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Theia · GitHub license Build Status lerna

Server Side Rendering And React Build Server as a Service (SSR&RBSaaS)

Theia is a framework for building, rendering, and caching React applications.

Theia was created to enable React server side rendering for backends not written in Node. Instead of maintaining an "initial view" UI in the backend's templating language of choice, Theia can be utilized to offload the initial rendering to a Node runtime using the actual React application code. This allows for developing rich React apps mindful of SEO, without maintaining two disparate implementations of the same UI. Currently, there is just one rendering client (for PHP), but creating one for any language should be straightforward.

Theia attempts to be plugin friendly. Inspired by Webpack, and powered by Webpack's tapable package.

Powers Course Hero's course study guides.


Theia consists of four components;

  • Server
  • Component Libraries (CLs)
  • Rendering clients
  • Render cache job processing (optional)

Theia Server

yarn add @coursehero/theia @coursehero/theia-express-plugin @coursehero/theia-usage-plugin typescript ts-node @types/node

TypeScript is optional, but recommended for the configuration file.

yarn theia --help

There are two commands - start and build. start will start a web service that responds to incoming rendering requests, and build will check for and rebuild new versions of a CL.

The deployment plan for the Theia server should run the build command occassionally (recommended every minute), and the start command at scale.

The default location for the configuration file is at the root of the project: theia.config.js. You can define a different path with the -c option (useful if you wish to use TypeScript).


import * as theia from '@coursehero/theia'
import ExpressPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-express-plugin'
import UsagePlugin from '@coursehero/theia-usage-plugin'
import * as path from 'path'

const storage: theia.Storage = new theia.LocalStorage(path.resolve(__dirname, 'libs'))

const plugins: theia.Plugin[] = [
  new ExpressPlugin(3000),
  new UsagePlugin()

const libs: theia.ComponentLibraryConfigurations = {
  '@coursehero/mythos': {
    source: '',
    env: {
      development: 'dev',
      production: 'master'

const config: theia.Configuration = {

export default config

Do the initial build and start the rendering server:

yarn theia -c theia.config.ts build && yarn theia -c theia.config.ts start

You should be able to hit http://localhost:3000/.

This server configuration does not support any cache reheating - see below for a sample configuration with everything enabled.


theia.Configuration options:

Name Type Default Description
builder Builder DefaultBuilder
environment 'development' | 'production' process.env.THEIA_ENV
libs { [name]: ComponentLibraryConfiguration } required CLs
plugins Plugin[] []
storage Storage LocalStorage("libs")
verbose boolean true


branches: { // branch to build from for particular environment
  development: string
  production: string 
source: string // git remote


Theia provides functionality for hooking into behavior.

You can conditionally include plugins by using the provided nn (no nulls) helper functions:

const plugins: theia.Plugin[] = theia.nn([
  new ExpressPlugin(process.env.PORT ? parseInt(process.env.PORT, 10) : 3000),
  process.env.SLACK_TOKEN ? new SlackPlugin({
    channel: process.env.THEIA_ENV === 'production' ? '#theia-prod' : '#theia-dev'
  }) : null,
  new UsagePlugin()

Requires rendering client to provide a secret.

// 1: HTTP header
// 2: Secret
new AuthPlugin('CH-Auth', process.env.THEIA_AUTH_SECRET)

Periodically checks for new builds. Prefer using the build command, so that building and rendering are seperate processes. This allows rendering to be scaled.

// 1: time between checking for new builds (ms)
new BuildPlugin(5 * 1000)

Handles reheating the render cache after a new build. Only the new-build-job strategy is currently supported. After a build, the given SQS queue will recieve a new-build-job message. See caching section for more details.

// { CL: { strategy: 'new-build-job', queue: string } }
new CachePlugin({
  '@coursehero/mythos': {
    strategy: 'new-build-job',
    queue: process.env.THEIA_ENV === 'production' ? 'TheiaReheatJobs' : 'TheiaReheatJobs_dev'

Configures the web server for rendering requests.

// 1: port
new ExpressPlugin(process.env.PORT ? parseInt(process.env.PORT, 10) : 3000)

Provides a /heartbeat endpoint, for health checks.

new HeartbeatPlugin()

Band-aid for preventing cached build information from sticking around too long. When a build command finishes a new build, the rendering instances will only recieve the new build information after this plugin clears the local cache. This needs a better solution.

// 1: how often to reload build information (ms)
new InvalidateBuildManifestCachePlugin(5000)

Sends errors to Rollbar

// 1: auth token
// 2: rollbar environment
new RollbarPlugin(process.env.THEIA_ROLLBAR_TOKEN, process.env.ROLLBAR_ENV)

Sends messages about new builds to Slack

new SlackPlugin({
  channel: process.env.THEIA_ENV === 'production' ? '#theia-prod' : '#theia-dev',
  token: process.env.SLACK_TOKEN

If a CL provides source maps, this plugin will translate rendering errors to the original source code.

new SourceMapSupportPlugin()

Provides a simple canary page at /. This plugin should later be expanded into a useful dashboard.

new UsagePlugin()

Generates errors when the same rendering request happens to much in a short period of time. This suggests a caching failure.

new WendigoPlugin()

Make Your Own Plugin

Implement the Plugin interface, and tap into the behaviors you want in the apply method. See the existing plugins for examples.

The available hooks are defined in Core.ts.

Component Libraries

Each Component Library is its own repository, and defines 1 or more React components. See @coursehero/mythos for an example CL using TypeScript and supporting hot code reloading.

Rendering Clients

The most direct way to render with Theia is to make a HTTP request. The body contains the props to render.


POST /render?componentLibrary=@coursehero/mythos&component=Greeting
Content-Type: application/json
  "name": "World"

Response Body (HTML):

<div data-reactroot="">Hello <em>World</em>!!!</div>

Response Header Theia-Assets (asset names):

  "javascripts": [
  "stylesheets": []

The asset names are the files that the browser should request. If the Theia server is using the provided S3 Storage adaptor, then you'll find the assets in S3.

A PHP Rendering Client is provided to wrap the HTTP interface, and provides additional control around caching.

$client = $this->theiaProviderService->getClient();
$propsAsString = MythosTheiaJobHandler::getProps(...);
$renderResult = $client->renderAndCache('@coursehero/mythos', 'Greeting', $propsAsString);
//                  or ->render to avoid cache


Render Cache Job Processing

Theia defines a job protocol to keep the cached contents of your React app up-to-date with the latest version.

Each CL should implement a JobHandler. You may need access to code from your main language backend, so each rendering client provides job handling classes. You should create a service that polls for messages (from the SQS queue defined in the Theia server), serializes them to JobDatas, and feeds them to JobProcessor. See the PHP rendering client for more details.

When Theia builds a new version of a CL, a new-build-job is emitted, and MyComponentLibraryJobHandler::processNewBuildJob is eventually called. A new-build-job should split up the work by emitting multiple render-jobs, or if there are many pages to cache, it should emit producer-jobs that themselves emit a subset of render-jobs. How this work is broken up is specific to each CL. Breaking up the caching work creates a more fault tolerant system - if a single job fails, it will be retried without redoing much work.

The props used to fill the cache in job handlers and the props given to the rendering client when a user requests a page should be the exact same, and so it is recommended you use the exact same function to generate the props. Any slight difference will result in cache misses. A good place to keep this function is as a static method in your custom job handler.

Full Theia Server Configuration

import * as theia from '@coursehero/theia'
import AuthPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-auth-plugin'
import BuildPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-build-plugin'
import CachePlugin from '@coursehero/theia-cache-plugin'
import ExpressPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-express-plugin'
import HeartbeatPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-heartbeat-plugin'
import InvalidateBuildManifestCachePlugin from '@coursehero/theia-invalidate-build-manifest-cache-plugin'
import RollbarPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-rollbar-plugin'
import SlackPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-slack-plugin'
import SourceMapSupportPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-source-map-support-plugin'
import UsagePlugin from '@coursehero/theia-usage-plugin'
import WendigoPlugin from '@coursehero/theia-wendigo-plugin'
import * as path from 'path'

const FIVE_MINUTES = 1000 * 60 * 5
const isLocal = process.env.THEIA_LOCAL === '1'
const useLocalStorage = isLocal || process.env.THEIA_LOCAL_STORAGE === '1'
const enablePeriodicBuilding = isLocal || process.env.THEIA_LOCAL_BUILD === '1'

let storage: theia.Storage
if (useLocalStorage) {
  storage = new theia.LocalStorage(path.resolve(__dirname, 'libs'))
} else {
  storage = new theia.S3Storage(
    process.env.THEIA_S3_BUCKET || 'coursehero_dev',
    process.env.THEIA_S3_BUCKET_FOLDER || 'theia'

const defaultQueue = process.env.THEIA_ENV === 'production' ? 'TheiaReheatJobs' : 'TheiaReheatJobs_dev'

const plugins: theia.Plugin[] = theia.nn([
  new SourceMapSupportPlugin(),
  process.env.THEIA_ROLLBAR_TOKEN ? new RollbarPlugin(process.env.THEIA_ROLLBAR_TOKEN, process.env.ROLLBAR_ENV!) : null,
  process.env.THEIA_ROLLBAR_TOKEN ? new WendigoPlugin() : null,
  process.env.SLACK_TOKEN ? new SlackPlugin({
    channel: process.env.THEIA_ENV === 'production' ? '#theia-prod' : '#theia-dev',
    token: process.env.SLACK_TOKEN
  }) : null,
  enablePeriodicBuilding ? new BuildPlugin(FIVE_MINUTES) : null,
  new InvalidateBuildManifestCachePlugin(5000), // the DelaySeconds param on 'new-build-job' should compensate for this
  process.env.THEIA_CACHE ? new CachePlugin({
    '@coursehero/mythos': {
      strategy: 'new-build-job',
      queue: defaultQueue
  }) : null,
  new ExpressPlugin(process.env.PORT ? parseInt(process.env.PORT, 10) : 3000),
  new HeartbeatPlugin(),
  process.env.THEIA_AUTH_SECRET ? new AuthPlugin('CH-Auth', process.env.THEIA_AUTH_SECRET) : null,
  new UsagePlugin()

const libs: theia.ComponentLibraryConfigurations = {
  '@coursehero/mythos': {
    source: '',
    env: {
      development: 'dev',
      production: 'master'

const config: theia.Configuration = {

export default config


Before opening a PR, ensure that all tests and linting pass.


Apache 2.0


Framework for building, rendering, and caching React applications




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