PDFlib pCOS provides a simple and elegant facility for retrieving any information from a PDF document which is not part of the page contents. For example, PDF metadata, interactive elements (links, form fields, etc.), or page dimensions can easily be queried with pCOS.
With pCOS you can extract a variety of interesting items and create output for different purposes. By processing multiple PDF documents with a single call you can easily create summaries of document info entries, page formats, fonts, or any other property. Combined with tabular output this provides a powerful PDF administration tool.
There are many application scenarios for the PDF Information Retrieval Tool PDFlib pCOS within PDF workflows, but you can also use PDFlib pCOS as a tool for learning or debugging PDF. Here are some typical situations:
Check incoming documents for predefined criteria
Identify problem files in a large collection
Create metadata summaries for document management
quality assurance before publishing documents
document retrieval and repository workflows
summarize the bookmarks
extract components of PDF documents, e.g. ICC profiles
The pCOS retrieval interface is included in other PDFlib GmbH products: if you use PDFlib+PDI, PDFlib Personalization Server, TET or PLOP/PLOP DS you also have access to the pCOS interface. If you need access to text or images on the page use our product PDFlib TET for PDF content extraction.
The pCOS Cookbook is a collection of programming examples which demonstrate the use of pCOS for various PDF retrieval tasks. The Cookbook is available here and includes sample code, input documents and sample output.
PDFlib pCOS supports all flavors of PDF input:
All PDF versions up to Acrobat XI, including ISO 32000
Encrypted documents (password may be required)
Damaged PDF input documents will be repaired if possible
PDFlib pCOS offers a simple query interface. With PDFlib pCOS you can extract a variety of interesting items, such as:
Document info fields and XMP metadata
General information: linearization and tagged PDF status, encryption details and permission settings, number of pages and fonts
Fonts with name, embedding status, etc.
Image data, such as bit depth, color space, compression, XMP
Color space details
Target URLs and coordinates of Web links
Bookmarks and the corresponding page numbers, e.g. to create a table of contents
Form field data: full field names, contents, position, etc.
Page size, CropBox, page rotation
Status of ISO standards: PDF/X, PDF/A, PDF/UA, PDF/E, and PDF/VT
Geospatial reference information
List or extract file attachments
Layer names, page labels, article threads
List all comments along with the reviewer’s name
Digital signature details: name of signature field(s), signed/unsigned, name of signer, date and reason of signature
Extract ICC output intent profiles from PDF/X or PDF/A documents
Block properties for PDFlib Personalization Server
Retrieve XML invoice data from ZUGFeRD documents
Properties of PDF Packages/Portfolios
PDFlib pCOS can create output for different purposes:
Plain text output
Unicode text output in UTF-8 or UTF-16 formats
Tabular output for processing with a spreadsheet/database
Binary data, e.g. ICC profiles or file attachments
User-defined output formats for custom post-processing
Instead of getting bogged down by complex tree structures, e.g. for bookmarks or form fields, you can easily access PDF objects by using the simple pCOS path syntax. It offers convenient shortcuts for accessing commonly used PDF objects, such as pages, fonts, bookmarks, form fields, etc.
pCOS programming interface 8 includes additional convenience features for retrieving PDF information including the following:
- identify pages with transparent objects on the page or in annotations
- encrypted file attachments
- identify all flavors of PDF/A, PDF/E, PDF/UA, PDF/X, and PDF/VT
generic Unicode string converter method pCOS_convert_to_unicode()
updated language bindings:
- Perl 5.8 - 5.18
- PHP 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5
- object-oriented interface for Python 2.6, 2.7, 3.2 and 3.3
accept various non-conforming PDF constructs
enhanced repair mode for damaged PDF documents
various bug fixes
pCOS is available as a programming library (component) for various development environments, and as a command-line tool for batch operations. Both offer similar features, but are suitable for different deployment tasks.
...for integration into desktop or server applications. Examples for using the library with all supported language bindings are included in the pCOS package.
...for batch processing PDF documents. It doesn’t require any programming, but offers powerful command-line options which can be used to integrate it into complex workflows. The pCOS command-line tool extends the features of the library:
Simple retrieval of common PDF elements, such as bookmarks, annotations, metadata, form fields, etc.
Extended mode for querying more complex objects and customizing the output format
Extract data items, such as file attachments, ICC profiles, etc.
Emit information as comma-separated values or a userdefined format for import into a spreadsheet or database
Recursion feature for dumping composite PDF objects, such as dictionaries and arrays
PDFlib pCOS is everywhere - it runs on practically all computing platforms. We offer 32-bit and 64-bit packages for all common flavors of Windows, OS X/macOS, Linux and Unix.
The pCOS core is written in highly optimized C and C++ code for maximum performance and small overhead. Via a simple API (Application Programming Interface) the pCOS functionality is accessible from a variety of development environments:
COM for use with VB, ASP, etc.
C and C++
Java, including servlets and JSP
.NET for use with C#, VB.NET, ASP.NET, etc.