Prince XML and Open Educational Resources

Why I choose Prince XML for my PDFs on this site

Prince print with css logo
This site uses Prince 11 to convert the web content into PDFs that can be printed or viewed offline.

I have chosen to use Prince XML to create the PDFs on this website. For creating PDFs in Pressbooks, administrators are given three main options.

For many, this decision boils down to one factor, is the product commercial or open source? As I look at many Pressbooks installations across the internet, it seems that by far the most commonly used PDF creation tool is the mPDF plugin which is maintained by Brad Dolor (bdolor) from the BC Open Campus and stored for anyone to download on their GitHub. This package has definite advantages. By installing their one plugin, in one step you will be able to export PDFs. These are functional, but they lose some of the stylings of the Pressbooks theme. As an open source plugin, they can quickly and easily create PDFs.

However, to get the best great-looking PDFs, Prince XML or DocRaptor will do a better job converting the Pressbooks content into a printable format. Using Prince XML keeps the styling from themes to make the PDFs look just as good as they do on the web.

While mPDF is an open-source tool, Prince XML is a commercial product. An academic server license for Prince XML is $1900, which might catch people off guard. What many people may not know, is that Prince offers a non-commercial license. So if you are using Pressbooks to create Open Educational Resources (OER), you may install Prince and use their non-commercial license. Doing this does have some strings attached:

  • I need to have a link to Prince prominently displayed on my website.
  • Every PDF that is exported will have a small watermark on the first page to let everyone know that this was created using the non-commercial Prince XML.
  • Every document must be made available without a cost.

Because this OER site is set up in the spirit of sharing and with no commercial aspirations, I have no difficulty with any of those requirements. I am proud to refer others to Prince XML because I am thankful that they have made provisions for non-commerical uses.

If you are attempting to create books commercially, I encourage you to look at DocRaptor as an alternative. DocRaptor is a cloud service that uses Prince XML, but instead of a significant upfront cost, they have monthly plans as low as $15 per month. You get all the great benefits of Prince with a more economical upfront cost. Simply download Pressbooks-DocRaptor from the Pressbooks Github and follow the instructions in the readme file to enter your API key from your account at DocRaptor.com.