Using Environment Variables With SvelteKit

Published Mar 24, 2022

Table of Contents

What Are Environment Variables?

Environment variables are variables in your system that describe your environment.

For example on Unix-like operating systems like Mac and Linux if you type echo $HOME in the terminal you get the path to home. The same is true if you type echo $PATH to list the paths to executable files.

This is useful because you don’t have to know the entire path to an executable but just type its name.

We can set environment variables and they’re useful from knowing if you’re in development or production or storing API tokens safely.

In development you store environment variables inside a .env file that should be added to .gitignore.

To help your future self and others it’s a great idea to create a .env.example file with placeholder values that’s safe to push so you know what keys you need.

Using Environment Variables In SvelteKit

SvelteKit exposes four different modules for handling environment variables:

You can load environment variables however you want like using import.meta.env from Vite or dotenv but it’s easier and more secure if you use the built-in modules SvelteKit provides.

Another great benefit of SvelteKit managing everything for you is that it won’t let you expose sensitive environment variables on the client and throw an error since it knows about the imports and you get great TypeScript support.

That being said these four options might look confusing but are easy to understand once you understand their purpose.

Static For Variables During The Build Process

If you’re not sure which one to pick you probably want to use $env/static variables which are imported during build time.

If you have an .env file or store your environment variables somewhere else the next steps are the same.

# Private

# Public

Use $env/static/private if you want to access environment variables loaded from your .env file but only inside .server files.

import { SECRET_API_KEY } from '$env/static/private'

export async function load() {
  console.log(SECRET_API_KEY) // secret 🤫

Use $env/static/public if you want to access environment variables prefixed with PUBLIC_ loaded from your .env file.

import { PUBLIC_API_KEY } from '$env/static/public'

export async function load() {
  console.log(PUBLIC_API_KEY) // public 📣

Dynamic For Variables During Runtime

If you have environment variables that change or you can not set them during the build you can use the $env/dynamic import which lets you access environment variables from the platform that your app is running on.

Use them only if you need to.

Use $env/dynamic/private to get access to environment variables equivalent to process.env.

import { env } from '$env/dynamic/private'

export async function load() {
  console.log(env.SECRET_API_KEY) // secret 🤫

Use $env/dynamic/public to get access to environment variables prefixed with PUBLIC_.

import { env } from '$env/dynamic/public'

export async function load() {
  console.log(env.PUBLIC_API_KEY) // public 📣

Private Modules

SvelteKit prevents you from exposing secrets on accident using private variables but you can also use server-only modules if you have secrets.

You can create a server-only module by adding .server to a filename or placing the file inside $lib/server to handle secrets from environment variables.

Files located in $lib/server can only be imported into other server-only modules. This prevents you from accidentally importing secrets into client-side code because they only run on the server.

import { env } from '$env/dynamic/private'

export async function getData() {
  return fetchAPIWithSecret(env.SECRET_API_KEY) // 🤫
import { getData } from '$lib/server/data'

export async function load() {
  const data = await getData() // 📣

Thank you for reading! 🏄️


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