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Getting Started with Directus and Eleventy 3

Published January 31st, 2024

Written By
Kevin Lewis
Kevin Lewis
Director, Developer Relations

Eleventy (sometimes referred to 11ty) is a lightweight and unopinionated static site generator. You can use any templating language, and it ships with zero client-side JavaScript by default. In this guide, you will learn how to build a website with Directus as a Headless CMS.

Before You Start

You will need:

Open your terminal and run the following commands to create a new 11ty project and the Directus JavaScript SDK:

mkdir my-website && cd my-website
npm init -y
npm install @11ty/eleventy@3.0.0-alpha.2 @directus/sdk
mkdir my-website && cd my-website
npm init -y
npm install @11ty/eleventy@3.0.0-alpha.2 @directus/sdk

Eleventy 3.0 in Alpha

When Eleventy 3.0 leaves alpha, we'll update this post with any changes required.

Open my-website in your code editor. Add "type": "module" to the object in your package.json file, and type npx @11ty/eleventy --serve --watch in your terminal to start the 11ty development server and open http://localhost:8080 in your browser.

Create a new directory in your 11ty project called _includes. Inside of it, another directory called layouts. And, finally, a file called base.njk:

njk
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <title>{{ title }}</title>
</head>
<body>
  <main>
    {{ content | safe }}
  </main>
</body>
</html>
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<head>
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <title>{{ title }}</title>
</head>
<body>
  <main>
    {{ content | safe }}
  </main>
</body>
</html>

Create a Directus Helper

Create a _data directory in your 11ty project, and inside of it a directus.js file, being sure to provide your full Directus project URL:

js
import { createDirectus, rest } from '@directus/sdk';

const directus = createDirectus('YOUR_DIRECTUS_PROJECT_URL').with(rest());

export default directus;
import { createDirectus, rest } from '@directus/sdk';

const directus = createDirectus('YOUR_DIRECTUS_PROJECT_URL').with(rest());

export default directus;

Using Global Metadata and Settings

In your Directus project, navigate to Settings -> Data Model and create a new collection called global. Under the Singleton option, select 'Treat as a single object', as this collection will have just a single entry containing global website metadata.

Create two text input fields - one with the key of title and one description.

Navigate to the content module and enter the global collection. Collections will generally display a list of items, but as a singleton, it will launch directly into the one-item form. Enter information in the title and description field and hit save.

A form named Global has two inputs - a title and a description, each filled with some text.

By default, new collections are not accessible to the public. Navigate to Settings -> Access Control -> Public and give Read access to the Global collection.

Inside of your _data directory, create a new file called global.js:

js
import directus from './directus.js';
import { readSingleton } from '@directus/sdk';

export default async () => {
    return await directus.request(readSingleton('global'))
}
import directus from './directus.js';
import { readSingleton } from '@directus/sdk';

export default async () => {
    return await directus.request(readSingleton('global'))
}

Data from the global collection in Directus will now be available throughout your 11ty project as global.

Create a new file in the root directory of your 11ty project called index.njk:

njk
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
eleventyComputed:
    title: "{{ global.title }}"
---

<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
<p>{{ global.description }}</p>
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
eleventyComputed:
    title: "{{ global.title }}"
---

<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
<p>{{ global.description }}</p>

eleventyComputed is being used so there is a title key, which is used by the main layout created at the start of this tutorial to populate the <title> element in the <head>.

Refresh your browser. You should see data from your Directus Global collection in your page.

Creating Pages With Directus

Create a new collection called pages - make the Primary ID Field a "Manually Entered String" called slug, which will correlate with the URL for the page. For example about will later correlate to the page localhost:3000/about.

Create a text input field called title and a WYSIWYG input field called content. In Roles & Permissions, give the Public role read access to the new collection. Create 3 items in the new collection - here's some sample data.

Inside of your _data directory, create a new file called pages.js:

js
import directus from './directus.js';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

export default async () => {
    return await directus.request(readItems('pages'))
}
import directus from './directus.js';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

export default async () => {
    return await directus.request(readItems('pages'))
}

Create a new file in the root directory of your 11ty project called _page.njk:

njk
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
pagination:
    data: pages
    size: 1
    alias: page
permalink: "{{ page.slug }}/index.html"
eleventyComputed:
    title: "{{ page.title }}"
---

<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
{{ page.content | safe }}
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
pagination:
    data: pages
    size: 1
    alias: page
permalink: "{{ page.slug }}/index.html"
eleventyComputed:
    title: "{{ page.title }}"
---

<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
{{ page.content | safe }}

Go to http://localhost:8080/about, replacing about with any of your item slugs. One page is created per page returned in the pages.js data file.

Note that only pages that match the permalink structure, and exist in Directus, are generated. This means your application will return a 404 if the page does not exist. Please also note that the safe filter should only be used for trusted content as it renders unescaped content.

Creating Blog Posts With Directus

Create a new collection called authors with a single text input field called name. Create one or more authors.

Then, create a new collection called posts - make the Primary ID Field a "Manually Entered String" called slug, which will correlate with the URL for the page. For example hello-world will later correlate to the page localhost:3000/blog/hello-world.

Create the following fields in your posts data model:

  • a text input field called title
  • a WYSIWYG input field called content
  • an image relational field called image
  • a datetime selection field called publish_date - set the type to 'date'
  • a many-to-one relational field called author with the related collection set to authors

In your Access Control settings, give the Public role read access to the authors, posts, and directus_files collections.

Create 3 items in the posts collection - here's some sample data.

Create Blog Post Listing

Inside of your _data directory, create a new file called posts.js:

js
import directus from './directus.js';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

export default async () => {
    return await directus.request(
        readItems("posts", {
            fields: ["*", { author: ["name"] }],
            sort: ["-publish_date"],
        })
    );
}
import directus from './directus.js';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

export default async () => {
    return await directus.request(
        readItems("posts", {
            fields: ["*", { author: ["name"] }],
            sort: ["-publish_date"],
        })
    );
}

This data file will retrieve the first 100 items (default), sorted by publish date (descending order, which is latest first). It will only return the specific fields we request - slug, title, publish_date, and the name from the related author item.

Create a new file in the root directory of your 11ty project called blog.njk:

njk
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
permalink: "blog/index.html"
title: Blog
---

<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
<ul>
    {% for post in posts %}
        <a href="/posts/{{ post.slug }}">
            <h2>{{ post.title }}</h2>
        </a>
        <span>
            {{ post.publish_date }} &bull; {{ post.author.name }}
        </span>
    {% endfor %}
</ul>
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
permalink: "blog/index.html"
title: Blog
---

<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
<ul>
    {% for post in posts %}
        <a href="/posts/{{ post.slug }}">
            <h2>{{ post.title }}</h2>
        </a>
        <span>
            {{ post.publish_date }} &bull; {{ post.author.name }}
        </span>
    {% endfor %}
</ul>

Visit http://localhost:3000 and you should now see a blog post listing, with latest items first.

A page with a title of "Blog". On it is a list of three items - each with a title, author, and date. The title is a link.

Create Blog Post Page

Each blog post links to a page that does not yet exist. Create a new file in the root directory of your 11ty project called _post.njk:

njk
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
pagination:
    data: posts
    size: 1
    alias: post
permalink: "blog/{{ post.slug }}/index.html"
eleventyComputed:
    title: "{{ post.title }}"
---

<img src="{{ directus.url }}assets/{{ post.image }}?width=600" />
<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
{{ post.content | safe }}
---
layout: layouts/base.njk
pagination:
    data: posts
    size: 1
    alias: post
permalink: "blog/{{ post.slug }}/index.html"
eleventyComputed:
    title: "{{ post.title }}"
---

<img src="{{ directus.url }}assets/{{ post.image }}?width=600" />
<h1>{{ title }}</h1>
{{ post.content | safe }}

Some key notes about this code snippet.

  • In the <img> tag, directus.url is the value provided when creating the Directus data file.
  • The width attribute demonstrates Directus' built-in image transformations.
  • Once again, the safe filter should only be used if all content is trusted.

Click on any of the blog post links, and it will take you to a blog post page complete with a header image.

A blog post page shows an image, a title, and a number of paragraphs.

Add Navigation

While not strictly Directus-related, there are now several pages that aren't linked to each other. In _includes/layouts/base.njk, above the <main> component, add a navigation. Don't forget to use your specific page slugs.

template
<nav>
	<a to="/">Home</a>
	<a to="/about">About</a>
	<a to="/conduct">Code of Conduct</a>
	<a to="/privacy">Privacy Policy</a>
	<a to="/blog">Blog</a>
</nav>
<nav>
	<a to="/">Home</a>
	<a to="/about">About</a>
	<a to="/conduct">Code of Conduct</a>
	<a to="/privacy">Privacy Policy</a>
	<a to="/blog">Blog</a>
</nav>

Next Steps

Through this guide, you have set up an 11ty project, initialized the Directus JavaScript SDK, and used it to query data. You have used a singleton collection for global metadata, dynamically created pages, as well as blog listing and post pages.

If you want to change what is user-accessible, consider setting up more restrictive roles and accessing only valid data at build-time.

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