As for what's needed in this specific area, the biggest thing lacking is tests. When I took over PDF::Template 4 years ago, there was no easy way of testing PDFs. One of the reasons I was so interested in converting PDF::Template to use PDF::Writer as its engine is that writing tests for PDF::Template become much simpler (see how I wrote tests for Excel::Template as a good example). In the meantime, Test::PDF has been released to CPAN and would make a very good way to test PDF::Template or PDF::Writer.
The most immediate need is to get off of the PDFlib v3 API and either onto PDF::Writer (best solution) or the PDFlib v6 API (better than nothing). After that, there's a number of directions you can go.
- Build in support for HTML-like tables. (The single-most requested feature).
- Move off of the XML templating format and to a TT-based format. (Fixes a bunch of design flaws and gets us out of the templating business and into the PDF-generation business)
- Make a bigger deal of the custom nodes feature.
- Add the ability to draw (second-most requested feature)
As you have low-level PDF experience, this sounds like it might be a good fit. I'll /msg you my email and we can chat further.
My criteria for good software:
- Does it work?
- Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?