The stuff I do

Comments via Github issues

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Recently, a former coworker of mine published his solution to implement comments on his personal website via Github issues. I was looking for a solution to add comments on this site and decided to shamelessly copy get inspiration from his post.

So I reformatted a bit his script, added it to my posts and realized that this solution implied to create a new issue on Github each time I created a new post. As I already use travis-ci to build this website I thought it would be a nice addition to create a script to automatically create these issues for me.

The full source of the script is included in the site repository here, in this article I will show how I configured everything.

Overview

Here are the important steps to make all of this working:

A quick update

November 2020 - When I originally wrote the script I didn't want to think too much about the authentication to Github API and chose to go the simple way using a login/password basic auth header. This worked well until Github decided to deprecate this authentication mode.

So I replaced the calls made to Github API via axios by the octokit library. It wraps the calls to the API and it handles the authentication really simply and replacing the axios calls were only a matter of minutes (I take that as a sign that my script was decently architectured 😎).

The complete version of the script is still on Github.

Configuring travis-ci

Running a script at build time with travis-ci is fairly straight forward. I added a new step in the script job looking like this:

script:
- npm run create-issues -- $BASIC_AUTH_HEADER

$BASIC_AUTH_HEADER is a variable which contains the string github_username:github_password encoded in base64. It will be used by the script to authenticate its calls to the Github API using Basic Authentication. Travis has a simple interface to define this kind of variable. The double dash -- is used to give a parameter to a npm script defined in package.json.

In package.json I added a new script like this:

"scripts": {
"create-issues": "node tools/createIssues.js"
}

Committing a simple nodejs script at tools/createIssues.js with only a console.log() confirmed this setup is working as the output of the command was shown in the travis build.

Implementing the CI script

Using the axios library I can list the existing issues in the blog-comment repo:

const Axios = require('axios');
const BASIC_AUTH_HEADER = process.argv[2]; // [0] is "node", [1] is scriptname

/*
* Configure axios to always use my user agent and my Github login
* to authenticate to the Github API
*/

const axios = Axios.create({
baseURL: 'https://api.github.com/',
headers: {
'User-Agent': 'statox',
'Authorization': `basic ${BASIC_AUTH_HEADER}`
}
});

/*
* Get all of the open issues in a github repo
*/

function getIssues(cb) {
return axios.get(
`repos/${REPO_NAME}/issues`
).then((response) => {
return cb(null, response.data)
}).catch((error) => {
return cb(error);
});
}

The other items to list are the posts. Here I needed to create a function to recursively list the files in my src/posts directory. These files have a header section delimited by --- strings which are used by eleventy (the static site generator I used for this site). I created a function to parse these header and return a javascript object, that was a quick way to get things done without digging the doc but I'm sure there is a more efficient way to get this data out of eleventy. (For example I could write this data directly in JS in the posts files)

With this short function I list all my posts, get their title and the ID of the issue I associated to it and exclude the posts I have not published yet.

/*
* Iterate through all the files found in the post folder
* Read them to get their data section
* And return a list of parsed data sections
*/

function getPosts(cb) {
const files = walkSync('src/posts/');

async.map(files, (file, cb) => {
return fs.readFile(file, {encoding: 'utf-8'}, (error, content) => {
if (error) {
return cb(error);
}

// Only keep the part between the two '---' lines
const postHeader = content.split('---')[1].split('\n')
return cb(null, convertPostHeader(postHeader));
});
},
(error, results) => {
if (error) {
return cb(error);
}

// Only keep the published posts
return cb(null, results.filter(p => p.eleventyExcludeFromCollections !== true && p.title));
});
}

A bit more logic to detect the issues which need to be created and an additional call to the Github API and here is our working script:

/*
* Post a new issue on github
*/

function createIssue(issue, cb) {
if (DRY_RUN) {
console.log('DRY RUN: creating issue', {issue});
return cb();
}

return axios.post(
`repos/${REPO_NAME}/issues`,
JSON.stringify({
title: issue.title,
})
).then((response) => {
return cb(null, response.data)
}).catch((error) => {
return cb(error);
});
}

I added a DRY_RUN variable which comes from how I call the script for testing purposes.

Showing the comments in the posts

Using the commentIssueId of each post and the following script allows to inject the comments in the comment section:

// Script to inject comments based on github issues
// Shamelessly taken from https://25.wf/posts/2020-06-21-comments.html
function domReady(fn) {
document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', fn);
if (document.readyState === 'interactive' || document.readyState === 'complete') {
fn();
}
}

async function getComments(url = '') {
const response = await fetch(url, {
method: 'GET',
mode: 'cors',
cache: 'no-cache',
headers: { Accept: 'application/vnd.github.v3.html+json' },
});
return response.json();
}

domReady(() => {
const apiUrl = 'https://api.github.com/repos/statox/blog-comments/issues/10/comments';
const appendComments = function (comments) {
const commentSection = document.querySelector('comments');
if (!comments || !comments.forEach || comments.length === 0) {
commentSection.insertAdjacentHTML('beforeend', '<p>No comments yet.</p>');
return;
}
comments.forEach(function (comment) {
commentSection.insertAdjacentHTML(
'beforeend',
'<div class="comment">' +
'• <a href="' + comment.user.html_url + '" target="_blank">' + comment.user.login + '</a>' +
' on' +
' <a href="' + comment.html_url + '" target="_blank">' + new Date(comment.created_at).toUTCString() + '</a>' +
comment.body_html +
'</div>',
);
});
};
getComments(apiUrl).then(appendComments);
});

So much time saved!

And that's how I came up with a system which makes me save about one minute every time I publish a new post (which doesn't happen more than a few time a month at best)! It took me about 4 hours to get the whole thing working so according to this famous XKCD... that might have been a bit of a waste of time, but it was fun to do! 😅

XKCD is it worth the time

I still have a few more things I want to implement:

But given the previous XKCD graph I'll see when I have time for that and if I really have a need for it too.

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