Other setup options

Create a new Docsy site with Docsy using Git or NPM

If you don’t want to use Docsy as a Hugo Module (for example if you do not want to install Go) but still don’t want to copy the theme files into your own repo, you can use Docsy as a Git submodule. Using submodules also lets Hugo use the theme files from Docsy repo, though is more complicated to maintain than the Hugo Modules approach. This is the approach used in older versions of the Docsy example site, and is still supported. If you are using Docsy as a submodule but would like to migrate to Hugo Modules, see our migration guide.

Alternatively if you don’t want Hugo to have to get the theme files from an external repo (for example, if you want to customize and maintain your own copy of the theme directly, or your deployment choice requires you to include a copy of the theme in your repository), you can clone the files directly into your site source.

Finally, you can install Docsy as an NPM package.

This guide provides instructions for all of these options, along with common prerequisites.


Install Hugo

You need a recent extended version (we recommend version 0.73.0 or later) of Hugo to do local builds and previews of sites (like this one) that use Docsy. If you install from the release page, make sure to get the extended Hugo version, which supports SCSS; you may need to scroll down the list of releases to see it.

For comprehensive Hugo documentation, see gohugo.io.

On Linux

Be careful using sudo apt-get install hugo, as it doesn’t get you the extended version for all Debian/Ubuntu versions, and may not be up-to-date with the most recent Hugo version.

If you’ve already installed Hugo, check your version:

hugo version

If the result is v0.73 or earlier, or if you don’t see Extended, you’ll need to install the latest version. You can see a complete list of Linux installation options in Install Hugo. The following shows you how to install Hugo from the release page:

  1. Go to the Hugo releases page.

  2. In the most recent release, scroll down until you find a list of Extended versions.

  3. Download the latest extended version (hugo_extended_0.9X_Linux-64bit.tar.gz).

  4. Create a new directory:

    mkdir hugo
  5. Extract the files you downloaded to hugo.

  6. Switch to your new directory:

    cd hugo
  7. Install Hugo:

    sudo install hugo /usr/bin

On macOS

Install Hugo using Brew.

As an NPM module

You can install Hugo as an NPM module using hugo-extended. To install the extended version of Hugo:

npm install hugo-extended --save-dev

Node: Get the latest LTS release

If you have Node installed already, check your version of Node. For example:

node -v

Install or upgrade your version of Node to the active LTS release. We recommend using nvm to manage your Node installation (Linux command shown):

nvm install --lts

Install PostCSS

To build or update your site’s CSS resources, you’ll also need PostCSS. Install it using the Node package manager, npm.

From your project root, run this command:

npm install --save-dev autoprefixer postcss-cli postcss

Option 1: Docsy as a Git submodule

For a new site

To create a new site and add the Docsy theme as a Git submodule, run the following commands:

  1. Create the site:

    hugo new site myproject
    cd myproject
    git init
  2. Install postCSS as instructed earlier.

  3. Follow the instructions below for an existing site.

For an existing site

To add the Docsy theme to an existing site, run the following commands from your project’s root directory:

  1. Install Docsy as a Git submodule:

    git submodule add https://github.com/google/docsy.git themes/docsy
    cd themes/docsy
    git checkout v0.6.0

    To work from the development version of Docsy (not recommended), run the following command instead:

    git submodule add --depth 1 https://github.com/google/docsy.git themes/docsy
  2. Add Docsy as a theme, for example:

    echo 'theme = "docsy"' >> config.toml
  3. Get Docsy dependencies:

    (cd themes/docsy && npm install)
  4. (Optional but recommended) To avoid having to repeat the previous step every time you update Docsy, consider adding NPM scripts like the following to your project’s package.json file:

      "...": "...",
      "scripts": {
        "get:submodule": "git submodule update --init --depth 1",
        "_prepare:docsy": "cd themes/docsy && npm install",
        "prepare": "npm run get:submodule && npm run _prepare:docsy",
        "...": "..."
      "...": "..."

    Every time you run npm install from your project root, the prepare script will fetch the latest version of Docsy and its dependencies.

From this point on, build and serve your site using the usual Hugo commands, for example:

hugo serve

Option 2: Clone the Docsy theme

If you don’t want to use a submodules (for example, if you want to customize and maintain your own copy of the theme directly, or your deployment choice requires you to include a copy of the theme in your repository), you can clone the theme into your project’s themes subdirectory.

To clone Docsy at v0.6.0 into your project’s theme folder, run the following commands from your project’s root directory:

cd themes
git clone -b v0.6.0 https://github.com/google/docsy
cd docsy
npm install

To work from the development version of Docsy (not recommended unless, for example, you plan to upstream changes to Docsy), omit the -b v0.6.0 argument from the clone command above.

Then consider setting up an NPM prepare script, as documented in Option 1.

For more information, see Theme Components on the Hugo site.

Option 3: Docsy as an NPM package

You can use Docsy as an NPM module as follows:

  1. Create your site and specify Docsy as the site theme:

    hugo new site myproject
    cd myproject
    echo 'theme = "docsy"' >> config.toml
  2. Install Docsy, and postCSS (as instructed earlier):

    npm install --save-dev google/docsy#semver:0.6.0 autoprefixer postcss-cli postcss
  3. Build or serve your new site using the usual Hugo commands, specifying the path to the Docsy theme files. For example, build your site as follows:

    $ hugo --themesDir node_modules
    Start building sites …
    Total in 1890 ms

    You can drop the --themesDir ... flag by adding the themes directory to your site’s configuration file:

    echo 'themesDir = "node_modules"' >> config.toml

As an alternative to specifying a themesDir, on some platforms, you can instead create a symbolic link to the Docsy theme directory as follows (Linux commands shown, executed from the site root folder):

mkdir -p themes
pushd themes
ln -s ../node_modules/docsy

Preview your site

To preview your site locally:

cd myproject
hugo server

By default, your site will be available at http://localhost:1313. See the known issues on MacOS.

You may get Hugo errors for missing parameters and values when you try to build your site. This is usually because you’re missing default values for some configuration settings that Docsy uses - once you add them your site should build correctly. You can find out how to add configuration in Basic site configuration - we recommend copying the example site configuration even if you’re creating a site from scratch as it provides defaults for many required configuration parameters.

What’s next?