Add Netlify CMS to an existing 11ty site

A friend of mine was looking for a simple, easy to update, website stack. After some soul searching, we settled on 11ty with Netlify CMS.

It was impressed with how easy it was to set up, so I'm going to walk through the steps of adding it to an existing 11ty site - specifically this very blog.

Before we start, I'm going to set up the Netlify CMS to just edit posts in the blog folder as an example of setting it up - hopefully it will give you enough of a basis to configure and expand as required.

Netlify CMS is configured via a config.yml file, in which you specify the collections and fields that are editable.

The fields are added as front matter, so before I start I need to collate the different fields I need

  • title - the title of the post
  • date - the date of the post in YYYY-MM-DD format
  • updated - a date if the post is updated (this adds some meta data and a not on the front-end)
  • intro - an abstract/intro used for the post listing & meta descriptions
  • canonical - the URL to the post if it is posted elsewhere
  • publication - the name of the site where the post is, if it is posted elsewhere
  • permalink" - the slug for the post
  • tags: - an array of tags

Setup the code

Setting up the CMS is "easy" - it requires the aforementioned config.yml file, along with an index.html. Typically, these are placed within an admin folder.

If you're adding this to an existing 11ty site, I will assume you know where to place these two files to generate admin/index.html and admin/config.yml file paths. You can replicate their paths exactly in your build folder or add a front matter permalink to allow you to place them anywhere.

Note: By default, 11ty will ignore the yaml file if it is somewhere where it needs to be "processed". To get round this, add the following to your .eleventy.js (don't forget to update the path and potentially the config variable!)



There is a script tag which needs to be added to you <head> of your site - this handle the auth URl paramters passed from Netlify (this also is added in the index.html)

<script src=""></script>

There is a second script block which needs adding to just before your closing </body> tag - this helps redirect to the admin when a user logs in

if (window.netlifyIdentity) {
	window.netlifyIdentity.on("init", user => {
		if (!user) {
			window.netlifyIdentity.on("login", () => {
				document.location.href = "/admin/";


The contents of the admin/index.html file is:

<!doctype html>
	<meta charset="utf-8" />
	<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0" />
	<title>Content Manager</title>
	<script src=""></script>
	<!-- Include the script that builds the page and powers Netlify CMS -->
	<script src="^2.0.0/dist/netlify-cms.js"></script>


This file is where all of your configuration takes place

  name: git-gateway
  branch: main
media_folder: "public/assets/images"
public_folder: "/assets/images"
  - name: "blog"
    label: "Blog"
    folder: "app/content/blog"
    create: true
    slug: "---"
      - { label: "title", name: "title", widget: "string" }
      - { label: "date", name: "date", widget: "date", format: 'YYYY-MM-DD' }
      - { label: "updated", name: "updated", widget: "date", format: 'YYYY-MM-DD', required: false}
      - { label: "intro", name: "intro", widget: "string" }
      - { label: "canonical", name: "canonical", widget: "string", required: false }
      - { label: "publication", name: "publication", widget: "string", required: false }
      - { label: "permalink", name: "permalink", widget: "string" }
      - { label: "tags", name: "tags", widget: "list" }
      - { label: "body", name: "body", widget: "markdown" }

I won't step through each line as the documentation does a great job of doing that.

Some notes, however:

  • The backend "git-gateway" name uses Netlify Identify - which is free for less than 1000 users, the steps are below for completing that
  • You can enable specific login providers, such as Github or Gitlab
  • If you are using Github as your provider, you could enable the editorial_workflow which allows draft posts - this is currently in beta for Gitlab and Bitbucket (publish mode documentation)
  • My posts are stored with the year in the name, but have a custom permalink to remove this on the front-end
  • There are plenty of widget types to customise the fields

You should be able to navigate to admin/ (if you are running your site locally) and see the login page.

Setup Netlify

Once your site is deployed, log into netlify and go to the site settings.

  1. Scroll down to Identify
  2. Click enable
  3. Scroll down to Registration preferences and click Edit settings - set this to invite only
  4. If you want to use Gitlab or Github to login, you can add an External provider here
  5. Next, scroll down to Git Gateway and click Enable Git Gateway

Next, along the top. navigate to the Identity tab - from here you can Invite users.

If the JavaScript is working correctly, when you activate your account you should get logged into the admin.

View this post on Github

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Mike Street

Written by Mike Street

Mike is a CTO and Lead Developer from Brighton, UK. He spends his time writing, cycling and coding. You can find Mike on Mastodon.