Over a year ago I wrote up my experience on adding Algolia to my blog ("Adding Algolia Search to Eleventy and Netlify - Part Two". This process was different then my initial post on the topic ("Adding Algolia Search to Eleventy and Netlify") as I had to set up things a bit differently to handle the large size of my site.

Well, things worked ok for a while, but I later discovered a bug in my implementation (I updated the post to share those issues). I thought I had things fixed, but I kept having issues with my Algolia index being blanked out. Heck, it got so annoying I wrote up a Pipedream workflow just to help me monitor it. While the workflow worked great as a warning, I still wasn't exactly sure what was wrong. On top of that, Netlify's function logs seem to not be working properly for me when trying to debug issues in my deploy-succeeded function. (I've raised this on their forums if you want to track.)

This week I decided to see if I could finally come up with a solution. What I had running before (and described in that first blog post linked to above) was this process:

  • When Netlify does a build...
  • Clear my entire Algolia index...
  • Download a JSON copy of my blog (6000+ blog entries)
  • Do a batch update

Why do I nuke the entire thing? In case I delete a blog post. Why do I upload every blog post? In case I edit.

All of that makes sense, but the size and time to run of the process was ultimately causing the issues I believe. I realized that I've probably deleted one or two blog entries in the 18 years I've run this blog. I do make edits to blog posts, but on average, 5 or so per year.

Therefore I decided to change my process. Now what I do is:

  • When Netlify does a build...
  • Download a JSON copy of the last 5 blog entries
  • Do a batch update of the 3 most recent entries

All in all, this is a much quicker operation. First off, while my code could quickly download the large JSON packet of six thousand plus blog entries, the parsing took quite some time (thank you Node.js timeLoad and I wish I knew you existed years ago). And obviously, doing a batch update of three blog entries is much quicker than multiple thousands.

You're probably wondering - why 5 and 3? Honestly, I don't have a good logical reason for that. I guess I just wanted "a couple" of recent entries and not just the most recent because... I don't know. I just felt it was a bit safer. I'll probably edit both operations to only work with one item. At the same time, I want to wait a bit and see how these changes go.

Also, I will need a script to handle blog edits, but I can just take the code I had before, drop it into a Node script, and run it locally when I need to do that.

I'm not sharing this to imply Netlify or Algolia have done anything wrong here. But I do think there's a whole side to the Jamstack that impacts large sites that I'd love to see more discussion around. (I think I even CFPed on the topic before but it wasn't picked up.) As it stands, I hope this helps others who may be dealing with large static sites, and as a reminder, you can always dig into how I've built this site at the GitHub repo: https://github.com/cfjedimaster/raymondcamden2020

Photo by Ben Allan on Unsplash