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Ignore Eleventy Files With Environment Variables

Posted on: Mar 25, 2022 by Stephanie Eckles
🍿 2 min. read

Using environment variables and the Eleventy config option to ignore files, we can exclude files or directories depending on our build process.

In this example, we exclude the "__docs" directory from a production build. Environment variables are injected as part of either the "start" or "build" command, with the cross-env package used to ensure compatibility with Mac or PC.

Watch how this works, or continue reading and review the code snippets.

Check out the design system project on GitHub.

Step one: Include environment variables

When developing an Eleventy project, it's common to include a couple of commands in package.json to run Eleventy as a local server and then to do a production-ready build for a web host.

Here's an example of a very basic set of scripts:

// located in package.json
"scripts": {
"start": "npx @11ty/eleventy --serve",
"build": "npx @11ty/eleventy"

I recommend running npm install cross-env so that including environment variables at this state works for both PC and Mac users.

We'll update both of our scripts to inject an environment variable called ELEVENTY_ENV with the value of "dev" for the start command, and the value of "prod" for the build command.

"scripts": {
"start": "cross-env ELEVENTY_ENV=dev npx @11ty/eleventy --serve",
"build": "cross-env ELEVENTY_ENV=prod npx @11ty/eleventy"

Step Two: Ignore files from within the Eleventy config

Within .eleventy.js - the Eleventy config file - we'll add just a few lines.

An if statement will check for whether our "prod" environment variable is available, and if so, we'll use Eleventy's ignore feature to exclude our __docs directory. This effectively prevents those files from building.

if (process.env.ELEVENTY_ENV === "prod") {

Note that in this example project, src is what the input directory has been customized to, and __docs is just an example of a directory you may want to exclude.

If you experience a build error, you may need to run npm install dotenv and then require it at the top of the config file, like so:


Here's more tips for managing environment variables in Eleventy.