Set Up Highcharts Export Server On Ubuntu Server 12.04: Step by Step

There are a lot of JavaScript libraries for generating elegant and interactive charts, such as d3.js, RGraph, Google Charts, etc. However, most of them have no feature that can let users save their charts as images, except Highcharts! The charts generated by Highcharts contain a export button, users can use it to save charts as images. The mechanism of exporting feature of Highcharts is: by clicking the exporting button, users send a request to Highcharts’s export server with chart data, then the export server convert chart data (SVG) into images, e.g. JPEG, PNG, PDF, through PhantomJS, and send the generated images back to clients. So, there is a security problem! Even though Highcharts said they will never gather any information send to their export server, users’ chart data still can be intercepted by third part organizations. That’s a common problem of http protocol! In this blog, I will show you how to set up your own local highchart-export server step by step, which can be further set up to be accessible outside under https protocol.

The tutorial of setting up export server on Highcharts’s website is really vague, especially to users that have little knowledge about Java and Tomcat-server. I spent two days to get my server work, but I hope you can get it through in 10 minutes by following this tutorial.

###1. Install Java The Highcharts export server is an Apache-tomcat based server, which run under Java run environment, so we need to install Java first. And for Highcharts-export server, we need at least version 1.7. Open your terminal, and type the following command:

sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk openjdk-7-jre

To check whether Java was installed correctly, you can use the command:

java -version

If you can see the message: java version “1.7.“*, then the Java was successfully installed. We need to tell computer the main path of Java (JAVA_HOME) by appending this line “export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-7-openjdk-amd64” into “ ~/.bashrc”.

sudo nano ~/.bashrc

After opening the “~/.bashrc” file, use arrow key to navigate to its bottom, type the export command, and press “Ctrl+x” to exist and save the modification.

###2. Install Tomcat7 You can call Tomcat as the server, because it hosts the highcharts-export-web module which will be used for converting charts to images.

sudo apt-get install tomcat7

Create System variable CATALINA_HOME by appending this line “export CATALINA_HOME= /usr/share/tomcat7” to the end of “ ~/.bashrc”. Save it and execute the following command to make all modification work:

. ~/.bashrc

If you can see the message: * Starting Tomcat servlet engine tomcat7 [OK]*, then the Tomcat7 was successfully installed.

###3. Install Maven

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install maven

Check if Maven was successfully installed using:

mvn -version

###4. Install PhantomJS

sudo apt-get remove phantomjs
sudo unlink /usr/local/bin/phantomjs
sudo unlink /usr/local/share/phantomjs
sudo unlink /usr/bin/phantomjs
cd /usr/local/share
sudo wget
tar xjf phantomjs-1.9.0-linux-x86_64.tar.bz2
sudo ln -s /usr/local/share/phantomjs-1.9.0-linux-x86_64/bin/phantomjs /usr/local/share/phantomjs 
sudo ln -s /usr/local/share/phantomjs-1.9.0-linux-x86_64/bin/phantomjs /usr/local/bin/phantomjs
sudo ln -s /usr/local/share/phantomjs-1.9.0-linux-x86_64/bin/phantomjs /usr/bin/phantomjs

Check if PhantomJS was successfully installed using:

phantomjs -v

###5. Compile file “highcharts-export-web.war” using Maven Go to Highcharts’ github repository, and click the Download ZIP at the right-bottom corner. Unzip the download file, you can find the “highcharts-export” folder under “\exporting-server\java”, copy it to a convenient place. For example,

sudo cp -R theFolderDirectory /home/local/../highcharts-export/

Navigate to the directory “highcharts-export”, and compile “highcharts-export-web.war”.

cd /home/local/KRG/huti/highcharts-export/
mvn install
cd highcharts-export-web
mvn clean package
mvn install

If you can see BUILD SUCCESS message, then the “highcharts-export-web.war” was successfully compiled.

Now copy the compiled file into your server’s webapps folder. For example, mine is:

sudo cp -R /home/local/KRG/huti/highcharts-export/highcharts-export-web/target/highcharts-export-web.war /var/lib/tomcat7/webapps/

Finally, the setting up is done! You can access the server through interval IP (start with 192), which we can get using:


Type the address “http://IP:8080/highcharts-export-web” in your web browser you will see the demo of Highcharts Export Server!

Note! If there are some kinds of error occurred, and you need to remove your Java or Tomcat, or re-installed them, you can use the following command:

sudo apt-get purge openjdk*
sudo apt-get autoremove tomcat*

Also, to start and stop Tomcat7, you can use the command:

service tomcat7 start
service tomcat7 stop

Tips:, To use the new export-server instead of the default one “”, we need specify the option url in our JavaScript, like:


Beware! The address must contain last “/”, otherwise, export button will navigate to the demo of highcharts export server!

Written on March 21, 2014