Gatsby makes a new approach to web development easy

Gatsby makes a new approach to web development easy

Image: NDAB Creativity / Shutterstock

Much of what we consider business software today was once ridiculed as amateur toys. While not exclusively an open source phenomenon, it is perhaps more obvious in open source projects such as Linux or MySQL, which at first seem so unsuitable for serious business use, that they later grow to become default values ​​for for business use. Something similar is happening in web development.

I’LL SEE: The best programming languages ​​to learn and the worst (TechRepublic Premium)

Not long ago, static site generation (SSG) frameworks such as open source Gatsby were considered limited to simple applications such as blogs or documentation sites. The problem was performance. SSGs were fast because they represented websites as files, but that speed was broken once a website moved beyond 10 to 1,000 pages and scaled to 10,000 or 100,000 pages. Suddenly, the compilation process became very slow.

Well, that was then, and that is now.

Projects like Gatsby are increasingly challenging the idea that companies would need, much less want, a rugged, all-in-one CMS like WordPress or Sitecore. Not when they can get the best out of it: a headless CMS like Contentful as an API-based background content store; Stripe for payments, Gatsby for front presentation, etc. In fact, this relatively new approach to Jamstack may set a new standard for web development. Perhaps most importantly for developers, with Gatsby 4, you no longer need to bet on SSG on server-side representation (SSR). With Gatsby 4, you can have both.

Start small, go big

But that’s not where the developers start. The world has lived on traditional CMS for so long that developers often resort to something like WordPress for their work projects. WordPress, for example, is the CMS behind 39.6% of websites. However, when developers create for fun, they look for something like Gatsby, an open source framework for creating websites with React. Gatsby is also the name of the company that does most of the development of the project, while offering a cloud service to facilitate the start of Gatsby and also to continue.

I’LL SEE: How to Create a Successful Developer Career (Free PDF) (Technological Republic)

As Gatsby and company co-founders Kyle Mathews and Sam Bhagwat explained in an interview, the company continues to push for Gatsby to be easier and more powerful to use.

On the “easier” side, for years the company has been offering Starters, which are prefabricated open source Gatsby sites with simulated content to allow a developer to start using Gatsby with a minimal learning curve. How useful are Starters to a potential Gatsby user? “That’s where it all begins,” Mathews said. “They say, ‘What’s this about Gatsby?’ I will rebuild my portfolio. ‘ And they say, ‘Oh, it was fun. I will suggest it at work. This is a story we hear over and over again, and it will not stop. ”

To ensure that developers do not choose Gatsby for its ease of use and then abandon it due to performance deficiencies, the company has continuously (and drastically) improved Gatsby’s performance by introducing things like Gatsby Builds ( resulting in an improvement in build speed up to 1,000X). ) and, more recently, making improvements to Gatsby 4 through things like deferred static generation and parallel Gatsby cloud query processing, resulting in another 10-fold performance increase, drastically reducing the amount of time it takes. is needed to compile the files needed to render the site. For developers, this means that they are no longer blocked from developing modern applications when it comes to website development.

No choice

Of course, it is still a step of faith for developers who are imbued with the SSR approach of a traditional CMS to deliver dynamic web pages. With the introduction of Gatsby 4, however, no faith is required. Gatsby has added the ability to use SSR in addition to generating static sites. With a clever move, one of the main reasons for not using Gatsby was removed, creating an “escape hatch” for developers who wanted to use Gatsby but didn’t want to blame if SSR became necessary (or was perceived to be like this).

Developers will continue to choose SSG, the founders believe, but “server-side rendering is the universal escape hatch in web development because you can do anything in this mode.” Its incorporation makes it easy to choose Gatsby … and stay there.

I’LL SEE: You can learn web development with MySQL, PHP, GitHub, .NET, Blazor and Heroku (TechRepublic Academy)

This inclusion remains a central theme of Gatsby’s progress: increasing levels of developer empowerment. In fact, the whole premise behind Gatsy / Jamstack is to give developers back control of their development experience. According to Mathews, “developers want a more flexible way to create websites”; an exit from traditional monoliths with their stack of vertically integrated tools that make you “stuck in this world.” Jamstack, on the other hand, allows a developer to take the best approach, using a preferred presentation framework (Gatsby or Vue.js or many others), the CMS without any you choose, and so on. “It’s like the CMS has been dismantled, but people still want the CMS,” Mathews continued. That is, they want the benefits of the CMS but not its inflexible approach.

And now, with the introduction of SSR, developers don’t even need to choose between their convenient CMS approach for site rendering or the more modern approach of Jamstack. Bhagwat concluded, with Gatsby 4 “You can go anywhere in the world [static vs. dynamic/SSR] the spectrum you want. … You can render the server side so that one server can respond to all requests if you want, or you can render some of your pages each time you change the content and postpone the rest.

It’s about making the choice of a more modern way of building the web easier, and Gatsby is at the forefront.

Disclosure: I work for MongoDB, but the opinions expressed here are mine.

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