How to Create A Pdf File With Native PHP?

15 minutes read

To create a PDF file using native PHP, you can follow the steps outlined below:

  1. Install the necessary dependencies: Ensure you have PHP installed on your system. Install the 'composer' package manager if it is not already installed.
  2. Set up a new PHP project: Create a new directory for your project. Open a terminal/command prompt and navigate to the project directory. Run the command composer require mpdf/mpdf to install the mPDF library.
  3. Create a new PHP file: Create a new PHP file in your project directory and open it in a code editor.
  4. Import the mPDF library: In your PHP file, include the following line at the top to import the mPDF library: require_once __DIR__ . '/vendor/autoload.php';
  5. Start creating the PDF: Initialize a new mPDF object by creating an instance of the \Mpdf\Mpdf class: $pdf = new \Mpdf\Mpdf();
  6. Add content to the PDF: Use the $pdf->WriteHTML() method to add HTML content to the PDF. You can pass HTML code or a file path to an HTML file as a parameter. To add plain text to the PDF, use the $pdf->Write() method.
  7. Save the PDF: Use the $pdf->Output() method to save the PDF file. You can specify the file path and name by passing the 'F' parameter followed by the desired file path and name. For example: $pdf->Output('path/to/save/pdf.pdf', 'F');
  8. Run the PHP file: In your terminal/command prompt, navigate to the project directory. Run the command php your-php-file.php to execute the PHP file.


Following these steps, you should be able to create a PDF file using native PHP and the mPDF library.

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What is the difference between creating a pdf file with native PHP and using third-party libraries?

Creating a PDF file with native PHP means using the built-in functions and classes available in PHP itself to generate the PDF file. This method may involve using functions like fopen() and fwrite() to create the file and generate the necessary PDF content manually.


On the other hand, using third-party libraries means leveraging external libraries or packages that provide more advanced and specific functionality for working with PDF files. These libraries typically come with pre-built classes and methods that simplify the process of creating and manipulating PDF files. Examples of popular PDF libraries for PHP include TCPDF, FPDF, and mPDF.


The main differences between the two approaches include:

  1. Features and Flexibility: Third-party libraries often offer a wider range of features and options for creating complex PDF documents, such as adding images, tables, charts, and handling special fonts. Native PHP functions may have limitations in terms of advanced PDF functionalities.
  2. Complexity: Using native PHP functions to create PDF files usually requires a deeper understanding of the PDF file format and manual manipulation of low-level elements. Third-party libraries, on the other hand, abstract away much of this complexity and provide more user-friendly interfaces.
  3. Development Time: Third-party libraries can significantly reduce development time as they provide pre-built functions and methods for commonly required PDF operations. Native PHP functions may require more coding effort and time to achieve the same results.
  4. Maintenance and Updates: Third-party libraries are typically maintained and updated by their respective communities, ensuring bug fixes, new features, and security updates. Using native PHP functions means relying on PHP updates for any PDF-related functionality.
  5. Learning Curve: Native PHP functions may have a steeper learning curve due to the need to understand the PDF file format and lower-level operations. Third-party libraries often provide well-documented APIs, tutorials, and examples that simplify the learning process.


Ultimately, the choice between using native PHP functions or third-party libraries depends on the specific use case and requirements of the PDF generation task. If advanced PDF features or efficiency are essential, third-party libraries are generally recommended. However, for simple PDF generation tasks, native PHP functions might be sufficient.


How to add external links (URLs) to a pdf file using native PHP?

To add external links (URLs) to a PDF file using native PHP, you can make use of the TCPDF library, which provides a robust set of functions for creating PDF files. Here's an example:

  1. Download the latest version of TCPDF from the official website: https://tcpdf.org/
  2. Install TCPDF by extracting the downloaded package and copying the "tcpdf" folder to your project directory.
  3. Include the TCPDF library in your PHP file:
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require_once('tcpdf/tcpdf.php');


  1. Create a new TCPDF object:
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$pdf = new TCPDF();


  1. Add a new page to the PDF:
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$pdf->AddPage();


  1. Define the external link URL:
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$linkUrl = 'https://example.com';


  1. Create a clickable external link with defined URL:
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$pdf->writeHTMLCell(0, 0, '', '', 'Click <a href="' . $linkUrl . '">here</a> to visit the external link.', 0, 1, false, true, 'L', true);


  1. Output the PDF to the browser or save it to a file:
1
$pdf->Output('example.pdf', 'I');


In this example, Output('example.pdf', 'I') function call will output the PDF directly to the browser with the filename 'example.pdf'. You can change the second parameter to 'F' and specify the file location to save the PDF to a file.


Ensure that the TCPDF library files are correctly included as per the directory structure of your project.


What is the process for merging multiple pdf files into a single file using native PHP?

To merge multiple PDF files into a single file using native PHP, you can follow these steps:

  1. Required: Install the TCPDF library by issuing the following command using Composer: composer require tecnickcom/tcpdf
  2. Create a new PHP file and include the TCPDF library: require_once('vendor/autoload.php'); use \setasign\Fpdi\Tcpdf\Fpdi;
  3. Define an array of PDF files to be merged: $pdfFiles = [ 'file1.pdf', 'file2.pdf', 'file3.pdf' ];
  4. Create a new instance of the Fpdi class: $pdf = new Fpdi();
  5. Loop through each PDF file and import its pages into the $pdf object: foreach ($pdfFiles as $file) { $pageCount = $pdf->setSourceFile($file); for ($pageNumber = 1; $pageNumber <= $pageCount; $pageNumber++) { $template = $pdf->importPage($pageNumber); $pdf->AddPage(); $pdf->useTemplate($template); } }
  6. Save the merged PDF to a file: $outputFile = 'merged.pdf'; $pdf->Output($outputFile, 'F');


Now, when you run this PHP script, it will merge the specified PDF files into a single PDF file named merged.pdf in the same directory as your PHP script.

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How to compress or optimize the size of a pdf file generated with native PHP?

There are several ways to compress or optimize the size of a PDF file generated with native PHP. Here are a few methods:

  1. Use a PDF library: Instead of relying on native PHP functions, you can use a PDF library like TCPDF, mPDF, or FPDF. These libraries often have built-in methods or options for compressing the PDF output.
  2. Set compression options: If you're using the native PHP functions like PDFlib, you can set compression options to reduce the file size. For example, you can specify compression quality using the PDF_set_compression function.
  3. Remove unnecessary content: You can remove unnecessary images, metadata, or annotations from the PDF file before saving it. This can be done using PDF libraries or by manually manipulating the PDF file structure.
  4. Adjust image quality: If your PDF contains images, reducing the image quality can significantly reduce the file size. This can be achieved by reducing the resolution, color depth, or using more aggressive image compression algorithms.
  5. Use online PDF optimization tools: There are several online tools available that can automatically optimize PDF files. You can upload your generated PDF to these tools and let them handle the compression and optimization process. Some popular tools include SmallPDF, ILovePDF, and PDF Compressor.


It's important to note that the effectiveness of these methods may vary depending on the content and structure of your PDF file. It's recommended to test and compare the results with different approaches to find the optimal solution for your specific use case.


What is the available support for digital signatures in a pdf file created with native PHP?

Native PHP does not have built-in support for creating digital signatures in PDF files. However, there are external libraries and tools that you can use to add digital signature support to your PHP application. Here are a few options:

  1. TCPDF: TCPDF is a popular PHP library for creating PDF files. It provides basic support for digital signatures through its Sign() method. However, it does not support advanced features like certificate validation or timestamping.
  2. FPDI: FPDI is another PHP library that allows you to import existing PDF documents and add content to them. While it does not directly support digital signatures, you can use external libraries or tools like pdftk or qpdf to add signatures to the PDFs generated using FPDI.
  3. Zend_Pdf: Zend Framework's Zend_Pdf component provides support for creating and manipulating PDF documents. It allows you to create digital signatures using a combination of OpenSSL and Zend_Crypt_Rsa libraries. However, it requires some manual implementation and does not offer advanced features like certificate validation or timestamping.
  4. Third-party tools: If you require more advanced features and better support for digital signatures, you may consider using third-party tools like pdftk (PDF Toolkit), iText, or FPDF. These tools provide extensive support for digital signatures in PHP and can be integrated into your PHP application.


Note that adding digital signatures to PDF files usually involves working with cryptography, certificates, and private keys. It is recommended to familiarize yourself with the concepts and best practices related to digital signatures to ensure the security and integrity of your PDF documents.

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