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Build a Website With Next 13 and the Directus JavaScript SDK ​

This guide shows you how build a website with Next 13 and Directus as a Headless CMS.

Next.js is a popular JavaScript framework based on React.js. In this tutorial, you will learn how to build a website using Directus as a CMS. You will store, retrieve, and use global metadata such as the site title, create new pages dynamically based on Directus items, and build a blog.

Before You Start ​

You will need:

  • To install Node.js and a code editor on your computer.
  • To sign up for a Directus Cloud account.
  • Some knowledge of React.js and Next.

Create a new Directus Cloud project - any tier and configuration is suitable for this tutorial.

Open your terminal and run the following command to create a new Next project:

shell
# The options below is what is recommended for a completion of this guide.
# See https://nextjs.org/docs/pages/api-reference/create-next-app
# for all possible options.

npx create-next-app \
  my-website \
  --js \
  --app \
  --eslint \
  --no-src-dir \
  --no-tailwind \
  --import-alias "@/*"
# The options below is what is recommended for a completion of this guide.
# See https://nextjs.org/docs/pages/api-reference/create-next-app
# for all possible options.

npx create-next-app \
  my-website \
  --js \
  --app \
  --eslint \
  --no-src-dir \
  --no-tailwind \
  --import-alias "@/*"

Once finished, navigate into the new directory, delete all of the files in app so you can build this project from scratch and install the Directus JavaScript SDK:

shell
cd my-website
rm app/*
npm install @directus/sdk
cd my-website
rm app/*
npm install @directus/sdk

Now, open my-website in your code editor for the following steps.

Create a Helper for the SDK ​

To share a single instance of the Directus JavaScript SDK between multiple pages in this project, create a single helper file that can be imported later. Create a new directory called lib and a new file called directus.js inside of it.

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

const directus = createDirectus('https://directus.example.com').with(rest());

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

const directus = createDirectus('https://directus.example.com').with(rest());

export default directus;

Ensure your Project URL is correct when initializing the Directus JavaScript SDK.

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 -> Roles & Permissions -> Public and give Read access to the Global collection.

Inside of the app directory, create a new file called page.tsx.

jsx
import directus from 'lib/directus';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getGlobals() {
	return directus.request(readItems('global'));
}

export default async function HomePage() {
	const global = await getGlobals();
	return (
		<div>
			<h1>{global.title}</h1>
			<p>{global.description}</p>
		</div>
	);
}
import directus from 'lib/directus';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getGlobals() {
	return directus.request(readItems('global'));
}

export default async function HomePage() {
	const global = await getGlobals();
	return (
		<div>
			<h1>{global.title}</h1>
			<p>{global.description}</p>
		</div>
	);
}

Type npm run dev in your terminal to start the Next development server and open http://localhost:3000 in your browser. You should see data from your Directus Global collection in your page. Some additional files will be created by Next that it expects, but do not yet exist - these can be safely ignored for now.

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 app, create a new directory called [slug] with a file called page.tsx. This is a dynamic route, so a single file can be used for all of the top-level pages.

jsx
import directus from 'lib/directus';
import { notFound } from 'next/navigation';
import { readItem } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getPage(slug) {
	try {
		const page = await directus.request(readItem('pages', slug));
		return page;
	} catch (error) {
		notFound();
	}
}

export default async function DynamicPage({ params }) {
	const page = await getPage(params.slug);
	return (
		<div>
			<h1>{page.title}</h1>
			<div dangerouslySetInnerHTML={{ __html: page.content }}></div>
		</div>
	);
}
import directus from 'lib/directus';
import { notFound } from 'next/navigation';
import { readItem } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getPage(slug) {
	try {
		const page = await directus.request(readItem('pages', slug));
		return page;
	} catch (error) {
		notFound();
	}
}

export default async function DynamicPage({ params }) {
	const page = await getPage(params.slug);
	return (
		<div>
			<h1>{page.title}</h1>
			<div dangerouslySetInnerHTML={{ __html: page.content }}></div>
		</div>
	);
}

Go to http://localhost:3000/about, replacing about with any of your item slugs. Using the Directus JavaScript SDK, the single item with that slug is retrieved, and the page should show your data. readItem() allows you to specify the Primary ID Field.

Note that we check if a returned value exists, and return a 404 if not. Please also note that dangerouslySetInnerHTML should only be used for trusted 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 Roles & Permissions, 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 the app directory, create a new subdirectory called blog and a new file called page.tsx inside of it.

jsx
import directus from '@/lib/directus';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getPosts() {
	return directus.request(
		readItems('posts', {
			fields: ['slug', 'title', 'publish_date', { author: ['name'] }],
			sort: ['-publish_date'],
		})
	);
}

export default async function DynamicPage() {
	const posts = await getPosts();
	return (
		<div>
			<h1>Blog</h1>
		</div>
	);
}
import directus from '@/lib/directus';
import { readItems } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getPosts() {
	return directus.request(
		readItems('posts', {
			fields: ['slug', 'title', 'publish_date', { author: ['name'] }],
			sort: ['-publish_date'],
		})
	);
}

export default async function DynamicPage() {
	const posts = await getPosts();
	return (
		<div>
			<h1>Blog</h1>
		</div>
	);
}

This query 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.

Update the returned HTML:

jsx
<div>
	<h1>Blog</h1>
	<ul>
		{posts.map((post) => {
			return (
				<li key={post.slug}>
					<a href={`/blog/${post.slug}`}>
						<h2>{post.title}</h2>
					</a>
					<span>
						{post.publish_date} &bull; {post.author.name}
					</span>
				</li>
			);
		})}
	</ul>
</div>;
<div>
	<h1>Blog</h1>
	<ul>
		{posts.map((post) => {
			return (
				<li key={post.slug}>
					<a href={`/blog/${post.slug}`}>
						<h2>{post.title}</h2>
					</a>
					<span>
						{post.publish_date} &bull; {post.author.name}
					</span>
				</li>
			);
		})}
	</ul>
</div>;

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 Pages ​

Each blog post links to a page that does not yet exist. In the app/blog directory, create a new directory called [slug], and within it a page.tsx file:

jsx
import directus from '@/lib/directus';
import { notFound } from 'next/navigation';
import { readItem } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getPost(slug) {
	try {
		const post = await directus.request(
			readItem('posts', slug, {
				fields: ['*', { relation: ['*'] }],
			})
		);

		return post;
	} catch (error) {
		notFound();
	}
}

export default async function DynamicPage({ params }) {
	const post = await getPost(params.slug);
	return (
		<>
			<img src={`${directus.url}assets/${post.image.filename_disk}?width=600`} alt="" />
			<h1>{post.title}</h1>
			<div dangerouslySetInnerHTML={{ __html: post.content }}></div>
		</>
	);
}
import directus from '@/lib/directus';
import { notFound } from 'next/navigation';
import { readItem } from '@directus/sdk';

async function getPost(slug) {
	try {
		const post = await directus.request(
			readItem('posts', slug, {
				fields: ['*', { relation: ['*'] }],
			})
		);

		return post;
	} catch (error) {
		notFound();
	}
}

export default async function DynamicPage({ params }) {
	const post = await getPost(params.slug);
	return (
		<>
			<img src={`${directus.url}assets/${post.image.filename_disk}?width=600`} alt="" />
			<h1>{post.title}</h1>
			<div dangerouslySetInnerHTML={{ __html: post.content }}></div>
		</>
	);
}

Some key notes about this code snippet.

  • In the <img> tag, directus.url is the value provided when creating the Directus plugin.
  • The width attribute demonstrates Directus' built-in image transformations.
  • Once again, dangerouslySetInnerHTML should only be used if all content is trusted.
  • Because almost-all fields are used in this page, including those from the image relational field, the fields property when using the Directus JavaScript SDK can be set to *.*.

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. Create the file app/layout.tsx to add a navigation above the main content. Don't forget to use your specific page slugs.

jsx
export default function RootLayout({ children }) {
	return (
		<html lang="en">
			<body>
				<nav>
					<Link href="/">Home</Link>
					<Link href="/about">About</Link>
					<Link href="/conduct">Code of Conduct</Link>
					<Link href="/privacy">Privacy Policy</Link>
					<Link href="/blog">Blog</Link>
				</nav>
				<main>{children}</main>
			</body>
		</html>
	);
}
export default function RootLayout({ children }) {
	return (
		<html lang="en">
			<body>
				<nav>
					<Link href="/">Home</Link>
					<Link href="/about">About</Link>
					<Link href="/conduct">Code of Conduct</Link>
					<Link href="/privacy">Privacy Policy</Link>
					<Link href="/blog">Blog</Link>
				</nav>
				<main>{children}</main>
			</body>
		</html>
	);
}

Next Steps ​

Through this guide, you have set up a Next project, created a Directus helper, 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.

If you want to build more complex dynamic pages made out of reusable components, check out our recipe on doing just this.

If you want to see the code for this project, you can find it on GitHub.

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