PDF::Wrapper is a PDF generation library that uses the cairo and pango native libraries to do the heavy lifting. It essentially just wraps these general purpose graphics libraries with some sugar that makes them a little easier to use for making PDFs. The idea is to lever the low level tools in those libraries (drawing shapes, laying out text, importing raster images, etc) to build some higher level tools - tables, text boxes, borders, lists, repeating elements (headers/footers), etc.

The API started off roughly following that of PDF::Writer, but it has since diverged significantly. I've spent some time contributing to a pure Ruby PDF generation library (Prawn) and its elegant and simple API is having a strong effect on the direction I've been taking PDF::Wrapper.

A key motivation for writing this library is cairo's support for Unicode in PDFs. All text functions in this library require UTF-8 input, although as a native English speaker I've only tested non ASCII text a little, so any feedback is welcome.

There also seems to be a lack of English documentation available for the ruby bindings to cairo/pango, so I'm aiming to document the code as much as possible to provide worked examples for others. I'm learning as I go though, so if regular users of either library spot techniques that fail best practice, please let me know.

It's early days, so the API is far from stable and I'm hesitant to write extensive documentation just yet. It's the price you pay for being an early adopter. The examples/ dir should have a range of sample code, and I'll try to keep it up to date.

I welcome all feedback, feature requests, patches and suggestions. In particular, what high level widgets would you like to see? What do you use when building reports and documents in GUI programs?


The recommended installation method is via Rubygems.

gem install pdf-wrapper


James Healy <[email protected]>



As of September 2010 all these dependencies are satisfied by gems. All of them are bindings to C libraries, so you will need the libraries and headers installed on your system before installing them.


JRuby users, you're currently out of luck. In theory it should be possible to use the Java bindings to the native libraries we need, but as I'm not a JRuby user, it's not an itch I've been motivated to scratch.

Rubinius users, I have no idea.

Ruby1.9 users, the current release of ruby/cairo (1.5.1) added support for 1.9. PDF::Wrapper itself is 1.9 compatible.