Another OpenWhisk Cron Example — the Blog Nag

Raymond Camden
Feb 24, 2017 · 3 min read

Last week I blogged about my first experience working with OpenWhisk triggers and rules, specifically the Cron trigger which lets you execute actions according to a schedule. Today I’m sharing another example, which, while not as complex as the 911 scraper, I thought was kind of fun.

As a blogger, I try to keep to a certain amount of posts per month. While I a absolutely care more about quality than quantity, I still try to maintain a certain amount of content per month. I thought it would be fun to create an OpenWhisk action that would nag me if I hadn’t blogged in a few days. This turned out to be rather simple:

  • First, I get the RSS feed.
  • Then I parse the XML. There’s packages to read RSS, but there’s also xml2js which just does a basic conversion.
  • I can then check the date of the most recent article and compare it to now.
  • If it’s been too long, nag!

Let’s start with the action:

const request = require('request');
const parseString = require('xml2js').parseString;

Start with the main function which is OpenWhisk’s entry point to the function. I use the request library to open up my RSS feed and then parseString from the xml2js library. I can then get the most recent blog entry (which is the first entry in a RSS feed) and make a date object with it.

Once I have that — then it’s math. I set the constant NAG_DAY to 2, which is a bit too low if you ask me, but I had blogged on Friday so I needed a value that would trigger the alert. (For folks curious, I try to blog once every 3 days.) If we need to nag, we then simply call doNag.

The doNag function just writes an email using the Sendgrid API and fires it out. And that’s it.

So then I had to make this “live” — which beforehand would have meant provisioning a server and all that, but with the wonders of Serverless (yes, I’m half-joking here ;) I just did the following:

  • Sent the action up to OpenWhisk with the CLI (wsk action create --kind nodejs:6 rssnag
  • Made the trigger (wsk trigger create checkBlog --feed /whisk.system/alarms/alarm --param cron "* * 1 * *"). That Cron value is for once a day, and yes I had to use again.
  • Made the rule (wsk rule create blogNagRule checkBlog rssnag)

And that’s it. To test I used the OpenWhisk UI on IBM Bluemix and manually triggered it. And the result….

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This post originally appeared on my blog at

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