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Read and write PDFs with Python, powered by qpdf

Project Description

pikepdf is a Python library allowing creation, manipulation and repair of PDF files. It is provides a wrapper around QPDF.

Python + QPDF = “py” + “qpdf” = “pyqpdf”, which looks like a dyslexia test. Say it out loud, and it sounds like “pikepdf”.

This package is in pre-alpha.

Python 3.5 and 3.6 are fully supported.


  • Editing, manipulation and transformation of existing PDFs
  • Based on the mature, proven QPDF C++ library
  • Can read and write PDFs with any type of PDF encryption (except public key)
  • Supports all PDF compression filters
  • Supports PDF object streams
  • Supports PDF 1.3 through 1.7
  • Can manipulate PDF/A and other types of PDF without losing their metadata marker
  • Can create “fast web view” (linearized) PDFs
  • Automatically recovers and repairs damaged PDFs
  • Implements more of the PDF specification than existing Python PDF tools
  • For convenience, renders PDF pages or embedded PDF images in Jupyter notebooks and IPython

This library is similar to PyPDF2 and pdfrw – it provides low level access to PDF features and allows editing and content transformation of existing PDFs, and requires some knowledge of the PDF specification.

Python 2.7 and earlier versions of Python 3 are not currently supported but support is probably not difficult to achieve. Pull requests are welcome.


On Unix (Linux, macOS)

Binary wheels are available for x86-64 Linux platforms and Intel macOS. 32-bit wheels will be added if anyone needs them.

  • pip install pikepdf

From source

A C++11 compliant compiler is required, which includes most recent versions of GCC (4.8 and up) and clang (3.3 and up). A C++14 compiler is recommended.

libqpdf 7.0.0 is required at compile time and runtime. Many platforms have not updated to this version, so you may need to install this program without a package manager.

  • clone this repository
  • install libjpeg, zlib and qpdf on your platform, including headers
  • pip install ./pikepdf

On Windows (Requires Visual Studio 2015)

Windows is not currently part of continuous integration, so this might not work.

  • For Python 3.5:

    • clone this repository
    • pip install ./pikepdf

pikepdf requires a C++11 compliant compiler (i.e. Visual Studio 2015 on Windows). Running a regular pip install command will detect the version of the compiler used to build Python and attempt to build the extension with it. We must force the use of Visual Studio 2015.

  • clone this repository
  • “%VS140COMNTOOLS%….VCvcvarsall.bat” x64
  • set MSSdk=1
  • pip install ./python_example

Note that this requires the user building python_example to have registry edition rights on the machine, to be able to run the vcvarsall.bat script.

Windows runtime requirements

On Windows, the Visual C++ 2015 redistributable packages are a runtime requirement for this project. It can be found here.

Building the documentation

Documentation for the example project is generated using Sphinx. Sphinx has the ability to automatically inspect the signatures and documentation strings in the extension module to generate beautiful documentation in a variety formats. The following command generates HTML-based reference documentation; for other formats please refer to the Sphinx manual:

  • cd pikepdf/docs
  • make html

About Python 2.7

The author’s priority is building a great PDF library for Python for future applications, which means there isn’t time to target Python 2.7. Currently the C++ source compiles and links correctly, so all that is necessary is backporting Python 3 source files.

It was recently confirmed that the C++ code base compiles and links with Python 2.7. One would need to backport the Python source files and fix any test suite regressions. Pull requests are welcome.


pikepdf is provided under the Mozilla Public License 2.0 license (MPL) that can be found in the LICENSE file. By using, distributing, or contributing to this project, you agree to the terms and conditions of this license.

Informally, MPL 2.0 is a not a “viral” license. It may be combined with other work, including commercial software. However, you must disclose your modifications to pikepdf in source code form. In other works, fork this repository on Github or elsewhere and commit your contributions there, and you’ve satisfied the license.

The tests/resources/copyright file describes licensing terms for the test suite and the provenance of test resources.

Release History

This version
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File Name & Hash SHA256 Hash Help Version File Type Upload Date
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cp35 Wheel Nov 10, 2017
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cp35 Wheel Nov 10, 2017
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cp36 Wheel Nov 10, 2017
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Source Nov 10, 2017

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