Dance, Computer, Dance

by Ray Grasso

The Convenience of _.chain Without Importing the World

16 June, 2017

I’ve been meaning to work out how to maintain the convenience of the Lodash’s _.chain function whilst only including the parts of Lodash that I actually need.

Turns out you can cherry pick the fp version of the functions you need and compose them together with _.flow.

import sortBy from 'lodash/fp/sortBy';
import flatMap from 'lodash/fp/flatMap';
import uniq from 'lodash/fp/uniq';
import reverse from 'lodash/fp/reverse';
import flow from 'lodash/fp/flow';

const exampleData = [
    "happenedAt": "2017-06-15T19:00:00+08:00",
    "projects": [
      "Project One"
    "happenedAt": "2017-06-16T19:00:00+08:00",
    "projects": [
      "Project One",
      "Project Two"

const listOfProjectsByTime = (entries) => {
  return flow(

You can read more in Lodash’s FP Guide.

Consistent Update Times for Middleman Blog Articles with Git

16 May, 2017

The default template for an Atom feed in Middleman Blog uses the last modified time of an article’s source file as the article’s last update time. This means that if I build the site on two different machines I will get different last updated times on articles in the two atom feeds. I’d rather the built site look the same regardless of where I build it.

The source code for the site lives in a Git repository which means I have a consistent source for update times that I can rely on. So, I’ve added a helper that asks Git for the last commit time of a file and falls back to its last modified time if the file isn’t currently tracked in Git.

helpers do
 def last_update_time(file)
    Time.parse `git log -1 --format=%cd #{file} 2>/dev/null`

I now use this helper in my Atom template for each article.

xml.entry do
  xml.updated last_update_time(article.source_file).iso8601
  xml.content article.body, "type" => "html"

Adding Webpack to Middleman's External Pipeline

18 February, 2017

I use Middleman to build most of my content-focused websites. With the upgrade to version 4 comes the opportunity to move the asset pipeline out to an external provider such as Webpack.

I struggled to find good examples of how to integrate Webpack 2 with Middleman 4 so I’m documenting the approach I used here. For example code refer to middleman-webpack on Github.

Points of Interest

Build and development commands for webpack are in package.json.

"scripts": {
  "start": "NODE_ENV=development ./node_modules/webpack/bin/webpack.js --watch -d --color",
  "build": "NODE_ENV=production ./node_modules/webpack/bin/webpack.js --bail -p"

The external pipeline configuration in Middleman just calls those tasks.

activate :external_pipeline,
           name: :webpack,
           command: build? ? "yarn run build" : "yarn run start",
           source: ".tmp/dist",
           latency: 1

set :css_dir, 'assets/stylesheets'
set :js_dir, 'assets/javascript'
set :images_dir, 'images'

Assets are loaded by Webpack from the assets folder outside of the Middleman source directory1. Webpack includes any JS and CSS imported by the entry point files in webpack.config.js and generates bundle files into the asset paths Middleman uses.

module.exports = {
  entry: {
    main: './assets/javascript/main.js',

  output: {
    path: __dirname + '/.tmp/dist',
    filename: 'assets/javascript/[name].bundle.js',

  // ...


The config for Webpack itself is fairly straightforward. The ExtractText plugin extracts any included CSS into a file named after the entry point it was extracted from.

module.exports = {
  // ...

  plugins: [
    new ExtractTextPlugin("assets/stylesheets/[name].bundle.css"),

  // ...

This means you can include your styles from your JS entry file like normal and Webpack will extract the styles properly2.

Using the standard Middleman helpers to include the generated JS and CSS bundles allows Middleman to handle asset hashing at build time.

  <%= stylesheet_link_tag "main.bundle" %>

  <%= javascript_include_tag "main.bundle" %>


If you want to add modern JS and CSS to a bunch of statically generated pages then Middleman and Webpack works fine.

If, however, you are looking for a boilerplate for building a React SPA then something like react-boilerplate or create-react-app is likely a better fit.

  1. To avoid asset files being processed by both Webpack and Middleman. 

  2. Images are currently managed via Middleman and not Webpack.