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PDF generator (from HTML) plugin for Ruby on Rails

Merge pull request #454 from reenhanced/master

Fix issue rendering stylesheets with embedded assets
latest commit 803f8d55ab
@unixmonkey unixmonkey authored

Wicked PDF Build Status Gem Version

A PDF generation plugin for Ruby on Rails

Wicked PDF uses the shell utility wkhtmltopdf to serve a PDF file to a user from HTML. In other words, rather than dealing with a PDF generation DSL of some sort, you simply write an HTML view as you would normally, then let Wicked PDF take care of the hard stuff.

Wicked PDF has been verified to work on Ruby versions 1.8.7 through 2.1; Rails 2 through 4.1


Add this to your Gemfile and run bundle install:

gem 'wicked_pdf'

Then create the initializer with

rails generate wicked_pdf

You may also need to add

Mime::Type.register "application/pdf", :pdf

to config/initializers/mime_types.rb in older versions of Rails.

Because wicked_pdf is a wrapper for wkhtmltopdf, you'll need to install that, too.

The simplest way to install all of the binaries (Linux, OSX, Windows) is through the gem wkhtmltopdf-binary. To install that, add a second gem

gem 'wkhtmltopdf-binary'

To your Gemfile and run bundle install.

If your wkhtmltopdf executable is not on your webserver's path, you can configure it in an initializer:

WickedPdf.config = {
  exe_path: '/usr/local/bin/wkhtmltopdf'

For more information about wkhtmltopdf, see the project's homepage.

Basic Usage

class ThingsController < ApplicationController
  def show
    respond_to do |format|
      format.pdf do
        render pdf: "file_name"   # Excluding ".pdf" extension.

Usage Conditions - Important!

The wkhtmltopdf binary is run outside of your Rails application; therefore, your normal layouts will not work. If you plan to use any CSS, Javascript, or image files, you must modify your layout so that you provide an absolute reference to these files. The best option for Rails without the asset pipeline is to use the wicked_pdf_stylesheet_link_tag, wicked_pdf_image_tag, and wicked_pdf_javascript_include_tag helpers or to go straight to a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for popular libraries such as jQuery.

wicked_pdf helpers

<!doctype html>
    <meta charset='utf-8' />
    <%= wicked_pdf_stylesheet_link_tag "pdf" -%>
    <%= wicked_pdf_javascript_include_tag "number_pages" %>
  <body onload='number_pages'>
    <div id="header">
      <%= wicked_pdf_image_tag 'mysite.jpg' %>
    <div id="content">
      <%= yield %>

CDN reference

In this case, you can use that standard Rails helpers and point to the current CDN for whichever framework you are using. For jQuery, it would look somethng like this, given the current versions at the time of this writing.

    <!doctype html>
        <%= javascript_include_tag "" %>
        <%= javascript_include_tag "" %>

Asset pipeline usage

The way to handle this for the asset pipeline on Heroku is to include these files in your asset precompile list, as follows:

config.assets.precompile += ['blueprint/screen.css', 'pdf.css', 'jquery.ui.datepicker.js', 'pdf.js', ...etc...]

Advanced Usage with all available options

class ThingsController < ApplicationController
  def show
    respond_to do |format|
      format.pdf do
        render pdf:                            'file_name',
               disposition:                    'attachment',                 # default 'inline'
               template:                       'things/show.pdf.erb',
               file:                           "#{Rails.root}/files/foo.erb"
               layout:                         'pdf.html',                   # use 'pdf.html' for a pdf.html.erb file
               wkhtmltopdf:                    '/usr/local/bin/wkhtmltopdf', # path to binary
               show_as_html:                   params.key?('debug'),         # allow debugging based on url param
               orientation:                    'Landscape',                  # default Portrait
               page_size:                      'A4, Letter, ...',            # default A4
               page_height:                    NUMBER,
               page_width:                     NUMBER,
               save_to_file:                   Rails.root.join('pdfs', "#{filename}.pdf"),
               save_only:                      false,                        # depends on :save_to_file being set first
               proxy:                          'TEXT',
               basic_auth:                     false                         # when true username & password are automatically sent from session
               username:                       'TEXT',
               password:                       'TEXT',
               title:                          'Alternate Title',            # otherwise first page title is used
               cover:                          'URL, Pathname, or raw HTML string',
               dpi:                            'dpi',
               encoding:                       'TEXT',
               user_style_sheet:               'URL',
               cookie:                         ['_session_id SESSION_ID'], # could be an array or a single string in a 'name value' format
               post:                           ['query QUERY_PARAM'],      # could be an array or a single string in a 'name value' format
               redirect_delay:                 NUMBER,
               javascript_delay:               NUMBER,
               image_quality:                  NUMBER,
               no_pdf_compression:             true,
               zoom:                           FLOAT,
               page_offset:                    NUMBER,
               book:                           true,
               default_header:                 true,
               disable_javascript:             false,
               grayscale:                      true,
               lowquality:                     true,
               enable_plugins:                 true,
               disable_internal_links:         true,
               disable_external_links:         true,
               print_media_type:               true,
               disable_smart_shrinking:        true,
               use_xserver:                    true,
               no_background:                  true,
               viewport_size:                  'TEXT',                    # available only with use_xserver or patched QT
               extra:                          '',                        # directly inserted into the command to wkhtmltopdf
               outline: {   outline:           true,
                            outline_depth:     LEVEL },
               margin:  {   top:               SIZE,                     # default 10 (mm)
                            bottom:            SIZE,
                            left:              SIZE,
                            right:             SIZE },
               header:  {   html: {            template: 'users/header.pdf.erb',  # use :template OR :url
                                               layout:   'pdf_plain.html',        # optional, use 'pdf_plain.html' for a pdf_plain.html.erb file, defaults to main layout
                                               url:      '',
                                               locals:   { foo: @bar }},
                            center:            'TEXT',
                            font_name:         'NAME',
                            font_size:         SIZE,
                            left:              'TEXT',
                            right:             'TEXT',
                            spacing:           REAL,
                            line:              true,
                            content:           'HTML CONTENT ALREADY RENDERED'}, # optionally you can pass plain html already rendered (useful if using pdf_from_string)
               footer:  {   html: {   template:'shared/footer.pdf.erb', # use :template OR :url
                                      layout:  'pdf_plain.html',        # optional, use 'pdf_plain.html' for a pdf_plain.html.erb file, defaults to main layout
                                      url:     '',
                                      locals:  { foo: @bar }},
                            center:            'TEXT',
                            font_name:         'NAME',
                            font_size:         SIZE,
                            left:              'TEXT',
                            right:             'TEXT',
                            spacing:           REAL,
                            line:              true,
                            content:           'HTML CONTENT ALREADY RENDERED'}, # optionally you can pass plain html already rendered (useful if using pdf_from_string)
               toc:     {   font_name:         "NAME",
                            depth:             LEVEL,
                            header_text:       "TEXT",
                            header_fs:         SIZE,
                            text_size_shrink:  0.8,
                            l1_font_size:      SIZE,
                            l2_font_size:      SIZE,
                            l3_font_size:      SIZE,
                            l4_font_size:      SIZE,
                            l5_font_size:      SIZE,
                            l6_font_size:      SIZE,
                            l7_font_size:      SIZE,
                            level_indentation: NUM,
                            l1_indentation:    NUM,
                            l2_indentation:    NUM,
                            l3_indentation:    NUM,
                            l4_indentation:    NUM,
                            l5_indentation:    NUM,
                            l6_indentation:    NUM,
                            l7_indentation:    NUM,
                            no_dots:           true,
                            disable_dotted_lines:  true,
                            disable_links:     true,
                            disable_toc_links: true,
                            xsl_style_sheet:   'file.xsl'} # optional XSLT stylesheet to use for styling table of contents

By default, it will render without a layout (layout: false) and the template for the current controller and action.

Super Advanced Usage

If you need to just create a pdf and not display it:

# create a pdf from a string
pdf ='<h1>Hello There!</h1>')

# create a pdf file from a html file without converting it to string
# Path must be absolute path
pdf ='/your/absolute/path/here')

# create a pdf from a URL
pdf ='')

# create a pdf from string using templates, layouts and content option for header or footer
pdf =
  render_to_string('templates/pdf.html.erb', layout: 'pdfs/layout_pdf'),
  footer: {
    content: render_to_string(layout: 'pdfs/layout_pdf')

# or from your controller, using views & templates and all wicked_pdf options as normal
pdf = render_to_string pdf: "some_file_name", template: "templates/pdf.html.erb", encoding: "UTF-8"

# then save to a file
save_path = Rails.root.join('pdfs','filename.pdf'), 'wb') do |file|
  file << pdf

If you need to display utf encoded characters, add this to your pdf views or layouts:

<meta charset="utf-8" />

Page Numbering

A bit of javascript can help you number your pages. Create a template or header/footer file with this:

      function number_pages() {
        var vars={};
        for(var i in x) {var z=x[i].split('=',2);vars[z[0]] = decodeURIComponent(z[1]);}
        var x=['frompage','topage','page','webpage','section','subsection','subsubsection'];
        for(var i in x) {
          var y = document.getElementsByClassName(x[i]);
          for(var j=0; j<y.length; ++j) y[j].textContent = vars[x[i]];
  <body onload="number_pages()">
    Page <span class="page"></span> of <span class="topage"></span>

Anything with a class listed in "var x" above will be auto-filled at render time.

If you do not have explicit page breaks (and therefore do not have any "page" class), you can also use wkhtmltopdf's built in page number generation by setting one of the headers to "[page]":

render pdf: 'filename', header: { right: '[page] of [topage]' }


You can put your default configuration, applied to all pdf's at "wicked_pdf.rb" initializer.

Rack Middleware

If you would like to have WickedPdf automatically generate PDF views for all (or nearly all) pages by appending .pdf to the URL, add the following to your Rails app:

# in application.rb (Rails3) or environment.rb (Rails2)
require 'wicked_pdf'
config.middleware.use WickedPdf::Middleware

If you want to turn on or off the middleware for certain urls, use the :only or :except conditions like so:

# conditions can be plain strings or regular expressions, and you can supply only one or an array
config.middleware.use WickedPdf::Middleware, {}, only: '/invoice'
config.middleware.use WickedPdf::Middleware, {}, except: [ %r[^/admin], '/secret', %r[^/people/\d] ]

If you use the standard render pdf: 'some_pdf' in your app, you will want to exclude those actions from the middleware.

Further Reading

Andreas Happe's post Generating PDFs from Ruby on Rails

JESii's post WickedPDF, wkhtmltopdf, and Heroku...a tricky combination

StackOverflow questions with the tag "wicked-pdf"


Now you can use a debug param on the URL that shows you the content of the pdf in plain html to design it faster.

First of all you must configure the render parameter show_as_html: params.key?('debug') and then just use it like you normally would but add "debug" as a GET param in the URL:


However, the wicked_pdf_* helpers will use file:/// paths for assets when using :show_as_html, and your browser's cross-domain safety feature will kick in, and not render them. To get around this, you can load your assets like so in your templates:

    <%= params.key?('debug') ? image_tag('foo') : wicked_pdf_image_tag('foo') %>


If one image from your HTML cannot be found (relative or wrong path for ie), others images with right paths may not be displayed in the output PDF as well (it seems to be an issue with wkhtmltopdf).


You may have noticed: this plugin is heavily inspired by the PrinceXML plugin princely. PrinceXML's cost was prohibitive for me. So, with a little help from some friends (thanks jqr), I tracked down wkhtmltopdf, and here we are.


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request

Awesome Peoples

Also, thanks to unixmonkey, galdomedia, jcrisp, lleirborras, tiennou, and everyone else for all their hard work and patience with my delays in merging in their enhancements.

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