Make your own Snippet Server

What is the Snippet Server

The Snippet Server is the content server used by the Babylon library. Whenever you save a playground, an animation, or a node material, and get a unique URL pointing to your content, this is accomplished by sending HTTP requests to the Snippet Server. However, the default server we use doesn't have authentication, which means that anyone with this unique URL will be able to access your content. It is also closed source, which means it isn't possible to run a local copy of it. So, if you want to run your own, private server, you'll have to implement your own. This page explains one such example implementation.

Making your own Snippet Server

To check out what is the minimum expected of a Snippet Server, let's take a look at this reference implementation. It was done in NodeJS and Express, which are JavaScript-based like Babylon itself, but you could implement your server in any language you prefer, like Python or Go. You only need to implement two API calls. It also uses the file system to store the snippet files, which is very simple to implement, but not the safest. Again, feel free to modify it to suit your needs.

In this reference implementation, the snippets are armazened in a directory called data, while another directory, called metadata, stores the latest version of each snippet ID. And what is a "snippet ID" and a "version", you may ask? If you look at any URL that is saved in our tools, you can see it has two parts:

Example of a snippet ID:, with a red arrow pointing from the section "CBGEQX" to the words "snippet ID" and a blue arrow pointing from the number 2 to the word "version"

In the example:, the section CBGEQX#2 is the snippet URL, with everything before the # being the snippet ID, and the number after it being the snippet version. The first version of a snippet may not have a explicit version number. We use a 5-character string for our snippet IDs, but that isn't a requirement. You do need to have the #<version> section, through.

Saving a snippet

When saving a snippet (like when we click the button "Save" on the Playground), a HTTP POST request is sent to the server. It may not contain any ID, in which case a new ID will be created (and it will be the first version), or it may contain an ID, in which case a new version is created for that ID. You can see this in action here:

javascript"/:id?", (req, res) => {
let id =;
let version;
if (!id) {
// Generate "random" 5 character string
const genRndChar = () => {
const idx = Math.floor(Math.random() * chars.length);
return chars[idx];
id = "";
for (let i = 0; i < ID_LEN; i++) {
id += genRndChar();
const metadataPath = METADATA_DIR + id + METADATA_EXT;
// Look for the latest version in the metadata directory. If there is no metadata file, then it is the first version.
if (fs.existsSync(metadataPath)) {
version = fs.readFileSync(metadataPath, {encoding: 'utf-8'});
// Increment the version and convert back to string
version = Number.parseInt(version) + 1;
version = version + "";
} else {
version = "1";
const newLocalToken = id + LOCAL_SEPARATOR + version;
fs.writeFileSync(metadataPath, version);
const filePath = DATA_DIR + newLocalToken + FILE_EXT;
const stringBody = JSON.stringify(req.body);
fs.writeFileSync(filePath, stringBody);

The request body itself is a JSON containing the following attributes:

  • payload: That's the content itself in the form of a string, which may be a JavaScript/TypeScript code string in the case of the Playground, or a JSON string in the case of Animations.
  • name
  • description
  • tags

The response body is also a JSON, and should contain the snippet ID and snippet version as attributes.

Retrieving a snippet

When retrieving a snippet, a HTTP GET request is sent to the Snippet Server, containing at least the ID of the snippet and possibly its version. You can see this in action here:

app.get("/:id/:version?", (req, res) => {
const id =;
const version = req.params.version || "1";
const localToken = id + LOCAL_SEPARATOR + version;
const path = DATA_DIR + localToken + FILE_EXT;
if (fs.existsSync(path)) {
const rawData = fs.readFileSync(path);
const parsedData = JSON.parse(rawData);
description: parsedData.description,
tags: parsedData.tags,
jsonPayload: parsedData.payload
} else {

The response returned to the Babylon tools is a JSON with almost the same format as the POST body, with only one difference: the "payload" attribute is named "jsonPayload".

And that's all you need for your own Snippet Server! You can add more functionalities too, like deletion, authentication, and search.

Using your server on Babylon

Now that you have a server up and running, you'll want to point your Babylon library and tools to it. This can be accomplished by making a copy of the Babylon repository locally and changing instances of the URL "" to your own Snippet Server URL. You can use the same instance of the server for all cases, or you can have separate instances with separate URLs for separate functionalities like Node Material, Animation, etc. To make it easier to find all these URLs, you can use the "CTRL+SHIFT+F" shortcut on Visual Studio Code (if that's your IDE of choice):

Example of using the Search function of Visual Studio Code to search for ""

A Note About CORS

Depending on your browser of choice, your calls to the Snippet Server may be blocked by CORS policy, so you'll need to add the Access-Control-Allow-Origin header to your responses. The easiest way to do that in Express is using the CORS Middleware.