Exporting Web Content as PDF with html2pdf.js

Have you ever wanted your web app to export specific elements as a PDF file? Whether you need to save invoices, generate reports, or create downloadable content, exporting HTML to PDF is a highly desirable feature. Enter html2pdf.js—a powerful JavaScript library that makes this task simple and efficient.

Use Cases

The ability to export web content as a PDF has numerous practical applications:

  1. Invoices and Receipts: Automatically generate PDF invoices or receipts for e-commerce transactions.
  2. Reports and Summaries: Allow users to download summaries or detailed reports directly from your web app.
  3. Forms and Applications: Export completed forms or applications as PDFs for record-keeping or submission purposes.
  4. Content Publishing: Enable users to download articles, tutorials, or other content as PDF documents.
  5. Event Tickets: Create and download event tickets or confirmations.

Developer Proficiency Level

Using html2pdf.js requires basic to intermediate proficiency in JavaScript and familiarity with HTML and CSS. If you know how to manipulate the DOM and understand basic JavaScript syntax, you can easily implement html2pdf.js in your project.

What is html2pdf.js?

html2pdf.js is a JavaScript library that allows you to convert HTML content to a PDF file effortlessly. It is built on top of two other libraries: jsPDF and html2canvas. Together, these libraries capture the HTML content, convert it to a canvas, and then export it as a PDF.

HTML to PDF Example

Invoice

Date: 2024-06-24

ItemPrice
Widget$10.00
Gadget$15.00
Doohickey$20.00
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <title>HTML to PDF Example</title>
    <script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/html2pdf.js/0.9.2/html2pdf.bundle.min.js"></script>
    <style>
        #invoice {
            width: 600px;
            margin: 0 auto;
            padding: 20px;
            border: 1px solid #ccc;
            border-radius: 5px;
            font-size:14px;
        }
        h1.sample {
            text-align: center;
          font-size:18px;

        }
        table {
            width: 100%;
            border-collapse: collapse;
            margin-top: 10px;  margin-bottom: 40px;
          
        }
        table, th, td {
            border: 1px solid black;
        }
        th, td {
            text-align: left;
        }
        #download {
            display: block;
            width: 200px;
            margin: 20px auto;
            padding: 10px;
            background-color: #28a745;
            color: #fff;
            text-align: center;
            border: none;
            border-radius: 5px;
            cursor: pointer;
        }
        #download:hover {
            background-color: #218838;
        }
    </style>
</head>
<body>
    <div id="invoice">
        <h1 class='sample'>Invoice</h1>
        <p>Date: 2024-06-24</p>
        <table>
            <tr>
                <th>Item</th>
                <th>Price</th>
            </tr>
            <tr>
                <td>Widget</td>
                <td>$10.00</td>
            </tr>
            <tr>
                <td>Gadget</td>
                <td>$15.00</td>
            </tr>
            <tr>
                <td>Doohickey</td>
                <td>$20.00</td>
            </tr>
        </table>
    </div>
    <button id="download">Download PDF</button>

    <script>
        document.getElementById('download').addEventListener('click', () => {
            const element = document.getElementById('invoice');
            const options = {
                margin: 1,
                filename: 'invoice.pdf',
                image: { type: 'jpeg', quality: 0.98 },
                html2canvas: { scale: 2 },
                jsPDF: { unit: 'in', format: 'letter', orientation: 'portrait' }
            };

            html2pdf()
                .from(element)
                .set(options)
                .save();
        });
    </script>
</body>
</html>

Getting Started with html2pdf.js

Step 1: Include html2pdf.js in Your Project

You can include html2pdf.js in your project by adding the following script tags to your HTML file:

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/html2pdf.js/0.9.2/html2pdf.bundle.min.js"></script>

Step 2: Create the HTML Content

Prepare the HTML content you want to convert to a PDF. For instance:

<div id="invoice">
  <h1>Invoice</h1>
  <p>Date: 2024-06-24</p>
  <table>
    <tr>
      <th>Item</th>
      <th>Price</th>
    </tr>
    <tr>
      <td>Widget</td>
      <td>$10.00</td>
    </tr>
  </table>
</div>
<button id="download">Download PDF</button>

Step 3: Write the JavaScript Code

Now, add the JavaScript code to capture the HTML content and generate the PDF:

<script>
  document.getElementById('download').addEventListener('click', () => {
    const element = document.getElementById('invoice');
    html2pdf()
      .from(element)
      .save();
  });
</script>

Formatting the PDF

You can customize the PDF generation by configuring options such as margins, filename, and page size. Here is an example with custom settings:

<script>
  document.getElementById('download').addEventListener('click', () => {
    const element = document.getElementById('invoice');
    const options = {
      margin: 1,
      filename: 'invoice.pdf',
      image: { type: 'jpeg', quality: 0.98 },
      html2canvas: { scale: 2 },
      jsPDF: { unit: 'in', format: 'letter', orientation: 'portrait' }
    };

    html2pdf()
      .from(element)
      .set(options)
      .save();
  });
</script>

Alternatives

1. jsPDF

Description: jsPDF is a popular JavaScript library for generating PDF documents. It provides various methods for adding text, images, and other content to PDFs programmatically.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and fast.
  • Extensive API for adding text, images, shapes, and more.
  • Can be used to create PDFs entirely from scratch.

Cons:

  • Limited support for complex HTML and CSS rendering.
  • Requires additional libraries (e.g., html2canvas) for converting HTML to PDF.

Link: jsPDF GitHub Repository

2. PDFMake

Description: PDFMake is a JavaScript library for creating PDF documents. It uses a declarative approach where you define the PDF structure in JSON format.

Pros:

  • Highly customizable and flexible.
  • Supports table structures and various styling options.
  • Good documentation and community support.

Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve due to the declarative JSON format.
  • Not as straightforward for simple HTML to PDF conversions.

Link: PDFMake GitHub Repository

3. Puppeteer

Description: Puppeteer is a Node.js library that provides a high-level API to control Chrome or Chromium over the DevTools Protocol. It can be used to generate PDFs from web pages.

Pros:

  • Full support for modern web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript).
  • Can handle complex web pages, including dynamic content.
  • Headless browser automation capabilities.

Cons:

  • Requires a Node.js environment.
  • Larger setup and more resource-intensive compared to other libraries.

Link: Puppeteer GitHub Repository

4. wkhtmltopdf

Description: wkhtmltopdf is a command-line tool that uses the Webkit rendering engine to convert HTML and CSS to PDF. It’s often used in server-side environments.

Pros:

  • Excellent rendering quality for complex HTML and CSS.
  • Can handle large documents and complex layouts.
  • Supports additional features like headers, footers, and pagination.

Cons:

  • Requires installation of an external executable.
  • Not a JavaScript library; needs to be called from server-side code.

Link: wkhtmltopdf Official Site

5. PhantomJS

Description: PhantomJS is a headless WebKit scriptable with a JavaScript API. It can be used for various web automation tasks, including converting HTML to PDF.

Pros:

  • Full support for web standards (HTML, CSS, JavaScript).
  • Can handle dynamic content and single-page applications.
  • Headless operation makes it suitable for server-side use.

Cons:

  • No longer actively maintained.
  • Requires more setup and configuration.

Link: PhantomJS GitHub Repository

Conclusion

html2pdf.js simplifies the process of exporting HTML content to PDF, making it an essential tool for web developers. Whether you’re generating invoices, reports, or any other document, html2pdf.js provides a straightforward and customizable solution. By integrating this library into your web app, you can enhance user experience and add significant value to your application.

For more information, visit the html2pdf.js GitHub repository and explore the comprehensive documentation.

Happy coding!

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