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Conor Sheehan
Conor Sheehan

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Netlify deployments from GitHub without giving write access

Netlify is a great hosting service, but there's one thing that bothers me about it. The default deployment path involves giving the service read and write access to all of your public and private repositories on GitHub 😱

They skip over the authorization step in the video on their docs, but here's what it looks like.

Netlify OAuth

I found some questions on their forums asking about this. There's even an open issue on their GitHub about it. Despite all the links I visited, I didn't find a clear way to automate deploys to Netlify without giving them full access to my GitHub, so here's how I managed to do it.

Initial drag and drop deploy

Before we can automate our deploys, we need a site ID. Netlify provides a drag and drop feature, so we can drag the output of a build, or even a folder with an empty index.html to create a new site.

GitHub action

Now that we have a Netlify site created, we can automate deploys to it. I used, which requires an auth token and a site ID.

Generate auth token

We can generate a Netlify auth token by going to Click New Access Token, then give it a description and click generate. Copy the value, it won't be displayed again.

To make the value accessible to the GitHub action, go to your GitHub repository and click settings -> secrets -> new repository secret. I named mine NETLIFY_AUTH_TOKEN and pasted in the value I copied from Netlify.

Get site ID

You can find your Netlify site ID by going to your Netlify site overview and clicking site settings and copying the APP ID. Again, to make it accessible to the GitHub action, click settings -> secrets -> new repository secret. I named mine NETLIFY_SITE_ID and pasted in the value I copied from Netlify.

GitHub action

Now that we have our secrets set up, we can create our GitHub action. Mine looks something like this:

# .github/workflows/deploy.yml
name: deploy

  # enable manual deploys
  # deploy tags and commits to master automatically
      - "*"
      - "master"

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    name: "Deploy to Netlify"
      - uses: actions/checkout@v2
      - uses: jsmrcaga/action-netlify-deploy@v1.7.2
          # pass secrets in to the action
          NETLIFY_SITE_ID: ${{ secrets.NETLIFY_SITE_ID }}
          # add the GitHub ref to the deploy message so we can trace back what version is deployed from the Netlify side
          NETLIFY_DEPLOY_MESSAGE: "Prod deploy v${{ github.ref }}"
          NETLIFY_DEPLOY_TO_PROD: true
          # this bit should be custom to your project. I'm deploying a vuepress project that uses yarn, so these are my settings.
          install_command: yarn install
          build_command: yarn build
          build_directory: src/.vuepress/dist
          node_version: 14.18.2
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That's it! Now you can deploy to Netlify automatically from your GitHub repo, and you haven't given up any access rights.

Example site

I figured this out while building this project which is deployed here if you're interested.

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