Connect to the Ron Swanson Quotes API with Netlify Functions (serverless)

Connect to the Ron Swanson Quotes API with Netlify Functions (serverless)

Step by Step Tutorial - Code Frontend (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) and Backend (serverless functions). Test locally with Netlify CLI


5 min read

My Table of content

Intended Audience

  • Experience using NPM to install packages
  • Newbies are welcome. Follow along and google (I use DuckDuckGo) anything you need more clarity on. Intermediate/Advanced programmers do this all the time.

What are we Building?

  • A website (demo link) that calls the Ron Swanson Quotes API, using Netlify Functions (serverless), and displays the quote.
  • We will be using HTML, CSS, and Vanilla JavaScript to build the website.
  • The code is publicly available at GitHub.


  • Node.js - here is a link to install
    • this is needed to test Netlify Functions locally

Folder Structure

project folder
│   .env
│   .gitignore
│   index.html
│   netlify.toml
│   script.js
│   style.css  
│   │   ronSwansonQuotes.js

Create Layout with HTML and CSS

Open up your code editor (I use VSCode). Create a folder. I called mine ron-swanson-api-netlify-functions.

Any name will do.

Create an HTML file called index.html

VSCode has a shortcut to create an HTML boilerplate. Type:


or copy below:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">


Give your HTML page a title. Any title will do.

<title>Ron Swanson Quotes</title>

Create a header, main, footer section, and a p tag with an id.

        Ron Swanson Quotes
        <p id="ron-swanson-quote"></p>
        made with love @codingraj

Add some CSS to format the layout with Grid and add some color.

Create a CSS file called: style.css

Create a link to the CSS file on index.html in the head section.

<link rel="stylesheet" href="style.css">

Open style.css and set the box-sizing to border-box. Use the body tag to create the Grid plus some color and spacing between elements.

/* Box sizing rules */
* {
  box-sizing: border-box;
  margin: 0;
  padding: 0;

/* Set Grid Layout, min-height, some color, and padding on the top and bottom */
body {
  display: grid;
  grid-template-rows: auto 1fr auto;
  min-height: 100vh;
  background: #d1bdf7;
  place-items: center;
  padding-block: 2vw;

Install Netlify CLI to test Netlify Function (serverless) locally

Run npm init to create a package.json file.

Type this in the terminal:

npm init -y

Create/open a new file called .gitignore and type:

# Local Netlify folder

These folders/files will not be tracked or pushed to GitHub.

Open up the terminal to install Netlify CLI. For this tutorial, I have it installed locally. Type:

npm install netlify-cli --save-dev

Install node-fetch version 2.6.5 in the terminal.

Don't install node-fetch latest version 3.x. This version breaks Netlify Functions. I think it may have to do with serverless functions performed by AWS Lamda, which Netlify uses, are not support ES6 modules yet.


npm install node-fetch@2.6.5

We will use this library to get a quote from the Ron Swanson quote generator.

Create a netlify.toml file in the root directory - a configuration file that Netlify will use to find the location of the Netlify Function (serverless code).

  # Directory with serverless functions, including background functions,
  # to deploy. This is relative to the base directory if one has been set, 
  # or the root directory if a base hasn’t been set.
  directory = "functions/"

Write Netlify Functions

Create a folder in the root directory called functions. Create a file called ronSwansonQuotes.js in the functions folder. Type the below code:

const fetch = require("node-fetch");

const API_ENDPOINT = "";

exports.handler = async (event, context, callback) => {
  return fetch(API_ENDPOINT)
    .then((response) => response.json())
    .then((data) => ({
      statusCode: 200,
      body: JSON.stringify(data),
    .catch((error) => ({ statusCode: 422, body: String(error) }));

return fetch(API_ENDPOINT). This will get the Ron Swanson quote.

.then((response) => response.json()). This will parse the quote as JSON.

.then((data) => ({ statusCode: 200, body: JSON.stringify(data) })). This sends the quote back as a string to the client.

From my testing, it seems that Netlify Functions requires that data getting sent back to the client must be a string and not an object. And it requires a statusCode being sent back.

Code Client-side JavaScript to call Netlify Function

Create a file called script.js in the root folder. Write a function to call the Netlify Function when the page loads.

// url for Netlify Functions. When Netlify builds the site, it places all functions in the "/.netlify/" folder
const quoteNetlifyFunctions = "/.netlify/functions/ronSwansonQuotes";

//call api when page loads

//call netlify functions for api
function callQuoteAPI() {
    .then((response) => response.json())
    .then((data) => {
      //display the quote on the HTML Page
      document.getElementById("ron-swanson-quote").innerText = data;
    .catch((error) => console.error(error));

Add a script tag to link the script.js to the index.html.

<script src="/script.js"></script>

Test Netlify Function locally

Start a local development server with Netlify CLI.

npx netlify dev

Make sure to type in npx if you installed the Netlify CLI locally. Otherwise, you will get this error zsh: command not found: netlify.

This starts a server on localhost:8888. Open your web browser, if it doesn't open automatically, and type in the browser's address bar http://localhost:8888/index.html.

You will see the Ron Swanson Quote on the HTML page and console log. If you refresh the browser, you will see a different quote again.