PDF files are extremely versatile, portable, and used in a wide range of applications. While most desktop software and web browsers now have mature PDF generation and exporting features, there was no straightforward integration with Grasshopper up to this day.
What Problem Are We Solving?
Let's start with the obvious: why on Earth would someone need to export a PDF file from Grasshopper? Glad you asked.
If you are reading this article, you probably use Grasshopper for collaborating and/or sharing information with other departments, team members or even clients. Since Grasshopper allows for others to access the power of your parametric file, it's also a great idea to have the ability to "print" a summary of the various design iterations they can produce.
Another reason would be that you probably built an eCommerce application with ShapeDiver and you want to let your clients easily download a summary of their purchase via a PDF file that auto-generates depending on the different options chosen by them. Or maybe you want to provide precise instructions of every successful custom order to your manufacturing team.
For these and many more potential applications, we decided to build this solution ourselves.
Export PDF Files With The ShapeDiver Plugin
Today we're releasing a new version of our ShapeDiver plugin that includes a set of components (currently in Beta) that will help you setup and export PDF files either locally or online via an online application built with ShapeDiver. The tools are divided in two categories:
First, the ShapeDiver version of the Squid plugin was extended to let designers build PDFs just like they can build bitmaps using Squid. Most instructions work the same way, and we hope users will be glad to use the workflows they are familiar with for new applications.
Second, we have added some tools to the ShapeDiver plugin itself that allow to split, merge, internalize and export PDF files inside Grasshopper.
The best of all is that you do not necessarily need a ShapeDiver account (thought we really encourage you to start a Free account) to benefit from these components as you can use them locally in your machine.
We are working on many more features, such as the ability to import your own PDFs and use them as templates that you can fill with data and drawings directly in Grasshopper, before exporting them to your eCommerce backend. Let us know what you think in the forum, and whether you have ideas to improve the PDF tools!