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Authentication & Backends

Netlify CMS stores content in your GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket repository. In order for this to work, you need to authenticate with your Git host, and in most cases that requires a server. We have a few options for handling this.

Note: some static site generators have plugins for optimized integration with Netlify CMS, and starter templates may utilize these plugins. If you're using a starter template, read the template documentation before proceeding, as their instructions may differ.

Git Gateway with Netlify Identity

Git Gateway is a Netlify open source project that allows you to add editors to your site CMS without giving them direct write access to your GitHub or GitLab repository. (For Bitbucket repositories, use the Bitbucket backend instead.) Netlify Identity service can handle the authentication and provides a simple interface for user management. The Netlify CMS featured templates are working examples of this backend.

To use it in your own project stored on GitHub or GitLab, follow these steps:

  1. Head over to the Netlify Identity docs and follow the steps to get started.

  2. Add the following lines to your Netlify CMS config.yml file:

    backend:
      name: git-gateway
      accept_roles: #optional - accepts all users if left out
        - admin
        - editor
  3. Optionally, you can assign roles to users in your Netlify dashboard, and then limit which roles can access the CMS by defining the accept_roles field as shown in the example above. Otherwise accept_roles can be left out, and all Netlify Identity users on your site will have access.

Git Gateway without Netlify

You can use Git Gateway without Netlify by setting up your own Git Gateway server and connecting it with your own instance of GoTrue (the open source microservice that powers Netlify Identity), or with any other identity service that can issue JSON Web Tokens (JWT).

To configure in Netlify CMS, use the same backend settings in your Netlify CMS config.yml file as described in Step 2 of the Git Gateway with Netlify Identity instructions above.

GitHub Backend

For repositories stored on GitHub, the github backend allows CMS users to log in directly with their GitHub account. Note that all users must have push access to your content repository for this to work.

Because Github requires a server for authentication, Netlify facilitates basic GitHub authentication.

To enable it:

  1. Follow the authentication provider setup steps in the Netlify docs.

  2. Add the following lines to your Netlify CMS config.yml file:

    backend:
      name: github
      repo: owner-name/repo-name # Path to your GitHub repository

If you prefer to run your own authentication server, check out the section on external OAuth clients.

GitLab Backend

For repositories stored on GitLab, the gitlab backend allows CMS users to log in directly with their GitLab account. Note that all users must have push access to your content repository for this to work.

The GitLab API allows for two types of OAuth2 flows: Web Application Flow, which works much like the GitHub OAuth flow described above, and Implicit Grant, which operates without the need for an authentication server.

Web Application Flow with Netlify

When using GitLab's Web Application Flow for authentication, you can use Netlify to handle the server-side authentication requests.

To enable it:

  1. Follow the GitLab docs to add your Netlify CMS instance as an OAuth application. For the Redirect URI, enter https://api.netlify.com/auth/done, and check the box for api scope.

  2. Follow the Netlify docs to add your new GitLab Application ID and Secret to your Netlify site dashboard.

  3. In your repository, add the following lines to your Netlify CMS config.yml file:

    backend:
      name: gitlab
      repo: owner-name/repo-name # Path to your GitLab repository

Client-Side Implicit Grant

With GitLab's Implicit Grant, users can authenticate with GitLab directly from the client. To do this:

  1. Follow the GitLab docs to add your Netlify CMS instance as an OAuth application. For the Redirect URI, enter the address where you access Netlify CMS, for example, https://www.mysite.com/admin/. For scope, select api.

  2. GitLab will give you an Application ID. Copy this and enter it in your Netlify CMS config.yml file, along with the following settings:

    backend:
      name: gitlab
      repo: owner-name/repo-name # Path to your GitLab repository
      auth_type: implicit # Required for implicit grant
      app_id: your-app-id # Application ID from your GitLab settings

    You can also use Implicit Grant with a self-hosted GitLab instance. This requires adding api_root, base_url, and auth_endpoint fields:

    backend:
      name: gitlab
      repo: owner-name/repo-name # Path to your GitLab repository
      auth_type: implicit # Required for implicit grant
      app_id: your-app-id # Application ID from your GitLab settings
      api_root: https://my-hosted-gitlab-instance.com/api/v4
      base_url: https://my-hosted-gitlab-instance.com
      auth_endpoint: oauth/authorize

Note that in both cases, GitLab will also provide you with a client secret. You should never store this in your repo or reveal it in the client.

Bitbucket Backend

For repositories stored on Bitbucket, the bitbucket backend allows CMS users to log in directly with their Bitbucket account. Note that all users must have write access to your content repository for this to work.

To enable it:

  1. Follow the authentication provider setup steps in the Netlify docs.

  2. Add the following lines to your Netlify CMS config.yml file:

    backend:
      name: bitbucket
      repo: owner-name/repo-name # Path to your Bitbucket repository

External OAuth Clients

If you would like to facilitate your own OAuth authentication rather than use Netlify's service or implicit grant, you can use one of the community-maintained projects below. Feel free to submit a pull request if you'd like to add yours!

Author Supported Git hosts Language(s)/Platform(s) Link
@vencax GitHub, GitHub Enterprise Node.js Repo
@igk1972 GitHub, GitHub Enterprise Go Repo
@davidejones GitHub, GitHub Enterprise Python Repo
@marksteele GitHub, GitHub Enterprise Serverless Repo , Blog

Check each project's documentation for instructions on how to configure it.

Options

Netlify CMS backends allow some additional fields for certain use cases. A full reference is below. Note that these are properties of the backend field, and should be nested under that field.

Field Default Description
repo none Required for github , gitlab , and bitbucket backends; ignored by git-gateway . Follows the pattern [org-or-username]/[repo-name] .
accept_roles none git-gateway only. Limits CMS access to your defined array of user roles. Omitting this field gives access to all registered users.
branch master The branch where published content is stored. All CMS commits and PRs are made to this branch.
api_root https://api.github.com (GitHub), https://gitlab.com/api/v4 (GitLab), or https://api.bitbucket.org/2.0 (Bitbucket) The API endpoint. Only necessary in certain cases, like with GitHub Enterprise or self-hosted GitLab.
site_domain location.hostname (or cms.netlify.com when on localhost ) Sets the site_id query param sent to the API endpoint. Non-Netlify auth setups will often need to set this for local development to work properly.
base_url https://api.netlify.com (GitHub, Bitbucket) or https://gitlab.com (GitLab) OAuth client URL. Required when using an external OAuth server or self-hosted GitLab.
auth_endpoint auth (GitHub, Bitbucket) or oauth/authorize (GitLab) Path to append to base_url for authentication requests. Optional.
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