James Massardo - Geek of all things Technology

Consuming Jekyll-feed xml with Node.JS and Mustache templates



I’ve been spending some free time sprucing up my GitHub personal readme. One of those tasks was to pull the last 5 blog posts from here and list them on my readme. This post will outline some of the basic components and provide a link to my repo where the functional source code lives. I’m not going to go through a step-by-step process as Thomas Guibert has a great blog post on Medium. I used his post to get the initial setup working then added my own bits.

I’m using Jekyll for the main blog engine, Jekyll-Feed to generate an Atom feed, and hosting the site on GitHub Pages. I’m using Node.js with Mustache templates to render the actual readme on GitHub. Last but not least, I’m using GitHub Actions to periodically poll the atom feed and generate a updated readme.


From this point on, I’m assuming you’ve already followed Thomas’s post.

First thing’s first, we need to make sure Jekyll is producing a ATOM feed with all the data we need.

atom.xml example

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<feed xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom">

 <title>{{ site.title }}</title>
 <link href="{{ site.url }}{{ site.baseurl }}/atom.xml" rel="self"/>
 <link href="{{ site.url }}{{ site.baseurl }}/"/>
 <updated>{{ site.time | date_to_xmlschema }}</updated>
 <id>{{ site.url }}</id>
   <name>{{ site.author.name }}</name>
   <email>{{ site.author.email }}</email>

    Since I only want 5 posts to show and this is the only use I have for the atom feed
    I elected to set the limit here.
  {% for post in site.posts limit: 5%}
   <title>{{ post.title }}</title>
   <link href="{{ site.url }}{{ post.url }}"/>
   <updated>{{ post.date | date_to_xmlschema }}</updated>
   <id>{{ site.url }}{{ site.baseurl }}{{ post.id }}</id>
     The excerpt is set in the front matter of the post. 
     I had to add it here and to the front matter of all my posts.
     This could just be a side effect of the theme I'm using.
   <excerpt type="html">{{ post.excerpt | xml_escape }}</excerpt>
   <content type="html">{{ post.content | xml_escape }}</content>
   {% for tag in post.tags %}
    <category term="{{ tag | xml_escape }}" />
   {% endfor %}
 {% endfor %}


Now, let’s tell our index.js script how to fetch the feed.

index.js example

async function setBlogPosts() {
    await fetch(
        // This is the URL of the feed
    .then(r => r.text())
    .then(r => {
        // Use `xml2js` to parse the XML into a JS object
        parser.parseString(r, function(error, result) {
            if(error === null) {
                // Feel free to change this bit if you want the date/time in a 
                // different format or if you need a different locale.
                DATA.blog_updated_date = new Date(result.feed.updated[0]).toLocaleDateString('en-US', {
                    weekday: 'long',
                    year: 'numeric',
                    month: 'long',
                    day: 'numeric',
                    hour: 'numeric',
                    minute: 'numeric',
                    timeZoneName: 'short',
                    timeZone: 'America/Chicago',
                DATA.blog_posts = result.feed.entry
            else {

Now, we can tell our mustache template how to parse the object and render it.

main.mustache example

{{! Depending on your url configs in Jekyll, you may need to change this href}}
<a href="https://dxrf.com{{url}}">{{title}}</a> 


One thing to note here, I had remove all the leading whitespace from this bit as any whitespace was misinterpreted as markdown indentation.

While we’re on the subject of mustache, there are a few things to note here. The # makes a difference.

  • The {{#blog_posts}} and {{/blog_posts}} tags are used to iterate over the objects in the array (DATA.blog_posts = result.feed.entry).
  • The {blog_updated_date}} tag is used to render a single object (DATA.blog_updated_date = new Date(result.feed.updated[0]).....).

Now that we have everything and we’ve verified it works, we can create an action to automate the updates. Most of the steps are pretty self explanatory but I made a few comments to clarify.

main.yaml example

name: README build

      - main
    # This runs every 6hrs. Change it to suit your needs
    - cron: '0 */6 * * *'

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest

      - name: Checkout current repository
        uses: actions/checkout@v1
      - name: Setup NodeJs
        uses: actions/setup-node@v2
          node-version: 16
      - name: Cache dependencies and build outputs to improve workflow execution time.
        uses: actions/cache@v1
          path: node_modules
          key:  ${{ runner.os }}-js-${{ hashFiles('package-lock.json') }}  
      - name: Install dependencies
        run: npm install
      - name: Generate README file
        run: node index.js
        # This is an important step. Once you'd rendered the new readme, you'll need to commit it back to the repo. Change the user.email and user.name accordingly.
      - name: Commit files
        run: |
          git config --local user.email "jmassardo@github.com"
          git config --local user.name "GitHub Action"
          git commit -m "Update readme" -a
      - name: Push changes
        uses: ad-m/github-push-action@master
          # Since all the work we're doing lives in the same repo, we can use the internal token. There's no need to provide a PAT.
          github_token: $
          branch: $


Again, feel free to browse my repo with the functional source code. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me: @jamesmassardo