MMT & GatsbyJS Meetup

MMT & GatsbyJS Meetup

About this time last week, I'd just published a post about moving to Gatsby from .NET Core for my own personal site and was walking to a Gatsby meetup in central London.


Riding the wave of GatsbyDays in London this October, Ilesh Mistry and MMT Digital hosted an evening of Gatsby-laden content at their offices in Soho, London. Taking advantage of the presence of key Gatsby people they managed to pull together a good-sized group of people to discuss ways of using Gatsby and take a look at some of the more immediate items in its roadmap.

We had a good collection of speakers; Ilesh Mistry and Jenish Chandracim from MMTOndrej Chrastina from Kentico Kontent, and Kyle Mathews from Gatsby.

Journey on Getting Started

Ilesh started off the evening with a presentation giving a high-level overview of what gatsby is an how you can get started. With Kyle here to talk more about Gatsby, Ilesh didn't labour the points about what Gatsby is but did stress that Gatsby is more than just a static site generator. There are a lot of great things that you can do with Gatsby, and most of these you can experiment with by looking at the starter sites and making use of the many available plug-ins that are available. Most important is to work through the tutorials that are available. These are invaluable to get you a good grounding in Gatsby and the available features.

Ilesh also highlighted a couple of parts of Gatsby that I've either not had a chance to use or simply have not heard about. Those are the preview mode and incremental builds (which we'll look at later), and the new code exporter that is available through GraphiQL.

GraphQL API & Dynamic Content in Gatsby

Next up we had Jenish, who gave us a whistle-stop tour of how we can make use of dynamic content in Gastby and what we can do with the GraphQL API. Janish as front-end based developer and - judging by all the logos on his intro slides - he's pretty well versed in most of the current FE stack.

The key takeaways I think from Jenish's presentation were how we can use GraphQL as a single point for multiple data sources. Being new to this, it's not something that I had considered, but that does make this quite powerful. The second thing was that I really want to take a look at the Apollo server (nothing to do with NASA, sorry). This is a server that you can use to create production-ready, self-documenting API for GraphQL clients, using data from any source. There is an apollo starter kit for this which I'm planning to have a look at in the near future.

Kontent <3 Gatsby

Ondrej started off his presentation with a really slick introduction video for Kentico Kontent to give people a flavour of what is on offer.

Kontent itself was called Kentico Cloud in the not too distant past, so Ondrej covered that off early and explained the plan for updating API endpoints and documentation etc. to just block off any confusion.

This session gave a really good high-level view of what the team have achieved with Gatsby. We walked through the starter kit and some other samples that people can draw on to get an idea of how to get started with Kontent and Gatsby. You can see some good examples on the Kontent Gatsby Source Plugin page. Also a special shoutout to Rich Shackleton's blog post on rendering linked content items.

Ondrej also gave some insight into language fallbacks in Kontent and how the team are looking at supporting the Gatsby preview feature and also some work with gatsby-image.

GatsbyJS Future & Q&A

Last up was Kyle in a fairly free-for session, which was great and just what we needed. We opened up with a demo of Gatsby preview. This was something new to me, so it was awesome to not just see text changing in the preview as Kyle updated content in the CMS, but also to see index pages updating blog listing tiles an so forth. This is going to be a really powerful tool for Gatsby and I look forward to getting more hands-on with it. This works in a similar way to webpack hot reload, but that was too slow, so now we have this kind of 'Gatsby ludicrous mode' instead.

It's worth noting that - for the time being - preview is going to be something that you need to run through a paid service that runs at around $50 a month. My guess is that if you need this, $50 is a small price to pay to get that kind of functionality.

Kyle also spoke about the incremental builds that are in the pipeline (again part of the paid service for now) and they sound great when you have a lot of content to churn through. The basic point being that only the changed content is rebuilt and so your build times are significantly reduced. This is definitely something to keep an eye on in the future as it's really going to enable the enterprise clients and those businesses that seem to breed content.

The second half of Kyles session was a broad Q&A style, and being honest I lost track of all fo the questions because I was too busy just listening. One thing I love from this part was watching someone ask a question about a specific feature, to which the response was watching Kyle add a feature request there and then on Slack. That seems pretty handy!

Wrap-up

This was a great event for those new to Gatsby and those with more experience. I don't get the chance to go to too many events like this, but I'm glad that I got the opportunity to work in Ridgeway's London office for the day to make this a possibility. Four great presentations and a lot of stuff to look forward to from both Gatsby and also Kentico Kontent.