Curious Chase

Curiously Chase

Writing Drafts In Gatsby

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There are a few solutions out there for keeping drafts in GatsbyJS, but none achieved what I wanted. The ones I've found required graphql to do the heavy lifting to filter out drafts which meant a lot of filtering out anything where drafts was false. If you don't care about the justification, you can skip to the code for how I write drafts in GatsbyJS.


These were the specifications that led me to the solution I use:

Finding Drafts is Clear

I'm a huge advocate for reducing the friction of finding content that has a state of "Work in Progress". Having a separate directory explicitly for drafts helps me do that.

One of the downsides of using drafts in frontmatter is that you usually have to search through the frontmatter with a tool that can tell if a file is a draft (grep, ripgrep, etc) or keep the state in your brain (which is a bad use of a brain).

Single Author Hosting Content on Dropbox

I'm the only author on my Gatsby sites and use Dropbox to host my content. I think this solution could easily work for multiple authors using git as the "backend" (the way you might use Netlify CMS), but I haven't tried that with this solution so mileage may vary.

I also use Dropbox to host my content and builds are done as a result of changes to files. Having a separate drafts folder allows me to write content without triggering unnecessary Dropbox/Netlify hooks.

Production Safety

I don't want to have a bunch of drafts filters in my GraphQL. I can't think of a compelling reason for GraphQL to filter drafts when I know that I don't want drafts in production). Having a separate drafts folder reduces a lot of the complexity (and potential bugs) that would come with using GraphQL to do the same filtering.

How I Write Drafts in Gatsby

Now to the fun part: configuring Gatsby!

I have two content folders in my src directory:

There are 3 "stages" of the content lifecycle:

Stagecontent presentdrafts present
Local Development✅ (symlink)✅ (symlink)
Non-Production Netlify✅ (pulled at build)✅ (pulled at build)
Production Netlify✅ (pulled at build)

The goal is to have a gatsby-source-filesystem for drafts in any non-production stage and to not even worry about it in production.

Setup for Gatsby Config

In my gatsby-config.js I have a Gatsby config object (rather than setting the object directly on module.exports):

const cfg = {
  /* default configuration */

module.exports = cfg;

Then do a conditional check for the environment where Gatsby is building the site (based on Netlify's deploy contexts):

if (process.env.CONTEXT !== "production") {
  const draftsCfg = {
    resolve: `gatsby-source-filesystem`,
    options: {
      name: `drafts`,
      path: `${__dirname}/src/drafts`

If process.env.CONTEXT isn't production, provide drafts as a filesystem source.

Next we push the draftsCfg into the plugins object that Gatsby will use when it builds the site.

Now whenever Gatsby is run locally or in a non-production branch (because Netlify's preview branches are AWESOME!) and the build in the production environment is totally unaware of the fact that we have a drafts folder.


A lot of this looks like it's dependent on using Netlify, but every hosting provider worth its salt provides a way to set environment variables. Netlify does it out of the box, so it was super convenient to hook into that, but it's not a show stopper if you're using another hosting provider.

Big ❤️ to GatsbyJS and Netlify for making this process super easy!

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