Wednesday, September 18, 2013

PDF in a Flask

By Vasudev Ram

PDF in a Flask ( is a simple Flask web app that allows you to create a PDF file from text, over the web, by entering your text into a form and submitting it. It is written in Python, and uses my xtopdf toolkit for PDF creation, which in turn uses Reportlab.

PDF in a Flask is similar to my earlier post, PDF in a Bottle, but this app uses the Flask web framework instead of the Bottle web framework.

Here is the Python code for PDF in a Flask:
# PDF in a Flask.

# Description: Program to generate PDF from text, over the web,
# using xtopdf, ReportLab and the Flask web framework.
# It can be used to create short, simple PDF e-books.
# Author: Vasudev Ram -
# Copyright 2013 Vasudev Ram 
# Tested with Python 2.7.

# Version: 0.1

import traceback
from textwrap import TextWrapper
from PDFWriter import PDFWriter
from flask import Flask, request

app = Flask(__name__)

@app.route("/pdf_book", methods=['GET', 'POST'])
def pdf_book():
    if request.method == 'GET':
        # Display the PDF book creation form.
        return '''
            <form action="/pdf_book" method="post">
                PDF file name: <input type="text" name="pdf_file_name" />

                Header: <input type="text" name="header" />
                Footer: <input type="text" name="footer" />

                <textarea name="content" rows="15" cols="50"></textarea>

                <input type="submit" value="Submit" />

        # Create the PDF book from the posted form content.
            # Get the needed fields from the form.
            pdf_file_name = request.form['pdf_file_name']
            header = request.form['header']
            footer = request.form['footer']
            content = request.form['content']

            # Create a PDFWriter instance and set some of its fields.
            pw = PDFWriter(pdf_file_name)
            pw.setFont("Courier", 12)

            # Get the content field.
            # Split it into paragraphs delimited by newlines.
            # Convert each paragraph into a list of lines of
            # maximum width 70 characters.
            # Print each line to the PDF file.
            paragraphs = content.split('\n')
            wrapper = TextWrapper(width=70, drop_whitespace=False)
            for paragraph in paragraphs:
                lines = wrapper.wrap(paragraph)
                for line in lines:

            return "OK. PDF book created in file " + pdf_file_name + ".\n"
        except Exception, e:
            return "Error: PDF book not created.\n" + repr(e) + ".\n" 

if __name__ == "__main__": 

You can run the app with:


Then go to localhost:5000/pdf_book in your browser.

Enter some text into the big text box labeled Content. Also enter appropriate values into the other text boxes, such as PDF file name, header and footer.

When you click Submit, the PDF ebook will be created.

Here is a screenshot of the Guide to installing and using xtopdf, itself generated as a PDF book, using xtopdf and Python in a Flask web app.

- Vasudev Ram - Dancing Bison Enterprises

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