Previews and Deployment

Deploying your Docsy site.

There are multiple possible options for deploying a Hugo site, including Netlify, Firebase Hosting, Bitbucket with Aerobatic, and more; you can read about them all in Hosting and Deployment. Hugo also makes it easy to deploy your site locally for quick previews of your content.

Serving your site locally

Depending on your deployment choice you may want to serve your site locally during development to preview content changes. To serve your site locally:

  1. Ensure you have an up to date local copy of your site files cloned from your repo.

  2. Ensure you have the tools described in Prerequisites and installation installed on your local machine, including postcss-cli (you’ll need it to generate the site resources the first time you run the server).

  3. Run the hugo server command in your site root. By default your site will be available at http://localhost:1313.

Now that you’re serving your site locally, Hugo will watch for changes to the content and automatically refresh your site. If you have more than one local git branch, when you switch between git branches the local website reflects the files in the current branch.

Build environments and indexing

By default, Hugo sites built with hugo (rather than served locally with hugo server) have the Hugo build environment production. Deployed Docsy sites with production builds can be indexed by search engines, including Google Custom Search Engines. Production builds also have optimized JavaScript and CSS for live deployment (for example, minified JS rather than the more legible original source).

If you do not want your deployed site to be indexed by search engines (for example if you are still developing your live site), or if you want to build a development version of your site for offline analysis, you can set your Hugo build environment to something else such as development (the default for local deploys with hugo server), test, or another environment name of your choice.

The simplest way to set this is by using the -e flag when specifying or running your hugo command, as in the following example:

hugo -e development

Deployment with Netlify

We recommend using Netlify as a particularly simple way to serve your site from your Git provider (GitHub, GitLab, or BitBucket), with continuous deployment, previews of the generated site when you or your users create pull requests against the doc repo, and more. Netlify is free to use for Open Source projects, with premium tiers if you require greater support.

Before deploying with Netlify, make sure that you’ve pushed your site source to your chosen GitHub (or other provider) repo, following any setup instructions in Using the theme.

Then follow the instructions in Host on Netlify to set up a Netlify account (if you don’t have one already) and authorize access to your GitHub or other Git provider account. Once you’re logged in:

  1. Click New site from Git.

  2. Click your chosen Git provider, then choose your site repo from your list of repos.

  3. In the Deploy settings page:

    1. Specify your Build command. The exact build command depends on how you have chosen to use Docsy:
      • If you are using Docsy as a Git submodule, specify cd themes/docsy && git submodule update -f --init && cd ../.. && hugo. You need to specify this rather than just hugo so that Netlify can use the theme’s submodules.
      • If you are using Docsy as a Hugo module or NPM package, you can just specify hugo.
    2. Click Show advanced.
    3. In the Advanced build settings section, click New variable.
    4. Specify HUGO_VERSION as the Key for the new variable, and set its Value to the latest version of Hugo (minimum required version: 0.110.0).
    5. In the Advanced build settings section, click New variable again.
    6. Specify GO_VERSION as the Key for the new variable, and set its Value to the latest version of Go (minimum recommended version: 1.18).

    If you don’t want your site to be indexed by search engines, you can add an environment flag to your build command to specify a non-production environment, as described in Build environments and indexing.

  4. Click Deploy site.

Alternatively, you can follow the same instructions but specify your Deploy settings in a netlify.toml file in your repo rather than in the Deploy settings page. You can see an example of this in the Docsy theme repo (though note that the build command here is a little unusual because the Docsy user guide is inside the theme repo).

If you have an existing deployment you can view and update the relevant information by selecting the site from your list of sites in Netlify, then clicking Site settings - Build and deploy. Ensure that Ubuntu Focal 20.04 is selected in the Build image selection section - if you’re creating a new deployment this is used by default. You need to use this image to run the extended version of Hugo.

Deployment with Amazon S3 + Amazon CloudFront

There are several options for publishing your web site using Amazon Web Services, as described in this blog post. This section describes the most basic option, deploying your site using an S3 bucket and activating the CloudFront CDN (content delivery network) to speed up the delivery of your deployed contents.

  1. After your registration at AWS, create your S3 bucket, connect it with your domain, and add it to the CloudFront CDN. This blog post has all the details and provides easy to follow step-by-step instructions for the whole procedure.

  2. Download and install the latest version 2 of the AWS Command Line Interface (CLI). Then configure your CLI instance by issuing the command aws configure (make sure you have your AWS Access Key ID and your AWS Secret Access Key at hand):

    $ aws configure
    AWS Secret Access Key [None]: wJalrXUtnFEMI/K7MDENG/bPxRfiCYEXAMPLEKEY
    Default region name [None]: eu-central-1
    Default output format [None]:
  3. Check the proper configuration of your AWS CLI by issuing the command aws s3 ls, this should output a list of your S3 bucket(s).

  4. Inside your hugo.toml/hugo.yaml/hugo.json, add a [deployment] section like this one:

    name = "aws"
    URL = "s3://www.your-domain.tld"
    cloudFrontDistributionID = "E9RZ8T1EXAMPLEID"
        - name: aws
          URL: 's3://www.your-domain.tld'
          cloudFrontDistributionID: E9RZ8T1EXAMPLEID
      "deployment": {
        "targets": [
            "name": "aws",
            "URL": "s3://www.your-domain.tld",
            "cloudFrontDistributionID": "E9RZ8T1EXAMPLEID"
  5. Run the command hugo --gc --minify to render the site’s assets into the public/ directory of your Hugo build environment.

  6. Use Hugo’s built-in deploy command to deploy the site to S3:

    hugo deploy
    Deploying to target "aws" (www.your-domain.tld)
    Identified 77 file(s) to upload, totaling 5.3 MB, and 0 file(s) to delete.
    Invalidating CloudFront CDN...

    As you can see, issuing the hugo deploy command automatically invalidates your CloudFront CDN cache.

  7. That’s all you need to do! From now on, you can easily deploy to your S3 bucket using Hugo’s built-in deploycommand!

For more information about the Hugo deploy command, including command line options, see this synopsis. In particular, you may find the --maxDeletes int option or the --force option (which forces upload of all files) useful.

If S3 does not meet your needs, consider AWS Amplify Console. This is a more advanced continuous deployment (CD) platform with built-in support for the Hugo static site generator. A starter can be found in Hugo’s official docs.