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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Creating PDFs: FPDF and PDFlib?

    I'm working on a PHP/MySQL medical application and I need to be able to pull data from an online DB, populate a standard medical form called the CMS-1500 and then produce a pdf of the form with the user's data in the correct boxes. I've had people recommend both FPDF and PDFlib. I know nothing about creating pdfs like this so I don't know how to compare the two except to see that one's free and the other is pretty expensive.

    Anyone have any thoughts about either of these - or other - solutions?

    Also, I need to be able to produce these pdfs in two formats. Both formats will have the user's data in the correct boxes. The difference between the two is that one format will also print a copy of the form (i.e., you use white paper in your printer and both the form and the data will print). The other format will not print the form - only the data (i.e., you use a pre-printed CMS-1500 form for your printer and the pdf puts the data in the right boxes). Can FPDF and/or PDFlib do both of those formats or do I need something else to create the pdf that doesn't actually print the form?

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot
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    If there is nothing special about the PDFs you have to create you'll be fine with FPDF. I am using it for more than three years and I am generating bills with and without the company logo in our own login system and in some open source online shops, static pages or even user created catalogues.

    FPDF is free, easy to use and even easy to modify and/or extend.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Would FPDF work for a form as complicated as the one I'm using? This is the form that doctors' offices and hospitals use to send claims to insurance companies. The forms are read by scanners once the insurance company gets them so they need to be precise.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot
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    I think there will be no problem with that... I always thought of it as some problem, but to you this might be a feature ;-): you can/must position all elements as if you are doing some printed flyer. I was very uncomfortable with that and wrote my own class to apply some html behaviour to the elements...

    I think you should try it as it's free and very easy to play around with. Also you can just post problems occuring with FPDF here and I am sure they will be solved :-)

    There are some issues though FPDF can't handle but you'll find that on the website.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Ok, then one more question. On the FPDF site, they mention that their product isn't as fast as PDFlib. Any thoughts about that? I'm building this as commercial software so if whatever solution I come up with is too slow, I could lose users. If that's the case, it might pay me to go ahead and buy PDFlib.

    Has anyone had any experience with PDFlib?


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