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Site Meta Data and `.env` Variables

Posted on: Nov 22, 2020 by Stephanie Eckles
🍿 2 min. read

Create a central data store for your meta data and to retrieve `.env` variables.

#Site Meta Data

There are certain bits of data about your site that are useful to store in a centralized location.

One way to handle this is by creating a local data file to hold this "meta data". It can also hold .env variables.

Here's an example ripped right from this site, but originally borrowed from the official eleventy-base-blog and also the method provided in my starter:

module.exports = {
url: process.env.URL || "http://localhost:8080",
siteName: "11ty Rocks!",
"A collection of Eleventy (11ty) starters, projects, plugins, and resources created by Stephanie Eckles (@5t3ph).",
authorName: "Stephanie Eckles",
twitterUsername: "5t3ph",

Because the _data directory is the expected place for Eleventy to look for data, you can now use any value from this file like so:

<meta name="description" content="{{ meta.siteDescription }}" />

#Creating and Accessing .env Variables

Note that we also stuck in an .env variable for the url key, with the particular one used being a value available when deploying to Netlify, so your host may be different or you may have to specifically set it up.

You may also want to set your own variables to determine the difference between your production vs development environment.

For this, you'll start with a modification to your build scripts, such as:

"start": "cross-env ELEVENTY_ENV=dev eleventy --serve",
"build": "cross-env ELEVENTY_ENV=prod eleventy",

I'm including cross-env for cross-platform compatibility.

Then add to your meta.js:

env: process.env.ELEVENTY_ENV,

Then you can output the value as demonstrated for the other meta keys, or use within templating such as to control whether or not analytics scripts are included:

{% if meta.env == 'prod' %}
// analytics here
{% endif %}

If you are trying to access those values in .eleventy.js, you will access them directly as process.env.ELEVENTY_ENV.

If you set .env variables in an actual .env file and/or as part of your build pipeline, you will need to include the following in the custom _data or .eleventy.js file:

// First `npm install dotenv`

// Example access
const API_KEY = process.env.API_KEY;
View more config samples