As I have been delving deeper into adding more functionality to my Gatsby site within the Netlify eco-system, it only seemed natural that I should install the CLI to make development faster and easier to test builds locally before releasing them to my Netlify site. There have been times when I have added a new feature to my site to only find it breaks during the build process eating up those precious build minutes.
One thing that I found a miss from the Netlify CLI documentation were the steps to running a site locally, in my case a Gatsby JS site. The first time I ran the
netlify dev command, I was greeted by an empty browser window served under
There were a couple of steps I was missing to test my site within a locally run Netlify setup.
1) Build Site
/public folder of your project:
build command creates a version of your site with production-ready optimisations by packaging up your site’s configurations, data and creating all the static HTML pages. Unlike the
serve command, you cannot view the site once the build has been completed. Only files are generated, which is exactly what we need.
2) Run Netlify Dev Command From Build Directory
Now that we have a built version of the site generated locally within the
/public folder, we need to run the Netlify Dev command against this directory by running the following:
netlify dev -dir public
As you can see, the
dir flag is used to run our site from where the compiled site files reside. I originally had a misconception in thinking the Netlify Dev command would build my Gatsby site as well, when in fact it does not.
If you have a site hosted by Netlify, using the CLI should is highly recommended as it provides you that extra step in ensuring any updates made can be tested prior to deployment. My site uses Netlify features such as redirects and plugins, which I now can test locally instead of going down the previously inefficient route of:
- Deploying changes to Netlify.
- Waiting for the build process to complete.
- Test changes within the preview site.
- If all is good, publish the site. If not, resolve error and deploy again.
This endless cycle of development hell is now avoided thanks to the safety net the Netlify CLI provides.