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Build Commands

Build Commands allow you to customize how Forestry builds your website when it creates a preview or before it deploys your site.

Build commands are optional for all projects. Jekyll and Hugo projects have a default build configuration that will be followed when custom build commands are not provided. VuePress and all other project types will simply not have preview and deployment capabilities unless a build configuration is defined.

The Build Environment

All sites are built in a Linux container and have access to the following tools:

  • Ruby
  • Bundler
  • Hugo
  • NodeJS
  • NPM
  • Yarn

If your project has a package.json file, your node_modules will be installed automatically. Feel free to use NPM or Yarn scripts in your build commands!

Defining Custom Build Commands

To add custom build commands for your site, add a build section to your configuration file at .forestry/settings.yml. Your build configuration should at the very least define a preview_command, publish_command, and output_directory. You may also define certain environment variables via preview_env and publish_env.

Example Config

  preview_command: hugo -D -F -E
  publish_command: hugo
  output_directory: public
  - HUGO_ENV=staging
  - HUGO_ENV=production

Preview Command

The preview_command is run when creating a preview of your site. This command should generate your website and include any dev/draft content. For example, the command hugo -D -F -E builds a Hugo site that includes draft, expired, and future-dated content.

Don't start a development server!

You might be accustomed to running commands like hugo serve and jekyll serve when developing your site locally to start up a local development server. This behavior is not currently compatible with our preview system, and will result in your previews never completing, not to mention frustrated users!

Publish Command

The publish_command is run when Forestry builds your site prior to deploying it. This command should result in a production-ready site. The default hugo command, for example, builds a production Hugo site excluding draft, expired, and future-dated content.

Output Directory

You will use the output_directory setting to tell Forestry where to find the generated HTML of your site after the build runs. For example, if your build command is jekyll build --destination dist, your site will be generated into a folder named dist, so you should set the value of your output_directory to dist.

Hugo & Jekyll Defaults

All Hugo & Jekyll projects can preview and deploy without specifying custom build commands. The default configuration for these projects is as follows:


  preview_command: hugo -E -F -D -d public
  publish_command: hugo -d public
  output_directory: public
  - HUGO_ENV=staging
  - HUGO_VERSION=#{self.site_settings.engine_version || '0.17'}
  - HUGO_ENV=production
  - HUGO_VERSION=#{self.site_settings.engine_version || '0.17'}


  preview_command: jekyll build --drafts --unpublished --future --destination _forestry_site
  publish_command: jekyll build --destination _forestry_site
  output_directory: _forestry_site
  - JEKYLL_ENV=staging
  - JEKYLL_ENV=production

Adding Build Commands for VuePress

Forestry can build with any static site generator installable via npm. A VuePress site, for example, can be built as follows:

1. Install VuePress in your project

This step is important, as you could otherwise run node packages on your local machine by installing them globally, but Forestry won’t have these global packages installed.

npm install --save vuepress

2. Configure a build script in package.json

Commands run as NPM scripts will automatically include any installed node modules in your PATH.

"scripts": {
  "forestry:preview": "vuepress build"

3. Run the NPM script in your build command

  preview_command: npm run forestry:preview
  output_directory: .vuepress/dist

Environment Variables

The following Environment Variables can be customized in your build commands:


Sets the version of ruby used in your environment. You can use any version installable via rvm.

Default: 2.3.6


Sets the version of nodejs used in your environment. You can use any version installable via nvm.

Default: 8


Sets the version of Hugo used in your environment. This shouldn’t be necessary in most cases, as it will use the Hugo version specified in your site settings by default.

Default: The Hugo version specified in your site settings.


Sets the environment used by your Hugo or Jekyll site.

Default: staging for previews, production for publishing

Last updated on September 19, 2018