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The ReportLab PDF Library

Project description

(C) Copyright ReportLab Europe Ltd. 2000-2014. See LICENSE.txt for license details.

This is the ReportLab PDF Toolkit. It allows rapid creation of rich PDF documents, and also creation of charts in a variety of bitmap and vector formats.

This library is also the foundation for our commercial product Report Markup Language (RML), available in the ReportLab PLUS package. RML offers many more features, a template-based style of document development familiar to all web developers, and higher development productivity. Please consider trying out RML for your project, as the license sales support our open source development.

Contents of this file:

  1. Licensing

  2. Installation

    2.1 Source Distribution or Subversion

    2.2 Manual Installation without C Compiler (e.g. Windows)

    2.3 easy_install

    2.4 Windows installation

    2.5 Ubuntu and other Debian-based Systems

  3. Prerequisites / Dependencies

  4. Documentation

  5. Acknowledgements and Thanks

1. Licensing

BSD license. See LICENSE.txt for details.

2. Installation

In most cases, easy_install reportlab or pip install reportlab will do the job. Full details follow below for each platform.

2.1 General prerequisites

You need to have installed Python (versions 2.5 through 2.7), and ideally PIL with Freetype support; more notes on prerequisites follow below.

2.2. Where to get the code

Releases are available from the Python Package Index:

From March 2013, the code is being hosted in Mercurial on BitBucket. You can obtain the latest code from our Mercurial repository with:

hg clone

Users of our commercial libraries, and/or anyone who registers on our site, can also access our commercial area which has exactly the same packages, paired with the matching commercial ones (rlextra); it is important to keep both in sync.

2.3 Windows Installer

We no longer make .exe or .msi files. We provide .whl files with compiled C extensions for all supported python versions at:

These can be installed using recent pip or other competent distribution packages. If you aren’t comfortable with the command line, we recommend pip-win:

This will NOT install the tests, examples and documentation. If you want to learn your way around the package or do development with it on Windows, we suggest you also download a source copy, unzip it and work with the examples/tests within that directory.

2.4 Mac OS

On Mac OS, you will need XCode with the Command Line Tools option installed in order to compile the C extensions. On Lion or later, type clang at a prompt; if you get command not found or similar, the C compiler is not installed.

We then recommend the brew installation tool to fetch open source packages. You should run:

brew install freetype

before instaling reportlab to ensure that the Python Imaging Library gets compiled with JPEG support.

Thereafter, you can install with easy_install reportlab or by fetching the source and using python install

2.5 Unix / Linux

On Unix and Mac OS we assume a C compiler is available to compile the C extensions.

On Ubuntu, you will need build-essential, libfreetype6-dev, python-dev and python-imaging. Most other Linux and xBSD distributions have packages with similar names.

Thereafter, you can use easy_install reportlab, pip install reportlab, or fetch the source and use python install.

From Ubuntu 12.04 desktop onwards, a copy of reportlab is already installed. Take care not to confuse it with any releases you download.

3. Prerequisites / Dependencies

This works with Python 2.5 - 2.7. Older versions are available going back to Python 1.5 or thereabouts.

There are no absolute prerequisites beyond the Python standard library; but the Python Imaging Library (PIL) is needed to include images other than JPG inside PDF files.

The C extension are optional but anyone able to do so should use _rl_accel as it helps achieve acceptable speeds when wrapping paragraphs and measuring text string lengths. The _renderPM extension allows graphics (such as charts) to be saved as bitmap images for the web, as well as inside PDFs.

4. Documentation

Naturally, we generate our own manuals using the library. In a ‘built’ distribution, they may already be present in the docs/ directory. If not, execute python in that directory, and it will create three PDF manuals:


These are also available in daily build form from the documentation page on our web site. The manuals are very useful ‘how-to’ examples if you are aiming to create long documents.

5. Test suite

Tests are in the tests/ directory. They can be executed by cd’ing into the directory and executing python, or from python tests.

The tests will simply try to ‘import reportlab’. Be warned that if you already have a copy of reportlab installed (which happens by default in Ubuntu 12.04 desktop), it may try to run the installed reportlab and cause permission errors as it can’t generate PDF files without sudo rights.

If you do not have a copy insralled and run them prior to installation/compilation, there may be one or two failures from tests which exercise the C extensions that have not been compiled.

The tests mostly produce output files with the same name as the test, but extension .pdf. It is worth reviewing the list of test scripts as they provide valuable ‘how to’ information.

If you have no internet connection, one or two tests may fail where we try to load images from URLs. This is normal. The next release of this package will silently skip such tests using features only available in Python 2.7.

6. Demos

A small number of demo programs are included in demos/, none of which are particularly exciting, but which may have some intructional value. These were the first programs we wrote back in 2000.

The odyssey demo serves as our benchmark suite. If you download the full Odyssey text, you can generate a PDF of Homer’s Odyssey with either (a) no wrapping, (b) simple paragraphs or (c) paragraphs with enough artificial markup (bold/italic on certain words) to exercise the parser.

7. Acknowledgements and Thanks

lib/ originally by Jeff Bauer.

Many, many contributors have helped out between 2000 and 2013. We try to keep a list in the first chapter of the User Guide; if you have contributed and are not listed there, please let us know.

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