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Yesterday, after I have finished writing Firefox cannot render Source Code Pro in colour and I was about to run my deployment script, I thought I should finally automate this. Push the main branch to Github should be enough to deploy the newest build to S3. I’m using Github Actions, since I didn’t want to add another service to my process.

First, I was looking around for re-usable Github Actions, but giving third-party code access to your server is always a bit iffy and since I already have a deployment script this should not be hard. On my local machine I use AWS CLI named profiles and it should be enough to create such a profile in my Github Action and run my local script.

My deployed script is extreme simple, it syncs the dist/ directory with my bucket and then invalidates my CloudFront distribution:


aws s3 sync dist/ s3://BUCKET_NAME --profile florian.ec
aws cloudfront create-invalidation --distribution-id DISTRIBUTION_ID --paths '/*' --profile florian.ec

In my workflow I need to install NPM dependencies first, then build the Eleventy site and run my deployment script:

# .github/workflows/deploy.yml

name: Deploy

      - main

    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
      - uses: actions/checkout@master
      - run: mkdir -p ~/.aws
      - run: echo "[florian.ec]" > ~/.aws/credentials
      - run: echo "aws_access_key_id=$" >> ~/.aws/credentials
      - run: echo "aws_secret_access_key=$" >> ~/.aws/credentials
      - run: npm install
      - run: npm run build
      - run: npm run deploy

The only thing left to do is to go the repository settings under Secrets and define AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY there.

Before I go, one more word on AWS access keys. Don’t use the credentials for your root account here. Go into IAM and create a new user with a new policy and give it access only to the resources you need for your deployment process. In most of the Deploying to S3 tutorials I have found this step is skipped and most people explain deploying to S3 by using their root credentials. Since this is important I am going to repeat it: don’t deploy using your root credentials. Go into IAM, create a new user, create a new policy, and give the user only access to the resources and actions it needs to deploy your site. Mine looks like this (replace ACCOUNT_ID, BUCKET_NAME and DISTRIBUTION_ID with your own):

  "Version": "2012-10-17",
  "Statement": [
      "Sid": "FlorianEcProd0",
      "Effect": "Allow",
      "Action": [
      "Resource": [

I use this user in my deployment script and I also have set up a server in Transmit so that I can manually inspect my bucket.

In conclusion, you don’t need to use user generated Github Actions to deploy your static site to S3. Instead, you can directly invoke the AWS CLI in your workflow. Don’t forget to create a new IAM user and give it only access to the resources your deployment process needs.