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apify: Apify runtime for JavaScript

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Helper package that simplifies development of Apify acts. See for details. This is still work in progress, things might change and break.

If you're looking for the API documentation package previously published as apify, please go to jsdocify. Big kudos to jbalsas for giving away this package name!


npm install apify --save

This package requires Node.js 6 or higher. It might work with lower versions too, but they are neither tested nor supported.

Usage inside acts

Import the package to your act.

const Apify = require('apify');

Main function

To simplify development of acts, the runtime provides the Apify.main(func) function which does the following:

  1. Invokes the user function func

  2. If the function returned a promise, waits for it to resolve

  3. Exits the process

If the user function throws an exception or some other error is encountered, then Apify.main() prints the details to console so that they are stored to the log file.

Apify.main() accepts a single argument - the user function that performs the operation of the act. In the simplest case, the user function is synchronous:

Apify.main(() => {
    // my synchronous function that returns immediately

If the user function returns a promise, it is considered as asynchronous:

const request = require('request-promise');
Apify.main(() => {
    // my asynchronous function that returns a promise
    return Promise.resolve()
        .then(() => {
            return request('');
        .then((html) => {

To simplify your code, you can take advantage of the async/await keywords:

const request = require('request-promise');
Apify.main(async () => {
    const html = await request('');

Note that the Apify.main() function does not need to be used at all, it is provided merely for user convenience.


When running on the Apify platform, the act process is executed with several environment variables. To simplify access to these variables, you can use the Apify.getEnv() function, which returns an object with the following properties:

    // ID of the act.
    // Environment variable: APIFY_ACT_ID
    actId: String,
    // ID of the act run
    // Environment variable: APIFY_ACT_RUN_ID
    actRunId: String,
    // ID of the user who started the act (might be different than the owner of the act)
    // Environment variable: APIFY_USER_ID
    userId: String,
    // Authentication token representing privileges given to the act run,
    // it can be passed to various Apify APIs.
    // Environment variable: APIFY_TOKEN
    token: String,
    // Date when the act was started
    // Environment variable: APIFY_STARTED_AT
    startedAt: Date,
    // Date when the act will time out
    // Environment variable: APIFY_TIMEOUT_AT
    timeoutAt: Date,
    // ID of the key-value store where input and output data of this act is stored
    // Environment variable: APIFY_DEFAULT_KEY_VALUE_STORE_ID
    defaultKeyValueStoreId: String,
    // Port on which the act's internal web server is listening.
    // This is still work in progress, stay tuned.
    // Environment variable: APIFY_INTERNAL_PORT
    internalPort: Number,

Input and output

Each act can have an input and output data record, which is raw data with a specific MIME content type. Both input and output is stored in the Apify key-value store created specifically for the act run, under keys named INPUT and OUTPUT, respectively. The ID of the key-value store is provided by the Actor runtime as the APIFY_DEFAULT_KEY_VALUE_STORE_ID environment variable.

Use the Apify.getValue(key, [, callback]) function to obtain the input of your act:

const input = await Apify.getValue('INPUT');
console.log('My input:');

If the input data has the application/json content type, it is automatically parsed into a JavaScript object. For the text/plain content type the result is a string. For other content types, the result is raw Buffer.

Similarly, the output can be stored using the Apify.setValue(key, value [, options] [, callback]) function as follows:

const output = {
    someValue: 123
await Apify.setValue('OUTPUT', output);

By default, the value is converted to JSON and stored with the application/json content type. If you want to store your data with another content type, pass it in the options as follows:

await Apify.setValue('OUTPUT', 'my text data', { contentType: 'text/plain' });

In this case, the value must be a string or Buffer.

IMPORTANT: Do not forget to use the await keyword when calling Apify.setValue(), otherwise the act process might finish before the output is stored and/or storage errors will not be reported!

Besides the key INPUT and OUTPUT, you can use arbitrary keys to store any data from your act, such as its state or larger results.

During local development of the act, you can emulate the key-value store locally using the DEV_KEY_VALUE_STORE_DIR environment variable. Simply set the variable to a path of some local directory, and the runtime will read and store values in that directory rather than Apify servers. By default, the values are considered to have the application/json; charset=utf-8 content type, but you can override it by setting the DEV_KEY_VALUE_STORE_CONTENT_TYPE environment variable.


Apify runtime optionally depends on the selenium-webdriver package that enables automation of a web browser. The simplest way to launch a new web browser is using the Apify.browse([url,] [options,] [callback]) function. For example:

const browser = await Apify.browse('');


const browser = await Apify.browse({
    url: '',
    userAgent: 'MyCrawlingBot/1.23',

The options parameter controls settings of the web browser and it has the following properties:

    // Initial URL to open. Note that the url argument in Apify.browse() overrides this value.
    // The default value is 'about:blank'
    url: String,
    // The type of the web browser to use.
    // See for possible options.
    // The default value is 'chrome', which is currently the only fully-supported browser.
    browserName: String,
    // Indicates whether the browser should be opened in headless mode (i.e. without windows).
    // By default, this value is based on the APIFY_HEADLESS environment variable.
    headless: Boolean,
    // URL of the proxy server, e.g. 'http://username:password@'.
    // Currently only the 'http' proxy type is supported.
    // By default it is null, which means no proxy server is used.
    proxyUrl: String,
    // Overrides the User-Agent HTTP header of the web browser.
    // By default it is null, which means the browser uses its default User-Agent.
    userAgent: String,

The result of the Apify.browse() is a new instance of the Browser class, which represents a web browser instance (possibly with multiple windows or tabs). If you pass a Node.js-style callback the Browser instance is passed to it, otherwise the Apify.browse() function returns a promise that resolves to the Browser instance.

The Browser class has the following properties:

    // An instance of the Selenium's WebDriver class.
    webDriver: Object,
    // A method that closes the web browser and releases associated resources.
    // The method has no arguments and returns a promise that resolves when the browser was closed.
    close: Function,

The webDriver property can be used to manipulate the web browser:

const url = await browser.webDriver.getCurrentUrl();

For more information, see WebDriver documentation.

When the web browser is no longer needed, it should be closed:

await browser.close();


By default, the getValue, setValue and browse functions return a promise. However, they also accept a Node.js-style callback parameter. If the callback is provided, the return value of the functions is not defined and the functions only invoke the callback upon completion or error.

To set a promise dependency from an external library, use a code such as:

const Promise = require('bluebird');

If Apify.setPromisesDependency() is not called, the runtime defaults to native promises if they are available, or it throws an error.


The Apify.client property contains a reference to the ApifyClient instance (from the apify-client NPM package), that is used for all underlying calls to the Apify API. The instance is created when the apify package is first imported and it is configured using the APIFY_API_BASE_URL, APIFY_USER_ID and APIFY_TOKEN environment variables. The default settings of the instance can be overridden by calling Apify.client.setOptions() function. property contains a reference to an EventEmitter instance that is used by Actor runtime to notify your process about various events. This will be used in the future. function can be used to quickly execute other act and get it's output. Example use:

const data = await'john23/my-favourite-act', {
    timeoutSecs: 300,
    body: 'SOME_INPUT_DATA',
    contentType: 'text/plain',

Package maintenance

  • npm run test to run tests
  • npm run test-cov to generate test coverage
  • npm run build to transform ES6/ES7 to ES5 by Babel
  • npm run clean to clean build/ directory
  • npm run lint to lint js using ESLint in Airbnb's Javascript style
  • npm publish to run Babel, run tests and publish the package to NPM


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