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Astro Experimental Image and MDX Update

June 21, 2023

One of the most exciting things about using Astro for my personal blog is how fast the platform updates and adds features. I was looking around the Astro.js Docs the other day and came across an experimental feature to replace @astrojs/image. This is super exciting to me since I have never had the ability to use the later for some reason. This blog post will go over the steps I took to add both MDX support and the new experimental image feature.

MDX Support

Before implementing the experimental asset support, I needed to add MDX support to my blog. I actually did this for my job search journey post, but you’d need it for the experimental asset support too. Luckily for us, the Astro documentation on MDX is great. First we need to install the @astrojs/mdx package:

$ npm install @astrojs/mdx

Next we need to add the integration to our Astro config file. Below is an abridged version of my config file with the MDX support added.

import { defineConfig } from "astro/config";

import mdx from "@astrojs/mdx";
import preact from "@astrojs/preact";
import sitemap from "@astrojs/sitemap";
import tailwind from "@astrojs/tailwind";

export default defineConfig({
  integrations: [mdx(), preact(), sitemap(), tailwind({
  markdown: {
    shikiConfig: {
      theme: 'dracula'

As you can see, along with the newly added MDX integration, I also use the Preact, Sitemap and Tailwind integrations for my blog. These all have been great for me. They have helped speed up my development of this blog a lot. You might also notice that I have added the Dracula theme to my Markdown configuration. This allows all code blocks to show up using the Dracula theme. The MDX integration is smart enough to inheriet from these Markdown settings. In the end, this was really a two line change! Awesome!

We can now use MDX within our Astro blog. You can see where I took advantage of this in my previously mentioned job search post:


import sankey from '/assets/svg/job-sankey.svg';


### My Journey Visually

<img src={sankey} alt="Sankey diagram of job search journey" />

I was able to import the SVG as a React component and set it as the src of the image within my markdown. This really helps with adding midroll images. And after seeing how easy it was, I actually was able to modify all my posts with midroll images to use this feature.

Experimental Asset Support

Once we got the MDX support up-and-running, I turned my attention to the experimental asset support. I am sure you can exclusively use this without MDX support, but I find it is very useful to have both! To add the experimental image support to your Astro.js blog, you will need to change some configuration. Also note here that I have been using Sharp to create optimized images through a script. Because of this, I have kept Sharp as my image processing tool for the experimental assets.

To get this running locally, we have to modify our Astro.js configuration. Below you will find the Git diff for this file:

- import { defineConfig } from "astro/config";
+ import { defineConfig, sharpImageService } from "astro/config";

export default defineConfig({
+  experimental: {
+    assets: true,
+  },
+  image: {
+    service: sharpImageService(),
+  },

Once this is configured correctly, we now need to go make a lot of changes in our codebase to allow for this awesome power. The quickest way to do this is to modify the variable and keep the <img /> tags. This can be done as seen below using my job search Sankey diagram as an example:

import sankey from '/assets/svg/job-sankey.svg';

### My Journey Visually

-<img src={sankey} alt="Sankey diagram of job search journey" />
+<img src={sankey.src} alt="Sankey diagram of job search journey" />

But the real power with the experimental asset support is using Astro.js’s own <Image /> tag. This is where we get all the benefits of image preprocessing and conversion that I was doing manually by script. Let’s take a look at my BlogPostPreview component and see how we adapted for the experimental asset support.

+import { Image } from "astro:assets";
import Date from "./Date.astro";

const { post } = Astro.props;
{ ?
    <a href={`/blog/${post.slug}/`} title={}>
-     <img 
-        src={"jpg", "webp")}
-        alt={}
-        class="rounded-md"
-     />
+     <Image
+        class="rounded-md"
+        src={}
+        alt={}
+        width="780"
+      />
  </> : <></>

Here we import the Image tag from astro:assets and update our <img/> tag to use it. One thing I learned quickly was to have a max width set. My blog is only around 780px wide, so having this set tells Astro to really minimize the image in preprocessing. Note you can also change the format of the image here, but I have been using wepb (which is the default) and have been loving it. You could use format and quality to modify how Astro will preprocess your image. For a minimalist image, you could use the following:


This is very powerful as you can see!

One last trick that I had to learn was how to handle my Open Graph Protocol variables in my header. Passing a variable through my BaseLayout component was not doing the trick. Then I learned about getImage().

This was a pretty easy change, but one that fought me a bit. I needed to get the image I wanted before rendering everything. This required me to use getImage(). In my BaseLayout component, I made the following changes:

+import { getImage } from "astro:assets";
+import josh from '@assets/josh.jpg'
import BaseHead from "@components/BaseHead.astro";
import BlogHeader from "@components/BlogHeader.astro";
import Footer from "@components/Footer.astro";
const {
  title = "",
  description = "The personal/professional website of Josh Finnie.",
- image = "/assets/josh5.jpeg",
+ image = josh,
} = Astro.props;

+const optimizedImage = await getImage({src: image})

<html lang="en">
-   <BaseHead {title} {description} image={`${image}`} />
+   <BaseHead {title} {description} image={`${optimizedImage.src}`} />

This allowed for my Open Graph Protocol headers to render correctly:

<!-- Open Graph Protocol -->
<meta property="og:type" content="website">
<meta property="og:url" content="">
<meta property="og:title" content="My 2023 Job Search Journey |">
<meta property="og:description" content="A brief review of my job search journey in the 2023 market. I applied to over 150 jobs and it was exhausting!">
<meta property="og:image" content="">


I hope this post helps you set up both MDX support and the Experimental asset support for Astro.js. It has been a great upgrade to my workflow. And I am really looking forward to see what is next! If you find this helpful or just want to discuss, find me on Mastodon and strike up a conversation.

  • Here is the link to the MDX support PR on Github. Note for the MDX support, I also added a blog post so there is a little noise there.

  • And here is the link to my Experimental Assets PR on Github. For this one, there’s a lot of files that needed to be moved around from the Astro public file to the src/assets folder.

Sometimes I find it easier to just read the changelog. Hope this helps some!