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FillablePDF is an extremely simple and lightweight utility that bridges iText and Ruby in order to fill out fillable PDF forms or extract field values from previously filled out PDF forms.

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FillablePDF

Gem Version Build Status

FillablePDF is an extremely simple and lightweight utility that bridges iText and Ruby in order to fill out fillable PDF forms or extract field values from previously filled out PDF forms.

Known Issues

  1. This gem currently does not work with Phusion Passenger's smart spawning. Please see Deployment with Phusion Passenger + Nginx for more information.

  2. If the gem hangs in development, removing the following gems may fix the issue:

    gem 'spring'
    gem 'spring-watcher-listen'
  3. Read-only, write-protected or encrypted PDF files are currently not supported.

Deployment with Heroku

When deploying to Heroku, be sure to install the following build packs (in this order):

heroku buildpacks:add heroku/jvm
heroku buildpacks:add heroku/ruby

Deployment with Phusion Passenger + Nginx

The way the gem is currently built makes it fundamentally incompatible with Phusion Passenger's smart spawning. You must turn off smart spawning, or else your application will freeze as soon Ruby tries to access the Java bridge.

Below is an example of a simple Nginx virtual host configuration (note the use of passenger_spawn_method):

server {
    server_name my-rails-app.com;
    listen 443 ssl http2;
    listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
    passenger_enabled on;
    passenger_spawn_method direct;
    root /home/system/my-rails-app/public;
}

If you absolutely must have smart spawning, I recommend using fillable-pdf as a service that runs independently of your Rails application.

Deployment with Puma + Nginx

In order to use Puma in production, you need to configure a reverse proxy in your Nginx virtual host. Here is simple naive example:

server {
    server_name my-rails-app.com;
    listen 443 ssl http2;
    listen [::]:443 ssl http2;
    location / {
        proxy_pass http://127.0.0.1:8888;
        proxy_redirect off;
        proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto https;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    }
}

Then you'll have to start Puma in production daemon mode as follows:

RAILS_ENV=production bin/rails server -p 8888 --daemon

Naturally, there are many downsides (in terms of efficiency, scalability, security, etc) to running your application in production in this manner, so please use the above as an example only.

Installation

Ensure that your JAVA_HOME variable is set before installing this gem (see examples below).

  • OSX: /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk-12.0.2.jdk/Contents/Home
  • Ubuntu/CentOS: /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.8.0-openjdk

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'fillable-pdf'

And then execute:

bundle

Or install it yourself as:

gem install fillable-pdf

If you are using this gem in a script, you need to require it manually:

require 'fillable-pdf'

Usage

First of all, you should open a fillable PDF file:

pdf = FillablePDF.new 'input.pdf'

Always remember to close your document once you're finished working with it in order to avoid memory leaks:

pdf.close

Checking / Unchecking Checkboxes

Use the values 'Yes' and 'Off' to check and uncheck checkboxes, respectively. For example:

pdf.set_field(:newsletter, 'Yes')
pdf.set_field(:newsletter, 'Off')

Checking / Unchecking Radio Buttons

Suppose you have the following a radio button field name language with the following options:

  • Ruby (ruby)
  • Python (python)
  • Dart (dart)
  • Other (other)

To select one of these options (or change the current option) use:

pdf.set_field(:language, 'dart')

To unset the radio button use the 'Off' string:

pdf.set_field(:language, 'Off')

Adding Signatures or Images

Digital signatures are not supported, but you can place an image or a base64 encoded image within the bounds of any form field.

SVG images are not supported. You will have to convert them to a JPG or PNG first.

See methods set_image and set_image_base64 below.

Instance Methods

An instance of FillablePDF has the following methods at its disposal:

  • any_fields? Determines whether the form has any fields.

    pdf.any_fields?
    # output example: true
  • num_fields Returns the total number of fillable form fields.

    # output example: 10
    pdf.num_fields
  • field Retrieves the value of a field given its unique field name.

    pdf.field(:full_name)
    # output example: 'Richard'
  • field_type Retrieves the numeric type of a field given its unique field name.

    pdf.field_type(:football)
    # output example: '/Btn'
    
    # list of all field types
    Field::BUTTON ('/Btn')
    Field::CHOICE ('/Ch')
    Field::SIGNATURE ('/Sig')
    Field::TEXT ('/Tx')
  • fields Retrieves a hash of all fields and their values.

    pdf.fields
    # output example: {first_name: "Richard", last_name: "Rahl"}
  • set_field Sets the value of a field given its unique field name and value.

    pdf.set_field(:first_name, 'Richard')
    # result: changes the value of 'first_name' to 'Richard'
  • set_fields Sets the values of multiple fields given a set of unique field names and values.

    pdf.set_fields(first_name: 'Richard', last_name: 'Rahl')
    # result: changes the values of 'first_name' and 'last_name'
  • set_image Places an image file within the rectangular bounding box of the given form field.

    pdf.set_image(:signature, 'signature.png')
    # result: the image 'signature.png' is shown in the foreground of the form field
  • set_image_base64 Places a base64 encoded image within the rectangular bounding box of the given form field.

    pdf.set_image_base64(:signature, 'iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAAAEAAAABCAYAAAAfFcSJAAAADUlEQVR42mNk+M9QDwADhgGAWjR9awAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==')
    # result: the base64 encoded image is shown in the foreground of the form field
  • rename_field Renames a field given its unique field name and the new field name.

    pdf.rename_field(:last_name, :surname)
    # result: renames field name 'last_name' to 'surname'
    # NOTE: this action does not take effect until the document is saved
  • remove_field Removes a field from the document given its unique field name.

    pdf.remove_field(:last_name)
    # result: physically removes field 'last_name' from document
  • names Returns a list of all field keys used in the document.

    pdf.names
    # output example: [:first_name, :last_name]
  • values Returns a list of all field values used in the document.

    pdf.values
    # output example: ["Rahl", "Richard"]
  • save Overwrites the previously opened PDF document and flattens it if requested.

    pdf.save
    # result: document is saved without flattening
    pdf.save_as(flatten: true)
    # result: document is saved with flattening
  • save_as Saves the filled out PDF document in a given path and flattens it if requested.

    pdf.save_as('output.pdf')
    # result: document is saved in a given path without flattening
    pdf.save_as('output.pdf', flatten: true)
    # result: document is saved in a given path with flattening

    NOTE: Saving the file automatically closes the input file, so you would need to reinitialize the FillabePDF class before making any more changes or saving another copy.

  • close Closes the PDF document discarding all unsaved changes.

    pdf.close
    # result: document is closed

Example

The following example.rb with input.pdf is located in the example directory. It uses all of the methods that are described above and generates the output files output.pdf and output.flat.pdf.

require_relative '../lib/fillable-pdf'

BASE64_PHOTO = 'iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAAAUAAAAFCAYAAACNbyblAAAAHElEQVQI12P4//8/w38GIAXDIBKE0DHxgljNBAAO9TXL0Y4OHwAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==' # rubocop:disable Layout/LineLength

# opening a fillable PDF
pdf = FillablePDF.new('input.pdf')

# total number of fields
if pdf.any_fields?
  puts "The form has a total of #{pdf.num_fields} fields."
else
  puts 'The form is not fillable.'
end

puts

# setting form fields
pdf.set_fields(first_name: 'Richard', last_name: 'Rahl')
pdf.set_fields(football: 'Yes', baseball: 'Yes', basketball: 'Yes', nascar: 'Yes', hockey: 'Yes')
pdf.set_field(:date, Time.now.strftime('%B %e, %Y'))
pdf.set_field(:newsletter, 'Off') # uncheck the checkbox
pdf.set_field(:language, 'dart') # select a radio button option
pdf.set_image_base64(:photo, BASE64_PHOTO)
pdf.set_image(:signature, 'signature.png')

# list of fields
puts "Fields hash: #{pdf.fields}"

puts

# list of field names
puts "Keys: #{pdf.names}"

puts

# list of field values
puts "Values: #{pdf.values}"

puts

# Checking field type
if pdf.field_type(:football) == Field::BUTTON
  puts "Field 'football' is of type BUTTON"
else
  puts "Field 'football' is not of type BUTTON"
end

puts

# Renaming field
pdf.rename_field :last_name, :surname
puts "Renamed field 'last_name' to 'surname'"

puts

# Removing field
pdf.remove_field :nascar
puts "Removed field 'nascar'"

# saving the filled out PDF in another file
pdf.save_as('output.pdf')

# saving another copy of the filled out PDF in another file and making it non-editable
pdf = FillablePDF.new('output.pdf')
pdf.save_as 'output.flat.pdf', flatten: true

# closing the document
pdf.close

The example above produces the following output and also generates the output file output.pdf.

The form has a total of 16 fields.

Fields hash: {:last_name=>"Rahl", :first_name=>"Richard", :football=>"Yes", :baseball=>"Yes", :basketball=>"Yes", :hockey=>"Yes", :date=>"November 16, 2021", :newsletter=>"Off", :nascar=>"Yes", :language=>"dart", :"language.1"=>"dart", :"language.2"=>"dart", :"language.3"=>"dart", :"language.4"=>"dart", :signature=>"", :photo=>""}

Keys: [:last_name, :first_name, :football, :baseball, :basketball, :hockey, :date, :newsletter, :nascar, :language, :"language.1", :"language.2", :"language.3", :"language.4", :signature, :photo]

Values: ["Rahl", "Richard", "Yes", "Yes", "Yes", "Yes", "November 16, 2021", "Off", "Yes", "dart", "dart", "dart", "dart", "dart", "", ""]

Field 'football' is of type BUTTON

Renamed field 'last_name' to 'surname'

Removed field 'nascar'

Contributing

  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

License

The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.

However, you must also adhere to the iText License when using this gem in your project.

About

FillablePDF is an extremely simple and lightweight utility that bridges iText and Ruby in order to fill out fillable PDF forms or extract field values from previously filled out PDF forms.

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