib',
	},
	// Application CSS.
	{
		from: './src/index.css',
		to: './index.css',
	},
	// Example PDF.
	{
		from: './assets/example.pdf',
		to: './example.pdf',
	},
];

/**
 * webpack main configuration object.
 */
const config = {
	entry: path.resolve(__dirname, '../src/index.ts'),
	mode: 'development',
	devtool: 'inline-source-map',
	output: {
		path: path.resolve(__dirname, '../dist'),
		filename: '[name].js',
	},
	resolve: {
		extensions: ['.ts', '.tsx', '.js'],
	},
	module: {
		rules: [
			// All files with a `.ts` or `.tsx` extension will be handled by `ts-loader`.
			{
				test: /\.tsx?$/,
				loader: 'ts-loader',
				exclude: /node_modules/,
			},
		],
	},
	plugins: [
		// Automatically insert <script src="[name].js"><script> to the page.
		new HtmlWebpackPlugin({
			template: './src/index.html',
		}),

		// Copy the WASM/ASM and CSS files to the `output.path`.
		new CopyWebpackPlugin({ patterns: filesToCopy }),
	],

	optimization: {
		splitChunks: {
			cacheGroups: {
				// Creates a `vendor.js` bundle that contains external libraries (including `pspdfkit.js`).
				vendor: {
					test: /node_modules/,
					chunks: 'initial',
					name: 'vendor',
					priority: 10,
					enforce: true,
				},
			},
		},
	},
};

module.exports = config;

The entry point of your application will be the ../src/index.ts file, and the output will be bundled inside the dist folder. Note that you’re copying the PDF file, PSPDFKit files, and CSS files to the output path.

You created the module property containing the rules array to handle the TypeScript files. So, when webpack finds a file with the .ts or .tsx extension, it’ll use the ts-loader to compile it. Only then will the file be added to the dist build.

Displaying the PDF

  1. Add the PDF document you want to display to the assets directory. You can use our demo document as an example. Make sure to name the document example.pdf.

  2. Create an index.html file inside the src directory and add the following code:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
	<head>
		<title>PSPDFKit for Web - TypeScript example</title>
		<link rel="stylesheet" href="index.css" />
	</head>
	<body>
		<div class="container"></div>
	</body>
</html>

This adds an empty <div> element to where PSPDFKit will be mounted.

  1. You’ll declare the height of this element in your CSS file like this:

.container {
	height: 100vh;
}
  1. Now, create an index.ts file inside the src directory.

.ts is the extension used for TypeScript files. Later, you’ll run your code through the TypeScript transpiler to output a JavaScript version of the file (.js):

import PSPDFKit from 'pspdfkit';

function load(document: string) {
	console.log(`Loading ${document}...`);
	PSPDFKit.load({
		document,
		container: '.container',
	})
		.then((instance) => {
			console.log('PSPDFKit loaded', instance);
		})
		.catch(console.error);
}

load('example.pdf');

Here, you imported the PSPDFKit library and created a function that loads the PDF document.

Running the Project

  1. Now, you need to write some scripts in the package.json file to start your server:

"scripts": {
    "build": "cross-env NODE_ENV=production webpack --config config/webpack.js",
    "prestart": "npm run build",
    "dev": "tsc",
    "start": "serve -l 8080 ./dist"
},
  1. You can run npm start to start the server. Navigate to http://localhost:8080 to see the contents of the dist directory.

Resulting page

Opening Different PDF Files

The current viewer loads the assets/example.pdf file. But you can also open different PDF files by adding an input field with the file type to the index.html file:

<body>
	<div>
		<input type="file" class="chooseFile" accept="application/pdf" />
	</div>
	<br />
	<div class="container"></div>
</body>

Now, go to the index.ts file and add the following code:

interface HTMLInputEvent extends Event {
	target: HTMLInputElement & EventTarget;
}

let objectUrl = '';

document.addEventListener('change', function (event: HTMLInputEvent) {
	if (
		event.target &&
		event.target.className === 'chooseFile' &&
		event.target.files instanceof FileList
	) {
		PSPDFKit.unload('.container');

		if (objectUrl) {
			URL.revokeObjectURL(objectUrl);
		}

		objectUrl = URL.createObjectURL(event.target.files[0]);
		load(objectUrl);
	}
});

Here, you added a change event listener to the <input> element. When the user selects a file, you’ll unload the current PDF and load the new one.

Information

If you want to learn how to add annotations to your application, check out the Open and Annotate PDFs in a TypeScript App blog post. Also, you can check out the example project with annotation support on GitHub.

Screenshot showing Choose File Example

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 TypeScript guides:

Conclusion

You should now have our TypeScript 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 deploy our vanilla JavaScript PDF viewer or use one of our many web framework deployment options like Vue.js, React.js, and Angular.

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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