domPDF Alternative for PHP

March 23rd, 2019 / by api2pdf /


domPDF is an HTML to PDF Converter.

At its heart, dompdf is (mostly) a CSS 2.1 compliant HTML layout and rendering engine written in PHP. It is a style-driven renderer: it will download and read external stylesheets, inline style tags, and the style attributes of individual HTML elements. It also supports most presentational HTML attributes.

-domPDF Github Repository

There are some key advantages to running an open source PHP library like this one for PDF generation.

  1. No external dependencies — can generate basic PDFs straight from PHP code.
  2. Free

This might be okay for some, but there are issues with domPDF. With a pure PHP implementation, you run into serious problems with regards to what HTML you can and cannot convert to PHP. There will likely be problems with CSS rules and the rendering of HTML tables, and other basic HTML elements. domPDF does not support CSS3 and latest HTML standards. The reason for this is that nothing could possibly render HTML better than an actual web browser. Additionally, if you need very high performance for large PDFs, domPDF will probably fall short.

I would say domPDF would be sufficient for small web applications that need to generate tiny receipts with no images.

domPDF Alternative for PHP

The best alternatives to domPDF, and free to use are wkhtmltopdf and Headless Chrome. wkhtmltopdf is based on webkit and Headless Chrome is, well…Chrome. Both are browser based and do a great job of rendering the HTML / CSS to PDF.

The main challenges with working with either of these PDF rendering engines with PHP is that they are dependencies that you have to install on your servers. This may be extra challenging to accomplish in cloud environments.


Api2Pdf is an HTML to PDF API that is a wrapper for wkhtmltopdf and Headless Chrome. You can get started with generating PDFs using either of these rendering engines in minutes, avoiding the whole installation and configuration process on your own servers.

Api2Pdf provides a PHP client library to make it super easy to connect to the REST API.

In addition to using PHP to convert HTML to PDF, Api2Pdf is a LibreOffice API to support the conversion of docx to pdf, ppt to pdf, xlsx to pdf, and much more. And finally, you can use PHP to merge PDF files together.

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