Aug 31, 2022

Deploy as a Next.js app

Deploy your Motif project as a custom Next.js app that you can run on your own servers.

With the introduction of file sync, projects created in Motif can be synced with a folder on disk. And since a project consists only in plain text files (such as MDX, Markdoc or TypeScript), with no proprietary data attached, it's straightforward to deploy your project with your own custom setup. Here, we'll guide you through how to deploy your project as a Next.js app.

Grab the Next.js starter app here:


Before syncing your project on disk, you might need to do the following tweaks to make sure it runs straight away with the local Next.js runtime:

  • Next.js is case-insensitive, and matches query paths with lowercase filenames in the pages folder. So make sure that your page files have lowercase names.
  • Following ES module standards, make sure that all your internal import statements explicitly include file extensions. So instead of
    import { Navbar } from "@components/navbar"
    you should have
    import { Navbar } from "@components/navbar.tsx"

Write your project to disk

Head over to your project settings , go to the Sync tab, select your destination folder, and hit the "Write to disk" button.

Your folder structure on disk should look similar to the one depicted here.

In this guide, we will create a Next.js app at the root of your Motif project tree, but you can change this setup to suit your needs, for instance by having all Motif content in a separate folder. You might need to tweak your Next.js config for this, or leverage Middleware.


Install dependencies

If you are starting a new Next.js app, install the following dependencies:

npm install next react react-dom remark-frontmatter remark-mdx-frontmatter remark-gfm remark-math @mdx-js/loader @mdx-js/mdx @mdx-js/react @next/mdx @markdoc/markdoc @markdoc/next.js
npm install -D @types/node @types/react @tailwindcss/typography @types/fast-levenshtein @types/minimatch autoprefixer fast-levenshtein glob gray-matter minimatch postcss simple-functional-loader tailwindcss typescript webpack

Open package.json and add the following:

  "type": "module",
  "scripts": {
    "dev": "next dev",
    "build": "next build",
    "start": "next start",
    "lint": "next lint"

Setup Next.js

Create a file named next.config.js at the root of your project, and add the following:

import remarkFrontmatter from 'remark-frontmatter'
import remarkMdxFrontmatter from 'remark-mdx-frontmatter'
import remarkGfm from 'remark-gfm'
import remarkMath from 'remark-math'
import { createLoader } from 'simple-functional-loader'
import path from 'path'
import fs from 'fs'
import matter from 'gray-matter'

const buildTree = (dir, parentName = 'pages') => {
  const result = {}
  const list = fs.readdirSync(dir) = parentName
  for (const item of list) {
    if (item.startsWith('_app.')) {
    const itemPath = path.join(dir, item)
    const stats = fs.statSync(itemPath)
    if (stats.isDirectory()) {
      result.folders = [...(result.folders || []), buildTree(itemPath, item)]
    } else {
      const frontmatter = matter(
        fs.readFileSync(itemPath, { encoding: 'utf-8' })
      const p = path
          path.basename(itemPath, path.extname(itemPath))
        .replace(/^pages/, '')
        .replace(/\/index$/, '')
      result.files = [
        ...(result.files || []),
          name: item,
          path: p,
  return result

export default {
  pageExtensions: ['ts', 'tsx', 'js', 'jsx', 'md', 'mdx'],
  resolve: {
    extensions: ['.mdx', '.md', '...'],
  webpack(config, options) {
    const files = buildTree('./pages')

      test: { and: [/\.mdx$/] },
      use: [
        createLoader(function (source) {
          // If source already had an explicitly defined `meta`
          // (caught and transformed into `__motif_meta__` in the
          // previous loader), this will take precedence, and
          // the one extracted from the frontmatter will be ignored.
          if (/export\s+(const|let|var)\s+__motif_meta__\s*=/.test(source)) {
            source = source
                'export $1 __motif_frontmatter__ ='
                'export $1 meta = {\n  ...__motif_frontmatter__,'
          const pathSegments = this.resourcePath.split(path.sep)
          const filename = pathSegments.slice(-1)[0]
          return `${source}
          loader: '@mdx-js/loader',
          options: {
            providerImportSource: '@mdx-js/react',
            remarkPlugins: [
              [remarkMdxFrontmatter, { name: 'meta' }],
            rehypePlugins: [],
        createLoader(function (source) {
          return source.replace(
            'export $1 __motif_meta__ ='

    return config

This configuration sets up the required steps to:

  • Transpile your MDX pages,
  • Extract the frontmatter,
  • Pass them to the templates, alongside the filename, path, and project file tree.

Setup Tailwind

At the root of your project, create a file named postcss.config.cjs, and add the following:

module.exports = {
  plugins: {
    tailwindcss: {},
    autoprefixer: {},

By default, your Motif project already contains a Tailwind configuration. Here, in addition to the Motif config, we need to tell Tailwind what files too look for when compiling the CSS. In tailwind.config.js, add the following content entry (you may include as many paths as you need):

module.exports = {
  content: [

Setup a custom App

In order to enable templates and custom components, we need to create a custom Next.js App. In the pages folder, create a file named _app.tsx, and add the code below. Here is an example that wraps your MDX pages inside templates (blog or plain, depending on how it is setup in motif.json), and transforms regular links and images to their Next.js optimized versions, next/link and next/image.

You will need to update the getTemplate function if you are using other template names.
import '/styles/main.css'

import { AppProps } from 'next/app'
import motifConfig from '/motif.json'
import dynamic from 'next/dynamic'
import fastLevenshtein from 'fast-levenshtein'
import minimatch from 'minimatch'
import { MDXProvider } from '@mdx-js/react'
import Link from 'next/link'
import Image from 'next/image'

export const getBestGlobMatch = (
  globs: string[],
  path: string
): string | undefined => {
  const match = globs
    .filter((p) => minimatch(path, p))
    .sort((m1, m2) => {
      const d1 = fastLevenshtein.get(m1, path)
      const d2 = fastLevenshtein.get(m2, path)
      return d1 < d2 ? -1 : 1

  if (match === undefined && globs.includes('**/*')) {
    return '**/*'
  return match

const getTemplateId = (pathname: string) => {
  const templateMappings = (motifConfig.templates as { [k: string]: string }) || {}
  const path = pathname === '/' ? '' : pathname?.replace(/^\//, '')
  const matchingGlob = getBestGlobMatch(Object.keys(templateMappings), path)
  return matchingGlob && templateMappings[matchingGlob]

const getTemplate = (pathname: string) => {
  switch (getTemplateId(pathname)) {
    // Add other template mappings here
    case 'blog':
      return dynamic(() =>
        import('@templates/blog.mdx').then((mod) => mod.Template)
      return dynamic(() =>
        import('@templates/plain.mdx').then((mod) => mod.Template)

const components = {
  a: ({ href, ...props }: { href: string }) => <Link href={href}> <a {...props} /></Link>,
  img: ({ src, alt, ...props }: { src: string; alt: string }) => <Image alt={alt} src={src} layout="responsive" {...props} />

function MyApp({ Component, pageProps, router }: AppProps) {
  const Template = getTemplate(router.pathname)

  const meta = (Component as any).meta || {}
  const filename = (Component as any).filename || {}
  const files = (Component as any).files || {}

  return (
    <MDXProvider components={components}>
        <Component {...pageProps} />

export default MyApp

Install Motif-imported packages

In Motif, you can import packages from the web with a single import statement, without any preliminary install step:

import confetti from "canvas-confetti"

Such a statement will look up canvas-confetti on Skypack, and automatically include it in your pages. You can also provide explicit URLs:

import confetti from ""

Next.js has experimental support for such import statements, but it requires some extra setup, which we won't go through here. Instead, let's go the conventional way and import these packages using NPM:

npm install canvas-confetti

Setup tsconfig.json

In order for the Next.js app to understand internal imports such as

import Navbar from "@components/navbar"

we need to setup a custom tsconfig.json at the root of your project. Here is a sample configuration (you may need to adapt it to suit your specific setup):

  "compilerOptions": {
    "lib": ["dom", "dom.iterable", "esnext"],
    "jsx": "preserve",
    "baseUrl": ".",
    "paths": {
      "@templates/*": ["templates/*"],
      "@components/*": ["components/*"],
      "@lib/*": ["lib/*"]
  "exclude": ["../../node_modules", "./node_modules"],
  "include": [

Running the app

We are ready to run the app locally:

npm run dev

You now have a custom Next.js app ready to be deployed to your own servers. You can continue editing your content on Motif and benefit from the rich collaborative authoring environment it offers, and sync it to your local folder, thereby preserving your existing custom app setup and deployment workflows.