Highlight, Scroll, & Zoom Code Snippets in mdx-deck with Code Surfer <🏄/>
2 min read

A new React <CodeSurfer /> Component was release by Rodrigo Pombo (@pomber) making it easy to hightlight, scroll, and zoom code snippets in a mdx-deck slide presentation. mdx-deck is a great project, written by Brent Jackson (@jxnblk), that allows you to create a MDX-based (Markdown and JSX) slide presentations.

Free Egghead.io Video

The following 5 minute video is a quick introduction to the <CodeSurfer /> React component. The rest of this blog post covers the contents of the video via text, code snippets, and images.

The above video is hosted on egghead.io.

Create a Basic mdx-deck Presentation

If you have npm version 6.1.0 or above, then you can easily get started with mdx-deck using the following zero-configuration terminal command...

npm init deck my-code

Otherwise, if you have a version of npm older than 6.1.0, then you can do something like the following...

mkdir my-code && cd $_ # create folder & cd into it
npm init -y # create package.json using default values
npm i mdx-deck -D # install mdx-deck as devDependency
echo "# Hello\n---\n# Goodbye" > deck.mdx # create basic deck
npx mdx-deck deck.mdx # run local mdx-deck server

Install <CodeSurfer />

Once you have a basic mdx-presentation created (previous step), you can go ahead and actually install the package that this post is all about, which is mdx-deck-code-surfer. To do that, run the following line in your terminal...

npm install mdx-deck-code-surfer -D

Simple Hardcoded Usage of <CodeSurfer />

Inside your deck.mdx file, you can create a new slide using --- (which represents a <hr /> in markdown). The following snippet has a first slide of # Hello as an example.

Once you have a new slide, add an import for CodeSurfer and then you can start using the component immediatley. Here we are supplying the code prop and providing a static code snippet of console.log('Hello, World!');;

# Hello

This is the first slide


import { CodeSurfer } from "mdx-deck-code-surfer";

  code="console.log('Hello, World!');"

code surfer 1

NOTE: By default the lang prop is set to javascript, but you can override that with values from prism-react-renderer

Import a Code Snippet from Disk with Basic Props

Instead of inlining multiple lines of code directly into the code prop, you could instead require the snippet from a file. To do this, we'll use the webpack raw-loader dependency. You can install it as a devDependency useing the following command...

npm install raw-loader -D

NOTE: I've take a snippet of code from the React website and saved it to a /snippets/1.snippet file.

Once you have a local snippet file, you can replace the hard-coded string int he code prop to require your snippet. You'll want to use the webpack raw-loader! and then navigate to your local snippet file (see below example).

  title="Snippet from React"
  notes="Initial Notes"

code surfer 2

Interactive Steps: Lines, Range, Ranges, and Tokens

The main power behind <CodeSurfer /> is the use of the steps prop, which allows you to control which lines should be spotlighted. This is handy when there is a lot of code and you'd like the viewer to hone-in on one or more lines.

The following examples shows of the following props...

  • lines: spotlights one or more unique lines of code
  • range: spotlights a range of lines grouped together
  • ranges: spotlights multiple ranges at one time
  • tokens: spotlights individual tokesn within a line or lines

NOTE: I've take a longer snippet of code from the React website and saved it to a /snippets/2.snippet file.

  title="Snippet from React"
  notes="Initial Notes"
    { lines: [ 5 ], notes: "Line" },
    { lines: [ 2, 5, 6 ], notes: "Lines" },
    { range: [ 4, 6 ], notes: "Range" },
    { ranges: [ [ 4, 6 ], [ 11, 14 ] ], notes: "Ranges" },
    { tokens: { 1: [ 2, 6 ] }, notes: "Tokens" },
    { range: [ 30, 33 ], notes: "Scroll" }

> **NOTE:** If the line(s) in question are off screen, `<CodeSurfer />` will
> auto-scroll the snippet (if it was too long) in order to present the
> spotlighted code to the viewer.


If you have a presentation coming up or you just need to present some documentation, then the <CodeSurfer /> React component is a powerful way to highlight, zoom, and scroll snippets of code. Also, if you haven't tried mdx-deck, then I highly encourage you to give it a go.

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