class HexaPDF::Composer


The composer class can be used to create PDF documents from scratch. It uses HexaPDF::Layout::Frame and HexaPDF::Layout::Box objects underneath and binds them together to provide a convenient interface for working with them.


First, a new Composer objects needs to be created, either using ::new or the utility method ::create.

On creation a HexaPDF::Document object is created as well the first page and an accompanying HexaPDF::Layout::Frame object. The frame is used by the various methods for general document layout tasks, like positioning of text, images, and so on. By default, it covers the whole page except the margin area. How the frame gets created can be customized by overriding the create_frame method.

Once the Composer object is created, its methods can be used to draw text, images, … on the page. Behind the scenes HexaPDF::Layout::Box (and subclass) objects are created and drawn on the page via the frame.

All drawing methods accept HexaPDF::Layout::Style objects or names for style objects (defined via style). The HexaPDF::Layout::Style#font is handled specially:

  • If no font is set on a style, the font “Times” is automatically set because otherwise there would be problems with text drawing operations (font is the only style property that has no valid default value).

  • Standard style objects only allow font wrapper objects to be set via the HexaPDF::Layout::Style#font method. Composer makes usage easier by allowing strings or an array [name, options_hash] to be used, like with e.g Content::Canvas. So using Helvetica as font, one could just do this by saying

    style.font = 'Helvetica'

    And if Helvetica bold should be used it would be

    style.font = ['Helvetica', variant: :bold]

If the frame of a page is full and a box doesn't fit anymore, a new page is automatically created. The box is either split into two boxes where one fits on the first page and the other on the new page, or it is drawn completely on the new page. A new page can also be created by calling the new_page method.

The x and y methods provide the point where the next box would be drawn if it fits the available space. This information can be used, for example, for custom drawing operations through canvas which provides direct access to the HexaPDF::Content::Canvas object of the current page.

When using canvas and modifying the graphics state, care has to be taken to avoid problems with later box drawing operations since the graphics state cannot completely be reset (e.g. transformations of the canvas cannot always be undone). So it is best to save the graphics state before and restore it afterwards.


HexaPDF::Composer.create('output.pdf', margin: 36) do |pdf|
  pdf.text("Hello World", valign: :center)



The Content::Canvas of the current page. Can be used to perform arbitrary drawing operations.


The PDF document that is created.


The HexaPDF::Layout::Frame for automatic box placement.


The current page (a HexaPDF::Type::Page object).

Public Class Methods

create(output, **options, &block)

Creates a new PDF document and writes it to output. The options are passed to ::new.


HexaPDF::Composer.create('output.pdf', margin: 36) do |pdf|
new(page_size: :A4, page_orientation: :portrait, margin: 36) { |composer| ... }

Creates a new Composer object and optionally yields it to the given block.


Can be any valid predefined page size (see Type::Page::PAPER_SIZE) or an array [llx, lly, urx, ury] specifying a custom page size.


Specifies the orientation of the page, either :portrait or :landscape. Only used if page_size is one of the predefined page sizes.


The margin to use. See HexaPDF::Layout::Style::Quad#set for possible values.


composer =            # uses the default values :Letter, margin: 72) do |composer|

Public Instance Methods

create_stamp(width, height) { |canvas| ... }

Creates a stamp (Form XObject) which can be used like an image multiple times on a single page or on multiple pages.

The width and the height of the stamp need to be set (frame.width/height or might be good choices).


stamp = composer.create_stamp(50, 50) do |canvas|
    rectangle(10, 10, 30, 30).fill_stroke
composer.image(stamp, width: 20, height: 20)
composer.image(stamp, width: 50)


Draws the given HexaPDF::Layout::Box.

The box is drawn into the current frame if possible. If it doesn't fit, the box is split. If it still doesn't fit, a new region of the frame is determined and then the process starts again.

If none or only some parts of the box fit into the current frame, one or more new pages are created for the rest of the box.

formatted_text(data, width: 0, height: 0, style: nil, box_style: nil, **style_properties)

Draws text like text but allows parts of the text to be formatted differently.

The argument data needs to be an array of String and/or Hash objects:

  • A String object is treated like {text: data}.

  • Hashes can contain any style properties and the following special keys:


    The text to be formatted.


    A URL that should be linked to. If no text is provided but a link, the link is used as text.


    The style to be use as basis instead of the style created from the style and style_properties arguments. See HexaPDF::Layout::Style::create for allowed values.

    If any style properties are set, the used style is copied and the additional properties applied.

See text for details on width, height, style, style_properties and box_style.


composer.formatted_text(["Some string"])
composer.formatted_text(["Some ", {text: "string", fill_color: 128}])
composer.formatted_text(["Some ", {link: "",
                                   fill_color: 'blue', text: "Example"}])
composer.formatted_text(["Some ", {text: "string", style: {font_size: 20}}])

See: text, HexaPDF::Layout::TextBox, HexaPDF::Layout::TextFragment

image(file, width: 0, height: 0, style: nil, **style_properties)

Draws the given image at the current position.

The file argument can be anything that is accepted by HexaPDF::Document::Images#add or a HexaPDF::Type::Form object.

See text for details on width, height, style and style_properties.


composer.image(machu_picchu, border: {width: 3})
composer.image(machu_picchu, height: 30)

new_page(page_size: nil, page_orientation: nil, margin: nil)

Creates a new page, making it the current one.

If any of page_size, page_orientation or margin are set, they will be used instead of the default values and will become the default values.


composer.new_page  # uses the default values
composer.new_page(page_size: :A5, margin: [72, 36])
style(:header) → style
style(:header, base: :base, **properties) → style

Creates or updates the HexaPDF::Layout::Style object called name with the given property values and returns it. Such a style can then be used by name in the various box drawing methods, e.g. text or image.

If neither base nor any style properties are specified, the style name is just returned.

If the style name does not exist yet and the argument base specifies the name of another style, that style is duplicated and used as basis for the style.

The special name :base should be used for setting the base style which is used when no specific style is set. It is best to fully initialize the base style before creating any other styles.

Note that the style property 'font' is handled specially by Composer, see the class documentation for details.

Example:, font_size: 12, leading: 1.2), font: 'Helvetica', fill_color: "008"), base: :header, font_size: 30)

See: HexaPDF::Layout::Style

text(str, width: 0, height: 0, style: nil, box_style: nil, **style_properties)

Draws the given text at the current position into the current frame.

This method is the main method for displaying text on a PDF page. It uses a HexaPDF::Layout::TextBox behind the scenes to do the actual work.

The text will be positioned at the current position if possible. Otherwise the next best position is used. If the text doesn't fit onto the current page or only partially, new pages are created automatically.

width, height

The arguments width and height are used as constraints and are respected when fitting the box. The default value of 0 means that no constraints are set.

style, style_properties

The box and the text are styled using the given style. This can either be a style name set via style or anything HexaPDF::Layout::Style::create accepts. If any additional style_properties are specified, the style is duplicated and the additional styles are applied.


Sometimes it is necessary for the box to have a different style than the text, e.g. when using overlays. In such a case use box_style for specifiying the style of the box (a style name set via style or anything HexaPDF::Layout::Style::create accepts). The style together with the style_properties will be used for the text style.


composer.text("Test " * 15)
composer.text("Now " * 7, width: 100)
composer.text("Another test", font_size: 15, fill_color: "green")
composer.text("Different box style", fill_color: 'white', box_style: {
  underlays: [->(c, b) { c.rectangle(0, 0, b.content_width, b.content_height).fill }]

See HexaPDF::HexaPDF::Layout::TextBox for details.

write(output, optimize: true, **options)

Writes the PDF document to the given output.

See Document#write for details.


The x-position of the cursor inside the current frame.


The y-position of the cursor inside the current frame.