Create PDF documents using web technologies (PDF/SCSS)
Last updated 2 years ago by danielruf .
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ReLaXed is a tool which creates PDF documents interactively using HTML or Pug (a shorthand for HTML). It allows complex layouts to be defined with CSS and JavaScript, while writing the content in a friendly, minimal syntax close to Markdown or LaTeX.

Here it is in action in the Atom editor:

And here are a few output examples:

Book - source / PDF Letter - Source / PDF Resume - Source / PDF Visit card - Source / PDF
Slides - Source / PDF Report - Source / PDF Paper - Source / PDF Poster - Source / PDF

ReLaXed has support for Markdown, LaTeX-style mathematical equations (via MathJax), CSV conversion to HTML tables, plot generation (via Vega-Lite or Chart.js), and diagram generation (via mermaid). Many more features can be added simply by importing an existing JavaScript or CSS framework.

Installing ReLaXed

At the moment, the best solution is to install ReLaXed in an empty directory as follows:

git clone .
npm install
sudo npm link --unsafe-perm=true

This provides your system with the relaxed command.

Hopefully, in the future, installation will be as simple as npm i -g relaxedjs, but there are known issues with Puppeteer. In case it doesn't work for you, have a look at the troubleshooting page. Any help towards a simpler installation procedure is welcome.

Getting started

To start a project, create a new, empty my_document.pug file, and start a ReLaXed process from a terminal:

relaxed my_document.pug

ReLaXed will watch my_document.pug and its directory. Every time a file changes, my_document.pug will be compiled as my_document.pdf.

Now write and save the following in my_document.pug:

h1 My document's title
p A paragraph in my document

A new file, my_document.pdf, will be created. Every time you modify and save the sources, the file is automatically updated (make sure you use a PDF viewer with auto-refresh to see your changes happen in real-time). That's all there is to know to start creating your first document!

To go further:

Why yet another PDF document creator?

Many of us prefer markup languages (Markdown, LaTeX, etc.) to GUI document-editors like MS Office or Google Docs. This is because markup languages make it easier to quickly write documents in a consistent style.

However, Markdown is limited to the title/sections/paragraphs structure, and LaTeX has obscure syntax and errors that also make it difficult to stray from the beaten track.

On the other hand, web technologies have never looked so good.

  • Beautiful CSS frameworks make sure your documents look clean and modern.
  • There are JavaScript libraries for pretty much anything: plotting, highlight code, rendering equations...
  • Millions of people (and growing) know how to use these.
  • Shorthand languages like Pug and SCSS are finally making it fun to write HTML and CSS.
  • (Headless) web browsers can easily turn web documents into PDF, on any platform.

ReLaXed is an attempt at finding the most comfortable way to leverage this for desktop PDF creation.

How ReLaXed works

ReLaXed consists of a few lines of code binding together other software. It uses Chokidar to watch the file system. When a file is changed, several JavaScript libraries are used to compile SCSS, Pug, Markdown, and diagram files (mermaid, flowchart.js, Chart.js) into an HTML page which is then printed to a PDF file by a headless instance of Chromium (via Puppeteer).


ReLaXed is an open-source framework originally written by Zulko and released on Github under the ISC licence. Everyone is welcome to contribute!

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