How to use Environment Variables in GCloud App Engine (Node.js)

Gunar Gessner
2 min readFeb 21, 2019


Simon Schilling tells me this is not working anymore.


My team developed a package for this @invisible/deploy. But we’re off Google App Engine for now. Too many problems with it.

Don’t put your secret information in your code

App Engine allows one to define environment variables through app.yaml. But you probably want to commit app.yaml to your version control (e.g. git).

How to solve this dilemma?

Store secrets in Google Cloud Storage

Go to Google Cloud -> Storage -> Browser.

Create a Bucket. The name should include:

  • “envvars”
  • your project name
  • your domain (optional)

Let’s say I create a project named “blog”, to host my blog. I would name it

Bucket names are unique across Google Cloud (not just Company or Project wide). Names ending with a domain are reserved. But you have to go through the trouble of verifying ownership.

Upload to this bucket your .env file. Example:

Importing Bucket content into process.env

Install dependencies

Add prestart hook to package.json

Add script to download .env

Use dotenv to load content into process.env

Making it work locally (development environment)

It works out of the box if you have a .env file in your local environment.