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An image loader module for nuxt.js that allows you to configure image style derivatives.
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Nuxt Image Loader Module

This module will automatically resize, rotate, blur, watermark and crop (etc...) your images based on rules you define.

This module works by intercepting incoming image requests (on the server side) and will respond with either the source image or a processed image if a query string is appended to the image URL.

Processing of images is done by defining 'image styles' in nuxt.config.json. You can add as many of these as suits your needs.

Images are processed using the GraphicsMagick for node package, so please refer the documentation there to understand the variety of image processing capabilities and options.

Works for all of nuxt deployment modes:

  • Server Rendered - npm run build && npm run start
  • Statically Generated - npm run generate
  • Hot Module Replacement - npm run dev

Installation

  1. IMPORTANT: Install the graphicsmagick package on the same host system (or container) where your application lives.

  2. Install this module as a dependency in your project:

npm install @reallifedigital/nuxt-image-loader-module

Setup

Your nuxt.config.js file should contain something like the following:

module.exports = {

  // ...

  modules: [
    ['@reallifedigital/nuxt-image-loader-module', {
      imagesBaseDir: 'content',
      imageStyles: {
        thumbnail: { actions: ['gravity|Center', 'resize|320|180^', 'extent|320|180|+0|+90'] },
        small: { macros: ['scaleAndCrop|160|90'] },
        medium: { macros: ['scaleAndCrop|320|180'] },
        large: { macros: ['scaleAndCrop|640|360'] },
      },
      // Optional responsive style profiles:
      responsiveStyles: {
        thumb: {
          srcset: 'small 160w, medium 320w, large 640w',
          sizes: '(min-width: 1280px) 100vw, 50vw',
        },
      },
    }]
  ],

  // ...

}

Explanation of module options:

  • imagesBaseDir - This module will search a sub-directory in your nuxt application for images. By default, this is set to a sub-directory named 'content', but you can change this to the needs of your application

  • imageStyles - This is an object containing the image processing settings where the key is the name of the image style you want to use in the image URL (see below). The value of each image style definition should contain at least one of the following key/values:

    • actions - An array of image actions to perform. For example, referring to the Graphicsmagick documentation you'll find several actions which can be performed. You notice for the example nuxt.config.js example above that each action is defined with the processing method name first followed by a (|) pipe separator. If the processing method has arguments (such as height and width) then these are appended to the action delimited by further pipe separators.
    • macros - This module currently only has one macro defined called scaleAndCrop. This does some heavy lifting to chain multiple actions together into an easy-to-read requirement. We'll add to this list of macros as we find further uses for common sets of actions. If you'd like to suggest others, please open an issue, or, even better, submit a pull request.
    • (Please note that you can use macros and actions together, just bear in mind that actions are performed after macros.)
  • responsiveStyles - This is an object to define responsive styles must reference imageStyles. The object's keys are the names of responsive style you want use in the responsive-style prop on the <nuxt-img> component. The value of each item is:

    • srcset - This is similar to an HTML5 srcset attribute value that you'd typically set on a standard <img> tag. Instead of referencing a static path to each image, use the name of any imageStyle definition you've created. This will automatically discover the correct image URL to load whether you're in static generate mode (i.e. nuxt generate), hot-module-reload (i.e. nuxt dev) or SPA/node server mode (i.e. nuxt start).
    • sizes - This is exactly the same as what you'd expect to write for the standard sizes attribute. See the example given above.
  • forceGenerateImages - This is an object to force process image style derivatives in generate mode. See details further down in this readme.

  • imageHeaders - Set an object of headers to send for image responses. This defaults to:

      {
        'Content-Type': 'image/{mimetype}',
        'Cache-Control': 'max-age=86400'
      }
    

    You can override just the Cache-Control header by providing the following as as the imageHeaders option.

    {
      'Cache-Control': 'max-age=3600'
    }
    

Calling a processed image with query strings

Important: This method will only work with server rendering. For statically generated sites see the nuxt-img component method below.

  1. Let's assume that you have your images located in a sub-directory of your project named content. Place an image in that directory called, for example, test.png. Make it a fairly large image if you're following along. Also, ensure you've followed the above installation steps and have mirrored the same nuxt.config.js configuration above with at least the 'small' image style definition.

  2. In one of your nuxt pages (or layout, component etc.) create an img tag that references the image:

<img src="/test.png" alt="Never forget alt tags!" />

With your nuxt application running, you should now see your image loaded by this module, but nothing too surprising is happening just yet, except to say that the image has been loaded from the content directory.

  1. Now change the image URL to:
<img src="/test.png?style=small" alt="Never forget alt tags!" />

On refresh (or hot reload) you will see that the image has been automatically resized to 160px x 90px. If you see a smaller image than in step 2, then you've configured this module correctly. You'll also notice that a cached version of the processed image now lives in <YOUR-APP-ROOT>/static/image-styles/test--small.png. This image will be loaded on subsequent requests to /test.png?style=small for optimized performance.

Calling a processed image with the <nuxt-img /> component

Using the <nuxt-img /> component is the preferred method to load processed and original images due its clearer syntax and ability to automatically parse and generate relative URL paths which are required for nuxt generate to work correctly.

When you have this module included and loaded via your nuxt.config.js file (instructions above) you will have access to a global <nuxt-img /> component. This works very similarly to a regular <img> tag, except that you can supply an optional image-style attribute which should match once of your pre-defined image styles.

<nuxt-img src="/test.png" image-style="small" alt="Never forget alt tags!" />

Bear in mind that the root src path you supply becomes relative to your imagesBaseDir which defaults to a directory named 'content' in the root of your application.

You can bind the src and image-style with dynamic data properties from your nuxt page, layout or component. For example in a Vue single file component:

<template>
  <div>
    <nuxt-img :src="testImage" :image-style="currentStyle" alt="Never forget alt tags!" />
  </div>
</template>

<script>
export default {
  data () {
    return {
      testImage: '/test.png',
      currentStyle: 'small'
    }
  }
}
</script>

Responsive images

You can define 'responsive image styles' to use in the module configuration. Here is an example for a 'thumb' preset:

{

  //...

  imageStyles: {
    small: { macros: ['scaleAndCrop|160|90'] },
    medium: { macros: ['scaleAndCrop|320|180'] },
    large: { macros: ['scaleAndCrop|640|360'] },
  },

  responsiveStyles: {
    thumb: {
      srcset: 'small 160w, medium 320w, large 640w',
      sizes: '(min-width: 1280px) 100vw, 50vw',
    },
  },

  //...

}

In this example, 'thumb' is the name of the responsive style.

The srcset property is made of comma-separated definitions which closely follow the same standards as the HTML image tag specification. The difference here is that instead of referencing static image URLs as the first item of each component, you should use an existing image style definition.

In this example there are three definitions for small, medium and large. Because the browser needs to know the widths of the images before they are fetched you'll notice that the 160w, 320w and 640w definitions all correspond to their matching image style definition widths. You can use pixel density scaling values instead, such as 1x, 2x etc.

The optional sizes property is exactly what will be in the final HTML output as per the HTML specification for the sizes image attribute. These are media query style hints to the browser and you may need to trial-and-error with this to get it to work in your particular use case. You may find that you don't need it at all and instead prefer to provide CSS to perform any further size styling.

Here's an example of how you can then use 'thumb' in your <nuxt-img /> component:

<nuxt-img src="/my-image.jpg" responsive-style="thumb" alt="Never forget alt tags!" />

This will transform to the following HTML when in HMR/SSR/Server mode:

<!-- Line breaks inserted for readability -->
<img
  src="/my-image.jpg"
  alt="Never forget alt tags!"
  srcset="
    /my-image.jpg?style=small 160w,
    /my-image.jpg?style=medium 320w,
    /my-image.jpg?style=large 640w"
  sizes="(min-width: 1280px) 100vw, 50vw" />

This will transform to the following HTML when in static generate mode:

<!-- Line breaks inserted for readability -->
<img
  src="../../image-styles/my-image.jpg"
  alt="Never forget alt tags!"
  srcset="
    ../../image-styles/my-image--small.jpg 160w,
    ../../image-styles/my-image--medium.jpg 320w,
    ../../image-styles/my-image--large.jpg 640w"
  sizes="(min-width: 1280px) 100vw, 50vw" />

Final note on responsive images: It's known that this srcset approach to implementing responsive images is generally easier to set up and works really well if all you want to do is improve load times on smaller devices. You may find there are limitations where art direction is concerned, e.g. when you want to swap out a landscape image for a square or portrait image as the viewport changes width. You may be able to solve this by setting appropriate image styles to match your requirements at each breakpoint and using the sizes attribute, although it's not been tested by the maintainer. One alternative method is to implement a <picture> tag which may be better for you use case. This is not currently available as part of this module. If there's enough interest in getting the picture tag supported in the issue queue then this may be added as a future feature.

Do you need to lazy load images when running nuxt generate?

  • Are you wrapping the <nuxt-img> component in a loop that loads asynchronously?
  • Are you loading images paths from a vuex store?

If you need to bind a value to the src prop of the <nuxt-img> component that is not available immediately when the page is rendered, and you want to run nuxt in generate mode, then you'll need to configure the forceGenerateImages option in your nuxt.config.js file so that images can be eagerly loaded at generation time.

module.exports = {

  // ...

  modules: [
    ['@reallifedigital/nuxt-image-loader-module', {
      imagesBaseDir: 'content',
      imageStyles: {
        medium: { macros: ['scaleAndCrop|320|180'] },
      },
      forceGenerateImages: {
        // imageStyle: globPattern
        medium: '**/*'
      }
    }]
  ],

  // ...

}

The forceGenerateImages configuration setting is an object where the key should the image style you want to force generate and the value is a glob pattern from inside your imagesBaseDir.

The example glob pattern above (**/*) is a catch-all and will find all images in your imagesBaseDir.

If you have many images, you may not want to force generate an image style derivative for every one. You may want to refine the catch all pattern from **/* to something which better targets where you are lazy-loading images. For example a sub directory with jpegs only: gallery-images/**/*.{jpg,jpeg}

Please refer to the full list of glob syntax options.

The forceGenerateImages option is not required for when running nuxt in server mode because lazy-loaded images send a request to the server which is intercepted by this module's serverMiddleware for on-the-fly image generation or loading an already processed image from disk.

Further advice and points of note:

  1. Your source images should be the largest and unaltered versions you have available - or at least the maximum size you expect to use in your application.

  2. You can organize your images files in further sub-directories if you wish. This will also be reflected in the image URL. For example, if you place a file in <YOUR-APP-ROOT>/content/articles/news/test.png then then <img> tag src attribute should be /articles/news/test.png?style=small or whatever style you want to apply.

  3. You may wish to put the following into your .gitignore file so that the processed images are not committed into your version controlled files:

# Image styles
static/image-styles
  1. If you make changes to your image style settings in nuxt.config.js the cached processed images will still exist and so you won't immediately see any change. To fix this, simply remove the cached images in the /static/image-styles directory or simply remove this directory altogether.

Contribution

I'd love to hear how you're using this nuxt module and whether anything is missing that would benefit from enhancements. If so, please open an issue on Github.

Credits

Development is sponsored by Real Life Digital

Real Life Digital Logo

Do contact us if you require Vue or Nuxt development. We also build solutions with Drupal.

Mentions

  • Thanks to Silvan @dev7ch for feedback and real world testing of this module.
  • Thanks to Jørn A. Myrland @jmyrland for providing patches which led to the inclusion of the imageHeaders option, in particular around best practice for the Cache-Control (max-age) header.
  • Thanks to Domantas Petrauskas @FistMeNaruto for suggesting responsive image support.
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