A 11ty Reading Time Plugin Quest

🌿 Budding(?) planted in Tools and Resources JavaScript 11ty
422 words, 3 min read.

While going through the stages of rebuilding this blog I thought a nice addition would be a measure of reading time presented in each posts header much like how services such as Medium seem to do.

I am using the Eleventy static site generator, therefore my first port of call was its plugin ecosystem. I quickly found eleventy-plugin-reading-time which appears to do exactly what it says on the tin. However, at time of writing it's not seen any activity in three years and has a number of unanswered pull requests which appear to add improvements or fix issues people have had.

A lot can change in three years. For example: Eleventy reached V1.0.0. The aforementioned plugin still works with this version but I thought I should check and see if there where any alternatives that don't look as abandoned.

Another quick look turned up eleventy-plugin-time-to-read. This time the plugin seems to be actively maintained and a lot more complex given the large amount of confirguable options.

At this point we have two good options for calculating reading time, however while they use a word count to calculate I can't find any way of displaying that and I would like to in a format similar to:

1,287 words, around 6 minutes to read.

Before continuing I would like to point out that there exists a eleventy-plugin-wordcount plugin but it doesn't do reading time and the idea of having to related metrics calculated independently from one another feels wrong.

Therefore I continued looking until I found reading-time. This is not an Eleventy plugin however it does parse an input and produce statistics in the form of:

text: '1 min read',
minutes: 1,
time: 60000,
words: 200

This is exactly what I wanted and so I went to work on creating eleventy-plugin-word-stats which is a very basic Eleventy plugin that wraps this library and makes it available as the wordStats template tag with an output similar to "1,287 words, around 6 minutes to read."

In conclusion, there are several good existing plugins that will meet your needs if you would like to display reading time or word count and there is now a plugin of my creation that wraps a third party library for producing word count with reading time if that is something you would like to do.