Coherent PDF Tools: PDF power at the CLI

Some of you aren’t going to like this next one. Here’s cpdf, from the demonstration version of the Coherent PDF tools.


I had to hesitate myself when I saw this wasn’t the “normal” Linux style of software — available as source code, GPL licensed, etc., etc.

But I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. And really, I think it does a pretty good job, for what I’ve seen.

Command-line PDF tools, aside from conversion utilities like archmage, seem scant. I’ve only used cpdf a few times, but it seems to have most of the PDF editing tools covered.

Among its tools, you can split, merge, rotate, encrypt, scale, compress, watermark, annotate, list fonts … and reverse most of those actions, plus more. It seems quite intuitive, with an in- and out-file flag system, page ranges, natural language cues for “even” or “odd” pages, and so forth.

Short of viewing a PDF file, this might be the answer to batch adjusting large groups of PDFs, or managing complex processing on one or two at a time.

As far as its license and redistribution … well, your conscience can be your guide. 😐

4 thoughts on “Coherent PDF Tools: PDF power at the CLI

  1. Antonio

    I always use pdftk for pdf-manipulation tasks. From the pdftk page (, “If PDF is electronic paper, then PDFtk is an electronic staple-remover, hole-punch, binder, secret-decoder-ring, and X-Ray-glasses.”

    Oh, and the command-line tool (which then seem to call PDFtk server in the page), is GPL licensed.

    If that better that cpdf? I don’t know. But I like the ability to simply run an “apt-get install pdftk” on debian or ubuntu to get all that capability quickly installed.

  2. firecat53

    Wow!! Over $300 US for a license! That seems excessive to me, but I guess I don’t buy much software outright. It may be easier, but you’d really have to deal with A LOT of PDF’s for that to pencil out.


  3. Pingback: pdftk: All the others mixed together, and then some | Inconsolation

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