Yes! Finally I have it done. As you might have recognized on the front page you can see My Latest GitHub Activities! For this task I used good ol’ jQuery, underscore.js and moment.js.

But why?

Because I can! No, just kidding. I always thought about my personal GitHub page as informative as it can be. And not a page just like “Hello World! I am Pete an Interface Designer from Berlin and this is my blog”. No, my page should consist of content, that I provide and some dynamically generated content, provided by the GitHub API.

In Depth

  1. Get the data
  2. Handle the data
  3. Nicer timestamps with moment.js
  4. Templating with underscore.js
  5. Displaying data in HTML

Get the Data

In my code, the function which handles the task to display my GitHub activities carries the sound full name displayActivities. It receives two arguments. First is the username, the other is a DOM element selected with jQuery, that will later contain the activities as HTML code.

First of all, an AJAX call is made against GitHub’s User Event Stream[GITHUB_USER_NAME]/events/public.

If the AJAX call is successful, the received data is limited to the latest five events. Each event is passed to the function parseActivityJSON.

See the whole function here:

function displayActivities (_username, _$container) {

  var requestURL = '' 
+ _username + '/events/public',
  activities = [];

  $.getJSON(requestURL, function (json) {
    if(json.message == "Not Found" || == '') {
      _$container.append('<h2>No Info Found</h2>');
    else {
      $.each( json, function (index){
        if (index <= 5) {
          var output = selectTemplate(parseActivityJSON(json[index]));

Handle the Data

The purpose of the function parseActivityJSON is to uniform the event data and make it easier to handle. For example, there is some string split and concat going on, to build URLs to the repository or the repository owner.

At least the function returns an object, which can be imagined like this:

var activityObj = {
  type = string,
  formatedTime = string,
  repoOwner = string,
  repoOwnerURL = string,
  repoName = string,
  repoURL = string,
  // if this event is of the type 'IssuesEvent'
  issueURL = string,
  issueNumber = integer

Before we follow this object returning back to the displayActivities function, we take a look what happen to the timestamp.

Nicer timestamps with Moment.js

Of course, I could have just used the given format of the event’s timestamp, but I trying to create messages that can be read most human as possible. The right library for this job is moment.js, especially with its calendar() function.

The desired format can be defined in a kind of dictionary:

momentFormatSettings = {
   sameDay: '[Today]',
   nextDay: '[Tomorrow]',
  nextWeek: 'dddd',
   lastDay: '[Yesterday]',
  lastWeek: '[Last] dddd',
  sameElse: '[On] MMM D, YYYY'

And later the given timestamp will be parsed with the calendar function:

var formatedTime = moment(givenTimestamp).calendar(null,momentFormatSettings );

We can now return to the displayActivities function with our nicely formatted activityObj.

Templating with Underscore.js

And from displayActivities our activityObj is directly passed into the selectTemplate function.

One big advantage of [underscore.js][underscore] is, that you can store your template in your HTML code and just select it with jQuery. The provided templates look nice in your HTML and don’t pollute your javascript code. The variables need to be enclosed like this <%= VARIABLE %>

<script id="watchEvent" type="text/html">
    <%= formatedTime %> I starred <a class="repoName" href="<%= repoURL %>"><%= repoName %></a> by <a class="repoOwner" href="<%= repoOwnerURL %>"><%= repoOwner %></a>. I think it is pretty cool!

<script id="issueEvent" type="text/html">
      <%= formatedTime %> I filed <a href="<%= issueURL %>">issue &#8470;<%= issueNumber %></a> at the <a class="repoName" href="<%= repoURL %>"><%= repoName %></a> project by <a class="repoOwner" href="<%= repoOwnerURL %>"><%= repoOwner %></a>. Take a look, maybe you’ve got the answer.

<script id="pushEvent" type="text/html">
        <%= formatedTime %> I pushed some code to my  <a class="repoName" href="<%= repoURL %>"><%= repoName %></a> project.

<script id="default" type="text/html">
      <%= formatedTime %> I have done something top secret on GitHub. If I would tell you, I had to kill you! Sorry, pal!  

By looking at the type of the object, the selectTemplate function picks the right template from the HTML.

function selectTemplate (_activity) {
  var myTemplate;
  switch (_activity.type) {
    case 'IssuesEvent':
    myTemplate = _.template($('#issueEvent').html());
    case 'WatchEvent':
    myTemplate = _.template($('#watchEvent').html());
    case 'PushEvent':
    myTemplate = _.template($('#pushEvent').html());
    myTemplate = _.template($('#default').html());
  return myTemplate(_activity);

Displaying Data in HTML

Finally the HTML of our activityObj returns to the displayActivities function and is added to the activities array, which afterwards is joined and added to the containing DOM element.

That’s it

I am a little proud of the outcome and I like the tool set. I just have scratched the capabilities of underscore.js, but even just for templating it is awesome. And the features of moment.js allow more than I used in this example.

I think there will be more to come!