Last Monday I put up a post talking about my adventures with Gatsby and Netlify. Since then I’ve been doing some more tinkering and building, trying out different ideas and I thought it was time I put out a follow up post to talk about a few of those and where I think I’ll be going with Gatsby and JAMstack in general.
On a whole, I really like Gatsby. I like Netlify and the whole JAMstack “serverless” concept that drives it. When I was doing freelance work, a good 50% of my projects were simple websites that either only had a few static pages, or pages that didn’t need much changing, and a blog component. Running this in WordPress is, of course, fine but looking back at that approach next to spinning up a Gatsby site it feels clunky and heavy. To deliver a few pages of content, you need a web server and a database and a PHP framework (yes, WordPress is pretty much a framework, imo, don’t @ me) to build and deliver content on the fly to the users browser. That seems like an awful faff when Gatsby can generate fast, static pages doing pretty much exactly the same thing and when hosting on Netlify and GitHub is as easy as pie.
One of the biggest hurdles that I’ve had to overcome is the sheer effort that you have to put in to get Gatstby to play nicely with a CMS like Netlify. Honestly, once all’s said and done, it’s not THAT taxing but I spent several days arguing with getting featured images to work with Gatsby’s extremely cool, built in image optimistaion in my original Fantastic Site design that I eventually gave up and spun up another site build to see if it would work in that. Weirdly it did and, to this day, I cannot figure out why my original build did not.
Still, that was a great learning experience and I now have a better understanding of how Gatsby fits components together, as well as how GraphQL works. When developing, Gatsby has a fantastic built in GraphiQL browser that allows you to build queries on the fly to test out getting different data out of your markdown files – it’s wonderful! I’ve also used the experience to build a couple of Gatsby starters that you’re free to use:
They both have instructions on how to get them up and running, although the Netlify one may complain if you remove all of the post data and try to run the site. But, these should allow you (and me!) to be able to quickly whip up a Gatsby powered site with basic blog functionality (or not, depending on which starter you choose).
If either of these are helpful for you, please let me know! I can see a good deal more work for me in the future in implementing more features into these either as they are or in a new starter that has some more advanced functionality. I want to explore searching, blog post categories, editable static pages and other site matter that can be placed in the control of the end user.
As always, don’t be a stranger and drop a line in the comments!