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Environment Variables

Environment variables are global system variables accessible by all the processes running under the Operating System (OS). Environment variables are useful to store system-wide values such as the directories to search for executable programs (PATH), OS version, Network Information, and custom variables. These env variables are passed at build time and used at the runtime of an app.

How to Use

It's important to note that NX will only include in the process default and NX prefixed env vars such as: NODE_ENV or NX_CUSTOM_VAR.

Defining environment variables can vary between OSes. It’s also important to know that this is temporary for the life of the shell session.

Unix systems

In Unix systems, we need to pass the env vars before passing the (or other) commands \

Let's say we want to build with development mode, with env vars we can do that like so:

NODE_ENV=development nx build myapp

And if we want to add a custom env var for the command above, it would look like:

NODE_ENV=development NX_BUILD_NUMBER=123 nx build myapp

Windows (cmd.exe)

set "NODE_ENV=development" && nx build myapp

Windows (Powershell)

($env:NODE_ENV = "development") -and (nx build myapp)

Loading Environment Variables

By default, Nx will load any environment variables you place in the following files:

  1. workspaceRoot/apps/my-app/.local.env
  2. workspaceRoot/apps/my-app/.env
  3. workspaceRoot/.local.env
  4. workspaceRoot/.env

Order is important. Nx will move through the above list, ignoring files it can't find, and loading environment variables into the current process for the ones it can find. If it finds a variable that has already been loaded into the process, it will ignore it. It does this for two reasons:

  1. Developers can't accidentally overwrite important system level variables (like NODE_ENV)
  2. Allows developers to create .local.env files for their local environment and override any project defaults set in .env

For example:

  1. workspaceRoot/apps/my-app/.local.env contains AUTH_URL=http://localhost/auth
  2. workspaceRoot/apps/my-app/.env contains AUTH_URL=
  3. Nx will first load the variables from apps/my-app/.local.env into the process. When it tries to load the variables from apps/my-app/.env, it will notice that AUTH_URL already exists, so it will ignore it.

We recommend nesting your app specific env files in apps/your-app, and creating workspace/root level env files for workspace-specific settings (like the Nx Cloud token).

Pointing to custom env files

If you want to load variables from env files other than the ones listed above:

  1. Use the env-cmd package: env-cmd -f .qa.env nx serve
  2. Use the envFile option of the run-commands builder and execute your command inside of the builder