Working with Azure - Tom Ordonez

Tom Ordonez

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Create a Next.js App and Deploy to Azure


Create GitHub repo

Created a repo called azureblog for all my Azure related tutorials and lessons learned.

  • Don't add a README

Install Node in Ubuntu

Using the default sudo apt install nodejs npm doesn't work with Next.js, since it requires v.14 and above, and apt version is v.12.

Tried using Nodesource but running the commands returned an error that I couldn't figure out. (Wasted about 2 hrs here)

Install with NVM (took 5 minutes)

cd ~/
git clone .nvm
cd ~/.nvm
git checkout v0.39.3
. ./

Add to ~/.bashrc

export NVM_DIR="$HOME/.nvm"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/"  # This loads nvm
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion"  # This loads nvm bash_completion

List all available versions:

nvm ls-remote

Install the latest LTS (v18.14.1 as of Feb 2023):

nvm install --lts

Verify that it was installed:

$ node -v
$ npm -v

Create a Next.js app

Use this command with the name of the github repo.

npx [email protected] azureblog --use-npm --example ""


Creating a new Next.js app in /home/tom/azureblog.
Downloading files from repo This might take a moment.
Installing packages. This might take a couple of minutes.
added 18 packages, and audited 19 packages in 10s
found 0 vulnerabilities
Initialized a git repository.
Success! Created azureblog at /home/tom/azureblog
Inside that directory, you can run several commands:

npm run dev
    Starts the development server.
npm run build
    Builds the app for production.
npm start
    Runs the built app in production mode.
We suggest that you begin by typing:
cd azureblog
npm run dev

Open the directory

cd azureblog

Add the git remote

git remote add origin your-repo

Start the server

npm run dev


> dev
> next dev

ready - started server on, url: http://localhost:3000
event - compiled client and server successfully in 2.4s (149 modules)
Attention: Next.js now collects completely anonymous telemetry regarding usage.
This information is used to shape Next.js' roadmap and prioritize features.
You can learn more, including how to opt-out if you'd not like to participate in this anonymous program, by visiting the following URL:

Open localhost http://localhost:3000

Initial push to Github

git push -u origin main

Create a static web app in Azure

Go to Azure portal:

  • Create a resource
  • Search Static Web apps
  • Select Create


  • Select Subscription, Resource Group
  • Enter a name
  • Plan type: Free
  • Region: Select your closest one
  • Source: GitHub
  • GitHub account: Sign in with GitHub

After sign in with Github:

  • Choose (your Github account) Organization
  • Select Repository
  • Select Branch

Build Details:

  • Build presets, select Next.js
  • App location, leave default /

Review and create:

  • Select Review and Create, then Create
  • When completed Go to resource

Check first deployment to Azure

Status of (actual) deployment:

  • Azure shows a link for the deployed app. However, it said "waiting for the content"
  • Go to the Actions workflow in the Github repo.
  • It took about 2 minutes to complete
  • Then check again the Azure link.
  • It shows the default Welcome to Next.js

The Azure docs say that changes must be synced with local repo.

"When you created the app, Azure Static Web Apps created a GitHub Actions file in your repository. Synchronize with the server by pulling down the latest to your local repository"

Looking at GitHub, a new directory was created .github/workflows with a yml file. Some of the code:

    name: Azure Static Web Apps CI/CD

        - main
        types: [opened, synchronize, reopened, closed]
        - main

Update local repo:

$ git pull origin main

Push/Deploy new changes

Looking at the yml script, it deploys once you push to the repo. Also the doc on Azure Static Web Apps says:

"...Azure interacts directly with GiHub or Azure DevOps, to monitor a branch...every time you push commits or accept pull requests into the watched branch, a build automatically runs and your app and API deploys to Azure"

Deploy to Azure pushing to GitHub:

git push -u origin main

Create a custom domain for the Azure generated URL

Go to Azure portal and get a TXT to validate that you own the domain:

  • Azure Portal
  • Go to the static web app resource
  • Left menu/Settings/Custom domains
  • Add
  • Custom domain on other DNS
  • Enter domain name
  • Create TXT record
  • Add settings to your DNS provider

With your DNS provider, create a CNAME record

  • Type: CNAME
  • Host: Your subdomain
  • Value: Azure generated URL (without https://)

Wait a few hours to resolve.

Build the Blog in Next.js

Run the server and keep it running.

npm run dev

Following the official Next.js docs here

Edit a page

Open pages/index.js. Replace Welcome to with Learn

Create a new page

  • Under pages create the directory posts
  • Create the file first-post.js

Add this content:

export default function FirstPost() {
    return <h1>First Post</h1>;

Then go to http://localhost:3000/posts/first-post

Link Component

In pages/index.js add:

import Link from 'next/link';

Change the h1 to:

<h1 className="title">
    Read <Link href="/posts/first-post">this page</Link>

In pages/posts/first-post.js replace contents with:

import Link from 'next/link';

export default function FirstPost() {
    return (
            <h1>First Post</h1>
                <Link href="/">Back to home</Link>

Create a profile picture

  • Save a profile.jpg (400x400px) in public/images
  • Remove the default public/vercel.svg
  • Replace your favicon or leave the default in public/favicon.ico

Modify the Metadata

Add Head to first-post.js

import Head from 'next/head';

Update the FirstPost component and include Head

        <title>First Post</title>
    <h1>First Post</h1>

Create a Layout to share on all pages

  • Create a top level components directory
  • Inside create a layout.js

Add this content:

export default function Layout({ children }) {
    return <div>{children}</div>;

In pages/posts/first-post.js add Layout import. Enclose everything in return with the Layout component, replacing the <></> with <Layout></Layout>.

import Layout from '../../components/layout';


Add CSS to Layout. Create a file styles/Layout.module.css:

.container {
    max-width: 36rem;
    padding: 0 1rem;
    margin: 3rem auto 6rem;

.header {
    display: flex;
    flex-direction: column;
    align-items: center;

.backToHome {
    margin: 3rem 0 0;

Modify components/layout.js with:

import styles from '../styles/Layout.module.css';

export default function Layout({ children }) {
    return <div className={styles.container}>{children}</div>;

Add Global Style

Create the file pages/_app.js:

export default function App({ Component, pageProps }) {
    return <Component {...pageProps} />;

Restart the server.

Modify styles/global.css adding:

body {
    line-height: 1.6;
    font-size: 18px;

a {
    color: #0070f3;

a:hover {
    text-decoration: underline;

img {
    max-width: 100%;
    display: block;

Import the file in pages/_app.js:

import '../styles/globals.css';

Review results in localhost:3000/posts/first-post

Add Google Analytics to Next.js app

In Google Analytics GA4, in your account, create a property, and create a data stream.

The default Google Tag JS code won't work

After creating the data stream, it opens tag instructions with JS code to put after the head. I installed this in _app.js and the script showed correctly in localhost and then when it was deployed. However, the script wouldn't run. I checked in Google Analytics and data was being collected in the Realtime section.

<!-- Google tag (gtag.js) -->
<script async src=""></script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
gtag('js', new Date());

gtag('config', 'G-YOURID');

Instead, use Google Tag Manager

  • Go to Google Analytics account
  • At the top menu, go to your property dropdown
  • The second icon (a diamond) next to Google Analytics is Tag Manager
  • Follow the instructions to create a Tag Manager account as seen in this video from Google Analytics.
  • Copy the JS code and save for later.

Create a local environment variable

Create the file .env.local in the root directory with this local environment variable:


Add .env.local to .gitignore

Add this file to .gitignore. It might be already added:


Add Google Tag Manager code to _app.js

Go to pages/_app.js. Add the Google Analytics script using the local environment variable and a strategy.

If strategy="afterInteractive", the script is added to the body. If strategy="beforeInteractive", the script is added to the head.

import Script from 'next/script';

export default function App({ Component, pageProps }) {
    return (
            <Script id="gtm-head" strategy="beforeInteractive">
                new Date().getTime(),event:'gtm.js'});var f=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],
            <Script id="gtm-body" strategy="afterInteractive">
                __html: `<iframe src="${process.env.NEXT_PUBLIC_GOOGLE_ANALYTICS}"
            height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe>`,
            <Component {...pageProps} />

Go to localhost to check that the scripts were loaded to the head and the body.

Create an environment variable in Github Actions

Since the deployment is done with GitHub and GitHub actions. Create an environment variable in GitHub. Actually, a repository variable, which is accessed with the vars context (see GitHub docs). Alternatively, you could create an environment, and then an environment variable.

Create a repository variable:

  • Go to the Next.js app repo
  • Settings
  • Security/Secrets and variables/Actions
  • Go to the Variables tab
  • On the green button click on New repository variable
  • Enter value: G-YourCodeHere

Modify your deployment yml file in .github/workflows/:

  • Find the job build_and_deploy_job
  • At the end of this job after with

As seen in this section:

uses: Azure/[email protected]
    app_location: "/" # App source code path
    api_location: "" # Api source code path - optional
    output_location: "" # Built app content directory - optional
    ###### End of Repository/Build Configurations ######

Then deploy the app and verify online that the script was loaded.

Adding an environment variable in Azure didn't work

This didn't work for me. Before setting up the environment variable in GitHub, I did it in the Azure static web app dashboard like this:

  • Go to the Azure static web app
  • Settings/Configuration
  • Application settings
  • Environment: Production
  • Click Add
  • Enter value: G-YourCodeHere

I spent hours trying to troubleshoot and nothing worked, then I remembered the diagram of What is Azure Static Web Apps in the Microsoft website, it said GitHub Actions or Azure DevOps.

"When you create an Azure Static Web Apps resource, Azure interacts with GitHub or Azure DevOps, to monitor a branch of your choice"

I am assuming that since I chose GitHub Actions then all deployment configuration and environment variables must be set there and not in the Azure configuration feature.

Verify the Google Tag Manager runs on the deployed website

  • Go to your deployed website
  • Open developer tools
  • In Elements (HTML structure), verify that the Tag Manager scripts were loaded to the head and body
  • Go to Network. Check that there are two resources loaded. One starts with gtm and the one that confirms that Google Tag Manager is running and pinging Google Analytics starts with collect
  • Go to your Google Analytics, Realtime reporting. And you should see a user visiting your deployed website.

Create the blog structure of the Next.js app

Polish the Layout

As seen in the Next.js docs here

Update these files with your content, or with content from the website above.

  • Add a file styles/utils.module.css
  • Update components/layout.js
  • Update pages/index.js

Create the blog structure

As seen in the Next.js docs here

  • Create the directory posts in project root
  • Add markdown blog posts in this folder

Example posts/

title: 'Two Forms of Pre-rendering'
date: '2020-01-01'

Next.js has two forms of pre-rendering

Install the library to parse the yaml metadata:

npm install gray-matter

Create the directory lib in the project root. Then create a file lib/posts.js. Copy the code from the docs.

In pages/index.js add the code as seen here. This will add the list of blog posts to the home page.

Create dynamic routes for the blog posts

As seen in the docs here

  • In page/posts/ create the file [id].js
  • Remove the file pages/posts/first-post.js
  • Add the code as seen in the docs.

Wrapping up creating the app

Around this point following the Next.js docs, I realized this was way too much JS for me. It's a great learning experience if you wish to study and understand every single line of code. I completed all the files and added the code. Then deployed the final result to Azure.

Creating blog posts

I created a Markdown template and included this file in .gitignore. I just copy/paste the template to posts and modify it to create a new blog post. Then git commit and git push -u origin main to deploy the blog to Azure.

Add SEO to the app

Create a sitemap.xml

As seen in the docs here. Create a sitemap.xml.js in the pages directory. Note the extension of the file. It's not just .xml. It is .xml.js.

Modify the sample code to include this:

import { getSortedPostsData } from '../lib/posts';

Change the URL to your domain so it matches https://your-domain/posts:


Remove this section and add your domain here. Instead of this:

<!--We manually set the two URLs we know already-->

Replace with:


Making an API call as shown in the sample, didn't work for me, as I got an error that it expected JSON but it returned HTML. I removed this section:

export async function getServerSideProps({ res }) {
    // We make an API call to gather the URLs for our site
    const request = await fetch(EXTERNAL_DATA_URL);
    const posts = await request.json();

Instead, I collected the blog posts from getSortedPostsData:

export async function getServerSideProps({ res }) {
    const allPostsData = getSortedPostsData();
    const sitemap = generateSiteMap(allPostsData);

    res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/xml');
    // we send the XML to the browser

    return {
        props: {},

Create a robots.txt

As seen in the Next.js docs here. In your root directory, create a robots.txt

# Allow all crawlers
User-agent: *
Allow: /

Also add your sitemap like this:

# Sitemap
Sitemap: https://your-domain/sitemap.xml

Submit Sitemap to Google Search Console

After deploying the website.

  • Go to Google Search Console or create an account
  • Add your website
  • Under Indexing/Sitemaps
  • Add a new sitemap. Enter your sitemap and Submit.