Debugging HTML Builds

Errors while building static HTML files generally happen for two reasons.

  1. Some of your code references “browser globals” like window or document. If this is your problem you should see an error above like “window is not defined”. To fix this, find the offending code and either a) check before calling the code if window is defined so the code doesn’t run while gatsby is building (see code sample below) or b) if the code is in the render function of a React.js component, move that code into “componentDidMount” which ensures the code doesn’t run unless it’s in the browser.

  2. Some other reason :-) #1 is the most common reason building static files fail. If it’s another reason, you have to be a bit more creative in figuring out the problem.

How to check if window is defined

// Requiring function causes error during builds
// as the code tries to reference window
const module = require('module') // Error

// Wrap the require in check for window
if (typeof window !== `undefined`) {
  const module = require('module') // Error

Fixing third-party modules

So, the worst has happened and you’re using an NPM module that expects window to be defined. You may be able to file an issue and get the module patched, but what to do in the mean time?

One solution is to customize your webpack configuration to replace the offending module with a dummy module during server rendering.

gatsby-node.js in the project root:

exports.modifyWebpackConfig = ({ config, stage }) => {
  if (stage === 'build-html') {
    config.loader('null', {
      test: /bad-module/,
      loader: 'null-loader'

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