How I Eleventy

I first starting using Eleventy to build this site back in 2020 using version 0.10.0 and through a combination of the official documentation and other people's source code on GitHub, I managed to piece together the foundations for this site.

Fast forward four years, and there have been two (almost three) major versions of Eleventy released, there are a lot of starter projects that now exist which are valuable resources to learn from, and I was starting to get lost in my own code base. What seemed like a good structure when I had five posts on my website, now seems like a bad one when I have over one hundred posts.

I noted in my 2024 to-do list post that I wanted to re-organise the journal files so that the files were grouped by the year they were published. I achieved that, but I also wanted to use this as an opportunity to refactor the wider codebase. The following documents what I did.

Folder structure

Prior to the refactor, I didn't really have much of a folder structure. Any page files were scattered amongst other files at the root level of the project, some folders were incorrectly named, and others were used to store files where I wasn't sure where they should go. I needed some form of structure and settled on the following folders:

  • _includes - this contains Nunjucks partials, and critical CSS that I want to inline in my base template.
  • assets - fonts, icons, and any JavaScript or CSS that I don't inline in my templates. I also store my robots.njk template here and a web manifest file.
  • config - any shortcodes, collections, or filters that I want to use in my Eleventy configuration file.
  • content - all markdown files for the various pages.
  • data - any global data files.
  • feeds - RSS feed templates and stylesheets.
  • img - images that I include in the journal or photos pages.
  • layouts - page templates.
  • pages - individual pages, or pages that are generated from data.


I started to move files around into the folders that I'd created. When the individual pages were at the root level of the project, they were generated as filename.html in my output directory. Now that they were in a folder called pages, they were now generated as pages/filename.html in my output directory.

I like directory level data files in Eleventy. Rather than adding some data to each individual file, I can add that data to every file in a folder from a single file. I created a directory level data file called pages.11tydata.js and added three lines:

module.exports = {
permalink: '/{{page.fileSlug}}/',

This will generate a folder in my output directory at the root level with the name of the page, and each folder contains a single HTML file. The only file that I had to override the permalink property for was my index.njk file as this would continue to generate an index.html file inside a pages folder and my website would not have a home page.

Layout aliases

Having moved all the layout files out of _includes and into layouts, I updated the paths for the layout files in the templates that used them. In order to use a layout alias in my templates I also had to change all of the Nunjucks specific extend statements to use frontmatter data instead. The last step was adding these layout aliases to my Eleventy configuration file.

['base', 'book', 'note', 'photo', 'weekNote', 'now', 'timestampedPage'].forEach(
(layout) => {
eleventyConfig.addLayoutAlias(layout, `${layout}.njk`);


Previously, all the shortcodes were separate from the rest of the filters and collection files that are imported into the Eleventy configuration file. I moved all of these shortcodes into a single file and placed it inside my config folder.

I used to add these shortcodes in my Eleventy configuration file by using the addNunjucksAsyncShortcode function, but since version 2.0.0 of Eleventy there has been async support for addShortcode. This presented the opportunity to remove the only template engine specific configuration I had in my Eleventy configuration which could make it easier to move to a different template engine in the future. Like the filters, collections, and layouts, I now loop over the shortcodes to add them to my Eleventy configuration.

const shortcodes = require('./src/config/shortcodes');  

Object.keys(shortcodes).forEach((shortcode) => {
eleventyConfig.addShortcode(shortcode, shortcodes[shortcode]);