0.2.1 • Public • Published


Simple PDF form fill, using PDFtk. Uses field data in xfdf format to help guarantee UTF-8 support.

All operations are non-blocking. Written in a rather ES6-ish style; use on Node 5.x and earlier will require transpiling.

Release as open source under the ISC license.


  1. Make sure pdftk is available in your environment, preferably at least version 2.02.
  2. npm install pdf-form-fill


The API is minimal:

  • fields(pdf) will return a Promise resolving with a simple object describing the PDF's available fields.
  • fill(pdf, fields[, options]) will return a promise resolving with a Readable sream of the output PDF. the following options are supported:
    • flatten: Flatten the resulting PDF (default true)
    • info: Info fields to be set in the output, such as CreationTime, ModTime, Title, Author, etc. Time values should be Date objects; all others should be strings.
    • verbose: Print stuff to the console (default false)

On error, the promises returned by both functions will reject with an Error object. For more details, read the source code.

Setting any info values will require spawning a second pdftk instance and writing an intermediate PDF to a temporary file (piping pdf output to pdftk turns out to be rather flaky). This will slow down the processing a bit; use options.verbose to test the execution time on your systems.


const fs = require('fs')
const { fields, fill } = require('pdf-form-fill')
const srcPdf = '...'
const tgtPdf = '...'
const fields = { name1: 'Value 1', checkbox2: 'Yes' }
  .then(shape => console.log(shape))
  .catch(err => console.error(err))
const output = fs.createWriteStream(tgtPdf)
fill(scrPdf, fields)
  .then(stream => stream.pipe(output))
  .catch(err => console.error(err))

For a more complete example, see the pdf-form-fill-server source code.


This tool is the product of frustration and incredulity, as none of the other PDF form-filling tools appeared to work for my particular use case, requiring UTF-8 support in a macOS environment. For some reason, that works with xfdf form data, but not with fdf. But then, of course, PDFtk isn't able to read that from stdin (unlike fdf, of course), so it needs to be written to a temporary file for it.

Some aspects of this code were inspired by pdffiller-stream, but all the code was written from scratch for this.



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  • eemeli