Why aren't my environment variables working in React?

Spent too much time trying to figure out why environment variables weren’t showing in my React app, so I thought I would document the solution for other developers to find. I had added some new parameters to my environment variables so that they could be used by my app. I made sure they were loaded up by the terminal that runs my development server, everything looked good.

export EXAMPLE_SITE_URL='https://example.com/'

I tried to access the variables through the client, but kept seeing logs of undefined.

window.open(`${process.env.EXAMPLE_SITE_URL}`, '_blank')

Since some of my variables were visible to the app, I assumed they were somehow being cached, so I started looking up “environment variables not updating” or “environment variables cached”. Finally I came across a solution to my issue in the Facebook Incubator github:

Note: You must create custom environment variables beginning with REACT_APP_. Any other variables except NODE_ENV will be ignored to avoid accidentally exposing a private key on the machine that could have the same name. Changing any environment variables will require you to restart the development server if it is running.

So what I actually needed was to preface my export and then everything worked as expected.

export REACT_APP_EXAMPLE_SITE_URL='https://example.com/'

For more information visit Facebook Incubator github: https://github.com/facebookincubator/create-react-app/tree/master/packages/react-scripts/template#adding-custom-environment-variables

Back to Blog

Say Hello

You can reach me by email, I'd love to hear from you.