PDF Creation as an easy to use API
RobotBridge was born out of my frustrations trying to find an easy-to-use, modern PDF generation API to integrate into my web and mobile applications.
I wanted to use existing web technology (HTML5/CSS/JS) to create my PDFs, instead of setting up a proprietary reporting package. I didn't want to have to rely on build packs to bundle PDF binaries up to platform-as-a-service providers.
Because I couldn't find exactly what I wanted, I decided to build my own solution. After talking to other developers, it made sense to build it out as a public API that anyone can use. You can be up and running in 5 minutes!
You'll need to set up an account at Mashape - create your own with your email, or create one from your GitHub account.
Then go to the RobotBridge API Page on Mashape and add the RobotBridge API (free to get going). The freemium plan offers 50 free PDFs/month - perfect for testing, a hackathon, or anything else you want. After that, pricing is simple - $0.01/PDF.
Mashape provides sample code using their Unirest API library for calling out to RobotBridge - simply send RobotBridge a URL, and it'll return a PDF!
Making a Great Looking PDF
I encourage you to test out your HTML with your free PDF credits - every PDF generator is different, and this is not a world where every thing is What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)
Here are three great tips I've discovered:
1) Don't use default fonts (like Times New Roman) - use open source, free web fonts from Google Fonts
2) Use a separate layout from your web application - you don't want a responsive web design for PDF generation, because you know what the viewport should be.
3) Use absolute positioning with your div elements. Don't be afraid to line up everything using absolute positioning to get the effects you want.…