Tuesday, 4 February 2014


In the course of playing with distraction free editors I happened across MarkdowntoPDF a web based service to convert markdown documents into pdf.

I also couldn’t help noticing that the documents were nicer looking than the ones I generate with a combination of Pandoc and Libre Office, and something about the look of the documents and the fonts used made me suspect that it wasn’t using a conversion via LaTeX or one of its variants.

I don’t know what it is about TeX documents but there’s a certain style, almost a smell, about them that’s strangely distinctive.

So, always curious I fed a pdf document created with MarkdowntoPDF through Apache Tika:

Content-Length: 30235
Content-Type: application/pdf
Creation-Date: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
Last-Modified: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
Last-Save-Date: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
created: Tue Feb 04 14:28:46 EST 2014
date: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
dcterms:created: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
dcterms:modified: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
meta:creation-date: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
meta:save-date: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
modified: 2014-02-04T03:28:46Z
producer: mPDF 5.6
resourceName: add78ef0
xmpTPg:NPages: 1

And there it was - the document creator was mPDF a tool written in PHP to create PDF output from HTML. (Full information is available via Packagist).

Which also means that the service uses HTML as an intermediate file format rather then TeX or ODT, and also opens up the idea of the multi platform document - write it once, generate a web version for display and provide an easy way to automatically generate a pdf document for printing, emailing out, or archiving in evernote …

Written with StackEdit.

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