loading...

Moving from Contentful to MDX for my Gatsby website

virenb profile image Viren B Originally published at virenb.cc ・6 min read

Over the last few weeks, I've been considering and then trying to move the blogs on my website from Contentful CMS to MDX.
Contentful is a great CMS and I did use it a bit but I wanted to improve the styling on my Markdown files. I did not like the way certain elements were appearing on the posts. Maybe there was another way to fix this but I had been reading about MDX a lot. It seems to be gaining a lot of popularity and use (from what I read on Twitter). It looked like it would provide what I was looking for: more customizable markdown (through components).

This website is currently built with Gatsby. Gatsby usually has a lot of guides when getting started or migrating something, so I went there first to see how to get started with MDX. Before that, I had to remove some of the Contentful related code on my website.

First off, I went to my gatsby-config.js file, as this is where my Contentful id & token were stored (through environment variables). Deleted the below code -

// gatsby-config.js

// ...
{
  resolve: `gatsby-source-contentful`,
  options: {
    spaceId: `yzwpq1epaq68`, 
    accessToken: process.env.GATSBY_CONTENTFUL_ACCESS_TOKEN,
  }
}
// ...

Next, I had three files I would have to change. My index.js (home page) has a list of blog posts so I had to delete the code and GraphQL query. I would also have to change my blog post template as it was set up for a Contentful related GraphQL query. I would also have to change gatsby-node.js, as this is where we are programmatically create pages from Contentful posts.

Here is some of the code I deleted -

// gatsby-node.js

// ...
 exports.createPages = async ({ graphql, actions }) => { 
   const { createPage } = actions 
   const blogPostTemplate = path.resolve(`src/templates/blogPost.js`)    
   const result = await graphql(` 
   {
     allContentfulBlogPost {
       edges {
         node {
           slug
           title
           id
         }
       }
     }
   }
  `) 
  // ...

  result.data.allContentfulBlogPost.edges.forEach(edge => {
    createPage({
      path: `${edge.node.slug}`,
      component: blogPostTemplate,
      context: {
        slug: edge.node.slug,
        title: edge.node.title
      }
    })
    }  
  )

The above was a GraphQL query fetching my Contentful posts and create pages with the blog post template. As my new data source is MDX, I would not need all this.

On my pages/index.js (home page), I deleted any code related to this (including the GraphQL query). I deleted my whole blog post template as well.

It looks like I did not remove the gatsby-source-contentful package from the project but you can do so since we won't be using it.

Alright, time to get started with MDX.js.

What to do to get going with MDX?

  • Install necessary packages
  • Create /posts/ folder to house blog posts
  • Update gatsby-config.js
  • Update gatsby-node.js (new query + createPages)
  • Create new blog template
  • (Optional) add blog list back to home page (pages/index.js)
  • Figure out how to create / style MDX components

I used a few resources to get a little more familiar with MDX and switching -

How to convert an existing Gatsby blog to use MDX

Gatsby Docs: Adding Components to Markdown with MDX

MDX Docs: Gatsby

We can get started by installing the packages -

npm install gatsby-plugin-mdx @mdx-js/mdx@latest @mdx-js/react@latest

Next, we can update our gatsby-config.js file -

// gatsby-config.js

// ...
module.exports = {
  plugins: [
    `gatsby-plugin-mdx`,
  ]
  // ...
}  

You can start writing .mdx now. You can create a .mdx file in your posts/ folder to try it out.

I'll create my posts folder now with and make a sample post -

mkdir src/posts
touch src/posts/hello-world.mdx

In my .mdx files, I'll make sure to add in some frontmatter (title, date, slug, etc.).

Once you create a .mdx file, you can check the GraphQL query at localhost:8000/___graphql.

We'll need to figure out the right query when we're in gatsby-node.js.

Our packages are installed, gatsby-config.js is updated, src/posts is created, we'll now update gatsby-node.js.

// gatsby-node.js

const path = require("path");

exports.createPages = async ({ graphql, actions, reporter }) => {
  const template = path.resolve(`./src/templates/mdxPost.js`)
  const { createPage } = actions
  const result = await graphql(`
    query {
      allMdx {
        edges {
          node {
            id
            slug
       }
        }
      }
    }
  `)
  if (result.errors) {
    reporter.panicOnBuild('🚨  ERROR: Loading "createPages" query')
  }
  // Create blog post pages.
  const posts = result.data.allMdx.edges
  // you'll call `createPage` for each result
  posts.forEach(({ node }, index) => {
    createPage({
      // This is the slug you created before
      // (or `node.frontmatter.slug`)
      path: `${node.slug}`,
      // This component will wrap our MDX content
      component: template,
      // You can use the values in this context in
      // our page layout component
      context: { id: node.id },
    })
  })
}

The source for the above code can be found at https://www.gatsbyjs.com/docs/mdx/programmatically-creating-pages/

The next thing to handle is the post templates. Above, you can see we are creating pages based on the file ./src/templates/mdxPost.js. Let's create it.
We can take the boilerplate code for this too provided in the above link.

// src/template/mdxPost.js

import React from "react"
import { graphql } from "gatsby"
import { MDXProvider } from "@mdx-js/react"
import { MDXRenderer } from "gatsby-plugin-mdx"
import { Link } from "gatsby"

const shortcodes = { Link } // Provide common components here

export default function PageTemplate({ data: { mdx } }) {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>{mdx.frontmatter.title}</h1>
      <MDXProvider components={shortcodes}>
        <MDXRenderer>{mdx.body}</MDXRenderer>
      </MDXProvider>
    </div>
  )
}
export const pageQuery = graphql`
  query BlogPostQuery($id: String) {
    mdx(id: { eq: $id }) {
      id
      body
      frontmatter {
        title
      }
    }
  }
`

The only thing I did differently is wrapping the mdxPost in my Layout component to keep the styling consistent on my site.

So, there we have it! I switched from Contentful to MDX. I was able to write my blog posts in my project files, in .mdx.

But, when I tried to customize it a little futher (using actual components), it wasn't breaking but I was not seeing anything being update.

I'd also added dark mode to my website, so things like the link tags in the .mdx posts were not updating colors.

After scouring the documentation and Internet, I believe my problem was with MDXRenderer and MDXProvider. In the boilerplate code I used from the Gatsby website, the two components were in the same mdxPost template file.
I was adding components to shortcodes in the template file but they were not being reflected in my .mdx posts.

What fixed it for me was creating another Layout component for these posts. I would put my MDXProvider component in that and MDXRenderer in the templates/mdxPost file.

I created src/components/posts-page-layout.js as this was the file used in some examples. Next, I added it as my default layout in gatsby-config.js.

// gatsby-config.js

// ...
module.exports = {
  plugins: [
    `gatsby-plugin-mdx`,
  ]
  // ...
}  

I changed the above to --

// gatsby-config.js

// ...
module.exports = {
  plugins: [
    {
      resolve: `gatsby-plugin-mdx`,
      {
        options: {
          defaultLayouts: {
            default: `./src/components/post-page-layout`
          }
        }
      }
    }
  ]
  // ...
}  

Next, to add some code to src/components/posts-page-layout.js. I'd be moving my MDXProvider here.

// src/components/posts-page-layout.js

import React from 'react';
import Layout from './layout';
import { MDXProvider } from '@mdx-js/react';

export default function PostLayout({ children }) {
  return (
    <Layout>
      <MDXProvider
        components={{
          a: props => <a {...props} style={{ color: 'var(--socialLinks)' }} />,
        }}
      >
        {children}
      </MDXProvider>
    </Layout>
  );
}

I'll be wrapping mdxPost in this above component. This is also the file where I can add my custom components that I'll be using in my .mdx file. I have an anchor element which will show in posts.

Now to go back and update src/templates/mdxPost.js. We can remove a few things and add in the above PostLayout.

// src/template/mdxPost.js

import React from "react"
import { graphql } from "gatsby"
import { MDXRenderer } from "gatsby-plugin-mdx"

export default function PageTemplate({ data: { mdx } }) {
  return (
    <div>
      <h1>{mdx.frontmatter.title}</h1>
      <MDXProvider components={shortcodes}>
        <MDXRenderer>{mdx.body}</MDXRenderer>
      </MDXProvider>
    </div>
  )
}
export const pageQuery = graphql`
  query BlogPostQuery($id: String) {
    mdx(id: { eq: $id }) {
      id
      body
      frontmatter {
        title
      }
    }
  }
`

I removed MDXProvider, (Gatsby) Link, and shortcodes as the components will be in PostLayout, not PageTemplate.

The components do have to be renamed as it seems a little confusing. This website is still a work in progess as I want to add more MDX Components among other things.

Here is a preview of my first .mdx post. As you can see, the list of links takes in the styles that were passed to it in the PostLayout component.

style={{ color: 'var(--socialLinks)' }}

My first MDX post

Thanks for reading! My project can be found here - https://github.com/virenb/blog-portfolio

Discussion

pic
Editor guide