Exobyte | What is Gatsby.js? And Why Should You Use It?

In our continual search for leading tools in web and app development, Exobyte is thrilled to have added Gatsby.js to its toolkit. Why?

Stated broadly, Gatsby.js addresses several critical pain points long present in static site development.

Static sites remain in high demand. The Information Age places ongoing pressure on the content creator to develop a robust online presence, to include dime-a-dozen bloggers and social media influencers. A website - notably a static website - is now commonplace for brand-building, whether personal or professional.

Also, most small to medium-sized businesses don't need fancy websites, only a simple set of webpages establishing some industry authority and local SEO.

What is Gatsby?

Gatsby.js' official title is "static site generator." You produce source code, and then the generator automatically builds it into a publishable static site. The result is that you get to spend more time designing your site.

Gatsby.js is React-based. But rather than a library cache of web creator tools (which is technically what React is), Gatsby.js generates full Progressive Web App (PWA) static websites.

Source: Gatsbyjs.org

As the screenshot (above) from Gatsbyjs.org's homepage states, the tools are free and open source.

Gatsby.js can also operate as a "headless CMS" and performs as good or better than leading CMS programs like WordPress and Drupal. For a comprehensive side-by-side comparison, click here.

That said, Gatsby sites can still send and retrieve content from mainstream CMS programs.

Who Can Use Gatsby.js?

Gatsby remains a tool best-suited for developers. However, even those with moderate experience in CSS, HTML, and Javascript can pick up on the platform and create impressive-looking and performing static sites.

A great benefit to Gatsby is its impeccably-curated tutorial section. Rookie web developers can dive right in and learn additional cutting-edge technologies along the way (which we'll discuss in a moment).

5 Reasons Why You Should Use Gatsby.js

1. It's fast - like, crazy fast.

A leading turnoff for web visitors and website creators is slow loading speed. Gatsby.js masters "pre" efficiency techniques like pre-fetching, pre-caching, and lazy loading for images. Without losing static site quality, your website is - in every way - pre-made and ready for browser delivery without sluggish delivery between server and site.

"Gatsby sites render a static HTML version of the initial route and then load the code bundle for the page. Then immediately starts pre-caching resources for pages linked to from the initial route. When a user clicks on a link, Gatsby creates the new page on demand on the client." - Gatsbyjs.org

In fact, Gatsby.js is 100% serverless. There is no rendering within a server prior to browser display. These advantages save developers time from the time-consuming attempts to incrementally decrease a site's load time.

2. It's light and agile.

For many of the same reasons listed above, Gatsby embodies programmer obsessions such as "lightweight" and "agile" development.

Source: ITNext.io

Because Gatsby.js builds on React technology - deemed by many to be one of the industry's most agile frameworks - it enjoys the same development efficiency. Gatsby further streamlines the design, declarative, and deployment processes.

3. It's secure.

No web development framework, generator, or application is free from vulnerabilities. As such, Gatsby.js is not an exception to the rule.

However, using serverless technology - as Gatsby does - certainly decreases the number of attack vectors. Additionally, there's no database or run-time rendering.

Serverless and database-free generators possess what is known as "implied security." Frankly, many static site generators enjoy this implied security.  That said, developers can rest assured that they are not sacrificing security for performance when utilizing Gatsby tools.

4. It's better for website crawlers.

Gatsby religiously and automatically adheres to PRPL, Google's standardized site architectural model. This informal search engine compliance, along with lightning-fast load speeds, allows site crawlers to survey and index Gatsby sites more quickly.

5. Gatsby.js is a gateway to some of the best front-end web developer tools.

If you're familiar with CSS and HTML but are not yet familiar with many of the other cutting edge tools available for developers, then Gatsby.js is your "gateway."

You'll quickly learn how to use tools like GraphQL and React. You can collaborate over programming productivity cloud platforms like Github. Additionally, you can enjoy the benefits of other frameworks like Next.js without the headaches (redundancy and server-side rendering) and that are innate to those platforms.

Speaking of integrations and plugins, Gatbsy's API hub is more than impressive. Available plugins range from TypeScript to adding Google Analytics and much, much more.

Final Thoughts

Gatsby.js really is the full package of static site generators. Experts at Exobyte not only appreciate the new tools, but they are also having more fun at work. Overall, we are thrilled with what Gatsby has to offer.

If you are a web developer, we strongly encourage you to explore Gatsby.js tools, create a few test sites, and compare them with static sites built on other platforms. We feel confident in saying that you won't be disappointed.