why deepstreamHub? compare us getting started feature roadmap faq
use cases pricing
enterprise blog contact

In this post, we'll be building a simple GitHub issue tracker similar to waffle.io. It will show active issues on a project with specific workflow labels, and it will update in real time as issues are created and updated on GitHub.

Demo animation

This post will focus on building a connector using deepstream's Java API and Kohsuke Kawaguchi's GitHub API for Java. I will assume a basic understanding of Java. If you haven't already, take a look at Getting Started with Java. For brevity, we won't cover how to build the React.js frontend, but feel free to take a look at the one provided. If you'd like to read more about integrating deepstream with React.js, read getting started with React.

Setting Up

If you'd like to follow along, you can clone the completed project on GitHub.

Create a free account and get your API key

  • Create an application through the deepstreamHub dashboard, and make a note of the corresponding application url.

  • Within the client directory, run npm install to install the client dependencies, then run python -m SimpleHTTPServer to start a test server. You should then be able to view the client at localhost:8000.

  • Create a GitHub personal access token with repository access. Then create a file ~/.github containing:

    oauth={your personal access token}

    It's also possible to put your GitHub credentials in this file to avoid this step — see here.

  • I recommend setting up a test GitHub repository with some issues, and labeling some of them with 'roadmap', 'ready', 'in progress', 'awaiting review', or 'in review'. It's also a good idea to give those labels some nice colors — we'll be using those later on.

  • Install ngrok which will allow us to listen for external connections from the webhook we'll use later on. Start it using ngrok http 8080, and make note of the forwarding address.

  • We're using Gradle to manage dependencies.

Project Setup

In our main method, we set the details of our local deepstream server, the webhook URI given when you start ngrok, and the GitHub repository that we're getting our issues from.

You'll need to update the WEBHOOK_URI, DEEPSTREAM_URI and GITHUB_REPO environment variables in your build system to get the connector to run locally.

public static void main(String[] args) throws IOException {
  // Address of deepstream server e.g. "wss://xxx.deepstreamhub.com?apiKey=xxxxx-xx-xxxxxx"
  String deepstreamURI = System.getenv("DEEPSTREAM_URI");

  // Our publicly accessible webhook server address (e.g. "https://13479bdf.ngrok.io")
  String webhookURI = System.getenv("WEBHOOK_URI");

  // The name of the GihHub repository that we wish to connect to.
  // The format is "$user/$repo" or "$org/$repo" if the repository is owned by an organization
  String repo = System.getenv("GITHUB_REPO");

  GithubConnector githubConnector = new GithubConnector(deepstreamURI, webhookURI, repo);

Setting up API Objects

We first setup a connection to our deepstream client.

private DeepstreamClient deepstreamClient = null;
try {
  deepstreamClient = new DeepstreamClient(deepstreamURI);
  deepstreamClient.login(new JsonObject());
} catch //...

... then setup a connection to GitHub...

private GitHub gitHub;
gitHub = GitHub.connect();
GHRepository repository = gitHub.getRepository(repo);

Initial State

Our connector will need to fetch any open issues from GitHub's API and create corresponding records in deepstream for rendering in the client.

Interesting Labels

We only care about certain labels, so we'll create a list of these and add them to a deepstream list.

List<String> interestingLabels = Arrays.asList(
        "roadmap", "ready", "in progress", "awaiting review", "in review");

// add label list to deepstream

Issue Lists

Now we can start inserting issues into lists based on which labels they have.

In our initializeIssueLists() method, we make deepstream lists for each of the labels and ensure that they're empty.

for (String labelName: interestingLabels) {
    deepstreamClient.record.getList(labelName).setEntries(new ArrayList<String>());

We get a list of open issues from GitHub.

List<GHIssue> issues = repository.getIssues(GHIssueState.OPEN);

Then we add each issue to all the lists for each label it has.

// put the issues into lists by label
for (GHIssue issue: issues){
    String issueId = Integer.toString(issue.getId());
    for (GHLabel label : issue.getLabels()) {
        // add the issue to the label list

However, we're only interested in some of the labels. We also want to create a record with our issue id to store the issue data.

String labelName = label.getName();
if (interestingLabelSet.contains(labelName)){
    // add the issue id to the label list

    // add a record for the issue
            .set("title", issue.getTitle())
            .set("url", issue.getHtmlUrl())

We call this method from the constructor.

initializeIssueLists(repository, interestingLabels);

Coloring Labels

GitHub allows each label to have a color, so we get that from the API and pass it to the client for rendering.

Inside our setupIssueColors method, we simply create a deepstream record that maps label names to hex colors.

// set the label colors
List<GHLabel> repoLabels = repository.listLabels().asList();
Record labelColorsRecord = deepstreamClient.record.getRecord("github-board-label-colors");

for (String labelName: interestingLabels) {
    GHLabel label = getLabelWithName(repoLabels, labelName);
    if (label != null)
        // add records for each label's color
        labelColorsRecord.set(labelName, label.getColor());
    else {
        System.out.printf("Label '%s' does not exist on the repository", labelName);

Realtime Updates

We use the GitHub webhook API to receive updates when issues are modified.

Event Listener

First, we start a server to listen for webhook events.

Our startServer() method instantiates the RequestHandler, which we'll describe shortly.

Subscribe to Issue Events

So that we are notified when the issues are modified, we subscribe through the GitHub webhook API, specifying GHEvent.ISSUES, as this is the only event we're interested in.

List<GHEvent> events = Arrays.asList(GHEvent.ISSUES);
repository.createWebHook(new URL(webhookURI), events);

Handling Events

Events are handled in the RequestHandler.handle() method. GitHub IssuesEvents carry a JSON payload that gives details of the issue that triggered the event.

The 'action' field shows what caused the event. The ones we're interested in are label modifications and edits.

When an issue is edited, we update the corresponding record.

if (action.equals("edited")){
            .set("title", issueTitle)
            .set("url", issueUrl);

When an issue is labeled, we add the issue to the corresponding list.

} else if (action.equals("labeled")) {

Likewise, we remove issues from lists when they are unlabeled.

} else if (action.equals("unlabeled")) {

Feel free to look through the rest of the code on GitHub. If you want a challenge, perhaps try to allow moving cards on the frontend and modify the corresponding issues on GitHub!