Jun 20 2022 · Piotr Płoński

Automated PDF Reports with Python

Automated Reports Python banner Python is a great tool for automation, almost magical. In this article I will show you how to build automated reporting system with Python. The system will create a daily PDF report and send it via email. I will use Python notebook (with Jupyter Notebook) and Mercury framework for PDF generation, scheduling and email sending.

The tasks that our automated reporting system will do:

  • fetch stock market data, display news, price chart and analysis,
  • execute every day from Monday to Friday at 9:00 AM,
  • convert executed notebook to PDF and send in the email attachment.

The notebook automations are created with an open-source Mercury framework. They are achieved with 4 lines of code! The reporting system can be run locally. However, I will deploy it to the cloud (Heroku) in this artcile. The web application is available online at automated-pdf-reports.herokuapp.com. All code is on the GitHub at github.com/pplonski/automated-pdf-reports-python. The demo of the reporting web application is below:

Automated PDF Reports in Python

Email with PDF report in the attachment (it was send automatically):

Email with PDF Report

I hope that this article will help you to build your own automated reporting system in Python. In case any questions please contact me with the following form. 😊

Setup local environment

Let's start with creating a GitHub project (please create a new repository on the GitHub website). All my code is on github.com/pplonski/automated-pdf-reports-python. The first step is to clone the project:

git clone git@github.com:pplonski/automated-pdf-reports-python.git

The next step is to create a requirements.txt file with Python packages that we will use:


We will need the requirements.txt when deploying the notebook to the cloud. (Don't worry, it will be easy). The next step is to create a virtual environment:

# create virtual environment
virtualenv reportenv

# activate the env
source reportenv/bin/activate

# install packages
pip install -r requirements.txt

The reportenv is the name of the virtual environment. The last step is to set our new virtual environment as Jupyter kernel, so we can use it in the Jupyter Notebook when creating a new notebook.

python -m ipykernel install --user --name reportenv

Python notebook

The environment is ready. We can start work on Python notebook. The notebook will fetch the latest stock data with yfinance package. It is using Yahoo Finance API. Next, the notebook will display list of recent news, plot a finance chart with mplfinance and display analysis.

Let's start a Jupyter Notebook and create a new notebook report.ipynb. Please remember to select the reportenv kernel.

# start jupyter notebook
jupyter notebook

As usual, the first step is to import all required packages (I wish I could automatize this one day):

import yfinance as yf
import mplfinance as mpf
from IPython.display import Markdown as md
from datetime import datetime

The data presented in the notebook will be controlled with two variables:

ticker = "TSLA"
period = "3mo"

We will use ticker variable to select the stock. The period is a variable that controls the history length. It will be directly used in the yfinance package.

Let's start with a good header. It will show ticker and a current day. Displaying header will be a little tricky. I will contrcut a string with header and use IPython.display.Markdown to display it as a Markdown.

md(f"# {ticker} Report {datetime.now().strftime('%m-%d-%Y')}")

Please notice that the cell is still a code type and I'm using # for making a header - Markdown syntax inside a string.

Display header as markdown

Fetching the stock data is done in two lines of Python code:

d = yf.Ticker(ticker)
history = d.history(period=period)

Isn't it amazing? Recent news are in JSON format and are availble as news member variable. Let's construct the string with list of news:

content = ""
for n in d.news:
    content += f""" - [{n["title"]}]({n["link"]}) by {n["publisher"]}\n"""

Displaying string as Markdown in the Jupyter Notebook:

Display news list as markdown

Let's plot some data. Creating a financial chart with mplfinance is super easy:

mpf.plot(history, type='candle', mav=(7),figratio=(18,10))
Display financial chart with mplfinance

The yfinance provides analysis and financial details for stocks. They can be easily accessed as Pandas DataFrames.

Display analysis DataFrame
Display financials DataFrame

OK, the notebook with financial report is ready. It should look like in the image below:

Notebook with financial report

All code is created, bad news is that we can't share the report in the current shape. The code should be hidden and the notebook should be converted to PDF (Portable Document Format) so it can be open on any operating system. Good news is that it can be easily done with Mercury framework.

Share notebook with Mercury

Let's use the Mercury framework to make our notebook shareable:

  • make it interactive with ticker and period as select widgets,
  • hide code to not scare non-technical shareholders,
  • easily convert to PDF format,
  • schedule a daily execution with email notifiction and PDF report in the attachment.

The above features can be achieved by adding a RAW cell at the beginning of the notebook with the YAML configuration:

title: Financial report
description: Stock financial report
schedule: '0 9 * * 1-5'
    on_success: contact@mljar.com
    attachment: pdf
show-code: False
        input: select
        label: Select a ticker
        value: TSLA
        choices: [TSLA, TWTR, MSFT, SNOW, PLTR, NFLX]
        input: select
        label: Select period
        value: 3mo
        choices: [1mo, 2mo, 3mo, 6mo, 12mo, 24mo]

The YAML contains:

  • title and description of the report,
  • schedule parameter controls the time interval at which the notebook will be executed, it is set with crontab string,
  • notify parameter defines the list of email addresses that will receive notification after successful notebook execution, the attachment defines the format of the report,
  • show-code hides the code in the notebook,
  • params addes two select widgets that are directly connected to variables ticker and period. You can check more widget types in the Mercury's documentation.

The notebook with YAML header should look like in the image below:

Notebook with YAML header for Mercury

To check how it is working locally you can run:

mercury run

It will start a local server. Please open the web browser with address, you should see the Mercury web service running. You can tweak widgets values and execute the notebook with new parameters with Run button:

Notebook as web application


We will deploy the Mercury in the cloud server to run it automatically on daily basis. I will use Heroku for demo purposes. You can check guides for deployment in other clouds in the documentation. I'm using Heroku CLI tool.

Let's create a new Heroku app:

heroku create automated-pdf-reports

The next step is to add Procfile that configures how Heroku execute our code:

web: mercury run$PORT

We need to push all files to the GitHub repository:

git add report.ipynb
git add requirements.txt
git add Procfile
git commit -am "add notebook"
git push

Deployment to the cloud is done with one command:

git push heroku main

Please wait a while and you should see Mercury web application running. My app is running at automated-pdf-reports.herokuapp.com.

We need do configure email settings to enable notifications sending. Additionally, we will set a TIME_ZONE to set email notification in my timezone. We need to define following environment variables:


The example values can be:


I'm setting the environment variables in the Settings tab in the Heroku dashboard, below is the screenshot:

Set config variables in Heroku to enable email sending

Exporting notebook to PDF requires a Puppeteer buildpack:


Please add it in the Heroku dashboard (it should be available below config vars):

Add puppeteer buildpack to enable notebook export to PDF

OK, we will need to deploy the app again to see the changes. This can be done by updating a notebook. In my case I will add a welcome.md message to the Mercury web application. It will be a custom message availabe in the home view. You can read more about welcome message in the documentation.

Deployment of updated app can be done with:

git push heroku main

That's all! 😊 Now let's wait for automatic PDF reports. They will be delivered to the email address in the attachement.

Email with PDF Report


The Jupyter Notebook gives a WYSIWYG editor for report building. The Mercury framework makes additional work of making interactive widgets, code hidding, scheduling, exporting to PDF, sending email notifications. Both tools makes a perfect combination for creating automatic reporting systems.

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