PSPDFKit 3 Migration Guide

PSPDFKit v3 is the forthcoming major release of PSPDFKit, an extensive PDF displaying and editing framework for iOS. As a major release, 3.0 introduces several API-breaking changes and new architecture.

This guide is a starting point in order to ease the transition to PSPDFKit v3.

Requirements: iOS 6 and Xcode 5.x.

Starting with PSPDFKit 3.3, we require Xcode 5 and no longer support compilation with legacy mode.

New Licensing Model

PSPDFKit v3 now requires a serial number to unlock its features. Log in at with your account details. If you don’t yet have an account, request one at You will have to add the call to PSPDFSetLicenseKey() in your AppDelegate, at a time before you call or use any classes of PSPDFKit.

Project Settings

PSPDFKit v3 requires several new frameworks - if you use the PSPDFKit.xcconfig, you’re all set, unless you manually changed the “Other Linker Flags” setting in your project. Either merge the settings, remove yours, or manually add the required frameworks (you find all details if you open the PSPDFKit.xcconfig file)

API changes

Several API methods, enums and constants have been renamed to improve clarity in the API. Most constants are now named like PSPDFObjectsGlyphs, while they were named inconsistently in v2 and mostly had a style like kPSPDFObjectsGlyphs. In general, a look at the header should allow you to find the new matching API quickly. Several methods also have additional parameters and no simple counterpart to keep the API clean. For example the method dismissAnimated: in PSPDFBarButtonItem has been extended to dismissAnimated:completion:.


Several classes have been renamed. All PSPDFAction*** classes now are named PSPDF***Action to better reflect their type.


All deprecated methods in v2 have been removed. PSPDFKit v3 doesn’t feature deprecated methods, so for deeper integrations some time has to be invested upfront to upgrade your code base to v3.

Class overriding

Direct access to the overrideClassNames has been removed. Use overrideClass:withClass: to register your subclasses. Remember that all view/controller related classes need to be registered in PSPDFConfiguration, while model-classes are in PSPDFDocument.

New annotation toolbar

The annotation bar has been completely redesigned. Several subclassing hooks have been changed as well to reflect those changes. PSPDFKit v3 also has several new annotation tools that you might want to enable if you manually set the contents of the editableAnnotationTypes dictionary in the PSPDFDocument. Notable additions are the PSPDFAnnotationStringEraser and the PSPDFAnnotationStringSelectionTool instruments.

The annotation data model

In PSPDFKit v2, several annotation types were groups for multiple annotations. This has been simplified. Starting with v3, each annotation type string corresponds to exactly one annotation type. You can convert between those two representations via PSPDFStringFromAnnotationType() and PSPDFAnnotationTypeFromString(). Further, the annotations string name has been simplified from PSPDFAnnotationTypeString*** to just PSPDFAnnotationString***. To create a Underline annotation with the v3 model, you now use the PSPDFUnderlineAnnotation instead of setting a custom PSPDFHighlightAnnotationType on the PSPDFHighlightAnnotation.


In PSPDFKit v2, saving by calling saveChangedAnnotationsWithError: was only allowed to be called on the main thread, took quite some time and afterwards destroyed your current documentProviders. Afterwards annotations were parsed again. This process has been greatly optimized and streamlined. PSPDFKit v3 can now deal with saving in the background and can correctly update the current annotation set without the need to re-parse. There’s a new, async API for saving: saveAnnotationsWithCompletionBlock: and the sync API has been renamed to saveAnnotationsWithError:, since depending on the set of annotationProviders, save might save all annotations, not just the changed ones.

The external annotation data model (NSCoder)

The NSCoder-data model for saving annotations has been changed quite radically. To support archives that have been saved with v2, you need to call PSPDFAnnotationSupportLegacyFormat() with the NSKeyedUnarchiver as argument and afterwards process the unarchived annotations with PSPDFPostprocessAnnotationInLegacyFormat() to convert them into the v3 format.

JSON serialization

There is no direct support to parse v2 JSON-format in v3 - you need to write your own converter if this is required. In v3, you can create JSON using the PSPDFJSONAdapter class and calling JSONDictionaryFromModel: . PSPDFAnnotation now also has a factory method that converts the JSON to the correct types, via the static + annotationFromJSONDictionary:document:error: method. The document parameter is only required if you have subclasses defined that should be used instead of the default annotation types.

XFDF Support

PSPDFKit now supports the Adobe XFDF 3.0 spec, which can be read in Adobe Acrobat and other frameworks that support XFDF. This is your new preferred way to send data to a server, since it’s standardized XML, compared to the proprietary way of encoding annotation data that is used in NSCoder and JSON serialization. There is also a PSPDFXFDFAnnotationProvider for your convenience which takes a fileURL to load/save but can be used as a template to build your web-based version for sending/receiving XFDF.

Value Transformers

JSON serialization uses various value transformers to convert e.g. enums into more a useful representation (strings). The NSValueTransformer subclasses have been directly exposed in v2. In v3, we use the more appropriate way of only exposing the name (like PSPDFLinesTransformerName) and you can fetch them from the global registry of the NSValueTransformer class with valueTransformerForName:.

Change Notifications

In v2, it was necessary to call copyAndDeleteOriginalIfNeeded for changing annotations, and sending a PSPDFAnnotationChangeNotificationOriginalAnnotationKey. This was the reason for lots of subtle bugs and unnecessary complexity and has been removed in v3. You still need to send change notifications (PSPDFAnnotationChangedNotification) but it’s no longer needed to create a copy of the annotation.

Deleting Annotations

In v2, the only way to delete annotations was setting deleted = YES on the annotation object. Starting with v3, there is an API for that, both in PSPDFDocument removeAnnotations: and also more low-level in the PSPDFAnnotationManager. Annotations might still use the above soft-delete or a real delete, this is decided in the current PSPDFAnnotationProvider implementation.


Annotation providers now have to deal with annotation deletion, and the API has been changed in several other ways. Study the new protocol header for details.


PSPDFAnnotationParser has been renamed to PSPDFAnnotationManager to better reflect what it actually does.(collecting annotations and managing annotation providers). Accessor methods have been changed from annotationParser and annotationParserForPage: to simply annotationManagerForPage:.

Document sharing

The methods to send a document via email or use the Open In… feature have been unified. Both have lost their custom configuration methods and are replaced with the new PSPDFDocumentSharingController, which features a simpler and more flexible way of selecting flattening/annotations and the page range.


  • The pdfViewController:willDisplayDocument: delegates were confusing and mostly just a forwarding of the viewWillAppear: event and have been replaced by pdfViewController:shouldChangeDocument: and pdfViewController:didChangeDocument:.
  • APIs that had one annotation as argument have been replaced with NSArray*, since v3 now supports selecting multiple annotations at once. For example pdfViewController:didSelectAnnotation:onPageView: now is called pdfViewController:didSelectAnnotations:onPageView: and sends an NSArray* instead of a single PSPDFAnnotation*.
  • The pdfViewController:shouldShowController:embeddedInController:animated: API now offers an additional options: argument.
  • The pdfViewController:willShowHUD: method was redundant and has been removed. Use the pdfViewController:shouldShowHUD and return YES to be notified before the HUD shows.