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by : Aashiya Mittal
August 4th 2023
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Get ready to witness the limitless capabilities of Gatsby, as Gatsby is here to revolutionize your web development experience.

To meet the expectations of modern-age UI, new frameworks have been introduced over time. From ensuring lightning-fast websites to better-ranking websites, we need advanced frameworks that ease development. 

One of the Javascript frameworks that get quick attention is the Gatsby: The fastest frontend for the headless web. With its seamless integration of React, Gatsby empowers you to build lightning-fast, visually stunning websites that leave a lasting impression on your audience. Say goodbye to sluggish load times and hello to a delightful user experience. 

Gatsby contributes mainly to a major portion of enterprises’ websites.

One who is looking to create an exceptional UI leveraging the power of React, then Gatsby is your way to go. If you are just getting started, then you must read this guide around Gatsby to fully understand how Gatsby can help your business grow.

Let’s start with a quick introduction to Gatsby.

What is Gatsby?

Gatsby.JS is an open-source platform, rooted in React, designed to assist developers in crafting high-speed web applications and websites. It assists coders in making websites and apps that work fast. By mixing the flexibility of dynamically changing sites with the quickness of static site creation, Gatsby lets developers explore many new possibilities on the web. 

It combines GraphQL, React, and react-router to make it easier for developers to build static sites. Think of Gatsby as a modern framework that optimizes page-loading speed using techniques like data prefetching and code splitting. It’s great for websites with a predictable number of pages and mostly static content. 

Gatsby provides many plugins, themes, and starters that developers can use to build websites in different ways. These plugins can modify almost everything in Gatsby. Gatsby JS has more starting themes and templates than any other framework, and it supports REST APIs, GraphQL, CMS systems, and databases.

Understanding Gatsby’s Buzzword

Gatsby is a modern web tool that utilizes new concepts like JAMstack architecture and static site generators to make websites load faster and run more smoothly. To understand Gatsby, we need to understand the technologies it relies on, which have been shaping web and web development in recent years.

Static site generators

A static site is constructed using static content (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) and utilizes server-side rendering to deliver consistent content upon each site load. In contrast, dynamic websites employ browser-side rendering, resulting in varying page loads based on factors like time zone, location, and user behavior. 

Gatsby JS, powered by React, is a popular static site generator that uses GraphQL API to process data and create static HTML files.

The “JAMstack”

Jamstack uses JavaScript, reusable API, and pre-built Markup to make websites faster, more secure, and easier to handle.

 

JAMStack- Gatsby

Source- Zesty

Below are the major component of JAMstack-

  • JavaScript: It is used on the client side to add interactivity and dynamic functionality to websites.
  • APIs (Application Programming Interfaces): These are reusable services or functions that allow different parts of a website to communicate and exchange data with each other.
  • Markup: Pre-built Markup refers to static HTML files that are generated during the build process of a JAMstack website. These files are served to the client as-is, reducing the need for server-side processing.

 

Jamstack is a favored architecture for static site generators, offering a client-side web development approach. GatsbyJS sites can be hosted with Object Storage Service and CDN, eliminating the need for a web server. Overall, JAMstack combines these components to create a modern software architecture that improves website performance, security, and scalability.

Working of Gatsby

What makes Gatsby a prominent choice? Some features like code splitting and content mesh help developers use static files for building fast websites. The Gatsby’s build command split the JavaScript code bundles allowing the loading of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code rather than downloading the complete app. This is why Gatsby is fast.

Content mesh highlights how Gatbsy’s main features relate and works together.

 

Gatsy Working

Source- Hostinger

Gatsby retrieves resources from CMS or markdown files and stores them in separate folders. 

For example, each web page sourced from a CMS has its folder, so when a user enters a specific URL, Gatsby fetches and displays that page. After rendering it completely, Gatsby prefetches resources from other pages to speed up loading times. The Gatsby ecosystem includes numerous plugins for various functionalities like image optimization, lazy loading, social media integration, eCommerce, and analytics. When using Gatsby, it is important to choose a high-performance VPS web hosting that supports the framework.

Core Components of Gatsby

Gatsby concepts

Source- malcolmkee

When considering Gatsby for JAMstack site development, React plays a crucial role as the “J” in “JAM.” React components are extremely modular and reusable, making them well-suited for encapsulating dynamic content. Gatsby operates similarly to a standard React application, so if you’re already comfortable with React, you’ll find it easy to develop in Gatsby.

Now, let’s dig deeper into the core components of Gatsby. 

React in Gatsby

React is the “J” of “JAMstack”.

The role of a component in a Gatsby app relies on where it’s placed in the filesystem. Components in src/components serve as simple page components, generating pages with URLs based on their filenames. For example, src/pages/about.js would create mywebsite.com/about. Page template components, found in src/templates, are similar to page components but can query GraphQL to fetch markdown data. This data is then used to populate the generated page. Page template components are handy for creating resources on a site with a consistent layout but different content, like blog posts, user profiles, and dashboards.

GraphQL in Gatsby

GraphQL, similar to React, originated at Facebook and is recognized as a highly robust and versatile approach to fetching data into React components. Operating as a query language, GraphQL bears resemblance to SQL by allowing users to define the desired data in a “query” and receive it as a response.

Webpack in Gatsby

 

webpack Gatsby

Source- Hostinger

Webpack is a tool that combines JavaScript modules into optimized bundles, facilitating the execution of an application. It leverages the dependency graph to identify module interdependencies, ensuring proper functionality. The webpack.config.js file serves as a guide for determining entry points. Furthermore, these file stores configuration settings and enables the retrieval of markup files in Gatsby by embedding HTML and CSS. Additionally, webpack supports code-splitting, enabling the loading of specific bundles upon request.

Advantages of Gatsby

Below is the list of significant benefits of using Gatsby in your forthcoming development projects.

 

  • Speed and Performance

Gatsby generates static HTML files that can be served directly to users, resulting in fast loading times and improved performance. Once the initial page loads, subsequent navigation is almost instantaneous.

  • Scalability

Gatsby’s build process optimizes assets and only generates what’s necessary, making it scalable and capable of handling large websites efficiently.

  • SEO-Friendly

Gatsby’s static site structure and pre-rendered pages make it inherently search-engine friendly. It allows search engines to easily crawl and index your content, improving your site’s visibility.

  • React Ecosystem

Gatsby is built on React, which is a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces. This means you can leverage the vast React ecosystem, including a wide range of plugins and components, to enhance your website’s functionality.

  • Content Management

Gatsby can integrate with various content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, or Contentful. This allows you to create and manage content using familiar tools while benefiting from Gatsby’s performance optimizations.

  • Progressive Web App (PWA) Support

Gatsby supports building Progressive Web Apps, which are web applications that offer an app-like experience to users. PWAs can work offline, send push notifications, and provide an immersive user experience.

Disadvantages of Gatsby

Despite the benefits, there are some scenarios that you might feel disheartened with Gatsby.

 

  • Learning Curve

Gatsby relies on several technologies, including React, GraphQL, and the command-line interface (CLI). This can result in a steep learning curve, especially for developers who are new to these technologies.

  • Limited Dynamic Functionality

As a static site generator, Gatsby is designed for websites with content that doesn’t change frequently. If you have a highly dynamic site, with real-time data or user-generated content, Gatsby might not be the most suitable choice.

  • Build Time

Gatsby’s build process can be time-consuming, especially for large websites with extensive content. Generating static files for every page during the build can result in longer build times compared to server-rendered or dynamically generated websites.

  • Development Dependencies

Gatsby’s ecosystem includes various plugins, themes, and dependencies, which can occasionally lead to version conflicts or compatibility issues. Keeping up with updates and resolving conflicts can add complexity to the development process.

  • Limited Hosting Options

Gatsby generates a collection of static files that can be hosted on any web server. While this provides flexibility, it also means that you need to set up and manage your hosting environment, which might be a disadvantage if you prefer a managed hosting solution.

 

It’s worth noting that the suitability of Gatsby depends on the specific requirements of your project. Assessing these advantages and disadvantages in the context of your needs can help you determine if Gatsby is the right choice for your website or web application.

Get Started with Gatsby

To get started with Gatsby, you’ll need to have Node.js and npm (Node Package Manager) installed on your machine. Once you have those set up, follow these steps to install Gatsby and set up a new project.

 

  • Install Gatsby globally- Open your command-line interface (CLI) and run the following command
npm install -g gatsby-cli

This command installs the Gatsby CLI globally on your machine, allowing you to create and manage Gatsby projects.

  • Create a new Gatsby project- Once the Gatsby CLI is installed, navigate to the directory where you want to create your project using the CLI. For example, if you want to create a project in a folder named “my-gatsby-project,” use the following command.
gatsby new my-gatsby-project

 

This command creates a new Gatsby project in the “my-gatsby-project” folder.

  • Navigate to the project directory- After the project is created, navigate to the project directory using the CLI.
cd my-gatsby-project
  • Start the development server- To preview your Gatsby project during development, start the development server by running the following command.
gatsby develop

This command starts the Gatsby development server, which compiles your project and serves it locally at http://localhost:8000 by default.

  • Open the project in your browser: Open your web browser and visit http://localhost:8000. You should see your Gatsby site running locally.

Congratulations! You have successfully installed Gatsby and set up a new project. Now you can start building your website using Gatsby’s powerful features and ecosystem.

Companies leveraging Gatsby

 

The Gatsby framework has gained popularity among developers for building high-performance static websites and web applications. Many companies across different industries have embraced Gatsby for their web development needs. Here are a few notable companies that have leveraged the Gatsby framework.

  • Nike, a renowned global sportswear company, has used Gatsby to power its e-commerce platform. Gatsby’s speed and performance benefits make it an excellent choice for delivering a seamless shopping experience.
  • IBM, a leading technology company, has utilized Gatsby for various projects, including its developer portal and documentation sites. Gatsby’s ability to integrate with various data sources and provide fast-loading documentation has made it a suitable choice for IBM.
  • PayPal, a popular online payment platform, has employed Gatsby to build its developer documentation website. Gatsby’s capability to generate static sites with dynamic functionality is beneficial for displaying up-to-date information to developers.
  • Coursera, an online learning platform, has incorporated Gatsby for building static content pages, such as course descriptions and marketing landing pages. Gatsby’s ability to handle large amounts of content and generate fast-loading pages suits Coursera’s needs.
  • Mailchimp, an email marketing platform, has employed Gatsby to power some of its marketing pages. Gatsby’s efficient build process and content management capabilities align well with Mailchimp’s requirements.
  • Shopify, a leading e-commerce platform, has embraced Gatsby for building static content pages and marketing landing pages. Gatsby’s flexibility and performance advantages enable Shopify to deliver a great user experience.

These are just a few examples of companies leveraging the Gatsby framework. Gatsby’s scalability, speed, and ease of use have made it a popular choice for organizations looking to build performant and dynamic websites and web applications.

Use Cases Of Gatsby

 

Gatsby is a popular open-source framework for building high-performance websites and applications. It leverages modern web technologies such as React, GraphQL, and webpack to create fast, efficient, and optimized websites. Here are some common use cases for Gatsby.

  • Static websites- Gatsby is well-suited for creating static websites. It generates static HTML files for each page during the build process, resulting in fast loading times and improved SEO performance.
  • Content-rich websites- Gatsby works exceptionally well for websites that rely heavily on content, such as blogs, news sites, documentation sites, and portfolio websites. Its integration with various data sources, including CMS platforms like WordPress and headless CMSs like Contentful, allows developers to easily pull in and manage content.
  • E-commerce websites- Gatsby can be used to build e-commerce websites by integrating with e-commerce platforms like Shopify or by building custom solutions. Its static site generation capabilities combined with serverless functions enable fast and secure e-commerce experiences.
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)- Gatsby can be used to create PWAs that offer app-like experiences on the web. It leverages service workers, offline support, and other progressive web technologies to enable features such as push notifications, background synchronization, and caching.
  • Landing pages and marketing sites- Gatsby’s fast performance and SEO-friendly nature make it an excellent choice for creating landing pages and marketing sites. It allows developers to build highly optimized and visually appealing pages with smooth transitions and interactive elements.
  • Personal websites and portfolios- Gatsby’s simplicity and flexibility make it a great choice for creating personal websites and portfolios. It offers numerous starter templates and themes, allowing individuals to showcase their work or personal brand with ease.

These are just a few examples of how Gatsby can be used. Its versatility and extensive plugin ecosystem make it a powerful tool for various web development projects.

Create Amazing Website UI with OnGraph

Gatsby is also well-suited for building complex websites with a lot of data, thanks to its GraphQL support. In the future, Gatsby is likely to continue to grow in popularity. As more and more developers become aware of its benefits, Gatsby is poised to become the go-to framework for building static websites.

Overall, Gatsby is a powerful and versatile framework that is well-positioned for growth in the future. If you are looking for a framework that can help you build fast, performant, and easy-to-maintain static websites, then drop us a query for the latest Gatsby development.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aashiya Mittal

A computer science engineer with great ability and understanding of programming languages. Have been in the writing world for more than 4 years and creating valuable content for all tech stacks.

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