- DOMPDF: buggy, pain to use, slow and difficult getting things to line up. 191 issues in GitHub and I can't remember when I upgraded it and things just worked.
- html2pdf: I really liked this project but it was very heavy and maintenance dropped off around 2008.
- wkhtmltopdf: needs entire QT environment and last supported in 2011.
- framebuffers: This is my personal alternative where by a virtual framebufer is launched inside a virtual X11 environment. Then a script can launch any application and run an export to image/PDF/JPEG/whatever back to the environment. Framebuffers are incredibly powerful but unfortunately setting all this up takes some time and in a shared environment it's unlikely to happen.
- PDFLib (http://www.pdflib.com/): this looks awesome, but I don't have that kind of money.
Before I dive into a better solution I just want to say how easy this all is with .NET and Java. In Java world I've had great success with Flying Saucer. On the .NET side ABCPDF (http://www.websupergoo.com/) is a beautiful library that is accurate to a pixel.
So my ultimate solution was to jump to a Python library Pisa. I love using Python and talking to Python from PHP is a breeze. In most cases to get going you simply need to run:
easy_install pisa html5lib reportlab
In case that fails you might need python-dev library and python-setuptools. Once everything is good and running you should be able to type:
This will produce a lot of usage information. To try it out create an html file somewhere (/tmp/test.html) and run:
pisa - - < /tmp/test.hml > test.pdf
The dashes (-) tell Pisa to use STDIN and STDOUT respectively. One you have a PDF that looks reasonable these are the command to run from PHP:
$html_file = tempnam("/tmp", "html");
$pdf_file = tempnam("/tmp", "pdf");
$handle = fopen($html_file, "w");
echo system('pisa - - < ' . $html_file . ' > ' . $pdf_file);
$disposition = 'inline';
//$disposition = 'attachment';
header('Content-Disposition: ' . $disposition . '; filename="test.pdf"');
header('Content-Length: ' . filesize($pdf_file));
Voila, Pisa just generated a great looking PDF and returned the binary format to PHP which can either save it to a file or present it to user.