5 alternatives to iText: document generation tools

Originally published at: https://www.onlyoffice.com/blog/2022/06/5-alternatives-to-itext-document-generation-tools/

iText is a popular document building tool used widely in Java and .NET applications to quickly generate invoices, sales offers, and even airline tickets. However, it’s not the only component the market can offer in terms of functionality, price, and compatibility. Let’s have a look at six alternatives to iText worth considering.

5 alternatives to iText: document generation tools

What is a document generation tool

Document generation is a part of document automation process responsible for creating and designing automated content from the array data and preparing it for further processing and distribution.

Document generation software (also referred to as document building software) is a tool that developers of applications, be it a system app or an application software, use to add content creation functionality to the back end of the solution.

These apps are often used for automated file assembly in the areas where mass production of standardized content is involved, for example, billing, invoicing, ticket printing, etc.

Choosing the right tool will define the success of the whole process and the quality of the end outputs which can affect areas so far as revenue generation and brand image, depending on the industry.
In terms of functionality, there are many core aspects that will affect the choice of the document building instrument, but briefly, we can narrow it down to the following:

  • Design and formatting features;
  • Quality of different format processing and format compatibility;
  • Ability to work with multiple types and quantities of data sources;
  • Compatibility with the output and input software, including programming languages;
  • Data protection, transparency, and security regulation compliance;
  • Scalability;
  • Customer support and technical partnership options;
  • Pricing.

Let’s compare five document generation services and their capabilities.

iText Document generation alternatives

Conga, an alternative with deep Salesforce integration

Conga tools (Conga Composer and Conga Collaborate) is a software for automated document generation that works closely with data sources such as Salesforce.

With Conga, it is possible to generate ready files in multiple formats such as DOCX, XLSX, PPTX, PDF, HTML, and more, merge data, conditionally generate data groups, and distribute the files to local and cloud storage locations, via email, and other options.

Conga allows working with rich content and branding, supporting tables, images, text formatting, charts, dashboards, and other elements. Conga offers pre-designed templates for quotes, proposals, contracts, invoices, work orders, shipping the files to save time on composing text bodies and quickly assembling a brand playbook.

Within the interface, it is possible to build workflows for automated content generation and distribution, logging and analytics, tasks, and updates.

Conga ecosystem offers additional services for automation like Conga Batch and Conga Trigger, and built-in e-signature tool Conga Sign. With seamless integration into Salesforce, it’s possible to build a swift content generation system for sales and marketing communications.

Conga is available as SaaS and on-premises software with price starting from $20/month per user with a free trial option.

ONLYOFFICE Document Builder, a free open-source alternative to iText

ONLYOFFICE Document Builder is an open-source SDK for content processing. It generates text documents, PDFs, forms, presentations, and spreadsheets within any application, be it a file management system, a CRM, or any other software, from custom data sources using API.

The SDK allows the developers to automate document building, with ability to create custom templates and work in bulk, populating large sets of files.

It has full support for creation of Microsoft Office-compatible files with advanced text formatting parameters and complex objects like charts, tables, images, and more. With ONLYOFFICE Document Builder, it is not necessary to run data through Office to generate and modify complete files with accurate content rendering and high compatibility with all popular office software.

ONLYOFFICE provides JavaScript API and supports integration into apps written in any programming language, including .Net (C# MVC), .Net (C#), Node.js, PHP, Ruby, and others. For many languages, there are integration examples to use from the available documentation.

ONLYOFFICE Document Builder is completely free and open-source. To receive professional support and tools for providing editing capabilities to your end users, you should opt for ONLYOFFICE Docs Developer Edition.


Adobe Document Generation SDK, an out-of-the-box developer tool

Adobe offers its own API tools for developers to integrate document generation functionality and work with Word and JSON data to automate creation of invoices, reports, agreements, receipts, and any other items.

There are ready SDKs available for many programming languages, including Node.js, Java, C#, .Net, and other applications.

Adobe Document Generation API can be connected to a source of data like a CRM system or an ERP to populate the templates automatically using the information from your databases.

With Adobe document automation solution, it is possible to build Word and PDFs with accurate and rich formatting thanks to Microsoft add-in, work with template tagging, use isolated content customization and dynamic content insertion.

Adobe supports complex datasets. It fully accepts JSON data and structure so all texts and objects are fully recognized and can be used to build files from the templates.

The API works out-of-the box with Adobe Acrobat Sign to use full digital signature functionality.
You can start with a 6-month trial limited to 1,000 free transactions. There are different pricing models for Adobe Document Services, including pay-as-you-go and volume pricing, with the first charging $0.05 per transaction.

PandaDoc, an alternative with a rich library of templates

PandaDoc Document Generation software (Builder) combines availability of professional design tools with high security and readiness for high-volume document production.

For designing rich content, PandaDoc offers branded templates, custom themes, support for various embedded objects like videos, GIFs, and interactive elements, and Canva integration.

Using REST API, it is possible to integrate preferred data sources like CRM, project management software, design tools, and more, and optimize document generation to fit any scale and accommodate high volumes of production.

On top of that, PandaDoc template library offers over 750 ready templates that you can use to implement in your document workflow to reduce the time spent on designing the files.

Easy integration with mail and electronic signature service helps fully automate the document workflow from generating the source data in the database to delivering the files to the recepients.

PandaDoc offers a free version and a free trial for the business edition which starts from $19/month.

Proposify, an iText alternative for sales workflows

Proposify refers to its product as proposal software. It is a content generation and automation tool for sales teams that helps automate creation and distribution of proposals and other sales items, offering design tools, templates, and tracking for docs.

With available tools, it is possible to design proposals from scratch with a help of guided creation, apply branding, create and use templates, and browse proposal databases.

Proposify features collaborative tools like approval workflows, electronic signatures, and multiple integration options with team communication tools.

There’s a gallery of ready proposal and contract templates for different use cases in the industries of design, marketing, software, real estate, and more.

Available integrations include multiple apps, such as Asana, Salesforce, HubSpot, Zapier, Monday.com, Slack, Trello, and more.

Proposify has a free version and business versions which you can try for free. The paid versions include team plan ($49/month) for teams of <10 people and a business plan (from $590/month) for teams of >10 people that also includes premium support, extra features, and Salesforce integration.

How to choose your iText alternative

To find the best alternative for document generation and automation, you must bear in mind many factors. Are you looking for a cloud-hosted tool or do you want to host the solution within your network? Are you seeking ready integration with a system you use or do you want to make a document generation instrument a part of your app with API? What documents are included in your workflows?

For lightweight use and easy integration in your ecosystem of apps, you may choose PandaDoc or Proposify. If you are a developer of a web application and want to add document generation with rich formatting capabilities, you may opt for open-source ONLYOFFICE Document Builder, or use an Adobe service. If you are looking for a more versatile solution with workflow management and collaboration, you can try Conga.