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GatsbyJS + Netlify CMS + Local File

By James Kolean on Aug 23, 2019
Source repository: https://github.com/jameskolean/local-netlify-cms
GatsbyNetlifyHeadless CMSJavaScript

I looked into Netlify CMS today and am liking that it is open-source and Git based. I was surprised that when I was working locally it was making commits to the remote repository. That felt wrong to me, now I could be wrong since I have limited time with the tool and it does support Git branches. Anyway, I wanted to see if I could get it to use the local file system in development mode. Looking around I couldn’t find a tutorial that worked but after a couple hours I was able to get this example working.

You can find my source code here.

Get Started

Let’s get started by creating a started App from the Netlify CMS site and click the Gatsby started. Follow the instructions and you will have a working app. Now clone the new GitHub repo to your files system and we can get started.


First we need to install the netlify-cms-backend-fs module which is the key to getting our desired functionality.

yarn add netlify-cms-backend-fs

Now edit gatsby-config.js to use out plugin. At the top of the file add:

var fsApi = require('netlify-cms-backend-fs/dist/fs/fs-express-api')

Then update the gatsby-plugin-netlify-cms plugin.

    resolve: 'gatsby-plugin-netlify-cms',
    options: {
        modulePath: `${__dirname}/src/cms/cms.js`,
        enableIdentityWidget: false,
        publicPath: 'admin',
        htmlTitle: 'Content Manager',
        manualInit: true,

Finally we need to set the development middleware so we can do some development overrides. The sample already has a developmentMiddleware to deal with CORS issues while developing lambda function. I’m sure there is a way to include both, I just replaced it for now.

developMiddleware: fsApi,
//   developMiddleware: app => {
//     app.use(
//       '/.netlify/functions/',
//       proxy({
//         target: 'http://localhost:9000',
//         pathRewrite: {
//           '/.netlify/functions/': '',
//         },
//       }),
//     );
//   },
// };

Now we can edit two files that are specific to Netlify CMS (static/admin/config.yml and src/cms/cms.js). Let’s start with config.yml where we provide override values that will only be used in Gatsby development mode.

    name: file-system
    api_root: 'http://localhost:8000/api'
  publish_mode: simple

Now edit cms.js.

import FileSystemBackend from 'netlify-cms-backend-fs';

// If running in development
if (process.env.NODE_ENV === 'development') {
    window.CMS_ENV = 'development_overrides'; // Set the CMS_ENV to the development_ overrides.
    CMS.registerBackend('file-system', FileSystemBackend); // Register the FileSystemBackend.


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