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Webflow Tutorial

How to connect Webflow, VSCode, and Github for a better custom code workflow

Blog author Casey Lewis CL Creative
Casey Lewis
December 8, 2023
How to connect Webflow, VSCode, and Github for a better custom code workflow

How do you connect Webflow, VSCode, and Github for a better custom code workflow? That’s exactly what we are going to explore in today’s post.

Integrating Visual Studio Code (VSCode) into your Webflow projects can make a significant difference in how you code and test custom code for your Webflow website.

Specifically, VSCode allows us to test JavaScript functionality without the need to publish our Webflow project every time we make a change to the code.

This makes coding your Webflow project smoother and more efficient.

Why use VSCode alongside Webflow?

VSCode is not just another code editor; it's a robust tool that offers a suite of features designed to improve the efficiency and quality of your development work. VSCode offers features Webflow’s code editor doesn’t.

  • Syntax highlighting
  • Intelligent autocompletion, which helps to reduce errors and speed up the coding process.
  • Extensive library of extensions, like Prettier, that will help format your code and GitHub Copilot that brings AI to programming to help speed up the coding process, just to name a few of the many useful extensions VSCode offers.
  • Integrated Terminal to install and use packages.

The list can go on and on for why VSCode is useful. But the biggest feature for those pairing VSCode with Webflow is the ability to write and test code without having to publish your project every time you make a change to the code.

But how?

Part 1 - How do you pair VSCode with Webflow?

Here is a step by step guide on how to pair VSCode with Webflow, so you can start effortlessly testing your custom code in your Webflow project today.

It is not as difficult as you might think.

Let’s get started.

First, Install and Launch VSCode

If you don’t have VSCode on your machine, you can install it by downloading VSCode.

Once VSCode is installed and launched, we need to get the project setup.

Second, Create a new folder

Name it something like “Custom Code Webflow Project”. This folder will be our primary workspace for our code.

vscode for custom code webflow project create a folder
vscode workspace folder created for custom code webflow project
Notice the folder had been created in the Explorer panel

Third, Create a New JavaScript File

Now its time to start setting up the needed files for our project.

Inside the folder you just created, you’ll want to create a JavaScript file.

I named mine 'app.js'.

create a javascript file in vscode

Fourth, Add the following code to your new JavaScript file

 
"use strict";

window.Webflow ||= [];
window.Webflow.push(() => {
  alert("hello world");
});

This code will do two things:

(1) It will insure you are using strict mode in JavaScript.

Without going into too much detail, strict mode in JavaScript helps enforce better coding practices, reduces common errors, and prepares code for future ECMAScript versions, leading to more robust and maintainable scripts.

(2) It will insure your JavaScript is loaded at the right time.

In case you are curious, here is a more detailed explanation:

Webflow sites often load JavaScript in a specific way, and directly adding scripts might not always work as intended due to the timing of when elements are loaded and scripts are executed.

By pushing your function into the window.Webflow array, you ensure that your custom code runs at the appropriate time in the Webflow site's lifecycle, typically after the site's HTML, CSS, and JavaScript have been fully loaded and initialized.

Fifth, Check for Node and NPM Dependencies

Let’s check to see if you have Node and NPM setup on your machine so we can get Parcel installed, which optimizes our files and serves them on a local server for later integration into Webflow.

Open the terminal in VSCode

Terminal —> New Terminal

Verify Node.JS is installed

With the new terminal open, let’s check if Node is installed on your system

Verify if Node.JS is installed with the following command:

node -v

If node is installed, a version will be returned.

verify node.js is installed for your webflow custom code project with vscode

If it's not installed, download Node JS from https://nodejs.org/en/.

Follow the instructions to install Node JS

Verify NPM is installed

Let’s check to see if NPM is installed on your machine with the following command.

npm -v

Again, if it is installed, a version will be returned.

verify npm is installed on your machine in vscode for webflow custom code project

If not, follow the installation guide at https://www.npmjs.com/get-npm to install NPM on your machine.

Sixth, Initialize NPM

Now, initialize NPM in your project.

This is a necessary step as initializing NPM (Node Package Manager) in a project involves creating a package.json file in the project's root directory. This file is fundamental in managing project dependencies, scripts, and metadata.

Run the following command:

npm init
npm init custom code vs code custom code project webflow

Answer the prompts.

  • You answer the prompts either by typing in the necessary information and hitting enter. Or just hitting enter.
  • For this simple use case, you will simple hit enter without entering in any information.

The only thing you need to make sure of is that 'app.js' is set as the entry point, which should be set automatically.

When you finish, you must hit enter to answer the question at the end.

After you hit enter, a package.json file will be created in your folder and the terminal will look like the example below.

package json file created in vscode for custom code webflow project

Seventh, Install Parcel Package

Next we need to install Parcel.

What does Parcel do?

While the primary function of Parcel is as a bundler, it does facilitate hosting our code locally for development purposes. This provides a convenient and efficient environment for developing and testing our web applications in Webflow.

Run the command to install Parcel

Install Parcel with the following command

npm i parcel

(Refer to https://www.npmjs.com/package/parcel for details)

Once you run the command, a number of packages will be added.

You will have one folder and a new file added.

install parcel package in vscode for custom code webflow project

Eighth, Update the Package.Json file with a Start Command

Open your package.json file and in the scripts area, you need to add the following start command:

"scripts": {
    "test": "echo \"Error: no test specified\" && exit 1",
    "start": "parcel app.js"
  },

This command will allow us to start parcel and spin up a local development server which we will add to Webflow in the next step.

A Note about the start command

When adding the start command, make sure to add a “,” after the text command. Also, make sure to wrap both start and the command in quotes. Before running "npm start", install Parcel JS:

npm start command vscode webflow custom code project

Ninth, Execute the Start Command

We are finally at the step where we are going to execute the start command, spin up a local development server, and connect our Webflow Project to VSCode

Execute the following command in the terminal:

npm start

Once the command is executed, a local server will start running.

local development server vscode parcel custom code webflow project

Tenth, Add the Local Server to Your Webflow Project

We are almost there!

The last step is to add the local server to your Webflow project.

Add the code

Copy the code below and paste it into the head section of the page you want to execute the code on. Or you can paste it into the head section for your entire site through the settings area of your project.

 <script src="http://localhost:1234/app.js"></script> 

Items to note:

  • Your server will most likely be hosted at 1234, but double check in your terminal.
  • Wrap everything in a Script tag
  • Add src
  • Add app.js to the end or whatever you named your JavaScript file.
custom code inside of webflow project

Publish your site and visit the page

Publish your site.

Visit the page to which you added the code.

When you visit the page, you should see an alert immediately upon load. If you see the alert you have added everything correctly.

Don’t worry, anyone who comes to your site will not see the alert. It is only occurring locally since you are serving the JavaScript through a local server.

alert webflow project custom code in webflow with vscode

What’s Next?

At this point, you can delete the alert from your code, if you would like.

When writing your code, make sure to add it in the same code block where the alert is added.

code in vscode with your webflow custom code project

Part 2 - Backup Your Webflow Custom Code Project with Github

You don’t have to backup your project to Github, but it is a good idea, especially if you are writing more than a few lines and will be working with the code over the span of the project.

How do you add your project to Github?

Step 1: Create a Github account

If you don’t already have a Github account, then you need will need to create one.

Head over to Github.com and create an account.

Step 2: Download Github Desktop

Github desktop is by far one of the easier ways to work with Github. It simplifies the process into a GUI instead of having to memorize and work with the command line in the Terminal.

Download Github Desktop

Step 3: Create a New Repository

Click add —> Create New Repository

github repository

Name it whatever you would like.

Then click create repository.

Don’t worry about the license or the Git Ignore section. We will add a Git Ignore file in Step 5

github desktop repository is created

Step 4: Add your files to the new repository

Here is what you need to do:

  • Click show in finder to view the repository you just created. The folder will be empty. We need to add the files we created in Part 1 to the repository.
  • Open the folder from Part 1 in your Finder.
  • Copy the files from this folder into your new repository folder.
  • VSCode will inform you that your files are no longer available.
  • Close the VSCode window.
  • Open up the folder to which you copied the files in VSCode.

NOTE: In this instance, we are creating a repository and adding our files to GitHub after the fact. You can combine these steps at the beginning of the process when setting up your project.

Simple start with GitHub desktop and create a repository. Add the files we created in Part 1 to that repository, along with the Git Ignore file we are going to add in the next step.

Step 5: Add a Git Ignore File

Create a .gitignore file and adding the following to it:

  
dist
node_modules
.parcel-cache/** 
.parcel-cache/data.mdb
.DS_Store

The Git Ignore file will tell GitHub to ignore these files and folders. In other words, they won’t be uploaded to GitHub.

files created in gitignore for custom code webflow project

You will see that these files and folder disappear in GitHub Desktop from the left hand menu.

files created in github desktop for custom code webflow project

Step 5: Publish Repository to GitHub

Click Publish Repository. This will publish your repository to GitHub.

It will ask you for:

  • The Name
  • A Description
  • Whether you want the code base to be kept private or not
publish repository to github for custom code webflow project

Step 6: Make your first Commit

Once you publish your repository, you want to make a commit.

make commit github desktop

After you make your commit, you want to then Push to Origin

push to origin github desktop

Once you Push to Origin, your files are in the repository on GitHub.

Step 7: Make changes to your file and push changes to GitHub.

Now GitHub will track any changes you make in your app.js file.

When you are finished making changes, or periodically during the development process, you can push the changes to your GitHub Repository.

In this instance, I deleted the console.log. GitHub recognized I deleted it. The deletion is highlighted in red.

make changes in vscode and push to github for webflow custom code project

To add this change to GitHub, you would need to use the box on the bottom left to make a commit.

Then push the changes to GitHub on the next screen by clicking the blue button - Push Origin, just like in the image above.

Conclusion

Now, you can write your code in Visual Studio Code and simply refresh the page to see updates in Webflow.

As well as you can periodically push your code to GitHub to keep it safe and secure in the Cloud.

This method will significantly enhance your productivity and efficiency in custom Webflow development.

Enjoy your enhanced workflow!

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