Google open sources PDF software library

The PDF application will be used in Google's Chrome browser, replacing a closed-source component

Google has started an open-source project for a PDF software library, which developers will be able to incorporate into applications designed for a variety of platforms.

The project, called PDFium, will also be wrapped into Google's Chrome browser, replacing closed-source code, according to a post from Google's Chromium project evangelist, François Beaufort.

The Chrome browser is mostly open source code, but parts of it have been closed for licensing reasons, such as Adobe Systems' Flash plugin and a plugin for PDF files, wrote Peter Kasting, senior software engineer for Chrome's user interface team.

"With PDFium, one of those major moving parts is now open as well," Kasting wrote. "This is great for a lot of reasons. It reduces the number of closed pieces of Chrome, and thus the surface area for which people can be suspicious that we're doing something shady."

A crucial part of the library, the rendering engine, was developed by Foxit Software, which said it will help support the project, hosted on Google Code. Foxit Software specializes in creating products around the PDF standard.

Kasting wrote that Foxit's component is "almost certainly the highest-quality PDF engine available in the open-source world, and can now serve as a reference for other projects." Redditors have been discussing the implications of the project for about three weeks after someone saw the project appear on Google Code.

The code will carry a BSD-3 clause software license. That allows developers to modify and redistribute the code with a proper copyright notice.

Kasting ended his post with: "Now if we could just open-source Flash..."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

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