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Alin Climente
Alin Climente

Posted on • Updated on

How trigger browser to make a PDF from HTML using window.print()

Here is how you can create a pdf from html/css on the client side (no backend or external libraries involved). We will take advantage of the window.print() and some specific CSS.

Unfortunately, this will not work on mobile browsers (as pointed out in the comments).

Needed styles for the window.print() function:

* {
    font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;
    color: rgb(65, 65, 65);
    -webkit-print-color-adjust: exact !important;
    color-adjust: exact !important;
    print-color-adjust: exact !important;
}

@media print {
   @page {
     margin-left: 0.8in;
     margin-right: 0.8in;
     margin-top: 0;
     margin-bottom: 0;
   }
}

#container {
    width: 800px;
    margin: 0 auto;
}

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Of course, you can set other values for font-family, color and #container. Add the rest of the styles for your custom pdf.

Next, we need to trigger the window.print() function which is native to the browser. So add below js in a script tag.

document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", () => {
    let printLink = document.getElementById("print");
    let container = document.getElementById("container");

    printLink.addEventListener("click", event => {
        event.preventDefault();
        printLink.style.display = "none";
        window.print();
    }, false);

    container.addEventListener("click", event => {
        printLink.style.display = "flex";
    }, false);

}, false);
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Here is a basic html:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">

<head>
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <!-- Add here the styles and script we described up -->
    <title>This will be the title of the pdf file</title>
</head>

<body id="container">

    <a href="#" id="print">GENERATE PDF!</a>

    <h1>Super cool custom pdf</h1>

    <p>This pdf is generated from the client side without any external libraries!</p>

</body>

</html>

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And... that's it!

Here is how what we did up will work:

generate-pdf-gif

Top comments (46)

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy • Edited on

Kind of a misleading article. This really doesn't have anything to do with generating a PDF - it just tells you how to kick your browser to print the current page. The fact that the print dialog may have an option to "Print to PDF" is entirely separate to anything you are doing here - and will likely be dependent on your browser and system. You'll still have to select 'Print to PDF' manually

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varshithvhegde profile image
Varshith V Hegde

But still this is a great article πŸ‘ Keep it up

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good3n profile image
Tom Gooden✨

No, it’s not.

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

tough crowd

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

Fixed, modified title. Hopefully it's more clear now.

Would be nice if browsers would have some native api's for pdf generation..

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shifi profile image
Shifa Ur Rehman

No. It's better this way. There are other ways you can manage "pdfs" while this tool does all of that and much more. i.e. Print as well.

Not everything needs changing. You wrote a good article. Sure had a wrong title, I wont call it misleading personally. Misleading would be when you'd do that knowingly. Just stick to your findings. Don't defend yourself when you find contradicting information proving you wrong. But don't back down either if otherwise.

Happy dev'ing.

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devarshishimpi profile image
Devarshi Shimpi

Fr. We have Print to PDF in the browser itself. And most modern browsers support it.

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imdkbj profile image
imdkbj • Edited on

Why to use js to toggle print button.
This can be achieved by something like as below

Β Β @media print
        #PrintoutΒ { 
 Β Β Β Β Β Β Β Β display:Β none; 
 Β Β Β Β Β Β }
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So basically we can assign a new value to css in print selector.

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

nice one!

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defite profile image
Nikita Makhov • Edited on

Never ever style id's in your css. id's are for js only, classes are good for styling. If for some reason you will need the same functionality in other place it will be better to assign a class for it.

The same goes to !important notation. Usually there is no reason to use it because it's hard to override it.

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codingchili profile image
Robin Duda (they/them)

It's perfectly fine to style id's, like if you are writing styles for a self-contained component - the component and it's styles will be unique in the scope. Styling id's is also explicit, since id's are unique you know changing the styles won't have any unintended side effects. Obviously this doesn't mean I think all components should be individually styled with an id, there will be unique scenarios.. unless you're an atomic css purist I guess.

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defite profile image
Nikita Makhov

No, it's not. You can't use one id twice in case you want reuse your styles. If you write styles for component and want scoped css, you can use classes, not id's.

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codingchili profile image
Robin Duda (they/them)

You're building a button component, self contained scoped css and shadow dom. There is no point in avoiding styling IDs. Using ID's is explicit and its clear which element the style is applied to.

If all css is global because it may be reused at some point in the future, you'll be swimming in an ocean of styles with fun side effects. Be explicit about reuse, minimize scope. The end.

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defite profile image
Nikita Makhov

Read my answer again. I didn't say any word about global styling. You can achieve styling with classes, but styling an id is a bad tone. ID's are good for querying elements in your scripts, but I see no reason in styling them.

Suppose you have two button components. They have similar styles but different background colors. Will you style each id or you create some common class for them and then extend it for different background color situations?

At the end of the day you can write styles as you want. But code practices will help you to maintain and write clean code.

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codingchili profile image
Robin Duda (they/them)

If your css is scoped to a component it can't be reused outside of that component without extracting it first, when extracted it's scope will be global. Minimizing scope minimizes side effects and complexity. Enable reuse as needed. To be very clear, a component typically has VERY few styled id's and its very specific. An element styled this way almost always have classes too. Example -->

#player-status {
    position: absolute;
    top: 16px;
    left: 32px;
    z-index: 750;
    width: 328px;
    height: 92px;
}
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That is never ever going to be reused. Style the ID, be explicit when you can. Its clear that this style is applied once, and to a specific clearly documented element.

The button element can be styled from outside the shadow dom, either using the ::part selector, css variables or element attributes. A button that is styleable from the outside increases its reuse potential at the cost of component complexity.

Having two buttons seems very strange, why would I ever have two button components? I would definitely not extend a simple button just to change its color.

Style reuse, being explicit and minimizing scope are code practices I'm trying to argue for. You never use the :host selector either?

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defite profile image
Nikita Makhov • Edited on

I see your points and also I see lack of developer and ui/ux experience in your words. Sure, there will be situations when you need two or more buttons. Modal windows for example.

I would definitely not extend a simple button just to change its color.

Well, why? :D Oh yes, because you will copy/paste buttons and style them with ID's.

:host is interesting but not popular selector, so no, I don't use it everyday, especially when working with frameworks.

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codingchili profile image
Robin Duda (they/them)

It seems you're still misunderstanding me, I don't use frameworks and build my own atoms - inputs, buttons, dialogs etc. When I say one button component, I mean one reusable component that can appear on a page more than once - a custom element, or a web component if you will. Creating a button component and instantiating it twice in a dialog is no problem, because the button itself has no embedded onclick logic - that is an event listener attached externally. Now creating two different button components would be strange, because a button is a button.. one styleable button will be enough.

I already explained how I will style the button. Three different methods that are standard ways of doing it when working with web components. None of those ways entails copy pasting, external styling can and will be reused to ensure the components appearance is uniform across the application.

Well you should have the same problem with :host as using id's to style elements. And it's hugely popular, in fact I've never seen a web component that didn't use it. To clarify one final time, id's are fine to use for styling components internally - no downstream consumer should extract css out of your component for reuse. If you have a component that appears once in your shadow dom, it's fine to style by ID - for a few attributes that won't ever be reused, like those in the given example.

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defite profile image
Nikita Makhov

Now I see. It's all about web components, which I don't use at all.

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codingchili profile image
Robin Duda (they/them)

Indeed :) any specific reason why not? many popular frameworks/libraries use web components/custom elements transparently. According to google's statistics about 20% of pages use at least one web component.

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

I agree, styling id's is not a good practice. The !important is needed in this case for window.print() otherwise the browser will not show the pdf as in the html page.

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siddharthdb profile image
Siddharth B

Dear Author,
This article falls in the grey area of click bait based on the title of the article. I would suggest to put some effort in writing a well thought out article by researching on the topic.

For others who felt betrayed by the title, here are some pointers
medium.com/@ayusharma.in/generate-...
bannerbear.com/blog/how-to-convert...

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

You need a backend for that.

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maame_afia profile image
Maame Afia Fordjour

Didn't know this was possible. Thanks for sharing.

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shifi profile image
Shifa Ur Rehman

I sincerely implore people to do constructive criticism. You only add injury to the salt. The only problem with my dude was that... He is bad at keyword research like you dinosaurs here. Chill. Relax. Get that fixed and if he doesn't do that, go ahead and yell at him for whatever reason. But for God's sake, don't make this toxic for everyone else. I come here for comments more than the articles. Learn much much more that way. If you have nothing good to say, better shut up.

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donalfonsnisnoni profile image
Don Alfons Nisnoni • Edited on

I did the same thing using puppeteer and end EJS to generate PDF.
Also with pdflib to change the title of the document.

Checkout on gist ->
gist.github.com/donnisnoni/a9fdf25...

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

You need a backend for that.

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codingchili profile image
Robin Duda (they/them)

If you have static content you can generate pdf versions of your pages during build. This is even easier if rendering markdown :) This doesn't require server side. For server side puppeteer will render a pdf/png in a sec.

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golfman484 profile image
Driving change

I thought this was going to be about a true HTML to PDF library like the most excellent Flying Saucer which is discussed in this article:

medium.com/javarevisited/html-to-p...

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

You need a backend for that.

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sampadsarker profile image
Sampad Sarker

OOh, that is very interesting!!!
keep it up

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shashamura profile image
Shashamura1

I really have interest in dev is all about Education to build your self to be self development to be self independent fainacialy and Educatinaly..I am getting improve with all what I am reading in here dev.com

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poopa profile image
poopa

wrong title

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webjoyable profile image
webjoyable

If it was window.pdf() it would be a neat post, otherwise it's a clickbait

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thi3rry profile image
Thierry Poinot

The solution you provide in your article need a browser that supports to print a page into a pdf file. You have a macos device it's ok. You are on mobile, it's not ok.
Your solution juste provide a button to trigger the print action AND to hide this button on the printed version of this page. There is nothing to deals with PDF.

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climentea profile image
Alin Climente Author

Damn... Indeed on mobile browsers this doesn't work.

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anuoluwapods profile image
Anuoluwapo Balogun

Amazing!

Classic DEV Post from 2020:

js visualized

πŸš€βš™οΈ JavaScript Visualized: the JavaScript Engine

As JavaScript devs, we usually don't have to deal with compilers ourselves. However, it's definitely good to know the basics of the JavaScript engine and see how it handles our human-friendly JS code, and turns it into something machines understand! πŸ₯³

Happy coding!