Programmatic Page Generation

stephencweiss profile image Stephen Charles Weiss Originally published at stephencharlesweiss.com on ・4 min read

Programmatic Page Generation

Alright, I’ve been building to this point! Time to generate new pages for a blog programmatically using Gatsby!

Previously I wrote about configuring Gatsby’s gatsby-source-filesystem plugin¹ and writing GraphQL queries that take variables.² This post will combine these two lessons to generate pages to follow a simple layout for each post in my filesystem.

This post begins assuming a configured gatsby-source-filesystem and at the point where I’m ready to set up my gatsby-node file to create pages.

First, the gatsby-node is one of several files that Gatsby looks for in the root directory (gatsby-config is another as an example).

Gatsby comes with a suite of built-in plugins. To make use of any of them, you export them from the gatsby-config file. I’ll be using the createPages asynchronous operation.

For example:

exports.createPages = async ({ actions, graphql, reporter }) => {
  // In node (which this is), graphql is a function that takes a string.
  const result = await graphql(`
    query {
      allMdx {
        nodes {
          frontmatter {
  if (result.errors) {
    reporter.panic('failed to create posts', result.errors);

  const posts = result.data.allMdx.nodes;

  posts.forEach(post => {
    const path = post.frontmatter.slug;
      component: require.resolve('./src/templates/post.js'),
      context: {
        slug: post.frontmatter.slug,

Walking through this function:

  1. I assign the value of result to the returned value of the GraphQL query. The returned result is the slug. Notice that in node the GraphQL query is wrapped in ().

I check for errors (result returns a promise with a .error attribute ³)

  • The Gatsby reporter is a built-in console log. Panic is an error state.
    1. If I get past the error check, then I know I have at least something returned, which means that the I can pull out our nodes. In my very simple example so far - I have two:
    2. Since it’s an array, I can now loop over it using a forEach to generate a page using Gatsby’s built-in actions. Gatsby uses Redux to manage state and ships with a series of built in actions (of which createPage is one). ⁴

The createPage action API takes an object, and two optional parameters (plugin and actionOptions ) neither of which I need for this simple use case.

The object I identify has three things:

  1. The path — which will be where the page I’m creating will live
  2. The component — a path reference to, in this case, where I’ve saved a template for a post
  3. The context — any context we will need for generating the component. This could include the body and any assets for the post, however, in this example I’m putting that into the post itself and separating concerns a bit.

At this point, I’m ready to look at the post file I’ve noted as the component to in the action.

For example - a simple Post layout could look like:

import React from react;
import { graphql, Link } from gatsby;
import { MDXRenderer } from gatsby-mdx;
import Layout from ../components/layout;

export const query = graphql`
  query($slug: String!) {
    mdx(frontmatter: { slug: { eq: $slug } }) {
      frontmatter {
      code {

const PostTemplate = ({ data: { mdx: post } }) => {
  const { frontmatter, code } = post;

  return (
      <p style={{fontSize: '0.75rem'}}>
        {`posted by ${frontmatter.author}`}
      <Link to=/>Return to home</Link>

export default PostTemplate;

A few notes here:The slug that’s being passed in from the gatsby-node configuration is the context with which I’m going to query for the data to generate the post.

I wrote my blog posts as .mdx files and resolve any .mdx or .md files using the gatsby-mdx plugin. The nice thing about doing this is that I can use the MDXRenderer to easily render the body of the posts.

What does all of this mean?

Any time I add a new post to my filesystem that is returned in my all MDX query in the node modules, it will get passed through to the a createPage action and rendered with the MDXRenderer in a basic format of:

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Body
  4. Return to home.

Pretty nifty!


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