[resolved] Pdf export - set the page size

Quick question:

How do I change the default paper size for PDF exports from American Letter to A4?

Is it a simple switch somewhere, or is there an extension that will allow easy access to those settings?

Apologies if it is already in the documentation, but I seem to be missing it.

Are you sure that’s a PDF feature? It seems to me it’s a printing feature but that PDF are any size you want (you can resize in your PDF viewer).

yes, you can print a pdf to any size, but pdf documents themselves do have a paper size and you set that during the generation of the pdf, like you would do the margins.

If I print an American letter sized PDF on A4 paper, the page will have wasted space on the top and bottom of the page. If I print an A4 sized PDF on American letter, I will have wasted space on the sides. This is due to the different proportions.

I just exported a page to PDF, and the document properties says that it is some intermediate size between A4 (8.27" x 11.7") and Letter (8.5" x 11")

Screen Shot 2020-10-06 at 14.46

So it looks like whatever rendering library you are using for the pdf export feature is taking the middle road and avoiding the question of page size all together.

Adding to that question, how can I also adjust the margins?

To maybe answer my own question, according to the documentation you can create an override xhtml2fo.xsl to set the values you need.

The XHTML2FO XSL transformation. The default one, xhtml2fo.xsl, is packed in core jar but it could be override by a new one in a template or a xhtml2fo.xsl file in WEB-INF/classes directory, if customization needed.

Cool that you found the link, I was going to give that to you :wink:

So this is an answer:

1/ copy the default xsl transformation file (http://www.github.com/xwiki/xwiki-platform/tree/master/xwiki-platform-core/xwiki-platform-oldcore/src/main/resources/xhtml2fo.xsl) and place it into /usr/lib/xwiki/WEB-INF/classes/ directory (debian package version)

2/ customize whatever you need to change.

3/ restart tomcat.

It’s not ideal because I have to drop a file into the /usr/lib/xwiki directory and I need to remember that customization and I have to restart tomcat to get the servlet to recognize the change. However, it’s easy to do and is less hairy to me than editing an XWiki.PDFClass object.

(Hat tip to https://forum.xwiki.org/t/use-custom-pdftemplate-by-default/562 for giving me the kick I needed to solve the problem on my own)

Thanks. Much appreciated for the reply - it’s nice to have confirmation that I am going down the right path.

Sometimes phrasing the question correctly makes it easier to find the answer myself, then documenting it makes it easier for me to find the answer after I have forgotten it. :laughing:

I’d like to understand what was missing from the doc at https://www.xwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Documentation/AdminGuide/Configuration/#HCustomizingthePDFexportLook26Feel

I can see:

  • The XHTML2FO XSL transformation. The default one, xhtml2fo.xsl, is packed in core jar but it could be override by a new one in a template or a xhtml2fo.xsl file in WEB-INF/classes directory, if customization needed.

Isn’t that what you provided as answer above?

Good question.

The content at configuration page is very information dense and will make sense to someone who already understands the shorthand language used.

I guess was looking for something more explicit, like a recipe that didn’t force me to think too hard. Normally, when you’re exporting a document to PDF, one of the options you can control is the page size - either set through the default printer settings, or through an option available at export time. A user expectation is that something like this should be easy to change.

As this is not available through the current export options, and requires a non user level technical change, then something like this would have been helpful for the casual administrator:

there are X ways to change the defaults for the PDF export settings

1/ override the default xhtml2fo.xls file by
1.1/ step a
1.2/ step b
2/ Create and customize the XWiki.PDFClass object by …
3/ …

That said, the documentation does say list the ways to customize the pdf export, and now that I’ve done it, some of the other information is starting to make a bit more sense, but none if it is clear to anyone who hasn’t worked with XWiki on a much more technical level. The average wiki administrator will rarely have this level of expertise required to delve into that dense information dump and then go figure out what they need to learn in order to set the page size.

As I mentioned, some of the information is “shorthand”, in that it makes sense if you are already familiar with the subject. Take for example

… The default one, xhtml2fo.xsl, is packed in a core jar…

What does that mean? Well, it turns out that it means you can find the default transformation file in the one of the jar files, with a bit of searching, it turns out to be xwiki-platform-legacy-oldcore-12.8.jar in my case. (hindsight! the github link would have told me that, doh!)

Unpacking that version of the file, and the one I got from the github link shows that they are very different files. When I overrode the defaults with the github file (just page size), the resulting PDF came out VERY different (and wrong). When I found the bundled xsl file in the jar file, customized it and use it, the PDF came out exactly as I expected it to. Unexpected, but it’s obvious now in hindsight.

[Edit: Why were the files so different? Did I grab the wrong version from github? I don’t know, and I didn’t spend time investigating exactly what I did. I was sure I grabbed the one from the github link.]

Had there been documentation that said something like “extract the bundled xsl file, drop it in this directory and then restart your servlet container” then it would have been much easier to achieve what I was looking for (quick change with little thought required).

Instead, I spent a couple of hours puzzling things out and testing various changes until I knew the enough to make the changes I needed in the simplest fashion possible and then document it.

Does that answer your question?

It’s not a knock on the documentation, it’s more a statement that there are some areas that require a fair bit of technical knowledge before certain changes can be made to XWiki, even if those changes “should be simple to implement” (user level expectation).

Yes, those changes should be simple if you guys had unlimited developers working for you making everything nice a easy for everyone, but this is the reality we live in where help is not unlimited.

And that’s the purpose of these forums, to help solve these problems when they come up.

future reference: more good information here: https://xwiki.com/en/Blog/createpdftemplate/

An excellent example of the kind of information I was looking for.

Thanks for the feedback @pdwalker. I agree it could be improved. It’s a wiki and anyone from the community can help out. I think it would be good to extract the information into a new page dedicated to customizing the PDF export L&F

@community: anyone interested in doing this?

If so, you could create a draft page under https://dev.xwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Drafts/ and once it’s done post back here so that it can be reviewed and then we can replace the previous information with it!

Any taker? :slight_smile: (That’s a good way to contribute to XWiki!)


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Hi! I’d be happy to contribute to this. :smiley: I’ll create a draft page here https://dev.xwiki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Drafts/ .