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Using the Static Folder

In general, every website needs assets: images, stylesheets, scripts, etc. When using Gatsby, we recommend Importing Assets Directly in JavaScript files, because of the benefits it provides:

  • Scripts and stylesheets are minified and bundled together to avoid extra network requests.
  • Missing files cause compilation errors instead of 404 errors for your users.
  • Result filenames include content hashes so you don’t need to worry about browsers caching their old versions.

However, there is an escape hatch that you can use to add an asset outside of the module system.

Adding assets outside of the module system

You can create a folder named static at the root of your project. Every file you put into that folder will be copied into the public folder. E.g. if you add a file named sun.jpg to the static folder, it’ll be copied to public/sun.jpg

Referencing your static asset

You can reference assets from the static folder in your code without anything special required:

Video hosted on egghead.io.


Keep in mind the downsides of this approach:

  • None of the files in the static folder will be post-processed or minified.
  • Missing files will not be called at compilation time, and will cause 404 errors for your users.
  • Result filenames won’t include content hashes, so you’ll need to add query arguments or rename them every time they change.

When to use the static folder

Normally we recommend importing stylesheets, images, and font assets from JavaScript. The static folder is useful as a workaround for a number of less common cases:

  • You need a file with a specific name in the build output, such as manifest.webmanifest.
  • You have thousands of images and need to dynamically reference their paths.
  • You want to include a small script like pace.js outside of the bundled code.
  • Some libraries may be incompatible with webpack and you have no other option but to include it as a <script> tag.
  • You need to import JSON file that doesn’t have a consistent schema, like TopoJSON files, which is difficult to handle with GraphQL. Note that importing JSON files directly inside a page, a template, or a component using import syntax results in adding that file to the app bundle and increasing the size of all site’s pages. Instead, it’s better to place your JSON file inside the static folder and use the dynamic import syntax (import('/static/myjson.json')) within the componentDidMount lifecycle or the useEffect hook.

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