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The repository contains a Node.JS-backed demonstration sandbox and interactive website for showing how to use the blackhighlighter npm package. A deployment of this demo is available for testing online at:

Currently it offers a step-by-step workflow of how the component works, narrated one page at a time. Many other workflows are possible, and this demo can expand to include more.

Please see for philosophy, videos, and more articles about the Blackhighlighter project.

(Note: This sandbox demo depends upon Express and Swig on the server-side--and jQuery UI on the client side. HOWEVER those dependencies are not required for other sites that wish to use the blackhighlighter widget. The widget actually only has one client-side dependency: jQuery. For specifics, see the blackhighlighter's page.)


The necessary environment settings are:

  • PORT - the TCP port for the Blackhighlighter server to run on (defaults to 3000)

  • MONGO_CONNECT_URI - the MongoDB Connection URI for the MongoDB database to use (defaults to

If you wish to credit your hosting provider:

  • HOSTING_SERVICE - A string name for the hosting service.

  • HOSTING_SERVICE_URL - A URL to go to if someone clicks the hosting service name.


When Blackhighlighter was initially ported from Django to Node.JS, the Node ecology was just beginning. In theory you can write a Node.JS app and seamlessly switch from one host to another because the metadata for the deployment is contained in the package.json file.

But theory doesn't always mesh with practice, and while there is a grain of truth in the idea that the application behaviors are contained there... still there are other settings to be concerned with. As I experiment with Blackhighlighter deployments, I'll try and note the variations in settings to be concerned with.


In Nodejitsu, to set the environment variables you go to the control panel for your application on the website under your account and set them.


On Heroku, if you want to set an environment variable, you do it with the heroku config:set command. For blackhighlighter to work, you

heroku config:set MONGO_CONNECT_URI=mongodb://whatever/your/connect/string/is
heroku config:set HOSTING_SERVICE=Heroku
heroku config:set HOSTING_SERVICE_URL=


Demonstration and documentation site with step-by-step breakdown of how Blackhighlighter works







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