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Examples of using options in Gatsby themes

February 01, 2020 2 Min

The ability to define options for Gatsby themes unlocks a powerful set of development opportunities. You may have already used an option like contentPath before but there is so much more you can do!

Before you go any further, you need to pause and read Chris Biscardi’s excellent post about setting up a custom GraphQL node for theme options which can then be queried in components. I won’t repeat what he has already said so well!

Setup a hook for your theme options

Once you have your GraphQL node setup following Chris’s instructions next you will want to build a utility hook for the query. This keeps queries separate from presentational components and improves readability, something like useThemeOptions.

import { useStaticQuery, graphql } from "gatsby"
export const useThemeOptions = () => {
const { themeOptions } = useStaticQuery(
query {
themeOptions {
return themeOptions

Now when you want to access a theme option in a component it would be like this. Quicker and clearer to read.

import { useThemeOptions } from "./util/use-theme-options"
const { displaySiteTitle } = useThemeOptions()

Using theme options to conditionally render a component

When building a theme, giving the user design flexibility without having to shadow the entire component is a value added feature. Not every website will want a logo and conversely some websites only want a logo. The theme options displaySiteLogo and displaySiteTitle are boolean values that could be used to toggle this.

import React from "react"
import { useThemeOptions } from "gatsby-theme-super-heroes"
import Logo from "./branding-logo"
import Title from "./branding-title"
const SiteBranding = () => {
const { displaySiteLogo, displaySiteTitle } = useThemeOptions()
return (
{displaySiteLogo && <Logo />}
{displaySiteTitle && <Title />}
export default SiteBranding

Using theme options to conditionally change CSS styles

Another area theme options prove useful is conditionally styling an element. For example an option like footerContentLocation, could allow for three values; “left”, “right” and “center”. Each value corresponds to the alignment of content in the footer. In some designs having the footer content centered makes the most sense, while in other designs you may want it on the left side.

Here is an example of a footer component in action, note this uses the Theme UI sx prop, which may look a bit unfamiliar if you haven’t seen this pattern before.

/** @jsx jsx */
import { jsx } from "theme-ui"
import { useSiteMetadata, useThemeOptions } from "gatsby-theme-super-heroes"
const SiteFooter = () => {
const { title } = useSiteMetadata()
const { footerContentLocation } = useThemeOptions()
const isLeft = footerContentLocation === "left"
const isRight = footerContentLocation === "right"
const isCenter = footerContentLocation === "center"
return (
display: "grid",
alignContent: "center",
(isLeft && "start") || (isRight && "end") || (isCenter && "center"),
(isLeft && "left") || (isRight && "right") || (isCenter && "center"),
<p>Some awesome footer content here!</p>
export default SiteFooter

Passing information to gatsby-config.js

The last example of using a theme option is passing information to gatsby-config.js. In this example contentPath and assetPath are passed to gatsby-source-filesystem. This requires gatsby-config.js to be modified from a straight export to a function, also requiring you to be using a theme and a starter together. The starter passes the information to the theme. It is a good idea to ensure that these folders exist in the starter otherwise you will get a build error, Gatsby explains how to do this in the theme conventions doc.

// Note the change to a function instead of just module.exports = {}
module.exports = (options) => {
return {
siteMetadata: {
title: `Placeholder title`,
description: `Placeholder description`,
author: `Placeholder author`,
plugins: [
resolve: `gatsby-source-filesystem`,
options: {
name: `pages`,
path: options.contentPath || `content/pages`,
resolve: `gatsby-source-filesystem`,
options: {
name: `images`,
path: options.assetPath || `content/assets`,

Hopefully these examples inspire you to think about ways you can use theme options creatively in your next Gatsby theme! You can see more examples of how I used theme options throughout Gatsby Theme Catalyst. I would love to hear about your projects as I think it is still early days for Gatsby themes and additional patterns are sure to emerge.

Illustrations by Diana Valeanu
Design inspired by Gatsby-Absurd
© 2020 Eric Howey