Guide to Getting Started with SvelteKit

· 21 min read

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    Derived from Svelte, a tool for writing user interface components; SvelteKit is similar to Next.js for React and Nuxt.js for Vue. It extends Svelte's capabilities by offering robust solutions to common web development challenges, essentially streamlining the process of building web applications. SvelteKit is known for its features such as a router for updating the UI, build optimizations, offline support, preloading pages, and configurable rendering options. It simplifies the development process by automating routine tasks, giving developers the freedom to focus on the creative part of development.

    Cutting-edge techniques such as Live Hot Module Replacement (HMR) underpin SvelteKit's strength. Utilizing Vite with a Svelte plugin, SvelteKit delivers instant code changes that streamline the development experience. As a result, the framework provides a lightning-fast development experience, keeping developers engaged and productive.

    Whether you aim to build a simple website or a complex web application, SvelteKit not only provides the tools but also furnishes comprehensive documentation and tutorial resources to support your journey. From creating a project, understanding the project structure, grasping core concepts like routing and state management, to building and deploying the app, every aspect is covered.

    It's important to note that the strength of SvelteKit does not just lie in its features, but also in its community. With resources like the Discord chatroom, beginners and professionals, alike, can seek help, learn, and grow.

    In this guide, we will build upon the basics and then explore more advanced parts of this powerful framework.

    Understanding SvelteKit and its Features

    At first glance, SvelteKit can be viewed as a powerful ally in the arena of web development. It stands out through its feature-rich platform, making it an attractive choice for developers worldwide. Let's take a closer look at SvelteKit's notable features, designed to elevate your web development journey.

    A Router for Modern Web Development

    SvelteKit comes pre-equipped with a router, a must-have tool in modern web development. It delivers dynamic user experiences by updating the UI with each click on the link, keeping your application interactive and responsive.

    Build Optimizations

    Keeping your website's performance at its best, SvelteKit provides build optimizations. It smartly loads only the necessary code required for a particular page, enhancing the speed and performance of your application.

    Offline Support

    SvelteKit comes with built-in offline support, ensuring your application remains functional even without an active internet connection. You no longer need to worry about user experience disruptions due to connectivity issues.

    Preloading Pages and Configurable Rendering

    Preloading is an essential feature that ensures your web pages load faster by fetching data before they are needed. SvelteKit supports preloading, enhancing the user experience through faster page loading.

    Configurable rendering refers to the flexibility SvelteKit offers in the process of rendering your web applications. It supports server-side rendering, client-side rendering, and prerendering, allowing you to choose the best fit for your needs.

    Instant Code Changes with Live Hot Module Replacement (HMR)

    One of SvelteKit’s major attractions is its ability to reflect changes in your code instantly in your browser. This is made possible through Live Hot Module Replacement (HMR) via Vite with a Svelte plugin, making it a breeze to see live changes as you code.

    While these features may seem overwhelming at first, they are designed to streamline your web development journey. From efficient routing, build optimizations, offline support to instant code changes, SvelteKit is all about simplifying tasks and letting you focus on what truly matters – creating outstanding web applications.

    And the best part? SvelteKit's extensive documentation and tutorials ensure you are never left in the dark. With this powerful toolset at your disposal, you're well-equipped to tackle the challenges of modern web development.

    Setting up your first SvelteKit project

    So, are you ready to get your hands dirty with SvelteKit? Let's create your first SvelteKit project and set it up for success. Don't worry if this is all new territory – the step-by-step guidance will ensure you stay on track.

    Step 1: Environment Setup

    First and foremost, ensure you have Node.js and npm installed. SvelteKit has a dependency on these tools, and you will need them to manage your project's packages. You can download Node.js here, and npm is included in the Node.js installation.

    Once you have Node.js and npm installed, you can verify their installation by running the following commands in your terminal:

    node --version
    npm --version

    These commands should display the installed versions of Node.js and npm, respectively.

    Step 2: Creating a New Project

    Creating a new SvelteKit project is as easy as running one command. In your terminal, navigate to the directory where you want to create the new project and run:

    npm init svelte@next

    This command creates a new SvelteKit project in the current directory, asking a series of questions for project configuration. You can choose the default options for now, as they can be changed later as per your project needs.

    Step 3: Project Installation

    After creating the project, navigate into the project's directory using:

    cd [your-project-name]

    Then, install the project's dependencies with:

    npm install

    This command will install all the necessary packages for your SvelteKit project.

    Step 4: Running the Project

    You're almost there! Now that you've set up your project, let's see it in action. To start the project, run:

    npm run dev

    Upon running this command, a local development server will start, and you can view your project by opening `http://localhost:5000` in your browser.

    And voila! You have successfully set up and started your first SvelteKit project.

    Remember, exploring and learning is an integral part of development. Don't be afraid to play around with the code and test different features. The excellent documentation and supportive Svelte community are always there to help.

    Exploring the SvelteKit Project Structure

    Upon initiating your first project with SvelteKit, you might be surprised by the structure it presents. Given that understanding the project structure is paramount to efficiently building applications, let's explore the layout.

    SvelteKit arranges files and directories in a simple-to-navigate structure. At the root level of your project, you will notice several configuration files and folders. Here's a brief rundown of what each of these components entails:

    • `package.json`: This file is intrinsic to almost every Node.js project. It contains meta-information about your project, such as the name, version, and dependencies.
    • `svelte.config.js`: This is the main configuration file for SvelteKit, where you can customize the behavior of your application. It contains settings for adapters, Vite settings, and more.
    • `tsconfig.json`: If you chose to set up TypeScript with your SvelteKit project, this configuration file will be present. It contains settings specific to the TypeScript compiler.
    • `src`: This is the source directory where most of your application's code lies. It contains the `routes` and `lib` folders, and an `app.svelte` file.
    • `routes`: This directory is critical in SvelteKit. It consists of Svelte component files (.svelte) that correspond to the routes of your application. The file and directory structure in the `routes` directory directly maps to your application's URL structure.
    • `lib`: This is a conventional place to store reusable utility functions and components. Files in this directory do not map to routes.
    • `app.svelte`: This file is the main component of your SvelteKit application, similar to the `App` component in React or Vue. It is typically used to set up application-wide layouts, such as headers and footers.
    • `static`: This directory is for static files that don't need processing or compilation. It's a great place to store images, fonts, and any other static assets your application might need.
    • `node_modules`: This directory contains all of the node packages installed in your project via npm.

    The power of SvelteKit lies in this structure's simplicity. With a clear understanding of how your SvelteKit project is organized, you can effectively build and scale your applications. The project structure promotes a clean and modular approach to web development, which is one of the many reasons developers are drawn to SvelteKit.

    Now that you have a grasp on the project structure, you can start exploring further into SvelteKit's features and capabilities.

    Building a Simple Web Application with SvelteKit

    Now that we've got the basics down, let's put theory into practice by creating a simple web application using SvelteKit. For our project, we will build a straightforward website with dynamic routing and a small CMS integration.

    Remember: this is a learning experience. Feel free to go off the beaten path, explore different features, and learn by doing. Keep in mind that the Svelte documentation and community are always there to lend a helping hand should you run into any roadblocks.

    Step 1: Creating Layouts

    In SvelteKit, layouts can be seen as a standard template for your pages. They can contain elements that persist across multiple pages, such as headers or footers, and are a great way to maintain consistency across your application.

    To create a layout, create a new file `layout.svelte` in the `src/routes` directory. Here's a simple example of a layout:

    import Nav from '../components/Nav.svelte';
    <Nav />

    In this example, the `<slot></slot>` tag is where your page content will appear. Any other components added in the layout (like `Nav` in this case) will appear on every page that uses this layout.

    Step 2: Creating Routes

    SvelteKit's file-based routing system is intuitive and easy to use. Each `.svelte` file in the `src/routes` directory corresponds to a route in your application.

    For example, if you create `src/routes/about.svelte`, you just created an `/about` route for your application. The content of `about.svelte` will be what is displayed when navigating to this route.

    Step 3: Fetching Data with the Load Function

    The `load` function is a key feature of SvelteKit; it allows you to load data for your page before it's rendered. This function is async, enabling you to fetch data from an API or database before your component is rendered.

    In the `load` function's context parameter, you'll find the page's params and query. The `load` function should return an object with optional `props` and `status`. The `props` are the properties that your page component will receive. Here's a simple example:

    <script context="module">
    export async function load({ page, fetch, context }) {
    const res = await fetch(``);
    if (res.ok) {
    const data = await res.json();
    return {
    props: {
    return {
    status: res.status,
    error: new Error(`Could not load`)

    Step 4: Dynamic Parameters

    Dynamic parameters allow you to create dynamic routes in your application. You define these by creating a file or directory with a name starting with `[` and ending with `]`.

    For instance, creating a file named `src/routes/blog/[id].svelte` would match any route like `/blog/1`, `/blog/2`, etc. The value of the `id` parameter would be available in the page's `load` function.

    Step 5: Pre-fetching

    Pre-fetching enables faster page navigation by fetching data before the user navigates to the page. SvelteKit makes pre-fetching data easy with the `rel=prefetch` attribute on `<a>` tags.

    To enable pre-fetching, simply add the `rel=prefetch` attribute to any `<a>` tag in your Svelte components:

    <a href="/about" rel="prefetch">About</a>

    This will load the `about` page's data in the background when the link comes into view, making navigation to that page lightning-fast.

    And there we have it, a beginner's guide to creating a simple web application using SvelteKit. As you can see, SvelteKit eases the process of developing robust and high-performance web applications. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. With more practice and exploration, you'll uncover the true potential of this powerful framework.

    Advanced Concepts in SvelteKit

    As we venture deeper into the world of SvelteKit, it’s time to master the advanced aspects of this cutting-edge framework. Understanding these concepts can dramatically enhance your web development capabilities and equip you with the tools to build more complex and dynamic applications.

    Server-Side Rendering (SSR) and Pre-rendering

    Server-side rendering (SSR) is an advanced feature that SvelteKit offers out of the box. It allows developers to render their web pages on the server, which can speed up initial page loads, provide a better user experience, and improve SEO.

    SvelteKit also supports pre-rendering. This is a process where the server generates static HTML for each page of your application in advance. This strategy can produce fast and reliable sites and is particularly useful when you're building a static site or an app where SEO is crucial.

    Here's an example of how you can use SSR in your application:

    <script context="module">
    export async function load({ session }) {
    return {
    props: {
    user: session.user
    prerender: session.user === undefined
    <p>{user ? `Welcome ${}` : 'Please log in'}</p>

    In this example, the component is rendered on the server if the user is undefined. If a user is logged in, then it's rendered on the client.

    Layout Composition and Nested Layouts

    SvelteKit allows you to nest layouts within each other, facilitating complex UI designs. By composing layouts, you can create template hierarchies that share common elements.

    Suppose you have a `src/routes/blog/_layout.svelte` file. This layout is applied to `src/routes/blog/index.svelte` and any other pages in the `src/routes/blog` directory. If you also have a `src/routes/_layout.svelte`, that layout gets composed with the blog layout.

    Adapters for Deployment

    When deploying your SvelteKit project, you need to convert your app into something that can run on the target platform. That's where adapters come into play. Adapters are plugins that take the output of the `svelte-kit build` command and generate from it something deployable.

    SvelteKit offers various adapters out of the box and supports custom adapters as well. For instance, you can use the `@sveltejs/adapter-netlify` adapter to deploy your application on Netlify or the `@sveltejs/adapter-node` adapter to create a standalone Node.js server.

    // svelte.config.js
    import adapter from '@sveltejs/adapter-node';
    let config = {
    kit: {
    adapter: adapter(),
    // ...

    This makes SvelteKit a versatile framework ready to fit into any deployment scenario you can imagine.

    Working with Endpoints and Server Routes

    In SvelteKit, endpoints are routes that respond to requests but don't render any HTML. They're used in API routes, server-side route logic, or to serve other kinds of non-HTML responses (like SVG or PDF files).

    You can create an endpoint by adding a file to the `src/routes` directory of your project. The file should export one or more of these functions: `get`, `post`, `put`, `del`, `head`, `options`, or `patch`.

    // src/routes/api/user.js
    export async function get(request) {
    const user = await getUserFromDatabase(;
    if (user) {
    return { body: user };
    } else {
    return { status: 404, body: 'Not found' };

    In this example, an API endpoint is created that fetches a user from a database and returns it as JSON. If the user isn't found, it returns a 404 status code.

    Error Handling

    SvelteKit provides a special layout for handling errors - `src/routes/error.svelte`. Whenever there's an unhandled error in `load` functions or route-level code, SvelteKit will render this component and pass the error to it.

    It's a good practice to implement this layout in your SvelteKit applications to handle unexpected errors and present a friendly error page to your users. By mastering these advanced concepts, you'll be well on your way to becoming a SvelteKit expert.

    Deploying your SvelteKit Application

    Once you've developed a web application with SvelteKit, the next step is deploying it to the web. Luckily, SvelteKit makes it straightforward with the use of adapters. Adapters are plugins that take your built SvelteKit application and generate from it a deployable package for various hosting platforms.

    Choosing an Adapter

    SvelteKit has a selection of official adapters available, each one tailored to a specific deployment target. Some of these include:

    • `@sveltejs/adapter-node`: This adapter allows you to run your SvelteKit application as a standalone Node.js server. This is an ideal solution for applications that require server-side rendering (SSR) and server routes.
    • `@sveltejs/adapter-static`: This adapter generates a static site with prerendered HTML. This is a suitable choice for blog sites, documentation sites, and other content-driven sites.
    • `@sveltejs/adapter-netlify`: This adapter is specifically designed for deploying your application on the Netlify platform. Once your build is ready, deploying is as simple as pushing your code to a Git repository connected to Netlify.

    To use an adapter, install it as a development dependency using npm, and then configure it in your `svelte.config.js` file.

    Configuring an Adapter

    Adapters are configured within the `svelte.config.js` file located at the root of your SvelteKit project. Say you're planning to deploy your application on Netlify using the Netlify adapter. First, install it as a development dependency:

    npm install -D @sveltejs/adapter-netlify

    Next, in your `svelte.config.js` file, import your adapter and set it as the adapter for your project configuration:

    import netlify from '@sveltejs/adapter-netlify';
    const config = {
    kit: {
    // hydrate the <div id="svelte"> element in src/app.html
    target: '#svelte',
    adapter: netlify()
    export default config;

    Building and Deploying the Application

    With the adapter configured, you're ready to build your project. Run the following command to create a production-ready version of your application:

    npm run build

    Your built project is now ready for deployment. For platforms like Netlify or Vercel, deployment could be as simple as pushing your code to a connected Git repository. Alternatively, you might manually upload your build directory to the hosting platform of your choice.

    If you're using a platform-specific adapter, additional deployment steps might be required. Consult the adapter's documentation for detailed deployment instructions.

    Deploying your SvelteKit application doesn't have to be a daunting task. With the right adapter and a little bit of configuration, you can have your web application up and running in no time.


    This comprehensive guide offers a holistic overview of creating, building, and deploying web applications using SvelteKit. We've walked through the fundamental features of SvelteKit, setting up your first project, understanding its project structure, and even creating a simple web application. Not stopping there, we explored the advanced concepts that SvelteKit brings to the table, enhancing the process of creating complex and dynamic applications. Lastly, the process of deploying your SvelteKit applications was simplified with a step-by-step walkthrough.

    Remember, the key to mastering SvelteKit, as with any development tool, is persistence, practice, and exploration. This guide serves as a launchpad for your SvelteKit journey, but the universe of SvelteKit is full of endless possibilities waiting to be discovered by you.

    Richard Lawrence

    About Richard Lawrence

    Constantly looking to evolve and learn, I have have studied in areas as diverse as Philosophy, International Marketing and Data Science. I've been within the tech space, including SEO and development, since 2008.
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