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Blog API on Github Pages

thewhitewulfy profile image Alok Prateek Originally published at blog.alokprateek.in ・4 min read

We are going to see how to build an API for static websites powered by Jekyll, so you can consume static data via any web/mobile application.

We will also see how we can use the API for JSON feed.

Steps

Output data as JSON

If you just need to output some data as JSON you can easily do that using the jsonify filter.

All variables in the front matter of your site will be accessible via site variable so we took our YAML array site.whatever and convert it to JSON with the jsonify liquid filter.

Now let's try with a more practical example. What if you want to get the JSON output of all your posts in a JSON file. That's also not hard using Jekyll. You can do it following these two steps:

  • First create the output file with a name, let's call it output.json.

  • Next open the output.json file and add the following code:


---
  limit: 10
---

{% for post in site.posts limit: page.limit %}
    {
         "id": "{{ post.id }}",
         "date"     : "{{ post.date | date: "%B %d, %Y" }}",
         "title": {{ post.title | smartify | jsonify }},
         "content_html": {{ post.content | jsonify }},
         "url": "{{ site.url }}{{ post.url }}",

         "summary": {% if post.url contains "/blog/" %}{{ post.excerpt | smartify | jsonify }}{% else %}{{ post.description | smartify | jsonify }}{% endif %},

         "date_published": "{{ post.date }}",
         {% if post.categories %} "categories"  : [
                {% for category in post.categories %} "{{ category }}"
                {% if forloop.last %}{% else %},{% endif %}
                {% endfor %}
                ],
         {% endif %}
         {% if post.categories == nil %} "categories"  : [],  {% endif %}

         {% if post.tags %} "tags"  : [
                {% for tag in post.tags %} "{{ tag }}"
                {% if forloop.last %}{% else %},{% endif %}
                {% endfor %}
                ]
         {% endif %}
         {% if post.tags == nil %} "tags"  : []  {% endif %}

    }{% unless forloop.last == true %},{% endunless %}
{% endfor %}


We have looped through all site.posts and created a JSON object with each post data separating the objects with a comma. After building your website, Jekyll will take care of parsing the YAML and Liquid data and outputting output.json with your posts data in the JSON format.

Go ahead and test it with a Jekyll blog, serve it or build it then look inside of your _site folder for your output.json with posts data. Or just visit 127.0.0.1:4000/output.json to see the result.

If you use use github pages go to your blog link /output.json and see the result.

The limit meta in the front matter controls the number of posts to output as JSON.

Using the output as API

It's simple! Place the output.json under a new folder called api and rename it index.json.

Making this API as JSON feed

I read about the JSON feed spec, and I was intrigued by the novelty of it — not the ease of using JSON as much as the insurmountable pain of using Atom XML.

For most developers, JSON is far easier to read and write than XML. Developers may groan at picking up an XML parser, but decoding JSON is often just a single line of code.

Since I already been using Jekyll for my blog, writing the code would need to be done in Liquid without any plugins.

Also in the example we already have a API ready, Why not use it?


---
layout: none
---
{
    ""version": "https://jsonfeed.org/version/1",
    "title": {{ site.name | smartify | jsonify }},
    {% if site.description %}"description": {{ site.description | smartify | jsonify }},{% endif %}
    "home_page_url": "{{ site.url }}/",
    "feed_url": "{{ site.url }}/api/index.json",
    "icon": "{{ site.url }}/assets/favicon/android-chrome-192x192.png",
    "favicon": "{{ site.url }}/favicon.ico",
    "author": {
        "name": "{{ site.author }}",
        "url": "https://alokprateek.in/",
        "avatar": "https://alokprateek.in/avatar3.jpg"
    },
    "expired": false,
    "items": [
           ]
}

Under items whatever existed in index.json before goes in, without the front matter, that remains the same.

Fields like icon, favicon, and author depend on your particular implementation, and I didn’t feel like generalizing the code by using front-matter variables rather I just pasted the values directly.

Second, you’ll have to read the spec for the full info on which fields are optional and mandatory.

That’s about it! 😊

For a final example take a look at my final JSON. And you can curl at this link blog.alokprateek.in/api/


---
limit: 10
layout: none
---
{
    "version": "https://jsonfeed.org/version/1",
    "title": {{ site.name | smartify | jsonify }},
    {% if site.description %}"description": {{ site.description | smartify | jsonify }},{% endif %}
    "home_page_url": "{{ site.url }}/",
    "feed_url": "{{ site.url }}/api/index.json",
    "icon": "{{ site.url }}/assets/favicon/android-chrome-192x192.png",
    "favicon": "{{ site.url }}/favicon.ico",
    "author": {
        "name": "{{ site.author }}",
        "url": "https://alokprateek.in/",
        "avatar": "https://alokprateek.in/avatar3.jpg"
    },
    "expired": false,
    "items": [
{% for post in site.posts limit: page.limit %}
    {
      "title": "{{ post.title }}",
      "date"     : "{{ post.date | date: "%B %d, %Y" }}",
      "url": "{{ site.url }}{{ post.url }}",
      "summary": {{ post.excerpt | smartify | jsonify }},
      "content_html": {{ post.content | jsonify }},
      {% if post.categories %} "categories"  : [
        {% for category in post.categories %} "{{ category }}"
        {% if forloop.last %}{% else %},{% endif %}
        {% endfor %}
        ],
      {% endif %}
      {% if post.categories == nil %} "categories"  : [],  {% endif %}
      {% if post.tags %} "tags"  : [
        {% for tag in post.tags %} "{{ tag }}"
        {% if forloop.last %}{% else %},{% endif %}
        {% endfor %}
        ]
      {% endif %}
      {% if post.tags == nil %} "tags"  : []  {% endif %}

    }
    {% unless forloop.last %},{% endunless %}
{% endfor %}
    ]
}

Until next time!

Cheers!🍻

Posted on by:

thewhitewulfy profile

Alok Prateek

@thewhitewulfy

I'm a full stack web developer, and CSS Ninja. Currently I'm in deep love with openAPI and openAPI tooling.

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