Gatsby allows us to build blazing fast websites and Gatsby Days London gave us a chance to learn more about this great framework
Having spent several months researching Gatsby and testing out the framework, we decided to build our new website using Gatsby. We launched our new website in August 2019 and we have received some really positive feedback on the website. We also enjoyed working with the framework, the developer experience is fantastic as we get to use modern tools and workflows. For users it's fast, ‘blazing’ fast as the Gatsby team like to say, and can be configured as a PWA to allow it to work offline. From a client perspective as well as the benefits for theirs users their site is more secure and often they can continue to work with the CMSs they know and love.
We were really pleased to hear Gatsby were going out on the road to showcase their latest developments. We jumped at the chance to attend the event in London as it was their first event held outside of the USA and only their third to date.
After a very early start, we arrived at London Euston just before 8am and with some time to kill before the conference we decided to check out Moneypenny’s Workhub which is located in the heart of Tech City. Soon after we were back on the tube heading to The Congress Centre, the venue for Gatsby Days London 2019 which was a last minute change from the original venue due to increased demand, and after registering we made our way into the hall before the start of the talks. Not really knowing what to expect, we were a little surprised with how busy it was with about 200 people attending the event along with the Gatsby team and guest speakers.
Live Preview with Gatsby and Drupal
After an opening keynote from Gatsby co-founder Kyle Mathews, Preston So talked about Gatsby’s Live Preview and demonstrated its use with Drupal. Live Preview is a SaaS that lets you see content changes as soon as you make them, currently there’s only support for Drupal, Contentful, Sanity, DatoCMS and Contentstack, however support for more CMSs is on its way with support for WordPress expected in the next few months.
#GatsbyJS is great for #Drupal. Our new #CMS Preview product makes preview lightning-fast! ⚡— Preston So in London 🇬🇧 (@prestonso) September 30, 2019
Thanks to all at #GatsbyDaysLondon who came to see "Live preview with @GatsbyJS and #decoupled @Drupal"!
The new feature is like a private playground for developers, designers, and content creators, as it provides a shareable temporary URL for viewing changes immediately and in context. Preview solves a problem that exists because of the decoupled architecture as for many of the CMSs being used as a headless CMS, for example WordPress, after publishing the content changes you would usually have to wait until after the site is rebuilt and deployed to view the change because the frontend is separate from the backend.
WordPress and Gatsby
With WordPress being the market leader, by a long way, when it comes to CMSs there’s a lot of appetite to create better integrations between WordPress and Gatsby. There are plans to invest more heavily in WordPress integrations and add more WordPress developers to the Gatsby team after hiring Jason Bahl, the creator of the GraphQL for WordPress.
As well as Live Preview, which is coming out soon for WordPress, there are plans for more features like webhooks for deployments after updates and more WordPress plugins that allow for deeper integration with Gatsby. As an agency we use both these tools so we’re really excited to see more investment into connecting the both of them.
During the day there were a couple of WordPress talks by Alexandra Spalato and Horacio Herrera. Alexandra’s “Using WordPress as a Source for Gatsby” talk took a look at the advantages and possibilities that WordPress offers as content source for Gatsby, she also demonstrated the use of WPGraphQL and Advanced Custom Fields, a popular WordPress plugin.
In Horacio’s talk, “Building (and Selling) Gatsby + Wordpress Sites”, he went through his experiences of talking to clients about Gatsby and how he was able to convey how the combination of WordPress and Gatsby is the best of both worlds for his clients.
After lunch, which was a selection of street food and a dessert station, we went into an unconference session based on topics that were suggested before lunch. We were pleased that our suggested topics of WordPress and ecommerce were two of the fifteen selected as it allowed us to discuss these with our fellow attendees and the Gatsby team.
In the Gatsby community incremental builds have been talked about a lot and right at the end of the day, after closing remarks from Kyle Mathews, we were treated to a sneak peek of the new feature.
Seeing a preview of incremental builds was great as it will make building much larger sites more feasible, at the moment building large sites with lots of pages is possible in Gatsby, however because each time a change is made the whole site needs rebuilding, usually the more pages there are the longer the build time is. Incremental builds will mean that only the pages that have changed will be rebuilt, making getting changes live much quicker.
To sum up
It was a long day but well worth it to find out more about Gatsby and meet the Gatsby team as well as other developers using the framework. It’s still early days for Gatsby however there’s already a lot of momentum behind this framework, and with the recent funding raised by Gatsby to “drive the reinvention of website development” they now have the resources to build on their current team in order to improve framework, related tools and integrations.