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Design Considerations for the PDF Rendering

The PDF Rendering Extension of Telerik Reporting produces a version 1.6 PDF file. The file can be opened with Adobe Acrobat 7.0 or later. The file is compressed using the FlateDecode filter. The PDF rendering extension is a physical page renderer and, thus has pagination behavior that differs from other rendering extensions such as HTML and Excel, which are not page-oriented. PDF and Image Export Formats share the same high-level layout engine. Therefore all rules and design considerations that apply for the Image Rendering Extension apply for PDF as well.

The PDF rendering extension is based on the Image rendering extension, with some differences. For information common to the Image rendering extension and the PDF rendering extension, see Design Considerations for Image Rendering. This topic describes features that are specific to the PDF rendering extension.

PDF Viewers

Due to anti-aliasing which some PDF viewers apply, report item borders may not be displayed consistently at different zoom levels in the PDF viewer. The report item's solid-type borders will be rendered with miter joints when two adjacent border segments have different colors, or their color is transparent. Borders with miter joints will be anti-aliased in some PDF viewers. To make sure borders will be displayed consistently in a PDF viewer use a single color (e.g. black) for all borders of the report item.

Font Requirements

The PDF rendering extension embeds fonts by default.

The font author may have restricted FontEmbedding. In this case, the Reporting engine will not embed the font in the PDF document. See OS/2 fsType for more information.

The font embedding functionality is controlled by the FontEmbedding device information setting. Fonts that are used in a report must be installed on the machine where the application is running or privateFonts must be configured, so the PDF rendering can embed them. If you disable font embedding, the fonts used in the report must be installed on the client computers used to view the report. When the report engine generates a report in PDF format, it uses the information stored in the font to measure and create character mappings within the PDF file. If the referenced font is not available, the resulting PDF file might not contain the correct mappings and might not display correctly when viewed. Before deploying the report on a production server, you should test the PDF output on client computers to verify that the report renders correctly. Do not rely on the Designer Preview or rendering to HTML, because GDI font substitution in those formats behaves differently than PDF. If Unicode Glyphs are missing on the server, you may see characters replaced with a question mark and if there is a font missing on the client, you may see characters replaced with boxes.

When designing a report that would be exported to PDF, you should make sure that the font you use in the report supports the characters that would be displayed. For example when you use a font that does not support non-Latin characters, but then non-Latin characters are added to the report and it is exported to PDF, they would be replaced by question mark characters (?) as PDF doesn’t automatically substitute fonts.

To view the list of fonts that are embedded in a PDF file, open the file in Adobe Acrobat and from the File menu, view Properties. The Fonts tab displays the list of fonts that are embedded in the file.

PDF/A Standard

The PDF rendering extension supports three versions of the standard – PDF/A-1b (2005), PDF/A-2b (2011), PDF/A-3b (2013). The compliance level is defined with the rendering extension device info. For more information see: PDF Device Information Settings.

PDF/A Limitations

Font embedding of a subset or full is required. The default option is a subset.

PDF/A-1b Limitations

JPEG2000 image compression models are forbidden


Digital Signature functionality is not available due to the missing support for widgets without appearance.

Password Protection

The PDF rendering extension allows password protection with document content encryption. You can specify the owner password and user password. The user password gives read-only permissions. The passwords are defined with the rendering extension device info. For more information see: PDF Device Information Settings.

Digital Signature

The digital signature feature enables you to sign and validate a PDF document. A signature confirms that the document content originated from the signer and has not been modified in any way.

In the PDF document model, the validation is performed per signature. A signed document is considered valid when it has not been changed after the signing and all of its certificates have a valid trusted root certificate.

To sign a PDF document a path to a X.509 certificate is specified in the rendering extension device info. For more information see: PDF Device Information Settings.

You need to reference a .PFX file. The reason is that it includes both the public and private keys that are required for the associated certificate. A '.cer' file embeds only the public key.


The PDF rendering extension writes the following information to the PDF file:

PDF property Value
Creator If a custom value is not specified with PDF Device Information Settings, the default value is Telerik Reporting product name and version.
Producer If a custom value is not specified with PDF Device Information Settings, the default value is Telerik Reporting product name and version.
CreationDate Report execution time

The metadata contents are written with ASCII encoding by default. In case the metadata fields contain special characters like accented characters or umlauts, they might not be persisted and displayed correctly. The PDF compliance standards impose using UTF-8 for the document metadata, so using any of the supported compliance levels (A-1b, A-2b, A-3b) or enabling the accessibility features will persist the special characters correctly.



The PDF rendering extension supports Document Map interactive feature which is rendered as PDF Bookmarks. You can use the Bookmarks by opening the Bookmarks pane in Acrobat Reader to navigate inside the report.

URL actions on report items are rendered as hyperlinks in the PDF file. Hyperlinks are rendered as clickable links and when you click the hyperlink, the default Web browser opens and navigates to the specified URL.

The PDF format URI Action does not provide control over the opening target. For that reason, the PDF viewer controls where to open the link. For example, if the PDF document is opened in a browser tab, the hyperlink may open in the same tab even when the NavigateToUrl action Target is set to a new window.


The PDF Rendering extension has the following limitations:

  • Only Unicode fonts are supported.
  • Tooltips on Graph or Map data points are not rendered.
  • Underlining justified text will only underline the words and not the spaces between them.
  • Hiding the border of report items needs to be done with BorderStyle property, not BorderWidth property. To hide the border, apply the BorderStyle=None setting for the item.
  • The PDF graphics subsystem may fail to render graphic primitives with very small size (i.e. thousandths of a millimeter), producing a corrupted PDF document. Such graphics primitives are usually graph data points (bars, columns, or pie slices) that represent a tiny portion of the supplied data. Since such small graphic primitives are practically invisible, the recommended approach is to set their visibility through the corresponding ConditionalFormatting properties.


The PDF Rendering extension has the following performance considerations:

  • Rendering reports with many items with justified text may be slower.


The accessibility of the PDF document is controlled by the EnableAccessibility option in the device information settings or by the same option in the report viewer that exports a document in PDF format. If EnableAccessibility is set to true, the produced PDF document will contain additional metadata and structure elements to satisfy the PDF/UA (ISO standard 14289-1) requirements. Adding accessibility information to a PDF document will result in an increased file size compared to a PDF file with disabled accessibility features.

Below are listed the most important characteristics of a PDF document generated by the Telerik Reporting engine:

  • Tagged contents - All items in the report will have corresponding specific entries in the PDF structure that will contain the actual text recognized by the screen readers and other assistive technologies. The rules to generate the text in tagged contents are the same used to generate the metadata in report viewers with enabled accessibility.
  • Description for non-textual items - The PictureBox, Graph, and Map items should provide meaningful accessible descriptions in the report definition. This description will be persisted and used in tag elements with configured actual and alternate text. Other graphical primitives like borders will be treated as non-informational elements and will be added to the PDF document structure as artifacts.
  • Annotations - all the links in the document will have a respective link annotation object in the PDF structure.
  • Document Title - The title should be provided from the device information settings object. In case it is unavailable, the DocumentName property of the report will be used instead.
  • Document Natural Language - The document language should be provided from the device information settings object. In case it is unavailable, the Name of the Culture property of the report will be used instead.

Merged table cells might not be interpreted correctly by accessibility assessment tools resulting in warnings about those structure elements.

SVG Rendering

The PDF rendering extension can render SVG images in either vector-based or raster-based graphic primitives.

  • The vector-based rendering preserves the image quality regardless of the current zoom but does not support all SVG elements like gradients and embedded images.
  • The raster-based rendering can be used with every SVG image and produces a bitmap that looks best at 100% scale but does not preserve its quality when zooming in/out in the PDF document.

The SVG rendering mode is controlled by a key in the device information settings object. The key is named UseSvgVectorRendering and accepts a boolean value. Its default value is true.


The PDF rendering extension does support Report Watermarks, however, when it comes to Text Watermarks, newline characters are not respected. Thus, displaying multiline text with the Watermark property is not possible.

See Also

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