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Turning HTML into an Image

by mdog (Pilgrim)
on May 10, 2002 at 23:32 UTC ( [id://165810]=perlquestion: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

mdog has asked for the wisdom of the Perl Monks concerning the following question:

So Brethern --

Here's a doosie of a question: Anybody know how to turn HTML into an image?

I need to allow users to select templates (pulled dynamically from a directory) and I thought that as they selected one, I'd perform some JS wizardry to display an image of the template. The only thing is I need to able to create an image of the HTML automatically.

Kind of an interesting problem, huh?

Off to search the Net...


Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Turning HTML into an Image
by stephen (Priest) on May 10, 2002 at 23:46 UTC

    Since HTML is a formatting language, not a layout language, you won't get perfect results.

    For basics, though, I'd recommend Image::Magick. It requires installation of ImageMagick (see, ghostscript, and a whole bunch of other subsidiary programs, but you can transform HTML into pretty much any kind of image you want. Plus, you'll find it handy in resizing those images.

    You might also want to check out HTML::FormatPS.


      Yeah...I have ImageMagick but can't find anything in the docs with what I want to do...If you have a quick sample, I'd really appreciate it!


      PS. Did find an external program that will turn HTML to PDF (close but not what I want -- although maybe I can go HTML --> PDF --> JPG -- but I'd rather fly direct than have lay overs):

Re: Turning HTML into an Image
by tachyon (Chancellor) on May 11, 2002 at 01:40 UTC

    Is there anything wrong with popping a new window and displaying the HTML template in it as HTML? Do you need to scale it, thus the desire for an image? An image of any significant size will be much slower than the real HTML




      Exactly! I need to resize it down...

      In other news, I've had some luck with using HTMLDoc to turn HTML into a PDF and then ImageMagick to convert the PDF to a JPG. Talk about hacking! The results aren't too bad but any other suggestions would be great! I'll definitely be checking out Gecko...

Re: Turning HTML into an Image
by samtregar (Abbot) on May 11, 2002 at 01:29 UTC
    I suppose one option would be to build a script that opens the HTML in a web browser and then takes a screenshot of the web browser window. This is likely to be slow and non-portable, but I think it would work. If you could do it offline and cache the images it could probably be made to work.

    A better solution might be to try to interface with an HTML rendering engine (like the Gecko engine used by Mozilla) and use it to generate a rendering in an image. This could be a very difficult task, but the results would likely be much better. If you go this route, consider building a Perl module that others can use to do the same task. A Perl interface to Gecko, for example, would be a popular module!


Re: Turning HTML into an Image
by cLive ;-) (Prior) on May 11, 2002 at 12:43 UTC
    Damn you mdog, damn you! Just spent half an hour looking. The word you are looking for is displet.

    This looks promising.

    cLive ;-)


Re: Turning HTML into an Image
by Stegalex (Chaplain) on May 11, 2002 at 17:49 UTC
    May not be what you are looking for, but I had to do something similar. I run a small retail website and one of the things I have to do is to convert HTML shipping information into a nicely formated packing slip. What I do is run the HTML through a utility called html2ps and then run the resulting postscript through ps2pdf so that our warehouse guys can open a link to PDF docs and print them and stick them in boxes. Fun fun!

    I like chicken.
Re: Turning HTML into an Image
by ejf (Hermit) on May 12, 2002 at 00:58 UTC

    If you have the possibility of running parts of KDE on the machine that is going to generate the images, you could use the kwebdesktop program to use the khtml-Engine (the same as in Konqueror, i.e. a /very/ good one ;) to get you a rendered image of your site ...
    It is intended for use as a desktop background generator, but it should work for your case just as well :

    kankoku:~$ kwebdesktop --help
    Usage: kwebdesktop Qt-options KDE-options width height file URL 
        Width of the image to create
        Height of the image to create
        Filename where to dump the output in png format.
        URL to open 
    It is part of kdebase. Hope this helps; it's not strictly perl ;)
Re: Turning HTML into an Image
by BUU (Prior) on May 10, 2002 at 23:52 UTC
    well, before you embark down the ever fun row of trying to dynamicly generate images, how many templates do you have? It might be (much) easier to just screen shot all your different templates and slice/dice them and just retun the .gifs or what not.
      The reason I need to generate them dynamically is that designers can drop off templates whenever they want (unbeknownst to me) so I need to be able to schedule something that can go through, check for new templates, and generate new "thumbnails" of the HTML...
        Itīs true

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