5 Advantages of Using LaTeX API to Generate Documents

27 October 2022 Hershil Bhana

DynamicDocs is an innovative LaTeX to PDF API utilising LaTeX and serverless computing for PDF generation. The API has been developed to create dynamic PDF documents containing dynamic text, tables and charts.

LaTeX is a popular document preparation software (for high-quality typesetting) used to create PDF documents using files with a tex extension. One of the reasons for its immense popularity is that LaTeX enables authors to write extensive documents in a markup language. This concept appeals well to users looking to generate documents in high-quality with full customisation.

DynamicDocs API is particularly useful in the following cases to generate documents:

The use cases above centre around using LaTeX for PDF generation. This article presents five advantages of using the DynamicDocs API to generate documents through LaTeX instead of the more common HTML to PDF approach.

Advantages of Using LaTeX to PDF API

Technological light bulb
DynamicDocs is a LaTeX to PDF API

High-Quality PDF Documents

One of the most useful features of LaTeX is its excellent job at typesetting. LaTeX complies with various built-in algorithms to achieve the optimal layout of the document. Its typesetting algorithms are highly refined as LaTeX uses scaled points as a measurement which results in profoundly accurate pdf generation. Editing and reformatting a LaTeX document is much easier than working with large Word documents. The document snippets can be easily moved and rested in the document allowing greater flexibility without disturbing the overall layout of the document.

Dynamic PDF Documents with JSON Payload

The different templates offered by DynamicDocs API can perform calculations and be truly dynamic by including dynamic data, tables and charts. The output document is optimised for display with high quality, dynamic content and client branding. Special commands allow developers to convert the data in the JSON payload into formatted text, tables which can span pages and beautiful charts, all based on the data sent to the API.

Modularity of LaTeX

LaTeX is inherently modular, meaning that you can break the document into two distinct parts: the content part, which controls the input of the document and the styling part, which contains macros and functions governing the look and feel. This is a powerful feature of LaTeX as it allows users to step away from styling each element and instead write overall rules. The LaTeX macros and functions from different packages can be loaded into the document, and some have been in development for many years. Their documentation is widely available on CTAN (The Comprehensive TEX Archive Network). The numerous packages benefit users using LaTeX as they can rely on previous work, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. For example, the fancyhdr package provides powerful methods of defining headers and footers on every page in the document. Using CSS to style the document's headers and footers for HTML to PDF generation will take much more time and effort.

Fast Implementation

The business benefit of DynamicDocs API is that it significantly reduces development time through quick API integration and avoids long document generation development cycles. This is true when compared to the deployment of a stand-alone PDF-generating solution. The API enables any application to get additional transactional PDF functionality, typically associated with established enterprises. The developers do not need to worry about building or deploying new servers as part of the publishing process. DynamicDocs API call examples are available as a Postman collection and can be examined immediately or once the integration is required.

Document Size and Security

The compressibility of documents produced through LaTeX allows for much smaller documents in size when compared to standard PDF documents produced from HTML. This is a tremendous advantage for transactional documents that are generated in bulk and then sent via email. Furthermore, DynamicDocs API offers various PDF encryption algorithms, offering an additional layer of security for applications.

The downside of HTML to PDF Generation

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HTML to PDF is a popular approach for PDF Generation

HTML (hypertext markup language) is the coding language commonly used to create the structure of web pages, but it can also be used to create PDFs through HTML to PDF converters. Although HTML is exceptionally popular for rendering websites, LaTeX is a more optimal tool for PDF creation.

Firstly, unlike LaTeX, HTML relies heavily on CSS (cascading style sheets) to control the layout of the documents. This reliance on CSS is one of its disadvantages. Common tasks like creating headers and footers that span documents become complicated when using CSS (unless you are a CSS wizard). The HTML to PDF approach also becomes time-consuming, styling each element and creating tables which span multiple pages. Lastly, creating charts with HTML to PDF relies on external Javascript libraries, which, for the most part, are built to render in browsers instead of documents, which can complicate the HTML to PDF approach.

Final Remarks

Using LaTeX is a different but optimal approach for document generation that looks past the complexity of HTML and CSS. LaTeX is designed to do exactly one thing: generate high-quality PDF documents. The dynamic documentation structure helps users start writing documents faster with the flexibility of numerous packages available.

On the other hand, LaTeX does have a steep learning curve (unless you are from academia, where it is exceptionally popular). The scientific community has built a steady infrastructure around LaTeX, with almost every publisher providing LaTeX guidelines and templates for their papers. Its wide adoption in academia shows its growing popularity due to its unique features.

For those looking for tools to get LaTeX quality output in your PDF generation, DynamicDocs API is the perfect place to start!