Rewriting the blog with Gatsby

Published on April 12, 20182 min read

If you've been following the front-end space it's very likely that you've heard of React. For a long time, I only used React for tiny projects like this, because it took a lot of work setting it up. I mean, create-react-app gave you nice defaults but you still had to make a lot of other decisions like routing, state management, the CSS stack, et al.

React for web pages?

Around this time something that really piqued my interest was that Netflix was using React to build their home page (and maybe the signup page too? I don't really remember).

Now this, at the time, looked totally bonkers to me.

Why? Because, with websites, you'll eventually need to serve a static page to your users. React or No React. So I started digging in. Was React and the ecosystem around it really that good? Is it worth sacrificing the simplicity of HTML + CSS + JS for an elaborate build process plus server-side rendering?

Abstracting away the complexity

Eventually, I found Gatsby. Gatsby abstracted away a lot of the complexity and made it really simple to make static websites with React. It has a nice set of community plugins that just work.

It even gives you a nice graphQL layer to pull in data from whatever database, CMS, or raw file(s) you like to keep your content in. I'm still not entirely done - tag-pages for example are still not complete and I'm not sure I ever will be - but I can't say I'm not loving this.

Is this something I would use in production?

Absolutely. One of the important things I think Gatsby will do nicely is scale-up. It's not hard to imagine building out a shared component library and design system for your company's website that scales along with your team.

Besides all this, Gatsby truly does improve the developer experience. HMR, code splitting, inlining critical CSS, are all very easy to set up. And I'm guessing it'll be the same for any new tech that pops up along the way.

Harris Jose
Software Engineer at Chronicle HQ.

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Whipping up a text editor and thinking about presentations on the web. Getting my hands dirty with Node.js and Rust.
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