Rahul Gaba

I am a full stack developer who loves writing code for a living. I am passionate about JavaScript, VR, react-native, nodeJS, web development and Paneer.

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A complete guide to generate PDF via just the front-end

14 Jul 2016 » front-end

Why do I need this?

As a front end developer, we all come across a problem statement where the client wants to get the screenshot of front-end views in a single PDF.

Though we can print PDF by triggering browser’s default print button functionality(similar to Ctrl+P) but that approach has some limitations, which are:

  • Styling issues: The browser is programmed to print only the necessary info(text) when we do (Ctrl+P). The browser ignores some css properties box shadow/background.
  • Working with SVG’s: If you have a lot of charts on your page then it becomes a pain to write a separate print specific CSS.
  • If you want to print multiple views: You cannot print multiple views in a single pdf file. You will need do some hack in your front-end router to merge all the pages in a single route and then trigger the print button. I tried it in angularJS and it is not something which I would recommend to do.

So if you think that you won’t face the issues mentioned above, then you can go ahead and use Ctrl + P.

And if you think that you might face these issues, then this blog is for you.

Initial Setup:

We will be using jsPDF for printing PDFs from the Client side. I believe it is a great tool but unfortunately it doesn’t have a good documentation. So I am going to share how I managed to take exact similar printout of my view using jsPDF.

Here’s the plugins that I used in my case with the versions. Please make sure to install the exact versions. Though if you want to do some experiment, please go ahead and try the new/beta versions and let me know if they work well:

  • Canvg(v1.0.0) plugin: To convert SVG elements to canvas(Use this only if your view contains SVG elements). jsPDF isn’t very good with SVG elements.
  • html2canvas(v0.5.0-beta4): To convert all our html view into a single canvas which will take care of maintaining the height and width of the view.
  • jsPDF(v1.0.272): For creating a blank PDF and writing html/images to PDF. Note that in our case, we will be writing canvas objects to the pdf which is a beta feature og jsPDF library. But it worked like a charm in both of my projects.

The Real stuff:

Now, lets get started with some coding.

Firstly, we would need to replace all the svgs in out body to canvas Object. You don’t need this if you do not have any SVG elements on your webpage.

//replace all svgs with a temp canvas
var replaceSVGwithCanvas = function(callback) {
  //find all svg elements in $container
  var $container = $('body');
  //$container is the jQuery object of the div that you need to convert to image. This div may contain highcharts along with other child divs, etc
  var svgElements = $container.find('svg');
  svgElements.each(function() {
    var canvas, xml;
    canvas = document.createElement("canvas");
    canvas.className = "screenShotTempCanvas";
    //convert SVG into a XML string
    xml = (new XMLSerializer()).serializeToString(this);
    // Removing the name space as IE throws an error
    xml = xml.replace(/xmlns=\"http:\/\/www\.w3\.org\/2000\/svg\"/, '');
    //draw the SVG onto a canvas
    canvg(canvas, xml);
  callback(); //to be called after the process in finished

After our SVG elements are replaced, we will use html2canvas plugin to convert the HTML view to a single canvas object.

replaceSVGwithCanvas(function onComplete() {
  html2canvas(document.getElementById('dom-to-print'), {
    onrendered: function(canvasObj) {
      startPrintProcess(canvasObj, 'printedPDF',function (){
        alert('PDF saved');
      //save this object to the pdf

We will create a new jsPDF Object and configuration which will be passed while adding HTML.

var pdf = new jsPDF('l', 'pt', 'a4'), // landscape/point(Unit)/A4(size)
pdfConf = {
  pagesplit: false, //Adding page breaks manually using pdf.addPage();
  background: '#fff' //White Background.

Lets start defining the startPrintProcess functionality. Note that to add a canvas object to the PDF, it should be present in the HTML DOM. So we will append the canvas object to the HTML DOM and remove it after adding it to the PDF.

function startPrintProcess(canvasObj, fileName, callback) {
  var pdf = new jsPDF('l', 'pt', 'a4'),
    pdfConf = {
      pagesplit: false,
      background: '#fff'
  document.body.appendChild(canvasObj); //appendChild is required for html to add page in pdf
  pdf.addHTML(canvasObj, 0, 0, pdfConf, function() {
    html2canvas(document.getElementById('new-page-dom')).then(function(newCanvasDom) { //render the dom to be printed on the second page
      pdf.addHTML(newCanvasDom, 20, 20, pdfConf, function() {
        pdf.save(fileName + '.pdf');

That’s all you need to print the perfect screenshot of your view(s) from the front-end.

Demo Fiddle:

We can use it further to save multiple views on a single PDF file by saving the state of the PDF object and mutating the object in each view(using pdf.addHTML and pdf.addPage methods).

Please leave comments below if you want to share anything or give feedback.