paint-brush
GatsbyJS: Everything to Know About This React-Based Static Site Generatorby@evanstern
769 reads
769 reads

GatsbyJS: Everything to Know About This React-Based Static Site Generator

by Evan SternFebruary 21st, 2023
Read on Terminal Reader
Read this story w/o Javascript
tldt arrow

Too Long; Didn't Read

GatsbyJS is a static site generator (SSG) built on top of React. It can help you build fast, scalable, and performant websites. In this article, we'll dive deeper into Gatsby's key features and benefits. We'll also look at advanced topics like using Gats by plugins, creating dynamic pages, and customizing the build process.
featured image - GatsbyJS: Everything to Know About This React-Based Static Site Generator
Evan Stern HackerNoon profile picture

In today's fast-paced digital world, having a website is crucial for any business or individual looking to establish an online presence. I have experience working with various web development frameworks as a professional web developer.


In this article, I'll share my knowledge of GatsbyJS (or simply Gatsby), a static site generator (SSG) that can help you build fast, scalable, and performant websites.


Gatsby was created to make it easier to build static websites optimized for performance. With Gatsby, you can build faster and more scalable websites than traditional dynamic websites.


In addition, Gatsby is built on top of React, a popular JavaScript library for building user interfaces. If you're already familiar with React, you'll find it easy to work with Gatsby.


In the following sections, we'll dive deeper into Gatsby, its key features and benefits, and how to build a Gatsby site. We'll also look at advanced topics like using Gatsby plugins, creating dynamic pages, and customizing the build process.


Finally, we'll compare Gatsby with other popular frameworks and discuss its pros and cons. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of what Gatsby is and whether it's the right framework for your next project.

What Is GatsbyJS?

GatsbyJS is a popular static site generator built on top of React. As a web developer, I've found that Gatsby makes it easy to create fast and scalable websites.


Curious about the types of websites that can be built using GatsbyJS? Well, this very website is built using GatsbyJS! You can even view its source code on GitHub to see how it was created.


Key Features and Benefits

GatsbyJS has several features that make it a great choice for building websites. Here are some of the key features:

Blazing-fast performance

GatsbyJS generates static HTML files for your website, which means your website loads faster than traditional dynamic sites that rely on server-side rendering. Gatsby loads only the critical HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; this means your site loads as quickly as possible.


GatsbyJS also uses preloading and image optimization techniques to ensure your website is as fast as possible.

React-based

If you're already familiar with React, you'll find it easy to work with GatsbyJS. It uses React to create components that can be used to build your website.

GraphQL-powered

GatsbyJS uses GraphQL to fetch data from various sources like APIs and markdown files. This makes it easy to query and use data on your website.

Plugin-based architecture

GatsbyJS has a plugin-based architecture that makes it easy to extend the functionality of your website. Several plugins available for Gatsby can help you add features like SEO, analytics, and more.

Developer experience

GatsbyJS provides a great developer experience with features like hot reloading, allowing you to see real changes as you make them.

Prefetching

Gatsby prefetches resources by default. Once you start viewing the site, web pages and other resources are fetched in the background. This means navigating through your static website is even faster than expected.

Getting Started With Gatsby

If you're interested in building a website using GatsbyJS, here's a guide to help you get started.

Installation and Setup

Before you can start building a website with GatsbyJS, you'll need to install it on your computer. Gatsby can be installed using npm or yarn, which are package managers for Node.js. Here are the steps to install Gatsby using npm:


  1. Open your terminal or command prompt.


  2. Type the following command: npm install -g gatsby-cli


  3. Wait for the installation to finish.


Once Gatsby is installed, you can create a new site using the Gatsby CLI. Here are the steps to create a new site:


  1. Open your terminal or command prompt.


  2. Navigate to the directory where you want to make your site.


  3. Type the following command: gatsby new my-site


  4. Wait for Gatsby to create the new site.

Creating a Basic Site with GatsbyJS

Once you've created a new Gatsby site, you can build it by creating pages and components.


Gatsby has several built-in features that can help you quickly create a basic site. Here are the steps to create a basic site with Gatsby:


  1. Open your terminal or command prompt.


  2. Navigate to the directory where your Gatsby site is located.


  3. Type the following command: gatsby develop


  4. Wait for Gatsby to start the development server.


  5. Open your web browser and navigate to http://localhost:8000.


  6. You should see a basic Gatsby site with a home page and some default styling.


Now that you have a basic GatsbyJS site, you can start customizing it by creating your own pages and components!

Deploying a Gatsby Site

Once you've built your Gatsby site, you'll need to deploy it to a web server or content delivery network (CDN) so visitors can access it.

Deploying to Netlify

One of the easiest ways to deploy a Gatsby site is to use Netlify. Netlify is a platform that provides hosting and deployment services for static sites.


Netlify has always been the go-to for deploying Gatsby sites, but now it's official. Netlify bought Gatsby in early February 2023! We can expect even tighter integration with Netlify in the future.


Here's how to deploy your site to Netlify:


  1. Create a new account on Netlify.


  2. Click the "New site from Git" button.


  3. Connect your Git repository to Netlify.


  4. Choose your repository and branch.


  5. Configure your build settings.


  6. Wait for Netlify to build and deploy your site.


  7. Your site is now live!

Deploying to Other Platforms

If you prefer to deploy your site to another platform, you can do so using various methods. GatsbyJS generates a static site, which can be hosted on any web server or CDN.


It's worth repeating that because Gatsby sites are built as static files (just HTML and CSS with some JavaScript), you can host them anywhere. Also, your site will load extremely fast without bulky frameworks or libraries to download.


You can use services like AWS, Google Cloud, or DigitalOcean to host your Gatsby site. You can also use a traditional web hosting service that supports static site hosting.

Building and Deploying Manually

If you prefer to build and deploy your site manually, you can use the Gatsby CLI. Here are the steps to build and deploy your site manually:


  1. Open your terminal or command prompt.


  2. Navigate to the directory where your site is located.


  3. Type the following command: gatsby build


  4. Wait for Gatsby to build your site.


  5. Copy the contents of the public directory to your web server or CDN.


  6. Your site is now live!


While this method requires more manual work, it provides more flexibility and control over the deployment process.

Special Mention: Gatsby Cloud

Gatsby Cloud is a cloud-based platform that provides hosting, build services, and other tools for developing and deploying Gatsby sites. It is a product from the creators of GatsbyJS and is designed to provide a seamless development and deployment experience for Gatsby users.


Gatsby Cloud works by providing a set of features that help you develop, preview, and deploy your Gatsby sites. Here are some of the key elements:

Real-time previews

Gatsby Cloud provides a real-time preview of your site as you develop it. This allows you to see changes as you make them and ensures that your site looks and performs as you want it to.

Build services

Gatsby Cloud provides a build service that can automatically build and deploy your site to various hosting providers. This saves you the time and effort of setting up and configuring your build environment.

Plugin integrations

Gatsby Cloud integrates with various plugins and services to provide additional features like form handling, e-commerce integrations, and more.

Collaboration tools

Gatsby Cloud provides collaboration tools that make working with teams and stakeholders on your site easy. You can share previews, track changes, and collaborate in real-time.


You'll need to sign up for an account and connect your Gatsby project to the platform to use Gatsby Cloud. Once your project is connected, you can use the various features to develop, preview, and deploy your site.


Gatsby Cloud is designed to be an all-in-one solution for Gatsby users. It provides a seamless and efficient workflow for developing and deploying Gatsby sites, saving you time and effort in the development process.


It may be worth exploring if you're looking for a streamlined and comprehensive platform for building Gatsby sites.

GatsbyJS Plugins and Ecosystem

Gatsby's plugin architecture is one of its key strengths. GatsbyJS plugins are packages extending Gatsby's functionality and can be easily installed and configured to add new features to your site.


GatsbyJS has a vast ecosystem of plugins that can be used for many purposes, including image optimization, SEO, form handling, e-commerce, and more. Here are some popular GatsbyJS plugins and what they can do:


  • gatsby-plugin-image: Provides an easy-to-use API for optimizing and serving images on your site.


  • gatsby-plugin-react-helmet: Helps manage your site's metadata and provides options for SEO optimization.


  • gatsby-plugin-manifest: Generates a web app manifest for your site, which can be used to install your site as a web app on mobile devices.


  • gatsby-plugin-mdx: Allows you to write Markdown with embedded JSX components, which can be used to build interactive content on your site.


  • gatsby-plugin-netlify: Provides integration with the Netlify platform, including support for Netlify Identity, forms, and functions.


  • gatsby-plugin-shopify: Provides integration with the Shopify platform, including support for product listings, shopping carts, and checkout.


In addition to plugins, GatsbyJS has a wide range of starters and themes that can kickstart your development process. Starters are pre-configured Gatsby sites that can be used as a starting point for your site, while themes provide pre-built components and styling.


The GatsbyJS ecosystem constantly evolves, with new plugins and features continually added. This makes it easy to add new features and extend the functionality of your site as your needs change.


If you're looking to build a Gatsby site, check out the GatsbyJS plugin library and explore the various starters and themes available. Then, with the help of the GatsbyJS ecosystem, you can build a fast, scalable, and feature-rich site in no time.


In the final section, we'll compare GatsbyJS to other popular web development frameworks and static site generators.

GatsbyJS vs. Other Frameworks

GatsbyJS is not the only web development framework available. In this section, we'll compare GatsbyJS to some other popular web development frameworks.

GatsbyJS vs. Next.js

Next.js is a popular framework for building server-rendered React applications. While GatsbyJS is an SSG, Next.js provides SSG and server-side rendering (SSR) capabilities.


One of the main benefits of Next.js is its support for server-side rendering, which can provide better SEO and faster initial load times. However, Next.js can be more complex to set up and configure than GatsbyJS, requiring a Node.js server.


GatsbyJS, on the other hand, provides a simpler and more streamlined development experience for building static websites. GatsbyJS also has built-in features like image optimization and preloading that can help improve site performance.

GatsbyJS vs. Create React App

Create React App is a tool for creating React applications with no build configuration. It provides a simple and easy-to-use development environment for building React applications.


While Create React App is a great choice for building small to medium-sized applications, it may not be suitable for static content like blogs or company home pages. GatsbyJS, on the other hand, provides a more comprehensive and flexible development environment for building static websites.

GatsbyJS vs. Hugo

Hugo is a popular SSG built in Go. Like Gatsby, Hugo provides a fast and scalable platform for building static sites.


While Hugo is faster than GatsbyJS in some scenarios, it lacks the developer experience and plugin ecosystem that Gatsby provides. Gatsby's plugin architecture and GraphQL-powered data fetching make it easier to add new features and extend the functionality of your site.


Overall, the framework choice will depend on your project's specific needs. While Gatsby is a great choice for building static sites, other frameworks like Next.js and Hugo may be better suited for certain, more complex projects.

Conclusion

In this article, we've looked at Gatsby's key features and benefits and how to start building a site using GatsbyJS. We've also covered topics like deploying a Gatsby site and compared GatsbyJS to other popular web development frameworks.


GatsbyJS is a robust, flexible framework that can help you build fast, scalable, and performant static websites. Whether you're making a personal blog or an e-commerce site, GatsbyJS provides a great development experience and a wide range of features that can help you achieve your goals.


Thanks for reading! This article was originally published at machineservant.com. Check it out if you liked this article and want to see more content like this!