Wkhtmltopdf is an obsolete software that is still used by many libraries, and developers may wonder whether it is still safe to use. This article explores the risks of using abandonware and provides guidance on how to replace wkhtmltopdf.
With the proliferation of digital resources in our information era, an immense number of libraries have populated the internet landscape. These libraries, designed for a variety of uses, have become invaluable tools for developers, providing pre-written code to perform routine or complex tasks.
Yet, this universe of libraries is also fraught with challenges, notably the phenomenon of "abandonware." A prime example of this is the increasingly obsolete software, wkhtmltopdf. And unfortunately, the internet is still crowded with libraries that use wkhtmltopdf. If you want to generate a PDF from HTML, you have surely come across it.
So, should you still use a library based on wkhtmltopdf, even if it’s obsolete? What are the risks? How can you replace it?
That’s what you’ll learn in this article.
Wkhtmltopdf, the open-source command-line tool that allows the conversion of HTML content to PDF using the WebKit rendering engine, gained significant popularity in the developer community for its simplicity and effectiveness.
Despite the tool's popularity, its usage has become problematic due to its recent abandonment. As of now, wkhtmltopdf is classified as abandonware, a term used for software that is no longer being updated or maintained by its developers.
While several software programs face a similar fate over time, the abandonment of a widely used tool like wkhtmltopdf poses a unique set of challenges.
The primary issue is the potential for security vulnerabilities.
Since wkhtmltopdf is no longer receiving updates, it doesn't benefit from patches to fix bugs or potential security weaknesses that might be discovered over time. This leaves it, and any systems that rely on it, vulnerable to potential exploitation.
Additionally, as technology evolves, new standards, tools, and practices are established. Abandoned tools like wkhtmltopdf may fail to align with these evolving standards, making them increasingly incompatible with other systems or less effective at performing their intended tasks.
Despite these risks, numerous digital libraries on the internet continue to use wkhtmltopdf, primarily because replacing it would require significant time and resources. Migrating to a new tool or software can be a daunting task, often requiring changes in underlying code and significant testing to ensure functionality.
The state of wkhtmltopdf serves as a stark reminder of the need for continuous innovation and maintenance in the realm of digital libraries.
It emphasizes the importance of ensuring that widely used tools receive ongoing support, both to maintain their effectiveness and to safeguard the security of systems that depend on them.
As the internet continues to evolve and expand, we must grapple with the growing concern of abandonware and the legacy it leaves behind.
We have search for libraries still using wkhtmltopdf as a dependency, that you should drop as soon as possible 😬.
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the most commonly used.
If you have built a web tool using a wkhtmltopdf library, it’s time to plan its replacement.
OK, but what are the alternatives to wkhtmltopdf?
If you work with Node.JS, a popular solution would be to use Puppeteer, a powerful browser automation tool that can convert the HTML content of a web page using its URL or convert an HTML file directly into PDF.
But be careful: Using Puppeteer on your own can be quite challenging, particularly when it comes to scaling, security, and ensuring compatibility with Docker. And it can be tricky if you handle big volumes and care about performance.
Another solution would be to use a managed API service, that would handle all the technical stuff and be compatible with any development language.
Well, that’s what we have done with Doppio, a developer friendly API based on Puppeteer that allows to convert HTML to PDF or PNG in no time.
Our basic plan allows to generate up to 400 documents per months, for free, without giving your credit card number.
Sounds good, right?