Concatenating record attachments (.pdfs) as a single .pdf

Hi!

I am trying to do the following: from a Webflow form, allow the user to select certain products. When finished, go and look for those products in my Airtable base and export a .pdf that contains their full-length descriptions. These descriptions exist in a .pdf format that have graphics, diagrams, etc.

I am guessing the best way to go about this is through an HTML export but I’ve never done it before. Any ideas on how to approach it? I was thinking on using Zapier for the triggers.

Thanks a lot!

If the source documents for these products already exist as PDF items, exporting it as HTML will be near-impossible so I’m not sure what you were thinking along those lines.

The only way I can see to do this is to push a list of record IDs to an external API process that reads each of the PDF items and concatenates them into a single PDF using an API like this one.

If you had the details that are embedded in the PDF items as raw data, you could create a single report based on a filter using the page designer.

You are right…

I do have the raw data. And it does makes sense to use the page designer now that I think of it… My next thought was: is it possible to automatically export this concatenated .pdf and then send it to an email? Which is ultimately what I am trying to achieve. I found out it isn’t by reading your post.

Also, I want to have a total price sum in the last page… So that could also be a restriction if done fully in Airtable, I think. I was looking at pdfmonkey as an alternative. What do you think? Do you know any other apps that may help with this?

Thanks a lot!

From Airtable, yes if you have the concatenated PDF in an attachment field. But, I think you’re still a ways off from achieving that.

This is one of many complexities that push me to design systems that blend artefacts and data by using custom integrations that offer scale without added cost. Imagine a single Google Apps Script process that listens for an Airtable record ID and upon receipt…

  1. Fetches the Airtable record;
  2. Unpacks all of the PDF attachments;
  3. Compiles a single Google Document report based on a Google Doc template (the PDFs are simply embedded images in the Google Doc;
  4. Adds headers, footers, other narrative content and even other Airtable field data to the report;
  5. Converts the final Google Doc report into a single PDF;
  6. Stores the PDF into Google Drive; uploads the report into Airtable (wherever needed);
  7. Creates an email message with narrative, etc; attaches the PDF report; send it;
  8. Updates an Airtable record with date/rime of the transmission and a copy of the email sent.

I have a general policy not to use anything that has the word “monkey” in it. There are exceptions, of course, and this one looks like what you might need. However, it has a low ceiling for the free tier, so there’s that.

One point I might make - these items are stored in Airtable as PDF documents; that’s a red flag to me because it is far easier to blend binary objects that are images rather than PDF documents. For example, embedding five JPGs into a single document is very easy to do, whereas, blending five PDFs into a single PDDF document is a sh*tshow and should be avoided altogether (if possible).

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Thanks for such a great answer. It is suuper helpful.

The Google Appscript alternative sounds like a good one if not the best. I’ve never done this dynamic templates in Google Docs and the use case you describe sounds like something that someone may already have solved. I will go look for a similar script and see if I can adapt it. If you’ve seen this kind of solution on some project I would appreciate it a lot if you could share it :+1:.

On the last point. I completely agree. Originally I said .pdf because I was thinking of ways to concatenate these single page .pdfs that would already have all the info per product (or record). After your first answer I realized I needed to work with the raw data because the pricing is going to be changing constantly. So yes. I will definitely will have to go with text fields and JPGs to format the .pdf to output.

Thanks again!