Dauðr Blog

How to Create your first GatsbyJS Plugin

October 14, 2019

In the latest article, I introduced the new (proposed) web standard per Web Monetization. In this new article we’ll see how we can create a simple GatsbyJS Plugin to inject the Web Monetization Meta Tag using the SSR APIs.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Create the plugin files

We can read from the official plugins docs that a plugin project has to comprehend some files:

  • package.json - required this can be an empty object ({}) for local plugins. Also, your package.json file should have the following properties:

    • name is used to identify the plugin when it mutates Gatsby’s GraphQL data structure
      if name isn’t set, the folder name for the plugin is used
    • main is the name of the file that will be loaded when your module is required by another application
      if main isn’t set, a default name of index.js will be used
      if main isn’t set, it is recommended to create an empty index.js file with the contents //no-op (short for no-operation), as seen in this example plugin
    • version is used to manage the cache — if it changes, the cache is cleared
      if version isn’t set, an MD5 hash of the gatsby-* file contents is used to invalidate the cache
      omitting the version field is recommended for local plugins
    • keywords is used to make your plugin discoverable
      plugins published on the npm registry should have gatsby and gatsby-plugin in the keywords field to be added to the Plugin Library
  • gatsby-browser.js — usage details are in the browser API reference
  • gatsby-node.js — usage details are in the Node API reference
  • gatsby-ssr.js — usage details are in the SSR API reference

For the sake of this plugin, we’ll use only the SSR APIs, therefore, the only file we need to have is the gatsby-ssr.js’ one.

Using SSR APIs

As already said we’ll create a plugin that’ll need only the SSR APIs, GatsbyJS expose these APIs:

In our plugin, we’ll use only the onPreRenderHTML in order to add the Web Monetization Meta Tag in the <head> section of our pages. This API gives us an Object containing two methods and a string that we can use to do what we need:

  • getHeadComponents - return the headComponents array, formed by ReactNode objects
  • replaceHeadComponents - Takes an array of components as its first argument which replaces the headComponents array which is passed to the html.js component.
  • pathname - Is the current path that’s being generated by Gatsby SSR APIs

You can read more on these in the official docs.

Create our SSR file

At the end our gatsby-ssr.js should look like this:

const React = require('react')

export const onPreRenderHTML = (
  { reporter, getHeadComponents, replaceHeadComponents, pathname },
  pluginOptions
) => {
  if (process.env.NODE_ENV !== `production`) {
    reporter.warn('non production environment')
    return null
  }

  if (!pluginOptions.paymentPointer) {
    reporter.warn(
      `Payment Pointer is not defined, add it to your gatsby-config.js file.`
    )
    return null
  }

  if (pluginOptions.excludedPaths && pluginOptions.excludedPaths.length > 0) {
    const excludedPaths = pluginOptions.excludedPaths
    let isExcluded =
      excludedPaths.filter(path => pathname.match(path)).length > 0

    if (isExcluded) {
      return null
    }
  }

  const headComponents = getHeadComponents()

  const webMonetizationTag = (
    <meta name='monetization' content={pluginOptions.paymentPointer} />
  )

  headComponents.push(webMonetizationTag)

  replaceHeadComponents(headComponents)
}

This plugin adds the Web Monetization Meta Tag only when it’s run on peoduction environment (when we use gatsby build, for example) and accepts an array of strings (excludedPaths), in its configuration, which tells which paths should not have the meta tag.

Use the plugin in your Gatsby Site

In order to use your new plugin you have to install it through npm first:

npm i gatsby-plugin-web-monetization

And then you have to add it in your gatsby-config.js file like you already do for all the other plugins. This plugin in particular can be instantiated like this:

module.exports = {
  // Other content ...
  plugins: [
    // Other plugins ...
    {
      resolve: `gatsby-plugin-web-monetization`,
      options: {
        paymentPointer: `YOUR_ILP_PAYMENT_POINTER`,
        excludedPaths: ['exclude', 'path'], // Optional
      },
    },
  ],
}

Publish your new plugin on NPM

In order to publish your new plugin on NPM and make it discoverable by its users, you should first add the fields said above in your package.json file and then you can run npm publish from the root of your project to publish your new plugin to NPM register. (You have to be logged in to NPM of course 😉)

That’s all 😎😎😎

Congratulations! You’ve created and published your first GatsbyJS plugin.

The plugin can also be found on my GitHub, leave a ⭐ if you find it useful! 😻


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Written by Michele Da Rin Fioretto a freelance web developer that works in Italy and in the world.
His main area of expertise are Angular, React, Firebase & Serverless Architectures
You can also find him on