2024 Best JavaScript PDF Viewer

By ComPDFKit | 2024 Jan 17
Top List Web JavaScript

This article introduces the five best JavaScript PDF viewers to meet your needs. We cover popular open-source options like PDF.js and React PDF, as well as three commercial choices: ComPDFKit for Web, PSPDFKit for Web, and PDFTron WebViewer. We're here to help you pick the right one for your case!


Comparing Open-Source and Commercial JavaScript PDF Viewers


The biggest difference between open-source and commercial JavaScript PDF Viewers is the cost. Let's consider three aspects when choosing between open-source and commercial options: license cost, PDF features, and technical support.


• License Cost: Open-source JavaScript PDF Viewers don't require any direct license cost and can be used for free under open-source licenses.


• PDF Features: Open-source JavaScript PDF Viewers usually allow you to parse, render, and display PDFs directly. However, for projects with more advanced PDF needs like annotations, content editing, or a smoother user experience, you might need to consider a commercial JavaScript PDF SDK.


• Technical Support: Open-source PDF Viewers don't offer dedicated support, which can impact your initial investment and overall turnaround time if you run into any issues, or if documentation is unavailable. Commercial PDF Viewers typically provide technical support, offering comprehensive documentation and services to help you overcome integration challenges. Note that some vendors may charge additional fees for technical support.


Therefore, you can consider the above three factors to make the right choice between open-source and commercial options for a solution tailored to your needs.


Open Source JavaScript PDF Viewers


You can use open source libraries to let you embed a PDF viewer in a web app or web page, not only to open PDF from a website or web page but also to have more control over how your documents appear. We recommend two highly popular JS libraries: PDF.js and React PDF. Both enable you to parse, render, and display PDFs directly without requiring a download. However, they differ in viewer functionality, which can impact your project. Let's delve into the details.




PDF.js, developed by Mozilla, is a popular JavaScript library with 45.1k GitHub stars. Launched in 2011, it allows web developers to render PDF files directly in browsers without external plugins. PDF.js is widely used and has 2.3 million weekly downloads on npm, It's a valuable tool for enhancing websites by displaying PDFs in the browser, and Firefox uses it to open PDFs natively.




Intuitive Interface: PDF.js features an easy-to-use out-of-the-box reader UI.


Zoom Functionality: Built-in zoom options enable users to closely examine details.


Flexible Viewing and Search: Offers multiple view options and efficient search capabilities.


Customization and Privacy: Users can customize the UI through CSS theming and API. PDF.js prioritizes privacy, collects no user or document information, and supports form filling for both XFA and AcroForms.




Text Reliability: Text search and selection in PDF.js may be less reliable, impacting user experience.


Limited Content Editing Features: PDF editing options are restricted to ink and text annotations, limiting advanced editing capabilities.


Browser Compatibility: PDF.js has limited support outside Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, potentially causing compatibility issues for users on other browsers.




PDF.js is a freely available open-source JavaScript PDF viewer licensed under the Apache License 2.0.


React PDF


React PDF, developed by Wojciech Maj, is another popular open-source React component with 8.2K GitHub stars and 750K weekly downloads on npm. It is designed for rendering PDF documents in React applications, offering a set of components for displaying, navigating, and interacting with PDF files.




Ease of Use: React-pdf provides ready-to-go React components like Document or Page, making it relatively easy to install and use for displaying PDFs as images.


Regular Updates: The library is updated regularly, ensuring that it stays current and incorporates the latest improvements.


Privacy Assurance: React-pdf prioritizes user privacy by not collecting or transmitting any information about users or documents.




Require to build UI by yourself: React-pdf lacks an out-of-the-box UI, requiring users to build their reader interface, which may not be suitable for everyone.


Dependency on PDF.js: It uses PDF.js under the hood, and any vulnerabilities discovered in PDF.js will impact react-pdf as well.




React PDF is a freely available open-source JavaScript PDF viewer licensed under the MIT License.  


Commercial JavaScript PDF Viewers


ComPDFKit for Web


ComPDFKit for web is a PDF SDK that allows you to easily and quickly integrate PDF functionality like viewing, annotating, form filling, signing, and document editing into your Web applications. We offer JavaScript, TypeScript, and C/C++ libraries for developers to accelerate the development of your Web application. 


With WebAssembly technology, you can use JavaScript to call C++ libraries directly from the frontend and keep the data on the client side. Even without the Internet and server, PDFs can be rendered perfectly on the browser. The rendering performance and reliability are best-in-class. 




Reliable Render Performance: ComPDFKit ensures a reliable and professional viewer performance, even when dealing with large and complex PDFs.


Comprehensive PDF Features: It offers a wide range of PDF features, including annotation, content editing, forms, signatures, and security functionalities.


Customizable UI Toolkit: Tailor your viewing experience with a fully customizable UI toolkit, giving developers the power to personalize toolbars and UI components for web viewer interfaces.


Extensive Compatibility: ComPDFKit supports various languages such as JavaScript and TypeScript, along with frameworks like Vue, Nuxt.js, Next.js, React, Svelte, Angular, TypeScript, PHP, Electron, and Ionic Angular, etc. It is also compatible with popular browsers, including Chrome, Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Firefox ESR, and Safari.


Free 24/7 Technical Support: Provide 24/7 professional and 1-to-1 technical support and services. Onsite service or remote support like telephone and email are all available.




Commercially licensed. But you can contact sales to get a free trial.




ComPDFKit is a commercial licensed product with affordable pricing. It offers a Community License plan for individual developers, startups, and non-profit organizations. Currently, there's a 35% discount for iOS and Android mobile plans, along with a 30-day money-back guarantee policy. And you can also try it for free now!


PSPDFKit for Web


PSPDFKit for Web Standalone is a commercially licensed JavaScript PDF library — an SDK that offers PDF viewing, editing, and other document processing tools. You can also use it to embed a highly configurable PDF viewer in your JavaScript-based web application.




High-fidelity PDF rendering


Robust UI customization


Offer multiple additional document processing tools like annotation, creating and filling forms, signing, page manipulation, real-time collaboration, and conversion.




Commercially licensed. 


Code written with PSPDFKit code is understandable, but a bit complex in structure.




PSPDFKit for Web is a commercially licensed product, and its sales team provides customized pricing for each customer. Generally, the pricing is relatively high.


PDFTron WebViewer


PDFTron WebViewer (also known as Apryse WebViewer) is a JavaScript PDF & Document SDK that lets you add advanced document processing as part of any web application. It’s also a commercially licensed library that includes a deep feature set to let users create PDFs, add annotations, collaborate on documents, insert bookmarks and digital signatures, and more. 




Perform document generation and manipulations such as redaction, page organization, watermarking, PDF content editing, and so on — no server required.


It offers complete capabilities for annotations, form building, form filling, and e-signatures.


Support all JavaScript frameworks, including React, Angular, and Vue.js, providing versatility for developers.




Commercially licensed. 


It contains a mechanism to track document views and automatically transmit data to third-party servers.




PDFTron WebViewer is a commercially licensed product, and its sales team provides customized pricing for each customer. Generally, the pricing is relatively high.




The best JavaScript PDF viewer for you depends on your project’s requirements. If you just need to view PDFs and don't need to expand other PDF features, go for the most affordable option. However, if you have or anticipate more complex workflows, then the PDF functionalities and PDF SDK pricing become key factors in selecting the right viewer.


ComPDFKit is a professional PDF SDK provider with decades of expertise. We not only offer comprehensive PDF SDK but also are more budget-friendly compared to other commercial JavaScript PDF viewers. Additionally, we provide free 24/7 technical support during the contract.


If you want to test ComPDFKit's JavaScript PDF Viewer, you can contact us for a free trial or use our Web Demo.