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Problems downloading a PDF - March 2014 **FIXED!** Answered

Mar 21, 2014 - UPDATE
We had a small release last night and it looks like this problem was solved!

Your browser will require a new cookie for our site; clear your browser cache and refresh the page, then try downloading again. You may have to use the 'custom PDF' on some projects.

Thanks for bearing with us while we sorted this out. Please leave your comments below.

Mar 14, 2014
One of the Pro Membership benefits is the ability to download a PDF of an Instructable for offline viewing. Something has happened in the last week which has caused the PDF generation to not work correctly, preventing projects from being converted into PDFs and being downloaded.
This is a known bug and we are investigating the cause and a fix.

You may notice this happening to a few Instructables, but not all. There are still many projects that work fine when you request a PDF generation for download. Currently we can recreate this issue across all browsers and operating systems.

While we figure out what is going on and working on a fix, please use this Forum topic to provide us with any feedback you may have or links to projects where you're experiencing this problem.

Updates to this post when there's more details. Sorry for the delay.


This should now be fixed.

clear your browser cache and refresh the page, then try downloading again. You may have to use the 'custom PDF' on some projects.

Our system won't generate PDF's from projects that don't have text in a step; each of the project in your list met that criteria.

I've manually added a period "." placeholder in steps that had no text. The last one has a non-standard character (accent on the letter 'e') which was preventing the PDF from recognizing it and generating a PDF. All good now.

Thank you for the list of projects, that helped a lot.

That did it. So did you make the change in the PDF generation script or in those particular instructables? (I am assuming the former.) Same question for instructables with special characters.

Thanks for your work on this!

Changes were made to the Instructables, not the script.

Projects with video also sometimes cause problems, but downloading a 'custom PDF' and omitting the step that contains the video solves that issue.

There are still two that I can't download. I was able to get pretty much all the rest to download successfully.



This is still a problem. Here are some that don't download. These all have text in each step, and they don't appear to contain any non-standard characters.

Evernote list

I feel like manually editing I'bles that break the PDF generation script is more time consuming than simply fixing the script. As a web developer myself, I understand that PDF generation can be a pain in the rear, but it is an important piece of functionality on this site so it should at least be a moderate priority when the problem is as widespread as it appears to be. Note that I am basing this assumption on the fact that I come across a fair number of I'bles that can't be downloaded, and I don't view all (or likely even a majority) of the ones posted.

I certainly appreciate your work on this, so I'm sorry if I am coming across as a jerk. It's not intentional. My goal is to help you guys identify (perceived) problems with the site so you can make it better for all of us.

Thanks for keeping a list. I'm able to generate PDF's if you use the 'custom PDF' function and remove the table of contents or the header. (example: https://www.instructables.com/pdf/Raspberry-Pi-phot...) and (https://www.instructables.com/pdf/Moving-a-Motor-Us...). I'm not sure why this is the case, as it's the same script that generates both.

Our Dev Team knows about this and already fixed the error of it not generating, updating the entire script to capture more types of odd-ball projects is on the list.

Let us know if there is anything we can do to help other than report broken links. My list is pushing 100 now, but I feel like there is a limited ROI on simply posting more links.

I am keeping a running list of instructables that won't download.
Lately, the problem is approaching 80-90% of the ones I try. Here is a
link to the public Evernote note where I am keep track:


PDF problems? Leave a comment!

If it helps any, the pdf issue only seems to affect recently-added instructables (those posted since approximately 10 MAR 2014 or so. Older instructables don't seem to be affected.

Okay, let me clarify:

If I use the 'custom PDF' link, it dumps me into the 'technical difficulties page directly.

If I use the 'download PDF' link by left-clicking, (like I want to open the file with my browser) it will again send me to the technical difficulties' page.

If I RIGHT-click on the 'download PDF' link and select 'save as', I can download the a 'PDF' file; HOWEVER, if it's from a newer instructable, it'll be either zero-byte or 37.7 kilobytes. If it's the PDF of an older instructable (February 2014 or older), it downloads and will open in my reader just fine. Even that PDF of the metal-arm instructable transferred and opens without issue.

Oddly enough, the issue also seems to have cropped up with the recent time change, but I can't be certain of that.


4 years ago

For what it's worth...

All projects since the beginning of the month have this issue. Some older ones I'm able to look at the PDF.