Assignment types ::: assignment_uploadpdf
Maintained by DavoDavo Smith
Annotate student's work within your browser and return it as a PDF
Latest release:
110 sites
13 fans
Current versions available: 2

For Moodle 2.3 (and above) this plugin has been replaced by the following pair of plugins:



Newly updated to work with Moodle 2.0. Warning: there is currently no clean upgrade from Moodle 1.9 => Moodle 2.0 for this plugin, any assignments created under Moodle 1.9 will lose all coversheets and submitted files on upgrade (I will try to find a fix for this). All other features should work fully with Moodle 2.0.

Students submit their work as a PDF (which can be generated from any application by using a PDF printer, such as the free PDFCreator). An optional coversheet is automatically attached (filled in with details gathered from the student as they submit the work).

The pages of the assignment are then presented, as images, in the teacher's browser window, allowing them to add comments and line annotations to each page. Comments can be edited, moved and resized as much as you like. You can also choose from a range of tasteful background and line colours (or no background at all).

Once the teacher is satisfied with their comments and annotations, their response is saved as a PDF and automatically returned to the student (along with the usual comment, grade and outcomes which are found in all assignments).

Important: please make sure you read the instructions (in README.txt) carefully - you will need to install a copy of GhostScript to make this plugin work and (if you are using a Windows-based server) edit one file in this plugin to tell it where to find GhostScript.

  • Linux server:
  1. Install ghostscript from your distribution repository
  2. Download the UploadPDF plugin from the link below and unzip to a suitable folder
  3. Upload the files to your server and place them in the folder [moodleroot]/mod/assignment/type/uploadpdf (make sure the files go directly into this folder and you do NOT end up with a folder 'type/uploadpdf/uploadpdf')
  4. Log into your Moodle site as administrator and click on 'Notifications'

Windows server:

  1. Download the ghostscript installer fromhttp://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/
  2. Install this on the server, but make sure the path does not include a space (e.g. install to 'c:\gs' NOT to 'c:\Program Files\gs') - you can also install on a local computer and then upload the 'gswin32c.exe' and 'gsdll32.dll' file from the 'bin' folder to your server
  3. (IIS only) Make sure that the permissions are set correctly on the ghostscript exe/dll to allow PHP to run them
  4. Download the UploadPDF plugin from the link below and unzip to a suitable folder
  5. Edit the file 'uploadpdf_config.php' to include the path to where you installed ghostscript (instructions are in this file)
  6. Upload the files to your server and place them in the folder [moodleroot]/mod/assignment/type/uploadpdf (make sure the files go directly into this folder and you do NOT end up with a folder 'type/uploadpdf/uploadpdf')
  7. Log into your Moodle site as administrator and click on 'Notifications'

Overview video:



Screenshot #0


Davo Smith (Lead maintainer)
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  • Davo
    Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 3:28 PM
    I'm afraid i haven't done much work on the 2.3 version for a while. I still hope to complete it, but I've not had much spare time to work on it. If there is anyone out there who is interested in funding the development (or grouping together with others who are interested in the upgrade), it's probably about 3 days work to get it converted (which equates to quite a lot of spare evenings) - contact Synergy Learning ( http://www.synergy-learning.com ) for a quote.

  • Thu, Oct 18, 2012, 8:34 PM
    Davo I am more than willing to help out with this. We have had contact from other local colleges with the same issues. Can we speak via email so I can have just a quick rundown?

  • Davo
    Thu, Oct 18, 2012, 8:35 PM
    You are welcome to contact me via moodle AT davosmith.co.uk
  • Mon, Nov 26, 2012, 11:39 PM
    does this require HTML5 enabled browsers as I am stuggling with Internet Explorer 8 to get this working on client machines.
  • Davo
    Mon, Nov 26, 2012, 11:43 PM
    No, this does not rely on HTML5 (it predates HTML5). Earlier versions of it were used successfully with IE6 (in Moodle 1.9, although I suspect it is no longer compatible with IE6), but was certainly used regularly with IE7 / IE8 over several years.

    I do not currently have a copy of IE8 to hand (I may still have a virtual machine with it in somewhere), but it certainly worked fine last time I tried (but something may have changed in Moodle since then).
  • Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 12:01 AM
    Hi Davo. As usual, just to say many thanks for putting this and your other plugins together; we make heavy use of them here (but particularly this one). On that note, I've just had a tutor report what appears to be an issue to do with page formatting. Previously, the tutor was able to work with landscape format .pdf submissions without issue - both in the annotating phase and when generating a response file. Now, however, after updating to version 2013011200, landscape submissions have their right side cut off due to the page being presented in portrait format. Please see the following as an example:

    Just for information, we still have some landscape format submissions that were made under the old version of the plugin which display correctly when in annotating mode (presumably because the previous version was able to correctly handle the page formatting and rendering at the time of submission); however, when now generating a response with one of these files it then gets its right side cut off. This wasn't happening previously.

    I realise your development focus may have shifted to 2.3-4, etc. - but any insight you can offer would be very much appreciated.
  • Davo
    Tue, Feb 19, 2013, 2:07 PM
    Roland - my focus has shifted to the new Moodle 2.3/2.4 versions of this plugin. However, if you drop me an email to moodle AT davosmith.co.uk and attach an example PDF that is not working correctly, then I'll see if I can investigate what is going wrong.
  • Thu, Apr 25, 2013, 1:32 PM
    Fantastic plugin. I have it installed and working on 2.5 beta as well.
    What would take this over the top would be the ability to use it on a tablet (android or iOs). Currently it appears that the default drag action moves the screen/paper around instead of drawing (based on the button that is pressed).
    Could/Should I add this to tracker.moodle.org as a feature request?
  • Davo
    Thu, Apr 25, 2013, 2:16 PM
    John. I'm not going to be going any more development work on this plugin - I am focusing on the replacement linked at the top of the page. Tablet support is something I've considered, but I need to solve the problem of getting stuck in the middle of a page and not being able to scroll back up (plus I don't own a tablet to develop on).
  • Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 9:31 PM
    Thank you for this. Will there be a release for moodle 2.5 as well??

  • Davo
    Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 10:48 PM
    Andreas - please read the first line of the description on this page.
  • Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 3:42 AM
    I installed the plugin in Moodle 2.4 It seems that works fine if the activity only accepts a single pdf document.

    I have an Assignment which accepts both files and pdf files.
    A student is trying to upload a pdf file, but the message error says that is not a valid file.
    Then he uploads the same file into the regular file box and there's not an error message, the file uploads fine.

    Is there a restriction in the plugin? Why a pdf file can't be uploaded in the pdf plugin box, but in the regular file box?

  • Davo
    Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 4:28 AM
    Hi Erika.

    I'm not quite sure what to suggest - I've just fired up my Moodle 2.4 test site (with the latest 2.4 version of my plugins already installed), created an assignment with both file and PDF submission enabled and successfully uploaded a PDF file to both.

    Please be aware that the PDF is processed during submission (to add the coversheet, if applicable, and to combine together multiple files, if there is more than one PDF submitted), so the error may be related to the software being unable to read the content of the PDF.

    Does the error occur at the point where the file is uploaded, or at the point when the student clicks on 'Save changes'?
  • Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 11:47 PM
    Hi Davo, when the student uploads the pdf file and clicks 'Save changes' seems like nothing happened (sorry my english)
    the page doesn't shows an error message and it stays in the same page.

    If the studen clicks 'Cancel' at the returning to the previous page at the end of the summary of the Assignment shows a red box with text like:

    'Imagen_Mama.pdf' no es un PDF válido

    But that pdf file 'Imagen_Mama.pdf' uploads fine in the regular file upload box.

    I wish i can upload here the file and the images sad
  • Davo
    Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 11:51 PM
    Feel free to email me on moodle@davosmith.co.uk and I will see if I can spot anything that will help.
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