Using PDFs with the Jamstack - Now with Thumbnails

Using PDFs with the Jamstack - Now with Thumbnails

A few weeks ago I posted a tutorial on using PDFs with Eleventy. In that post I described how to use a data file to scan a directory of PDFs and make them available to a Liquid template. I then followed up that post with another, where I described using Adobe's PDF Tools API to generate thumbnail images from PDFs. I thought it would be nice to combine the two so I could have my Eleventy site both list the PDFs as well as generate thumbnails. Here's how that looks with me spending about five seconds on layout:

Screenshot of PDF demo

So how did I do it? Keep in mind I described most of the process in my earlier post ("Using the Adobe PDF Tools API to Generate Thumbnails"). The process boils down to:

  • Use Adobe's PDF Tools API to generate a zip of images for each page of the PDF
  • Extract the first file from the zip
  • Resize

I took that logic and combined it with the code from the first demo ("Using PDFs with the Jamstack"). That process was:

  • Use a glob pattern to get PDFs
  • Create an array of those PDFs with names and such to make them easier to use in Liquid
  • Use Eleventy pagination to generate an HTML page per PDF
  • Use the Adobe PDF Embed API to render the PDF in the HTML layout

Here's the updated data file (named pdfs.js):


const globby = require('globby');
const PDFToolsSdk = require('@adobe/documentservices-pdftools-node-sdk');
const nanoid = require('nanoid').nanoid;
const StreamZip = require('node-stream-zip');
const Jimp = require('jimp');
const fs = require('fs');

let creds = {

const outputPath = './tmp/';

const thumbPath = "images/thumbs/";

module.exports = async function() {
	let result = [];

	let files = await globby('./pdfs/**/*.pdf');

	for(let i=0; i < files.length; i++) {
		let pdf = files[i];

		//name safe for a directory
		let name = pdf.split('/').pop().replace('.pdf', '');

		//do we have a thumb, if so, its /path/foo.pdf => /path/foo.jpg
		let thumb = pdf.replace('.pdf', '.jpg');
		if(!fs.existsSync(thumb)) {
			console.log('need to generate '+thumb);

			let zip = await generateImageZip(pdf, creds, outputPath);
			console.log(`image generated from source ${pdf} at ${zip}`);

			let dest = await extractFirstFile(zip, outputPath);
			console.log(`image extracted to ${dest}`);

			await makeThumbnail(dest, 200, 80);
			console.log('Done resizing image.');

			//move to a new filename based on nanoid
			fs.renameSync(dest, thumb);



	return result;

async function generateImageZip(pdfPath, credsPath, outputPath) {

	return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {

		let output = outputPath + nanoid() + '.zip';

		const credentials = PDFToolsSdk.Credentials.serviceAccountCredentialsBuilder()

		const executionContext = PDFToolsSdk.ExecutionContext.create(credentials),
			exportPDF = PDFToolsSdk.ExportPDF,
			exportPdfOperation = exportPDF.Operation.createNew(exportPDF.SupportedTargetFormats.JPEG);

		const input = PDFToolsSdk.FileRef.createFromLocalFile(pdfPath);

		.then(result => result.saveAsFile(output))
		.then(r => {
		.catch(err => {
			if(err instanceof PDFToolsSdk.Error.ServiceApiError
					|| err instanceof PDFToolsSdk.Error.ServiceUsageError) {
					console.log('Exception encountered while executing operation', err);
			} else {
					console.log('Exception encountered while executing operation', err);

async function extractFirstFile(zip, outputPath) {

	return new Promise(async (resolve, reject) => {
		// Read the zip and extract the first file
		let zipFile = new StreamZip.async({file: zip });

		const entries = await zipFile.entries();
		let first = Object.values(entries)[0];

		let dest = outputPath + nanoid() + '.' +'.').pop();

		await zipFile.extract(, dest );
		await zipFile.close();

async function makeThumbnail(path, width, quality) {

	const image = await;
	await image.resize(width, Jimp.AUTO);
	await image.quality(quality);
	await image.writeAsync(path);
	return true;


That's a bit long, but let me point out the highlights. First off, I modified my use of Adobe's Node SDK to use variables instead of files. This let me store everything in a .env file that would be regular environment variables in production. That makes the initial setup a few more lines of code, but the code is safer to check into source control now:

const credentials = PDFToolsSdk.Credentials.serviceAccountCredentialsBuilder()

I still use a glob to get my PDFs, but now I look for a corresponding filename with the .jpg extension. If it doesn't exist, I generate the thumbnail. This makes it quite a bit more performant. In my initial version I simply regenerated it everytime, but while the API was pretty fast, that's still a lot of work I don't need to do more than once.

The other change was to include the thumb filename in the result data:


And really, that's it. As I said, I did modify the homepage to show the thumbnails and used a bit of CSS, so if you're curious, you can peruse the entire codebase here:

Raymond Camden's Picture

About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

Lafayette, LA