Lately I have been looking into creating sites in a more modular, sensible and maintainable way. Otherwise known as the JAMStack. This is after nearly a decade of using WordPress to essentially over-engineer everything!
Now, there is nothing wrong with WordPress at all. I love it. I love working with it, but it just feels like a monolithic system. Like carving a chicken with a handsaw. It doesn't quite do enterprise level stuff in the way it should and it's a battle to get it to work in a modern way.
That's where static site generators like Gatsby come in. I can spin up a basic website in a day. If it doesn't need masses of features, and it doesn't need to be updated all the time, then WordPress seems to be overkill. I've been looking for a solution to this problem for a while.
Enter Gatsby. This is a very neat and extensible static website generator, based around React and GraphQL. This website was built in an afternoon, by working through their excellent tutorials.
All I do when I want to publish a new post, is write it in MarkDown and then commit it to my repository. My Master branch is instantly deployed to Netlify and the post is published. This is actually simpler than using a bloated CMS to achieve the same result. I don't need to log-in, add a post, write it, publish it. All I do is create a new markdown file, write the post and commit to the repository.
Now I've dipped my toes into the water, I can see that this is the future. Here are a few things I want to do.
- Connect this to a WordPress instance and leverage the Rest API to create blogs (Not that this is necessary in the case of this little website)
- Learn more about GraphQL and create some custom APIs
- Learn more about Gatsby theming
- Look at what else Gatsby can do
Exciting stuff, I think you'll agree. It's extremely elegant and simple to create websites this way. It's structured sensibly and there are a plethora of plugins for it that allow you to do what you might need.
Getting clients to buy into this methodology might well be a real struggle. They will reap the benefits of a static website in terms of page speeds, however, they might want to update things. That's where the WordPress Rest API comes in. Luckily Gatsby has a methodology to deal with that.
MarkDown is not hard. It's actually easier to construct neat looking pages with it than it is to create neat looking pages with a fake browser based version of Microsoft Word. It's actually easier to use than the editor in WordPress. Having said that, it's code. And clients don't want to code, do they?