Jeff Fritz leads a C# PDF Library comparison between IronPDF, AsposePDF, iText and SyncFusion

Updated December 9, 2022

Jeff Fritz is a leading .NET Developer, and we value his feedback.

Earlier this year, close to the .NET Conf, we reached out to Jeff Fritz and asked him to give us feedback on IronPDF.

IronPDF is one of five Iron Software products. It’s the first to expand into a second language (read more about Java here).

Here we look at highlights from Jeff’s video and how he came to the conclusion that IronPDF is the best performing product.

The process

There are different ways to assess software performance, and this can vary depending on a developer’s use case and what’s important to him. Jeff published a list of criteria that would make a well-performing PDF product, and ranked each one out of four based on importance.

In this video, Jeff walks us through his criteria:

  1. Discovery and Acquisition
  2. Licensing
  3. Compatibility
  4. Getting Started Experience
  5. Ease of use of the API with C#
  6. Documentation Quality
  7. HTML to PDF Capabilities
  8. Release frequency

Criteria 1: Discovery and Acquisition

“As a .NET Developer, in the places I go to find these tools, can I find them?”

In this process, Jeff starts with NuGet, and searches for the four tools he’s evaluating. He also comes across other tools like PDFSharp. He takes us through the steps for finding and installing each product. Afterward, he assigns a rating to each product based on his experience.


Criteria 2: Licensing Clarity

Licensing can be presented in many different ways. Determining what works for you can save you significant money and set your project up for success.

Caption: At 09:29, Jeff sees the iText licensing page as “confusing.” We agree.

Iron Software strives to make our licensing as easy to understand as possible. We value transparency. We want our customers to understand what they’re buying and feel like they made a smart decision.

Jeff sees the iText licensing page as “confusing.” We agree.


Criteria 3: Compatibility

Compatibility with Mac, Linux and Docker, as well as with .NET 6 and 7 can be essential to the success of a project. We know developers can solve problems, but we want our software to save time and create practical, seamless solutions. That means they need to work.

“I went through each of their websites and put together this matrix. I thought it was a little interesting that both Iron and iText work on cloud services,” says Jeff.

“Important for me was .NET 6, because that’s what I work in. That ruled Aspose out.”

Jeff Fritz Leads a Comparison of IronPDf, AsposePDF, iText and SyncFusion, Figure 1

Criteria 4: Getting started

An easy ‘getting started’ experience can save you significant time and effort. As Jeff says, “make me succeed with the first bits of your code, quickly.”

Jeff tries the code for each library and makes the tests available publicly. Sample code for this showdown is available on GitHub.


Criteria 5: Ease of use of the API with C#

When looking at IronPDF, Jeff says, “I have great control of the content around it. I can add a background, overlays, header, footer, I can work with a form that’s in a PDF… I like that. It fits the way I think with my software.”

Next, he opens Aspose and says, “It's very verbose. Look at this. I have to create a document and then I have to create a page and start adding pages and paragraphs and define text fragments.”

Noting that it is “really, really descriptive of the things that I need to do in order to go and build my document.”

The Aspose solution adds too many steps and could make the process feel clunky.

Finally, Jeff says, “cool, very thorough but a little bit more than the way that I think about and interact with my code all right.”

We take that to mean IronPDF is more intuitive to use, and ultimately Jeff gives IronPDF a higher score.


Criteria 6: Documentation Quality

Comparing documentation could seem like an impossible task, but Jeff approaches it with a very specific challenge. He browses through the documentation for each product, and then looks for specific information.

For testing purposes, Jeff searches each product documentation for information about API signature capability.

“This is one of those features that’s available in PDF that all of these tools should support,” says Jeff.

He goes on to search for signatures in each of the four websites: Aspose, IronPDF, iText and SyncFusion.

He compares IronPDF's documentation to Microsoft’s style of documentation, saying it’s “not bad,” noting the beneficial information covering compatibility.

Next, he looks at Aspose, noting that it’s “answer-driven documentation,” making finding what he’s looking for very easy.

SyncFusion gives him “different tools and frameworks he can use,” but makes the API harder to find.

iText is last. Jeff searches for ‘signature’ and doesn’t find the signature object. He finds a description, but not ‘how to use this’.

“It’s nice and helpful but doesn’t deliver everything.”


Criteria 7: HTML to PDF Capabilities

For this criteria, Jeff puts on a timer and he tests each product's rendering capabilities on three different demonstrations.

The first demo is fairly simple: his own Kliptok site.

The second demo is the ESPN site: which is much more complex, with animation, more images and dynamic content.

For the the final demo, he tests a form with different data types, including an email field, dropdown menu and a radio checkbox.

Demo 1: Kliptok

Aspose: “And there’s nothing there.. It didn’t write out the file...that one didn’t work.”

IronPDF: “It wrapped nicely, it put proper margins around it. That’s cool. Things are a good size.”

SyncFusion: “Not as much margin on this one, the header overlays the text but I’ll forgive that. The images didn’t load - that’s a problem.”

iText: “Something went wrong. Can’t open this file. Hmm.. I don’t know,” Jeff tries a second time and there’s still nothing there in the file.

The verdict from the first demonstration:

“We’ve already got two that aren’t working very well - Aspose and iText. Now, let’s look at the second test.”

Demo 2: ESPN Website

IronPDF: “Not all the images loaded, maybe I needed to give more of a delay but the HTML content is here and that formatted as mobile. That’s cool, I can work with that.”

Aspose: “Well Aspose didn’t work.”

SyncFusion: “Nicely formatted with the borders,” says Jeff. “They cut the image in half, not great but not bad.”

iText: “That one didn’t open either. Clearly something isn’t quite working right with iText.”

The verdict from the second test - Only IronPDF and SyncFusion worked.

Demo 3: Form

IronPDF: “Wow, they’re actual form fields. I can type into this! This is great! The dropdown fields are all there. The radio button doesn’t work and neither do the text box but the form fields are pretty cool.”

SyncFusion: ”Once again, the watermark is over the header but we can work with that. The fields are all rendered but they’re not fields. I can’t interact with it the same way I can with the Iron solution.”


Criteria 8: Release Frequency

We can see each product’s release cycle by looking at versions. This is a way to see how often its developer teams are rolling out new changes.

SyncFusion: “Holy smokes it looks like they’re releasing once a week! I like that.”

iText: “it looks like they roll out versions maybe once a year. That feels weird.”

IronPDF: “it looks like it’s once a month.”

Aspose: “once a month as well,” but later corrects that’s closer to once a week.

The Final Verdict

Though Aspose performed well in some areas like documentation, it didn’t not work as intended in the demos.

Jeff says “it really hurt the folks at Aspose when they’re products just didn’t work. SyncFusion, IronPDF and Aspose were all a lot better than the open source solution iText.”

Ultimately Jeff concludes -

“I will get my hands on IronPDF when I want to build and work with PDF rendering using HTML.”

Read Jeff's full product comparison for more details about how IronPDF performs against Aspose, iText, and SyncFusion.

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