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JS: Edit Content Patching

By the end of this tutorial you should know how to patch post edits to Steem.

Full, runnable src of Edit Content Patching can be downloaded as part of: tutorials/javascript.

This tutorial will take you through the process of preparing and patching post using the broadcast.comment operation. Being able to patch a post is critical to save resources on Steem.

Intro

Tutorial is demonstrating the typical process of editing content that has been previously posted on the blockchain. Instead of replacing the entire body of the post, the Steem blockchain offers an alternative strategy. In this tutorial, we will focus on properly patching existing content and then broadcasting the patch with a demo account on a testnet.

Note for long time community members: Since HF20 even archived content (older than 7 days) can be changed/updated. Editing content will also use less RC (resource credits) than creating new posts entirely.

We are using the broadcast.comment function provided by dsteem which generates, signs, and broadcast the transaction to the network. On the Steem platform, posts and comments are all internally stored as a comment object, differentiated by whether or not a parent_author exists. When there is no parent_author, it’s a post, when there is, it’s a comment. When editing a post, we need to make sure that we don’t resubmit the same post over and over again, which will spam the network and adds additional cost to operate the platform. Instead we will use a package called diff-match-patch, which allows us to only apply changes and save resources on the Steem platform.

Steps

  1. Configure testnet Testnet connection should be established with proper configurations
  2. Get latest post Get @demo’s latest post for editing
  3. Creating patch Creating patch with new edited text
  4. Submit a patch Submit newly formatted post

1. Configure testnet

As usual, we have a file called public/app.js, which holds the Javascript segment of the tutorial. In the first few lines, we have defined the configured library and packages:

const dsteem = require('dsteem');
let opts = {};
//connect to community testnet
opts.addressPrefix = 'STX';
opts.chainId =
    '79276aea5d4877d9a25892eaa01b0adf019d3e5cb12a97478df3298ccdd01673';
//connect to server which is connected to the network/testnet
const client = new dsteem.Client('https://testnet.steem.vc', opts);

Above, we have dsteem pointing to the test network with the proper chainId, addressPrefix, and endpoint. Because this tutorial is interactive, we will not publish test content to the main network. Instead, we’re using testnet and a predefined account to demonstrate post patching.

2. Get latest post

Next, we have a main function which fires at on-load and fetches latest blog post of @demo account and fills in the form with relevant information.

const query = { tag: 'demo', limit: '1' };
client.database
    .call('get_discussions_by_blog', [query])
    .then(result => {
        document.getElementById('title').value = result[0].title;
        document.getElementById('body').value = result[0].body;
        document.getElementById('tags').value = JSON.parse(
            result[0].json_metadata
        ).tags.join(' ');
        o_body = result[0].body;
        o_permlink = result[0].permlink;
    })
    .catch(err => {
        console.log(err);
        alert('Error occured, please reload the page');
    });

Notice, we are only fetching a single blog post by specifying a limit and we have filled all necessary fields/variables with the old content.

3. Creating patch

We have created a small function called createPatch to patch edits to the old content.

function createPatch(text, out) {
    if (!text && text === '') return undefined;
    //get list of patches to turn text to out
    const patch_make = dmp.patch_make(text, out);
    //turns patch to text
    const patch = dmp.patch_toText(patch_make);
    return patch;
}

The createPatch function computes a list of patches to turn old content to edited content.

4. Submit a patch

Next, we have the submitPost function, which executes when the Submit button is clicked.

//get private key
const privateKey = dsteem.PrivateKey.fromString(
    document.getElementById('postingKey').value
);
//get account name
const account = document.getElementById('username').value;
//get title
const title = document.getElementById('title').value;
//get body
const edited_body = document.getElementById('body').value;

let body = '';

//computes a list of patches to turn o_body to edited_body
const patch = createPatch(o_body, edited_body);

//check if patch size is smaller than original content
if (patch && patch.length < new Buffer(o_body, 'utf-8').length) {
    body = patch;
} else {
    body = o_body;
}

//get tags and convert to array list
const tags = document.getElementById('tags').value;
const taglist = tags.split(' ');
//make simple json metadata including only tags
const json_metadata = JSON.stringify({ tags: taglist });
//generate random permanent link for post
const permlink = o_permlink;

client.broadcast
    .comment(
        {
            author: account,
            body: body,
            json_metadata: json_metadata,
            parent_author: '',
            parent_permlink: taglist[0],
            permlink: permlink,
            title: title,
        },
        privateKey
    )
    .then(
        function(result) {
            document.getElementById('title').value = '';
            document.getElementById('body').value = '';
            document.getElementById('tags').value = '';
            document.getElementById('postLink').style.display = 'block';
            document.getElementById(
                'postLink'
            ).innerHTML = `<br/><p>Included in block: ${
                result.block_num
            }</p><br/><br/><a href="http://condenser.steem.vc/${
                taglist[0]
            }/@${account}/${permlink}">Check post here</a>`;
        },
        function(error) {
            console.error(error);
        }
    );

As you can see from the above function, we get the relevant values from the defined fields. Tags are separated by spaces in this example, but the structure of how to enter tags totally depends on your needs. We have separated tags with whitespaces and stored them in an array list called taglist, for later use. Posts on the blockchain can hold additional information in the json_metadata field, such as the tags list which we have assigned. Posts must also have a unique permanent link scoped to each account. In this case we are just creating a random character string.

In the follow code, we patch the old content with new (or edited) content and make sure that the patch size is smaller than edited content, otherwise patching is unnecessary.

//computes a list of patches to turn o_body to edited_body
const patch = createPatch(o_body, edited_body);

//check if patch size is smaller than edited content itself
if (patch && patch.length < new Buffer(edited_body, 'utf-8').length) {
    body = patch;
} else {
    body = edited_body;
}

The next step is to pass all of these parameters to the client.broadcast.comment function. Note that in parameters you can see the parent_author and parent_permlink fields, which are used for replies (also known as comments). In our example, since we are publishing a post instead of a comment/reply, we will have to leave parent_author as an empty string and assign parent_permlink from the first tag.

After the post has been broadcasted to the network, we can simply set all the fields to empty strings and show the post link to check it from a condenser instance running on the selected testnet. That’s it!

To Run the tutorial

  1. git clone https://gitlab.syncad.com/hive/devportal.git
  2. cd devportal/tutorials/javascript/12_edit_content_patching
  3. npm i
  4. npm run dev-server or npm run start
  5. After a few moments, the server should be running at http://localhost:3000/