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Generate PDFs with wkhtmltopdf, wicked_pdf in Rails without breaking your layout (tables)

I needed a pdf export really bad. And this took some time, so fasten your seatbelt and get ready to print on your server. This works on my Debian / elementary OS / Ubuntu based Linux Development Machine and on Heroku (at least today :P).

The only wkhtmltopdf Version that was working for me is: 0.12.1 and nothing else! And by working I mean proper page breaks. Credits to Ben Hitchcock on StackOverflow

Check out wkhtmltopdf original repo on GitHub and navigate to your destiny version 0.12.1 and download “wkhtmltox-0.12.1_linux-wheezy-amd64.deb”

Open a terminal and navigate to your file.

$ ar t wkhtmltox-0.12.1_linux-wheezy-amd64.deb
$ ar x wkhtmltox-0.12.1_linux-wheezy-amd64.deb data.tar.xz
$ tar xf data.tar.xz

This finally creates the following directories usr/local/bin/ for you and inside bin there is our needed file wkhtmltopdf. Copy it into your Rails app’s bin directory.

$ sudo cp /usr/local/bin/wkhtmltopdf /home/YOURUSER/path/to/your/railsapp/bin/

In case you have a Rails Server running, stop it. Stop it right now, will you ;-)

All you need in your Gemfile is to add gem wicked_pdf and run bundle install.

Next, create wicked_pdf.rb inside app/config/initializers/ if not automagically preexistend and add this line:

WickedPdf.config = { :exe_path => "#{Rails.root}/bin/wkhtmltopdf" }

In my controller, I can now render my PDFs happily and save them in my Postgres DB on heroku in a binary column.

Imagine something like this:

pdf = WickedPdf.new.pdf_from_string(
                    render_to_string('periods/close.pdf', layout: 'layouts/pdf'),
                    header: {
                      content: render_to_string(
                        layout: 'layouts/pdf'
                    footer: {
                      content: render_to_string(
                        layout: 'layouts/pdf'

To enable a sophisticated rescue for page breaks in tables add these css instructions:

#content {
  padding-top: 20px;
div.alwaysbreak {
  page-break-before: always;
div.nobreak:before {
  clear: both;
div.nobreak {
  page-break-inside: avoid;
.avoidbreak {
  break-inside: avoid;
  page-break-inside: avoid;
table, tbody, td, tfoot, th, thead, tr {
  break-inside: avoid !important;
  page-break-inside: avoid !important;

Read all about, what the wicked_pdf gem can do for you: wicked_pfg gem on GitHub

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