Josh Larson

Day 4: Building a Gatsby plugin to automatically embed tweets


Yesterday, I posted about inspirational tech people I follow on Twitter.

This was a fun article to write! I had some tweets to share, and I was hoping to use the new-ish third party plugin gatsby-remark-oembed to embed them automatically ā€” WordPress style.

Unfortunately, the plugin is in the early stages, and it clashes with the current iteration of the Gatsby cache API.

So I decided to build my own little Gatsby plugin to automatically embed tweets inside Markdown files.

Adding a local plugin

Gatsby makes it super easy to develop local plugins. We start by adding a new folder, /plugins, and a subfolder for the name of the plugin. In my case, it is /plugins/gatsby-embed-tweets.

The meat of this plugin happens in the index.js, file where I do a few simple things:

  1. Use Remark's MarkdownAST (abstract syntax tree? Making some assumptions here) to find any paragraphs that are lonely links.
  2. For each of those nodes, check to see if they're tweets using Twitter's official oEmbed schema.
  3. If they're tweets, fetch their HTML from oEmbed and replace them.
module.exports = async ({ markdownAST }) => {
  const nodes = findPossibleTweets(markdownAST);
  await replaceLinksWithTweets(nodes);

function findPossibleTweets(markdownAST) {
  return select.selectAll('paragraph link:only-child', markdownAST);

async function replaceLinkWithTweet(node) {
  try {
    console.log(`Process node ${node.url}`);

    // Match against a URL schema
    if (!isTweet(node.url)) {

    const response = await fetch(TWITTER_ENDPOINT + `?format=json&url=${node.url}`);
    const { html } = await response.json();

    node.type = 'html';
    node.value = html;
    delete node.children;
  } catch (e) {

That pretty much took care of it! However, the only thing this did was add in a blockquote with the tweet information. It also included a script tag, but the tweets weren't rendering. I assume this had to do with the way Gatsby renders things SSR and in the browser.

Making tweets show up in the browser

I relied on the work done in the gatsby-remark-oembed plugin to make the tweets show up in the browser.

This is where the gatsby-ssr.js file comes in:

const createScriptTag = (scriptSrc) => {
  return React.createElement('script', { src: scriptSrc, key: `gatsby-plugin-oembed-twitter` }, null);

exports.onRenderBody = ({ setPostBodyComponents }) => {
  const scripts = createScriptTag(TWITTER_SCRIPT_URL);

It places a Twitter widget script tag on the page when rendering server-side.

Additionally, we need to add a hook inside gatsby-browser.js to tell the tweets when and where to render:

const loadTwitter = () => {
  if (typeof twttr !== `undefined` && twttr.widgets && typeof twttr.widgets.load === `function`) {

exports.onRouteUpdate = () => {

The result

Yeah, babyyyy!

Check out the commit containing all the changes mentioned above if you're curious or want to use this on your own Gatsby site.