Adding Scheduled Posts to your Harp Site

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Draft and Scheduled Posts in Harp

If you use Harp, you've probably checked out their recipes before. And if you've looked at those recipes you've probably seen the great draft recipe about draft posts. I'm not going to try to do a better job than Kenneth Ormandy on drafts so you can read that post there if you'd like. What I am going to show you in this recipe, is how to schedule your blog posts, pages, or anything else your heart desires.

So let's get down to what we need, as usual I'm going to be using my own site as an example of how all this works. We'll need a few things:

If you don't have a Sitemap, then you can ignore that part later, but if you want to make yourself one you can read how to here.

In simple terms, we're going to attach a date meta property to your blog posts and then use that to decide when the post will be available on your blog. The code to support this is pretty simple. We'll then update the Sitemap to filter out any posts that shouldn't be available yet. After all, you don't want those search engines reading content they shouldn't yet!

Step one - Make a site

mkdir yoursite
cd yoursite
harp init
touch example.md && echo "1" >> example.md
touch in-the-past.md && echo "2" >> in-the-past.md
touch in-the-future.md && echo "3" >> in-the-future.md

Running the above steps will make the default harp project structure, as well as a few example blog posts to illustrate the scheduling. We'll modify those in a moment, but first:

Step two - Create _data.json

{
    "example" : {
            "title" : "Blog Post 1",
            "date"  : "2014-08-13"
    },
    "in-the-past" : {
            "title" : "Blog Post 0",
            "date" : "2014-07-24"
    },
    "in-the-future" : {
            "title" : "Future Post!",
            "date" : "2015-09-14"
    }
}

We've defined our blog posts to have a title and a date. You can probably already see where this is going, but let's go ahead and modify the index file appropriately to handle these posts:

Step Three - Your index page

Change index.jade into index.ejs
mv index.jade index.ejs
Change the contents of index.ejs
<h1> Welcome to Harp.
<h3> This is yours to own. Enjoy.

<%
for(idx in public._data){
    post = public._data[idx]
    if(new Date(post.date) <= new Date()){
    %>
    <h2><a href="/<%- idx %>"><%- post.title %></a>
    <%
    }
}
%>

This code simply makes a list of links to the blog posts if their publish date is in the future. Note that this doesn't stop your layout from rendering the items, so someone can still access a future post by going to /in-the-future right now.

Step Four - Protect the Future

In order to not have the above happen, you need to modify your layout file to go from this:

_layout.jade

doctype
html
  head
    link(rel="stylesheet" href="/main.css")
  body
    != yield

To this:

_layout.ejs

<DOCTYPE html>
  <head>
    <title>Your site</title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="/main.css">
  </head>
  <body>
    <% var obj = public._data[current.source] %>
    <% if( !obj  || (obj.date && new Date(obj.date) <= new Date()) || environment == "development" ){ %>
    <%- yield %>
    <% } else { %>
    <%- partial("404") %>
    <% } %>

We loop through our meta data, and if we don't have any object defined, we know that that's our index file, so we should display it. If we do have some data defined, then we check if it should be published or not. Lastly, when you're working on something locally, you'll likely want to view it before it goes live. This is why we specify that it's ok to show the content if the environment == "development"

If you want, right now you can modify index.ejs's

if(new Date(post.date) <= new Date()){

line to

 if(new Date(post.date) <= new Date() || environment == "development"){

to let your future blog posts show on the index page if you're working locally as well.

I use .ejs files due to personal preference, but it's possible to do the same thing as I did above with jade if you want to, though that's an exercise for the reader. ;)

Step 5 - Protect your SEO! (Sitemap update)

If you don't have a sitemap you can make yourself one and then come back, or you can skip this section. The sitemap code is simple and we only need to change one part. Find the code that looks like this:

if(head['_data']){
    obj = head['_data'][file]
    if(obj && obj.date){
        date = new Date(Date.parse(obj.date)).toISOString()
    }
}

and add a small conditional to skip over any posts that are drafts or shouldn't be displayed:

if(head['_data']){
       obj = head['_data'][file]
       if(obj && obj.date){
           if(new Date(obj.date) > new Date()){
               continue;
           }
           date = new Date(Date.parse(obj.date)).toISOString()
       }
}

Also, you'll want to make sure the _data.json file has the following added to it:

"Sitemap" : {
    "layout" : false
}

Otherwise you'll get XML format issues due to the html layout.

Final Step - Miscellaneous auto-building

If you're deployed your site to the harp platform then you're done. If you're deploying just your static files to something like gh-pages or Apache you'll need some type of automatic build process to keep your site's pages publishing on schedule. For that I recommend something like

5 0 * * * * /path/to/your/directory/publish.sh

Where publish.sh is:

#/bin/sh
cd /path/to/your/directory/
harp compile

And then you'll be compiling harp every day at 5 minutes after midnight. If you use gh-pages you'll probably want to add this cron task locally, if it's on a server then you'll want to do it up there. All in all it's pretty simple to add scheduled posts to your blog or site!

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