Anchor Links From Sanity in Gatsby

Anchor Links From Sanity in Gatsby

Posted: 10/14/2019

TL;DR version is make sure you implement onRouteUpdate and shouldUpdateScroll in gatsby-browser.js.

Anchor links are a way to navigate within the same page in HTML. The easiest way to think of them are like a table of contents, or bookmarks on a page. You will see anchors used often in markdown pages that have header tags in the form of #. Now in order for those normal header tags to have a link they must be wrapped on the front end with a link tag, similar to this: <a href="#anchor"><h2>Headline Link</h2></a>. If you inspect the code on this page, you will even see an example of just that, as the blog is written in markdown and converted to HTML.

How does this work with

Sanity is a headless content based CMS. You write in a rich text editor, which creates portable text. So unlike markdown you wont have to convert header # items but you will have to serialize the portable text into something that Gatsby can understand. I won’t dive too deeply into how you create a site using there are some great guides for that using gatsby-source-sanity.

Extending the Sanity Gatsby blog’s Gatsby blog example, is a great starting point for how to get up and running quickly. You can use that and then extend the functionality however you would like. In the example there is a file for posts which looks similar to below, what we really care about is the line <div>{_rawBody && <PortableText blocks={_rawBody} />}</div>.

import React from 'react';
import PortableText from './portableText';
import Card from '../Card';

export default (props) => {
	const { _rawBody, authors, categories } = props;
	return (
		<article className="flex flex-col w-full max-w-xl md:max-w-1xl md:max-w-2xl lg:max-w-3xl xl:max-w-6xl m-2 md:max-m-8 md:max-m-8 lg:max-m-8 xl:m-8">
			<div className="w-full">
				<Card {...props} />
			<section className="markdown bg-white w-full rounded mt-4 p-4">
				<div>{_rawBody && <PortableText blocks={_rawBody} />}</div>
						{categories && (
									{ => (
										<li key={category._id}>{category.title}</li>

This is a simple react component that uses @sanity/block-content-to-react. The great part here is that they have allowed for serializers and you can add a great deal of customization to any of the block based PortableText that you will be receiving from the graphql from

import React from 'react';
import clientConfig from '../../../client-config';
import BasePortableText from '@sanity/block-content-to-react';
import serializers from '../graphql/serializers';

const PortableText = ({ blocks }) => {
	return (
		<BasePortableText blocks={blocks} serializers={{ ...serializers }} {...clientConfig.sanity} />

export default PortableText; Serializers

The great part about serializers is that you can provide any custom React component that you would like to handle any of the different types that are coming from

import React from 'react';
import Figure from './Figure';
import Code from './Code';
import Img from './Img';
import Block from './Block';

const serializers = {
	types: {
		authorReference: ({ node }) => <span>{}</span>,
		mainImage: Figure,
		code: Code,
		img: Img,
		block: Block

export default serializers;

A fun and simple example is img although I could add much of this inline, I plan to use cloudinary’s image manipulations to apply affects as I would like to my images. So I added a simple component called Img that takes in the node and outputs a simple img tag with corresponding alt text.

import React from 'react';

export default ({ node }) => {
	const { asset } = node;
	return <img src={asset.src} alt={asset.alt} />;

Now the same can hold true for all the block type items that appear with portableText. Because we are using’s awesome @sanity/block-content-to-react we really wouldn’t have to do much here, but since again I am a lazy developer I want to make all those headings magically have anchor tags associated, but our portableText looks something like below:So in order to make that happen we added the block: Block serializer above which has a great example how to setup. My Block looks very similar but it is setting Gatsby Link tags inside each of these headings (well h2 and h3 for now).

import React from "react";
import { IoMdLink } from "react-icons/io/";
import { Link } from "gatsby";
const slugs = require(github-slugger)()

export default (props) => {
    const style = || 'normal';
    // If Heading Level add Anchor Link
    if (typeof location !== undefined && /^hd/.test(style)) {
      const level = style.replace(/[^d]/g, '')
      const slug = slugs.slug(props.children[0], false)
      switch (level) {
        case 'h3':
          return <h3 id={slug} className="flex">{props.children}<Link to={${location.pathname}#${slug}}><div className="py-1 pl-1 rotateIn"><IoMdLink /></div></Link></h3>
            return <h2 id={slug} className="flex">{props.children}<Link to={${location.pathname}#${slug}}><div className="py-1 pl-1 rotateIn"><IoMdLink /></div></Link></h2>

    return style === 'blockquote'
    ? <blockquote>{props.children}</blockquote>
    : <p>{props.children}</p>

Now even though, Knut Melvær has a great guide called Internal and external links that covers in great detail how to add links to your front end, I am a fairly lazy developer and I don’t want to manually select and add all of my anchor links so that is why I used the above method. This same approach can be made using markdown files using gatsby-remark-autolink-headers.The one missing piece I found is scrolling to the correct location within the page in Gatsby. In order to do this Gatsby provides some awesome browser-apis. In order for the scrolling to occur when the page is first loaded we need to use onRouteUpdate this will allow us to use the location and check for an existance for hash which is our anchor link. I also implemented shouldUpdateScroll as selecting an internal link did not trigger a route update, so this was needed without refresh.gatsby-browser.js

 * Implement Gatsby's Browser APIs in this file.
 * See:

// You can delete this file if you're not using it

exports.onRouteUpdate = ({location}) => {
  return true;
exports.shouldUpdateScroll = ({
  routerProps: { location },
}) => {
  return true;

function anchorScroll(location){
  // Check for location so build does not fail
  if (location && location.hash) {
    setTimeout(() => {
      // document.querySelector(${location.hash}).scrollIntoView({ behavior: 'smooth', block: 'start' });
      const item = document.querySelector(${location.hash}).offsetTop;
      const mainNavHeight = document.querySelector(nav).offsetHeight;
      window.scrollTo({top: item - mainNavHeight, left: 0, behavior: 'smooth'});
    }, 0);

Final result

A nice smooth scrolling screen on refresh and internal link click.