New PDF Interpreter for Ghostscript

For the past few years, the Ghostscript development team has, amongst many other things, been working on a “from the ground-up” rewrite of the PDF interpreter. This code is now feature complete and has been released in Ghostscript 9.55.0.


The original PDF interpreter, as currently supplied with Ghostscript, is written in PostScript. The new PDF interpreter is written entirely in C. Because the interpreter no longer relies on PostScript, however, it can be divorced from it. It is now possible to create a stand-alone PDF interpreter, GhostPDF, and it is integrated as a separate module in the language-switching product GhostPDL.

The code is now released, and the new executable ‘gpdf’ (gpdfwin32 or gpdfwin64 on Windows) can be used directly to process PDF files without using the PostScript interpreter. Ghostscript (the PostScript interpreter) can still process PDF files, but to use the new interpreter you must add -dNEWPDF to the command line.

The current plan is to change the priority of the interpreters in Ghostscript at the next (Spring 2022) release so that the C-based interpreter is the default, but the old code is still present as a fallback in case of problems. The release after that (Autumn 2022) we plan to remove the old PostScript-based interpreter completely. This schedule will depend on feedback from customers and users.

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