Akhila Ariyachandra

Environment Variables in Next.js

March 6th, 2020

2 min read

Last updated on May 17th, 2020

Updated on 18th May, 2020 to reflect the how Next.js v9.4+ handles the .env file.

Updated on 23rd April, 2020 to reflect the changes on how Vercel handles Environment Variables.

Often we need to use certain variables like the database path or authentication secrets without committing them to the repo.

For Next.js v9.4 and above

Next.js 9.4 made handling environment variables a lot more easier. All we need to do now is the create the .env file and Next.js will load it automatically.

Never commit the .env file. Add it to the .gitignore file.

By default the environment variables will not be included in the client JavaScript bundle. If you do want to include any variables in it it has to be prefixed with NEXT_PUBLIC_.

NEXT_PUBLIC_FIRST_SECRET=firstSecret
SECOND_SECRET=secondSecret

In the above example NEXT_PUBLIC_FIRST_SECRET can be accessed but SECOND_SECRET can’t be accessed in the client code (such as the React Components).

Deploying to Vercel

To start, install, log into Vercel and link it to a project if you haven’t already.

npm i -g now
now login
now

Then use the following command to set the Environment Variables in the deployment environment.

now env add

For Next.js v9.3 and below

Since Next.js uses Webpack we can use the dotenv-webpack dependency to load variable from a .env file to our Next.js application.

Let’s start by installing dotenv-webpack as a dev dependency.

npm install dotenv-webpack -D

Next we need to modify the Webpack configuration in Next.js. This is done through the next.config.js file.

First import the dotenv-file dependency.

const Dotenv = require("dotenv-webpack");

Next export the config object with the default Webpack config function.

const Dotenv = require("dotenv-webpack");

module.exports = {  webpack: (config, { buildId, dev, isServer, defaultLoaders, webpack }) => {    return config;  },};

All we need to do now is add the dotenv-plugin into the Webpack plugins array.

const Dotenv = require("dotenv-webpack");

module.exports = {
  webpack: (config, { buildId, dev, isServer, defaultLoaders, webpack }) => {
    // Add the new plugin to the existing webpack plugins    config.plugins.push(new Dotenv({ silent: true }));
    return config;
  },
};

Now you can use environment variables in the application. For example, if your .env file is like this,

AUTH_SECRET=verysecret

You can use the variable like this, process.env.AUTH_SECRET.

Never commit the .env file. Add it to the .gitignore file.

Deploying to Vercel

If you are using a Git provider like Github to deploy the Application in Vercel, you can’t use .env file. This is the reason we set the silent property when adding dotenv-webpack plugin, to prevent any errors because of the missing .env file.

const Dotenv = require("dotenv-webpack");

module.exports = {
  webpack: (config, { buildId, dev, isServer, defaultLoaders, webpack }) => {
    // Add the new plugin to the existing webpack plugins
    config.plugins.push(new Dotenv({ silent: true }));
    return config;
  },
};

Instead of the .env file we will use the Environment Variables UI available in Vercel.

To start, install, log into the Vercel CLI and link it to a project if you haven’t already.

npm i -g now
now login
now

Then use the following command to set the Environment Variables in the deployment environment.

now env add

Finally to make the variables available in the client JavaScript bundle, we need to add one more property to the Next.js config. Add a new property called env and list all the environment variables you want in the client JavaScript bundle as follows.

const Dotenv = require("dotenv-webpack");

module.exports = {
  webpack: (config, { buildId, dev, isServer, defaultLoaders, webpack }) => {
    // Add the new plugin to the existing webpack plugins
    config.plugins.push(new Dotenv({ silent: true }));

    return config;
  },
  // Have to list all the environment variables used here to make it available  // in the client JavaScript bundle  env: {    AUTH_SECRET: process.env.AUTH_SECRET,  },};
Please be careful about which variables you include in the env property as they will be included the client JavaScript bundle, so make sure you avoid including sensitive data like a database connection string or an authentication token secret.

Wrapping up

You can find an example of the implementation here.

I hope you found this guide helpful. Please be sure to share it and leave a comment below! 😊


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Written by Akhila Ariyachandra, Web Developer with a passion for JavaScript and React