Build a website using Metalsmith and Contentstack

Metalsmith is a pluggable static site generator. This example website is built using the contentstack-metalsmith plugin and Contentstack. It uses Contentstack to store and deliver the content of the website.

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Quickstart

Here’s a quick guide on how to create this demo website using Metalsmith and Contentstack.

Prerequisites

Note: For this tutorial, we have assumed that you are familiar with Contentstack. If not, then please refer to Contentstack docs for more details.

In this tutorial, we will first go through the steps involved in configuring Contentstack, and then look at the steps required to customize and use the presentation layer. 

Step 1: Create a stack

Log in to your Contentstack account, and create a new stack. This stack will hold all the data, specific to your website. Learn more on how to create a stack.

Step 2: Add a publishing environment

To add an environment in Contentstack, navigate to ‘Settings' -> 'Environment', and click on the '+ New Environment’ tab. Provide a suitable name for your environment, say ‘staging’. Specify the base URL (e.g., ‘http://YourDomainName.com’), and select the language (e.g., English - United States). Then, click on 'Save'. Read more about environments.

Step 3: Import content types

A content type is like the structure or blueprint of a page or a section of your web or mobile property. Read more about Content Types.

For this example website, five content types are required: Header, Footer, Home, About Us, and Products. For quick integration, we have already created these content types. You simply need to import them to your stack. (You can also create your own content types. Learn how to do this).

To import the content types, first save the zipped folder of the JSON files given below on your local machine. Extract the files from the folder. Then, go to your stack in Contentstack. The next screen prompts you to either create a new content type or import one into your stack. Click the ‘Import’ link, and select the JSON file saved on your machine.

Here’s a brief overview of all the content types required for this project.

  • Header: The 'Header' content type lets you add content for the header section of the site.
  • Footer: The 'Footer' content type enables you to add content for the footer section of your site.
  • Home: The 'Home' content type lets you create content for the home page of your site.
  • Products: The 'Products' content type enables you to enter content for the products.
  • About Us: The 'About Us' content type lets you add content for the About Us page of the site.

Download all content types

Now that all the content types are ready, let’s add some content for your website.

Step 4: Adding content

Create and publish entries for the ‘Home’, ‘About Us’ and ‘Products’ content types.

Add an entry for 'Home' and 'About Us', and a few entries for the 'Products' content type. Save and publish these entries. Learn how to create and publish entries.

Create and publish entries for the ‘Header’ and ‘Footer’ content types

Using the ‘Header’ content type, add the name and other details of your site. Similarly, add footer content using the ‘Footer’ content type.

With this step, you have created sample data for your website.

Step 5: Setting up 'metalsmith-contentstack'

You can clone a copy of our sample project hosted here. Once cloned, your folder structure would look like this:

  • hooks/: The 'hooks' folder holds your hooks/ plugins
  • layouts/: The 'layouts' folder would hold all your templates
  • partials/: The 'partials' folder holds your partial content type template and css
  • src/: The `./src` directory includes the configuration information
  • index.js: The 'index.js' file is responsible for starting up the application
  • package.json: The 'package.json' file holds the package information

Step 6: Build and configure website

To get your app up and running quickly, we have created a sample static web app (using Node.JS) for this project. You simple need to download it and edit the configuration.

Download code

Note: The website uses the Content Delivery API (which has in-built CDN support) to deliver content to the website. Read more about our CDN-enabled content delivery system.

Once you have downloaded the project, add your Contentstack API Key, Delivery Token, and Environment to the project. (Learn how to find your Stack's API Key and Delivery Token. Read more about Environments.)

The index.js file would look something like this:

.use(contentstack({
  api_key: '<< api_key >>',
  access_token: '<< delivery_token >>',
  environment: process.env.NODE_ENV || 'development'
...

Note: Mention the environment name that you created in Contentstack.

Fire up your terminal (command prompt or similar on Windows), point it to your project location and run the following:

$ npm install
$ npm start

This will initiate your project and create a build of static files in your project folder named `build`.

Step 7: Go live

You can release your application to the live environment by deploying it on any cloud-hosting service. In this tutorial, we have used netlify, read more about deploying on netlify here.

$ npm install netlify-cli -g
$ cd ./build
$ netlify deploy

You can also set up a continuous integration with netlify and metalsmith, read more about it here.

Your static website should now be up and running!

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