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Creating a Generic Plugin

This section aims to explain the structure of a Gatsby plugin and the files you need to create one.

The idea of a generic plugin is to lay more emphasis on the makeup of a plugin rather than the specific labels (source, transformer, local) that are selected based on functionality. As seen in the what is a plugin doc, a plugin is a piece of software that acts as an add-on and gives a Gatsby site additional functionality.

Plugins contain a file, usually in the project root, called package.json - this file holds various metadata relevant to the project. The package.json file is also used to provide information to npm that identifies the project and allows npm to handle the project’s dependencies.

Initializing your plugin project

To initialize a package.json for your project, run the following command:

Once you’ve run the command you’ll see a series of options listed in the command-line interface (CLI). Those you select are stored in your package.json which contains some of the files Gatsby looks for in a Plugin

What happens in a generic plugin?

In a generic plugin the gatsby-node.js file enables the use of gatsby node APIs. These APIs, such as createPage, createResolvers, and sourceNodes, manipulate the Node(s) in a Gatsby site. A Node is the smallest unit of data in Gatsby. You can create a Node using the createNode action.

In gatsby-node.js you can carry out functions with these APIs, such as:

  • Loading API keys
  • Sending calls to APIs
  • Creating Gatsby-nodes using the API response
  • Creating individual pages from nodes

A good use case of the above would be a plugin that gets data from an API.

An example of a generic plugin

sourceNodes is a lifecycle API that a plugin can use to create Nodes. An example of how to implement a function using sourceNodes is shown below:

The above code block creates a node called "Test Node" as seen from the title parameter. If this process is successful restarting the server will make the allTestNode query available at http://localhost:8000/___graphql.

Libraries like Axios can be used to handle calls in the gatsby-node.js file

Though all plugins have the same structure, their name signals what functionality they provide. See the naming a plugin section for more information.

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