Using Gatsby.js and Node.js for Static Site Updates 🚀🚀🚀

Using Gatsby.js and Node.js for Static Site Updates 🚀🚀🚀

Using Gatsby.js and Node.js for Static Site Updates - Static websites are simple and fast. What if you want to keep those benefits, but somehow keep them fresh and relevant, without a lot of hassle...

Using Gatsby.js and Node.js for Static Site Updates - Static websites are simple and fast. What if you want to keep those benefits, but somehow keep them fresh and relevant, without a lot of hassle...

**Originally published by **FURKAN YAVUZ *at *

In this article series, we will develop a static content website prototype. It will generate daily-updated, simple static HTML pages for popular GitHub repositories to track their latest releases. Static web page generation frameworks have great features to achieve that—we’ll use Gatsby.js, one of the most popular.

In Gatsby, there are many ways to collect data for a front end without having a back end (serverless), Headless CMS platforms and Gatsby source plugins among them. But we will implement a back end to store basic information about GitHub repositories and their latest releases. Thus, we will have full control over both our back end and front end.

Also, I’ll cover a set of tools to trigger a daily update of your application. You can also trigger it manually or whenever some specific event happens.

Our front-end application will be run on Netlify, and the back-end application will be working on Heroku using a free plan. It will sleep periodically: “When someone accesses the app, the dyno manager will automatically wake up the web dyno to run the web process type.” So, we can wake up it via AWS Lambda and AWS CloudWatch. As of this writing, this is the most cost-effective way to have a prototype online 24/7.

Our Node Static Website Example: What to Expect

To keep these articles focused on one topic, I won’t be covering authentication, validation, scalability, or other general topics. The coding part of this article will be as simple as possible. The structure of the project and usage of the correct set of tools are more important.

In this first part of the series, we will develop and deploy our back-end application. In the second part, we will develop and deploy our front-end application, and trigger daily builds.

The Node.js Back End

The back-end application will be written in Node.js (not mandatory, but for simplicity) and all communications will be over REST APIs. We will not collect data from the front end in this project. (If you are interested in doing that, have a look at Gatsby Forms.)

First, we will start by implementing a simple REST API back end that exposes the CRUD operations of the repository collection in our MongoDB. Then we will schedule a cron job that consumes GitHub API v4 (GraphQL) in order to update documents in this collection. Then we will deploy all this to the Heroku cloud. Finally, we’ll trigger a rebuild of the front end at the end of our cron job.

The Gatsby.js Front End

In the second article, we will focus on the implementation of the <a href="" target="_blank">createPages</a> API. We will gather all repositories from the back end and will generate a single home page that contains a list of all repositories, plus a page for each repository document returned. Then we’ll deploy our front end to Netlify.

From AWS Lambda and AWS CloudWatch

This part is not mandatory if your application won’t sleep. Otherwise, you need to be sure that your back end is up and running at the time of updating repositories. As a solution, you can create a cron schedule on AWS CloudWatch 10 minutes before your daily update and bind it as a trigger to your GET method in AWS Lambda. Accessing the back-end application will wake up the Heroku instance. More details will be at the end of the second article.

Here is the architecture that we will implement:


I assume that readers of this article have knowledge in the following areas:

I assume that readers of this article have knowledge in the following areas:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • MongoDB
  • Git
  • Node.js

It’s also good if you know:

  • Express.js
  • Mongoose
  • GitHub API v4 (GraphQL)
  • Heroku, AWS, or any other cloud platform
  • React

Let’s dive into the implementation of the back end. We’ll split it into two tasks. The first one is preparing REST API endpoints and bind them to our repository collection. The second is implementing a cron job that consumes GitHub API and updates the collection.

Developing the Node.js Static Site Generator Back End, Step 1: A Simple REST API

We will use Express for our web application framework and Mongoose for our MongoDB connection. If you are familiar with Express and Mongoose, you might be able to skip to Step 2.

(On the other hand, if you need more familiarity with Express you can check out the official Express starter guide; if you’re not up on Mongoose, the official Mongoose starter guide should be helpful.)

Project Structure

Our project’s file/folder hierarchy will be simple:

In more detail:

  • env.config.js is the environment variables configuration file
  • routes.config.js is for mapping rest endpoints
  • repository.controller.js contains methods to work on our repository model
  • repository.model.js contains the MongoDB schema of repository and CRUD operations
  • index.js is an initializer class
  • package.json contains dependencies and project properties


Run npm install (or yarn, if you have Yarn installed) after adding these dependencies to package.json:

  // ...
  "dependencies": {
    "body-parser": "1.7.0",
    "express": "^4.8.7",
    "moment": "^2.17.1",
    "moment-timezone": "^0.5.13",
    "mongoose": "^5.1.1",
    "node-uuid": "^1.4.8",
    "sync-request": "^4.0.2"
  // ...

Our env.config.js file has only port, environment (dev or prod), and mongoDbUri properties for now:

module.exports = {
  "port": process.env.PORT || 3000,
  "environment": "dev",
  "mongoDbUri": process.env.MONGODB_URI || "mongodb://localhost/github-consumer"

routes.config.js contains request mappings and will call the corresponding method of our controller:

const RepositoryController = require('../controller/repository.controller');

exports.routesConfig = function(app) {'/repositories', [

  app.get('/repositories', [

  app.get('/repositories/:id', [

  app.patch('/repositories/:id', [

  app.delete('/repositories/:id', [

The repository.controller.js file is our service layer. Its responsibility is to call the corresponding method of our repository model:

const RepositoryModel = require('../model/repository.model');

exports.insert = (req, res) => {
    .then((result) => {
        id: result._id

exports.findById = (req, res) => {
    .then((result) => {

exports.list = (req, res) => {
    .then((result) => {

exports.patchById = (req, res) => {
  RepositoryModel.patchById(, req.body)
    .then(() => {

exports.deleteById = (req, res) => {
  RepositoryModel.deleteById(, req.body)
    .then(() => {

repository.model.js handles the MongoDb connection and the CRUD operations for the repository model. The fields of the model are:

  • owner: The repository owner (company or user)
  • name: The repository name
  • createdAt: The last release creation date
  • resourcePath: The last release path
  • tagName: The last release tag
  • releaseDescription: Release notes
  • homepageUrl: The project’s home URL
  • repositoryDescription: The repository description
  • avatarUrl: The project owner’s avatar URL
const Mongoose = require('mongoose');
const Config = require('../config/env.config');

const MONGODB_URI = Config.mongoDbUri;

Mongoose.connect(MONGODB_URI, {
  useNewUrlParser: true

const Schema = Mongoose.Schema;

const repositorySchema = new Schema({
  owner: String,
  name: String,
  createdAt: String,
  resourcePath: String,
  tagName: String,
  releaseDescription: String,
  homepageUrl: String,
  repositoryDescription: String,
  avatarUrl: String

repositorySchema.virtual('id').get(function() {
  return this._id.toHexString();

// Ensure virtual fields are serialised.
repositorySchema.set('toJSON', {
  virtuals: true

repositorySchema.findById = function(cb) {
  return this.model('Repository').find({
  }, cb);

const Repository = Mongoose.model('repository', repositorySchema);

exports.findById = (id) => {
  return Repository.findById(id)
    .then((result) => {
      if (result) {
        result = result.toJSON();
        delete result._id;
        delete result.__v;
        return result;

exports.create = (repositoryData) => {
  const repository = new Repository(repositoryData);

exports.list = () => {
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
      .exec(function(err, users) {
        if (err) {
        } else {

exports.patchById = (id, repositoryData) => {
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    Repository.findById(id, function(err, repository) {
      if (err) reject(err);
      for (let i in repositoryData) {
        repository[i] = repositoryData[i];
      }, updatedRepository) {
        if (err) return reject(err);

exports.deleteById = (id) => {
  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
      _id: id
    }, (err) => {
      if (err) {
      } else {

exports.findByOwnerAndName = (owner, name) => {
  return Repository.find({
    owner: owner,
    name: name

This is what we have after our first commit: A MongoDB connection and our REST operations.

We can run our application with the following command:

node index.js


For testing, send requests to localhost:3000 (using e.g. Postman or cURL):


Post: http://localhost:3000/repositories


  "owner" : "facebook",
  "name" :  "react"


Get: http://localhost:3000/repositories


Get: http://localhost:3000/repositories/:id


Patch: http://localhost:3000/repositories/:id


  "owner" : "facebook",
  "name" :  "facebook-android-sdk"

With that working, it’s time to automate updates.

Developing the Node.js Static Site Generator Back End, Step 2: A Cron Job to Update Repository Releases

In this part, we will configure a simple cron job (which will start at midnight UTC) to update the GitHub repositories that we inserted to our database. We added only the owner and nameparameters only in our example above, but these two fields are enough for us to access general information about a given repository.

In order to update our data, we have to consume the GitHub API. For this part, it’s best to be familiar with GraphQL and v4 of the GitHub API.

We also need to create a GitHub access token. The minimum required scopes for that are:

That will generate a token, and we can send requests to GitHub with it.

Now let’s go back to our code.

We have two new dependencies in package.json:

  • "axios": "^0.18.0" is an HTTP client, so we can make requests to the GitHub API
  • "cron": "^1.7.0" is a cron job scheduler

As usual, run npm install or yarn after adding dependencies.

We’ll need two new properties in config.js, too:

  • "githubEndpoint": "<a href=""" target="_blank">"</a>
  • "githubAccessToken": process.env.GITHUB_ACCESS_TOKEN (you’ll need to set the GITHUB_ACCESS_TOKEN environment variable with your own personal access token)

Create a new file under the controller folder with the name cron.controller.js. It will simply call the updateResositories method of repository.controller.js at scheduled times:

const RepositoryController = require('../controller/repository.controller');
const CronJob = require('cron').CronJob;

function updateDaily() {

exports.startCronJobs = function () {
  new CronJob('0 0 * * *', function () {updateDaily()}, null, true, 'UTC');

The final changes for this part will be in repository.controller.js. For brevity, we’ll design it to update all repositories at once. But if you have a large number of repositories, you may exceed the resource limitations of GitHub’s API. If that’s the case, you’ll need to modify this to run in limited batches, spread out over time.

The all-at-once implementation of the update functionality will look like this:

async function asyncUpdate() {

  await RepositoryModel.list().then((array) => {
    const promises =;

    return Promise.all(promises);

exports.updateRepositories = async function update() {
  console.log('GitHub Repositories Update Started');

  await asyncUpdate().then(() => {
    console.log('GitHub Repositories Update Finished');

Finally, we will call the endpoint and update the repository model.

The getLatestRelease function will generate a GraphQL query and will call the GitHub API. The response from that request will then be processed in the updateDatabase function.

async function updateDatabase(responseData, owner, name) {

  let createdAt = '';
  let resourcePath = '';
  let tagName = '';
  let releaseDescription = '';
  let homepageUrl = '';
  let repositoryDescription = '';
  let avatarUrl = '';

  if (responseData.repository.releases) {

    createdAt = responseData.repository.releases.nodes[0].createdAt;
    resourcePath = responseData.repository.releases.nodes[0].resourcePath;
    tagName = responseData.repository.releases.nodes[0].tagName;
    releaseDescription = responseData.repository.releases.nodes[0].description;
    homepageUrl = responseData.repository.homepageUrl;
    repositoryDescription = responseData.repository.description;

    if (responseData.organization && responseData.organization.avatarUrl) {
      avatarUrl = responseData.organization.avatarUrl;
    } else if (responseData.user && responseData.user.avatarUrl) {
      avatarUrl = responseData.user.avatarUrl;

    const repositoryData = {
      owner: owner,
      name: name,
      createdAt: createdAt,
      resourcePath: resourcePath,
      tagName: tagName,
      releaseDescription: releaseDescription,
      homepageUrl: homepageUrl,
      repositoryDescription: repositoryDescription,
      avatarUrl: avatarUrl

    await RepositoryModel.findByOwnerAndName(owner, name)
      .then((oldGitHubRelease) => {
        if (!oldGitHubRelease[0]) {
        } else {
          RepositoryModel.patchById(oldGitHubRelease[0].id, repositoryData);
        console.log(`Updated latest release:${repositoryData.resourcePath}`);

async function getLatestRelease(repository) {

  const owner = repository.owner;
  const name =;

  console.log(`Getting latest release for:${owner}/${name}`);

  const query = `
         query {
           organization(login: "${owner}") {
           user(login: "${owner}") {
           repository(owner: "${owner}", name: "${name}") {
               releases(first: 1, orderBy: {field: CREATED_AT, direction: DESC}) {
                   nodes {

  const jsonQuery = JSON.stringify({

  const headers = {
    'User-Agent': 'Release Tracker',
    'Authorization': `Bearer ${GITHUB_ACCESS_TOKEN}`

  await, jsonQuery, {
    headers: headers
  }).then((response) => {
    return updateDatabase(, owner, name);

After our second commit, we will have implemented a cron scheduler to get daily updates from our GitHub repositories.

We are nearly done with the back end. But the last step there should be done after implementing the front end, so we’ll cover it in the next article.

Deploying the Node Static Site Generator Back End to Heroku

In this step, we will deploy our application to Heroku, so you’ll need to set up an account with them if you don’t have one already. If we bind our Heroku account to GitHub, it will be much easier for us to have continuous deployment. To that end, I’m hosting my project on GitHub.

After logging into your Heroku account, add a new app from the dashboard:

Give it some unique name:

You will be redirected to a deployment section. Select GitHub as the deployment method, search for your repository, then click the “Connect” button:

For simplicity, you can enable automatic deploys. It will deploy whenever you push a commit to your GitHub repo:

Now we have to add MongoDB as a resource. Go to the Resources tab and click “Find more add-ons.” (I personally use mLab mongoDB.)

Install it and enter the name of your app in the “App to provision to” input box:

Finally, we have to create a file named Procfile at the root level of our project, which specifies the commands that are executed by the app when Heroku starts it up.

Our Procfile is as simple as this:

web: node index.js

Create the file and commit it. Once you push the commit, Heroku will automatically deploy your application, which will be accessible as <a href="https://[YOUR_UNIQUE_APP_NAME]" target="_blank">https://[YOUR_UNIQUE_APP_NAME]</a>.

To check if it’s working, we can send the same requests that we sent to localhost.

Node.js, Express, MongoDB, Cron, and Heroku: We’re Half-way There!

After our third commit, this is what our repo will look like.

So far, we’ve implemented the Node.js/Express-based REST API on our back end, the updater that consumes GitHub’s API, and a cron job to activate it. Then we’ve deployed our back end which will later provide data for our static web content generator using Heroku with a hook for continuous integration. Now you’re ready for the second part, where we implement the front end and complete the app!

Top 7 Most Popular Node.js Frameworks You Should Know

Top 7 Most Popular Node.js Frameworks You Should Know

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform, runtime environment that allows developers to run JavaScript outside of a browser. In this post, you'll see top 7 of the most popular Node frameworks at this point in time (ranked from high to low by GitHub stars).

Node.js is an open-source, cross-platform, runtime environment that allows developers to run JavaScript outside of a browser.

One of the main advantages of Node is that it enables developers to use JavaScript on both the front-end and the back-end of an application. This not only makes the source code of any app cleaner and more consistent, but it significantly speeds up app development too, as developers only need to use one language.

Node is fast, scalable, and easy to get started with. Its default package manager is npm, which means it also sports the largest ecosystem of open-source libraries. Node is used by companies such as NASA, Uber, Netflix, and Walmart.

But Node doesn't come alone. It comes with a plethora of frameworks. A Node framework can be pictured as the external scaffolding that you can build your app in. These frameworks are built on top of Node and extend the technology's functionality, mostly by making apps easier to prototype and develop, while also making them faster and more scalable.

Below are 7of the most popular Node frameworks at this point in time (ranked from high to low by GitHub stars).


With over 43,000 GitHub stars, Express is the most popular Node framework. It brands itself as a fast, unopinionated, and minimalist framework. Express acts as middleware: it helps set up and configure routes to send and receive requests between the front-end and the database of an app.

Express provides lightweight, powerful tools for HTTP servers. It's a great framework for single-page apps, websites, hybrids, or public HTTP APIs. It supports over fourteen different template engines, so developers aren't forced into any specific ORM.


Meteor is a full-stack JavaScript platform. It allows developers to build real-time web apps, i.e. apps where code changes are pushed to all browsers and devices in real-time. Additionally, servers send data over the wire, instead of HTML. The client renders the data.

The project has over 41,000 GitHub stars and is built to power large projects. Meteor is used by companies such as Mazda, Honeywell, Qualcomm, and IKEA. It has excellent documentation and a strong community behind it.


Koa is built by the same team that built Express. It uses ES6 methods that allow developers to work without callbacks. Developers also have more control over error-handling. Koa has no middleware within its core, which means that developers have more control over configuration, but which means that traditional Node middleware (e.g. req, res, next) won't work with Koa.

Koa already has over 26,000 GitHub stars. The Express developers built Koa because they wanted a lighter framework that was more expressive and more robust than Express. You can find out more about the differences between Koa and Express here.


Sails is a real-time, MVC framework for Node that's built on Express. It supports auto-generated REST APIs and comes with an easy WebSocket integration.

The project has over 20,000 stars on GitHub and is compatible with almost all databases (MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Redis). It's also compatible with most front-end technologies (Angular, iOS, Android, React, and even Windows Phone).


Nest has over 15,000 GitHub stars. It uses progressive JavaScript and is built with TypeScript, which means it comes with strong typing. It combines elements of object-oriented programming, functional programming, and functional reactive programming.

Nest is packaged in such a way it serves as a complete development kit for writing enterprise-level apps. The framework uses Express, but is compatible with a wide range of other libraries.


LoopBack is a framework that allows developers to quickly create REST APIs. It has an easy-to-use CLI wizard and allows developers to create models either on their schema or dynamically. It also has a built-in API explorer.

LoopBack has over 12,000 GitHub stars and is used by companies such as GoDaddy, Symantec, and the Bank of America. It's compatible with many REST services and a wide variety of databases (MongoDB, Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL).


Similar to Express, hapi serves data by intermediating between server-side and client-side. As such, it's can serve as a substitute for Express. Hapi allows developers to focus on writing reusable app logic in a modular and prescriptive fashion.

The project has over 11,000 GitHub stars. It has built-in support for input validation, caching, authentication, and more. Hapi was originally developed to handle all of Walmart's mobile traffic during Black Friday.

Difference between AngularJS, React, Ember, Backbone, and Node.js.

The most common thing between all of them is that they are Single Page Apps. The SPA is a single page where much of the information remains the same and only some piece of data gets modified when you click on other categories/option.

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Why learn Node.js?

Node.js uses JavaScript - a language known to millions of developers worldwide - thus giving it a much lower learning curve even for complete beginners. Using Node.js you can build simple Command Line programs or complex enterprise level web applications with equal ease. Node.js is an event-driven, server-side, asynchronous development platform with lightning speed execution. Node.js helps you to code the most complex functionalities in just a few lines of code...

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