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Gatsby In Review: A Frontend Framework With Tons of Flexibility

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Sarah Weber

Frontend frameworks have come a long way since the early days of web development. However, just like then robust new frameworks continue to enter the developer space and introduce radical new functionalities that enhance the development ecosystem in terms of quality, ease-of-use, robustness, and optimization. Gatsby is one of such prominent frameworks that have recently hit the market.

According to Forrester, the need to innovate and bring new features is driven by the ever-expanding nature of the internet and the rapid pace of the current technological era. Some frameworks include a novel approach to designing the UI of a website, while some make the frontend capable of much more than just creating visual elements.

We’ll give a brief review of Gatsby’s main strengths and provide valuable insights to help you understand this frontend framework better. We’ll also go through Gatsby’s performance, security features, and how it can integrate with other technologies such as a headless CMS like CrafterCMS to provide the ultimate web experience.

What Makes Gatsby Different

Gatsby is an open-source static site generator (SSG) that also offers a cloud platform for launching onto a fast edge network. This helps to set it apart from the common frameworks in a myriad of ways, but also enables basic functionalities, like being able to launch a JAMstack site or connect to a headless CMS. However, a faster and smoother user experience has become one of the most important aims of contemporary web development.

Gatsby prides itself on being snappier and having a more fluid experience than other frontend frameworks. To achieve speed, Gatsby optimizes many aspects of the website, such as its delivery and payload. The fluidity of the interface includes smooth transitions to different pages, be it a single page or multi-page application.

Gatsby also provides a rich library of plugins that easily integrate with websites and add to the experience. Developers can choose from pre-existing robust plugins of services like Google Analytics, WordPress, and Shopify. Plugins can be source plugins (that fetches data), transformer plugins , or generic plugins (that do more than source and transform).

Besides that, developers can also create their plugins to suit their use case. Through these plugins, Gatsby allows sourcing data from different kinds of sources and in various formats. For example, a comment plugin can be made for a blog website created on Gatsby.

Looking Into the Performance Of Gatsby

At its foundation, Gatsby is based on JavaScript’s frontend library, React. It also features a data layer built on GraphQL that focuses on optimized data delivery and integration, no matter the source. Gatsby also integrates tools like CI/CD tools and Git to focus on development first and maintenance later.

Some other strategies used by Gatsby include the PRPL pattern by Google and code splitting. It also provides plugins and functions that help track a webpage’s performance. The user experience is further enhanced by selecting a dynamic theme from the vast library offered by Gatsby.

Much of Gatsby’s speed comes from its strategy of preloading content that is most likely to be accessed at build time instead of dynamically upon site visitor requests. The strategy of preloading, combined with static page generation, results in a responsive website and a fast user experience. A faster website also leads to favorable SEO scores by crawling bots of leading search engines. The downside to static sites, however, is the lack of dynamic search capabilities, personalization, and other interactive user experiences.

How Gatsby Manages Scalability

A fluid user experience and integration of powerful plugins are not the only features of Gatsby. It also allows for a website to grow further and include new web pages and features. As it packs the ability to pull data from different sources, any new type can be added and integrated.

Alongside that, developers can make components through Gatsby that can be used again wherever needed. The modular nature of the website allows for adding more or reducing modules. As Gatsby supports a CI/CD development model, these modules are up and running quickly.

One of the main challenges that come with scaling is having adequate server space. Gatsby tackles the challenge of space by deploying on Gatsby Cloud. Gatsby’s cloud platform is an edge network that supports what it claims as “infinite scalability.” The claim to high-level scalability is demonstrated through their self-developed example.

Getting Familiar With Gatsby Cloud

Gatsby Cloud is a cloud platform built to most effectively host Gatsby websites. It utilizes a global edge network and strategies like intelligent caching and incremental builds. Its strategies and infrastructure lead to Gatsby Cloud achieving drastically reduced build and deployment times. Its features are not limited to just Gatsby websites, and it can host other websites as well.

Gatsby Cloud gives the developer an option to directly publish content or any changes to their websites, no matter the CMS at the backend. It also gives the chance to preview the changes before publishing.

To scale within time and before any sudden traffic spikes, it is important to keep track of it. Keeping track of these metrics makes it easy to see which changes made the most difference.

Gatsby And Its Security Features

Due to its static nature, Gatsby can implement many robust security features. A Gatsby website does not rely on a server or database for its static rendering, reducing the chance of malicious attacks.

Apart from that, the fact that Gatsby websites are hosted on a content delivery network means there are minimal chances of attacks like denial of service. Security is particularly tightened when Gatsby is used with JAMstack at the backend. The combo of both frameworks eliminates a whole category of vulnerabilities.

Gatsby sites can also be secured through the authorization platform Auth0. It can be integrated through the Auth0 Reach SDK. The SDK provides Auth0 files that give an abstraction of its implementation in a React context. Auth0 can then be used to implement a simple login service and silent authentication as well.

Some specific kinds of protection offered by Gatsby are XSS protection, user authentication, and access control. Security can also be added through additional plugins. For example, a plugin for Content Security Policy gets you a framework to detect and protect from XSS attacks.

Creating Dynamic Web Pages With CrafterCMS and Gatsby

CrafterCMS is always on the lookout for the latest technologies to help our users innovate. That means offering as many points of integration and approaches as possible so that organizations can bring the best tools available into their tech stack.

Gatsby is a nice framework that easily integrates data from any source, including headless platforms like CrafterCMS. It can be used to generate a diverse variety of websites, from e-commerce experiences to microsites. It is currently used by enterprises of different industries like consumer finance, NGOs, and media companies.

For a robust frontend framework like Gatsby, pairing it with a similarly robust CMS is crucial. CrafterCMS offers native Git support along with extensible content APIs to connect to the frontend. Moreover, Crafter’s brings the power of in-context editing and preview to Gatsby sites. By choosing CrafterCMS, a solid framework like Gatsby gets a reliable and powerful content infrastructure to power modern digital experiences.

You may freely download the latest version of the open source CrafterCMS project here, or launch a free trial on AWS Marketplace today.

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