Is IronPDF an iTextSharp Alternative?

iTextSharp is an open source and commercial C# library to create PDF documents in MVC and .Net Projects.

Common question we are asked are:

  • “can we explain the key differences between IronPDF and iTextSharp?,
  • "is iTextSharp an IronPDF alternative?"

We are happy to try and offer a balanced opinion. iTextSharp is ideal for some .Net projects, but not others. We have developed IronPDF to fill the needs that developers have communicated with us.


iTextSharp and IronPDF are very similar in that they are popular C# developed PDF manipulation and generation libraries for .Net software developers to use in their projects.

IronPDF and iTextSharp C# libraries both provide the ability to Create, Edit and Print PDF files in .Net. Both can also read PDF text, data, table, and image examples very competently.

Key Differences

iTextSharp.dll uses a primarily programmatic model to render PDFs.

When using iTextSharp PDF library, each piece of pdf text, graphic, table or line is “plotted” or drawn onto a PDF. This model allows precision but many developers complain that it is time consuming to generate PDFs - and that it is very time hard to closely match existing design styles or web assets.

The iTextSharp DLL has advanced PDF manipulation APIs that are powerful, and follow the PDF standard closely.

When viewing iTextSharp documentation, we see is a port of a Java Library called "iText". In keeping, the methodology and programatic interface has a distinct Java flavor.

In contrast, Iron PDF uses an embedded, full Chromium based web browser renderer to convert html to pdf (including C# code examples) allowing developers to generate PDFs from HTML, images and CSS. This allows developers to work closely with existing web assets and also work in parallel with designers during a project. Although iText includes iTextSharp HTML to PDF functionality for C# .Net - developers report that it is not as far developed or dominant within the iTextSharp library.

IronPDF focuses on developer productivity. The Library simplifies many common complex PDF code tasks into convenient C# methods to extract text and images, sign PDFS, edit PDFS with new HTML and so on - without the developer needing to study the PDF document standard to understand how to achieve their best result.

IronPDF was build with .Net and C# in mind from the beginning, and aims to be completely intuitive for .Net developers to use.


Is iTextSharp Free? Developers report that is is only actually free in very specific use cases.

iTextSharp is Open Source under the AGPL license agreement. This is probably the strictest Copyright open source license - meaning that anyone who uses any part of an application using iTextSharp - even over a local network OR over the internet must be give the application’s full source code.

This license is often used for highly academic works that are intended to stay academic, and also for open source projects who intend paid usage for software deployed outside of academic environments.

This makes the open source iTextSharp license unfeasible for commercial use, unless a private license can be arranged and negotiated with the developers.

IronPDF, is an openly commercial C# PDF library. It is free to development use, but must be licensed for commercial deployment. Our license prices and license terms are standardized on this website - which means that no negotiation of legal fees need be incurred to use IronPDF in a non-academic application.

We think this is a clearer license model that does not require developers to learn the ins and outs of GNU / AGPL license models.


There are a number of PDF Libraries for C# including PDFSharp, WKhtmltopdf and iTextSharp. A few of these options are described in our IronPDF C# Html to PDF Tutorial.

In this article we've seen that IronPDF and iTextSharp are fair alternatives to one another, but each suits different project types:


  • AGLP strict open source licensing, lends its self to academic projects
  • Programmatic drawing model to create PDFs with iTextSharp
  • Allows developers to Edit and Read pdf files with iTextSharp in C#
  • Offers excellent and deeply technical functionality for PDF manipulation
  • Based on a Java library, and some developers perceive a Java flavor to the code interface


  • Commercial Licensing, lends its self to commercial website and software development projects
  • HTML-to-PDF model to create PDFs
  • Offers high level PDF manipulation methods for productive solutions to everyday problems working with PDFs in C#
  • Built in C# and designed exclusively for .Net developers

Our Team are working on further iTextSharp examples to show the differences with IronPDF. These will be published at a later date.

Download IronPDF as an iTextSharp Alternative.