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Convert an HTML document to PDF from raw HTML in PHP with cURL

In this guide, we'll show you how to convert an HTML document to PDF using PHP and the cURL library. Providing the HTML document as raw as a lot of great advantages :

  • It avoids PDFShift to make a network request to fetch the HTML document.
  • It allows you to convert HTML documents that are not publicly accessible.
  • It improves the speed of the conversion

If, on top of that, you can provide the styles and javascript also inline in the document (<style> and <script> tags), it will also drastically reduce the duration of the conversion.

For converting a raw document, we use the same parameter as for the URL, which is the source parameter. All you have to do is provide an HTML document.

Here's an example:

# You can get an API key at
$api_key = 'sk_xxxxxxxxxxxx'

$params = array (
    'source' => '<html><body><h1>This will be a PDF document</h1><p>This will generate a basic PDF to show how you can add raw HTML</body></html>',

$curl = curl_init('');
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, true);
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_POST, true);
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, json_encode($params));
curl_setopt($curl, CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER, array(
    'Content-Type: application/json',
    'Authorization: Basic ' . base64_encode('api:' . $api_key)

$response = curl_exec($curl);
if ($response === false) {
    $error_message = curl_error($curl);
    throw new Exception("cURL error: $error_message");

// Get the HTTP status code
$http_status = curl_getinfo($curl, CURLINFO_HTTP_CODE);

// Close cURL resource

// Check if the request was successful
if ($http_status !== 200) {
    throw new Exception("Request failed with HTTP status code: $http_status");

// Save the file to result.pdf
file_put_contents('result.pdf', $response);

echo 'The PDF document was generated and saved to result.pdf';

Providing the source parameter as a raw HTML document is by far the best recommended method to convert HTML documents in PDFShift as it reduce the amount of network requests, loading time of each documents (image, css, javascript, etc) and thus improve the conversion time.

For further details on the property and its usage, please refer to our dedicated documentation.

We hope this guide was helpful. If you have any questions or noticed any issues on the code above,
feel free to drop us a line.