Asynchronous HTMLRewriter for Cloudflare Workers

Asynchronous HTMLRewriter for Cloudflare Workers

HTMLRewriter for Cloudflare Workers now supports asynchronous handlers, allowing developers to prefetch assets or user-specific content from a remote service.

Last year, we launched HTMLRewriter for Cloudflare Workers, which enables developers to make streaming changes to HTML on the edge. Unlike a traditional DOM parser that loads the entire HTML document into memory, we developed a streaming parser written in Rust. Today, we’re announcing support for asynchronous handlers in HTMLRewriter. Now you can perform asynchronous tasks based on the content of the HTML document: from prefetching fonts and image assets to fetching user-specific content from a CMS.

How can I use HTMLRewriter?

We designed HTMLRewriter to have a jQuery-like experience. First, you define a handler, then you assign it to a CSS selector; Workers does the rest for you. You can look at our new and improved documentation to see our supported list of selectors, which now include nth-child selectors. The example below changes the alternative text for every second image in a document.

async function editHtml(request) {
  return new HTMLRewriter()
     .on("img:nth-child(2)", new ElementHandler())
     .transform(await fetch(request))
}

class ElementHandler {
   element(e) {
      e.setAttribute("alt", "A very interesting image")
   }
}

Since these changes are applied using streams, we maintain a low TTFB (time to first byte) and users never know the HTML was transformed. If you’re interested in how we’re able to accomplish this technically, you can read our blog post about HTML parsing.

What’s new with HTMLRewriter?

Now you can define an async handler which allows any code that uses await. This means you can make dynamic HTML injection, based on the contents of the document, without having prior knowledge of what it contains. This allows you to customize HTML based on a particular user, feature flag, or even an integration with a CMS.

class UserCustomizer {
   // Remember to add the `async` keyword to the handler method
   async element(e) {
      const user = await fetch(`https://my.api.com/user/${e.getAttribute("user-id")}/online`)
      if (user.ok) {
         // Add the user’s name to the element
         e.setAttribute("user-name", await user.text())
      } else {
         // Remove the element, since this user not online
         e.remove()
      }
   }
}

What can I build with HTMLRewriter?

To illustrate the flexibility of HTMLRewriter, I wrote an example that you can deploy on your own website. If you manage a website, you know that old links and images can expire with time. Here’s an excerpt from a years’ old post I wrote on the Cloudflare Blog:

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