Passing variables to serverless functions using query strings

Chris Biscardi
InstructorChris Biscardi

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Published 2 years ago
Updated a year ago

To make our opengraph image generation function, we'll have to work out a way to pass the querystring variables from the original URL through to the React script running inside the headless browser. We choose to set them on the window using another injected script, and we also cover handling URL decoding of querystring components.

Chris Biscardi: [00:00] We can generate an image, but unfortunately, we currently can't change the title, we can't change the tags and we can't change the username. If you want this exact image, what we have right now is great. If you don't and you want to change the title, we need to make some adjustments.

[00:16] We'll need to make changes in two places. One is the React component we're rendering to the page to generate the image. The second is in the Playwright script where we render the actual component. We're going to take advantage of the window here.

[00:27] Instead of manually listing a set of three list elements for our tags, we're going to look for an array on window.tags when we render our component. We're going to do the same for the author and the same for the title. We have three variables on the window that we're looking for, title, author and tags.

[00:44] In general graph image, we're going to have to pass these in. Before we add our script, we're going to add another script tag. We'll use a template string to do what we need to do here. We've written a small script that will set the window.title, the window.tags and the variables inside of our page. We can push this to make sure it works.

[01:02] Now that our site is deployed, we can see that the window variables are being used in our new OpenGraph cards, but we can't yet control it from the outside. To do that, we'll parse the query string. If you remember the event argument from our handler, that's where our query string parameters come in.

[01:18] Our tags are going to come in off the query string separated by a comma. Commas are URL encoded when we pass them through the query string. We can show this using encodeURIcomponent. Note that we get 1%2C2%2C3. The %2C is the URL encoding for a comma. We can use decodeURIcomponent to get the information back.

[01:39] In this case, we'll take the query string parameters, get the text field off, which will come in as a string and we'll decode the URI component for those tags and split them. This will give us an array. If we don't have tags, we'll get an empty array. If we have malformatted data, we could potentially end up rendering malformatted data.

[01:57] Our title will be a little easier. If there's a title, we'll use it. If not, we'll specify No Title. This will give us a nice debug output if we forget to include a title or for some reason, miss passing one in. Since we always intend to use a title whenever we want to use these OpenGraph images, this is fine for now. We'll replace our literal array with a JSON.stringify of the tags array.

[02:20] The author, by comparison to the title, isn't necessarily always required. We'll render an empty string instead of a No Author like we did for the title.

[02:30] When we refresh the page, we see an interesting error, one that we've seen before, "Evaluation failed: Cannot read property 'getBoundingClientReact' of undefined." It says the issue happened on line 36.

[02:42] Line 36 doesn't give us a lot of information because it's happening somewhere in here when we're calling getBoundingClientReact on the children of the corgi div. Without splitting this out into a testable unit, we can only make some educated guesses.

[02:57] If there's no child for us to discover in the corgi div, whereas before there was, the only thing we changed is this additional script tag. As it turns out, if we look closely, that is enough.

[03:10] When we swapped the string literals for the interpolations, we forgot that when we use a variable, it's going to put the literal No Title in here if we don't put a title in without the quotes. Without the quotes, window.title will equal no title.

[03:29] If we put in our normal script, you can perhaps see why this is a problem. The solution is adding additional quotes anytime we need a string. We don't need to add them on tags because we've already JSON.stringified it. We do want the literal array to get put in. Note that instead of add script tag, we could be using evaluate here.

[03:49] Now that we've changed our script tag values to be wrapped in the proper quotes, let's refresh the function again. We can see that now we've added our quotes, we can pass in any values we want in the query string. If we put nothing in the query string, we get no title, the tags are empty and the author's empty.