Convert PDF to JSON – Convert PDF Documents to Structured JSON Objects

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • What is a PDF?
  • What is a JSON?
  • How JSON differ from PDF?
  • How to Convert PDF to JSON?


Organizations in various industries widely use PDF documents, since no doubt PDF is a common document format for businesses to transfer data. Purchase orders, Invoices, Agreements and many more document types are interchanged in PDF formats.

On the other hand, JSON is another format that represents data in a structured format, which is widely used in transferring data between web applications. As a result, Working with JSON is much easier than with PDF. Therefore, in this article, we will talk about PDF and JSON formats and how you can convert your PDF documents to JSON format.

What is a PDF?

PDF (Portable Document Format) was initially developed by Adobe® Systems in 1992 and is standardized as ISO 32000. What makes PDF so popular is its being independent from the application software, hardware and operating system. Other than text and images PDF files may contain a variety of content such as annotations, form fields, layers, etc.

There are many advantages of PDF format such as multi-dimensionality, which we have already mentioned – being able to contain various types of content, text, images, videos, vector graphics, interactive fields, hyperlinks and buttons. Moreover, PDF documents are easily created and viewed on different devices. 

Security in PDF was one of the primary concerns of Adobe® Systems. Therefore, PDF has different access levels to protect the content and the whole document, such as passwords, digital signatures and watermarks.

However, some of the downsides of a PDF are the complexity for editing and especially extracting data from them. Moreover, PDFs are not generated in the same way, so different PDF files can be created in various ways, which complicates the task of extracting data from PDF documents.

What is a JSON?

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is very popular data format, which appeared in the early 2000s. JSON is a language-independent data format and is used to transfer data between software applications, particularly web applications, usually between server and client. 

Most of the API integrations are realized using JSON format for data transfer, since it is very easy to work with JSON. Consider a JSON object called person, which contains the following information:{
   "name": "John",
   "surname": "Doe",
   "age": 25

Accessing fields of a JSON object is as simple as using the name of the object and the field name you want to access by separating them with a dot as follows:

To access person’s name we use, which will give us “John” as a result. Similarly, we do for surname and age fields: person.surnameperson.age

Note how easy it is to access any field of a JSON object, which is definitely not compared to accessing specific information in the PDF document.

How JSON differs from PDF?

Although PDF and JSON are both widely spread and used, there is a huge difference between PDF and JSON. The difference between them is simply in the purpose of their usage. PDF is mainly used for exchanging information between humans, since it contains text, graphics, illustrations such as images and videos, etc. On the other hand, JSON is mainly used between computer programs and different applications for communicating and exchanging data between each other.

It is not an easy task for a human to read information from the JSON file, especially if it is compressed one, while it is a perfect way for accessing information from JSON for a software application. The opposite goes for the PDF. Therefore, PDF and JSON become important, useful and helpful only when they are used in the right place and for the right purpose.

How to Convert PDF to JSON?

Often, organizations need to transfer data to other programs for further processing. This data is often stored in PDF documents, since businesses often speak to each other in a “PDF language”. However, extracting information from PDF documents can be challenging. 

The simplest solution is that you can always copy and paste text from a PDF and send it to where it belongs. However, this simple approach has many problems, since first of all this will work only with native PDF files (not scans) for which you can even use some free PDF Parsers. Another problem, even if your PDF documents are all native, it is not easy to copy entire table from a PDF by maintaining its format, especially if table spans over multiple pages, for example 100 or 1000 pages. Additionally, often organizations need to extract specific data from PDFs, for example not the entire table, but instead specific rows or columns based on some conditions. Last, but not least, it is not worth to spend your valuable time on menial data entry!

Convert PDF documents to JSON with AlgoDocs

AlgoDocs offers a perfect solution to extract any type of data from PDF documents and transfer it to other programs in real time. AlgoDocs can extract fields and tables of any complexity from native as well as scanned PDF documents. You can convert your PDF documents to JSON in three steps with AlgoDocs.

  1. First, start by creating an extractor in AlgoDocs. AlgoDocs has some preprocessing operations that take some time depending on the number of pages your PDF document contains; usually it is around 15-20 seconds.
  2. Then, go to ‘Extracting Rules’ editor to create your extracting rules for every field you need to extract from your PDF documents. Similarly, if you need to extract tables from your PDF documents you can create extracting rules for tables by selecting ‘Table’ as the data type.
  3. After you are done with creating extracting rules, you can upload hundreds and thousands of PDF documents using File Manager in AlgoDocs or import your documents via Google DriveDropboxZapierAlgoDocs Inbound Email or AlgoDocs API. Remember that you need to create an extractor only once and then just import your documents and export extracted data to JSON or other formats, such as Excel or XML or send it to hundreds of other applications in real time.

Feel free to start a free subscription right now and convert your PDF documents to JSON. You can use AlgoDocs free forever with 50 pages per month. If you need to process a higher number of pages, then please see our affordable pricing plans.

Watch our quick introduction to start converting your PDF documents to JSON.

If you have specific requirements or need a custom solution, please contact us.

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