One of today’s hottest front-end frameworks, Gatsby has won a special love for high performance, fast user experiences, and long-term maintainability. And it’s not only about users: according to Otakoyi Gatsby web development services experts, the framework provides a smooth development experience and attracts developers through its thriving, warm community. What is Gatsby? Why is it so popular? Does it have any downsides? We’ve gathered the most popular questions concerning Gatsby JS and found the answers.

1. What is Gatsby?

Gatsby is a freemium open-source framework used for building static websites and applications that combines functionality from React, GraphQL, and Webpack. It was created by Kyle Matthews in 2015 and started to see massive popularity around 2018.

2. What is a static website?

In contrast to dynamic websites generated by a web app, a static website is delivered to the user’s browser precisely as stored. A static website is based on a series of HTML files, each representing a physical web page. A static website utilizes server-side rendering to deliver pre-built HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files to a web browser, while dynamic sites run by rendering each page at the moment of the request.

Static sites allow you to detach your content repository from the front-end interface, providing you with added flexibility over serving your content.

3. Why are static sites still popular?

All websites were static during the early years of the world wide web and remained popular even with the advent of dynamic pages. Moreover, many companies switch to static sites today. Static files are lightweight, faster, and more cost-efficient to maintain. The growing popularity of static websites can also be explained by the advancements in languages and libraries that help deliver enhanced developer experiences and achieve better results.

4. What makes Gatsby stand out from other static site generators?

Gatsby JS boasts several features that help it differentiate itself from other frameworks.

For starters, Gatsby utilizes React, making it an excellent option for devs comfortable with it. Next, Gatsby comes with a tremendous plugin ecosystem created to serve a variety of needs. For example, Gatsby plugins can help you source data from CMSs like WordPress, integrate with tools like Algolia, and optimize your images.

In addition to multiple plugins, Gatsby JS offers plenty of APIs that help to streamline static site development. For instance, the createPage API makes it reasonably straightforward to transform markdown files into static web pages with a template at build time.

On top of that, Gatsby JS features many other components that significantly simplify linking and routing and can’t be found in the core React library.

5. When should you use Gatsby JS?

Gatsby is all about a simple, SEO-oriented performance, which makes it a poor choice for handling data sources that experience frequent updates. Gatsby JS is not suitable for a constantly changing website, such as social media.

You can leverage Gatsby for building a blog, an eCommerce website, or any other common type of static site under 500 pages, where you don’t plan to serve any dynamic content. You might also want to use this framework if any of the following cases applies to you:

  • you’d prefer to use a static site generator that ensures seamless integration with any data repository
  • SEO is essential for you
  • you focus on a better user experience
  • you’d like to reduce maintenance costs
  • you have enough React expertise and are comfortable with it
  • you seek a simple development environment
  • your project requires a high level of security
  • high speed and top performance are your primary concerns.

6. What are examples of Gatsby plugins?

You can leverage a plethora of handy plugins available on Gatsby’s website. Here are some most outstanding examples:

  • gatsby-remark-embed-youtube (enables embedding YouTube videos in your website)
  • gatsby-image (optimizes image size based on the device and enables lazy loading)
  • gatsby-plugin-offline (allows your website to run offline)
  • gatsby-plugin-manifest (lets users add your website to their home screen on most mobile browsers)
  • gatsby-plugin-google-analytics (enables using Google Analytics)

7. Why should businesses choose Gatsby JS?

Beyond delivering fast speed and high performance, building a website with Gatsby JS can provide massive benefits to businesses. To start off, Gatsby websites load at a faster speed, which translates into a lower bounce rate. Next, you’ll love Gatsby if you know how vital SEO is for generating organic traffic. Gatsby websites have proved SEO-efficient due to their high performance. Plus, they’re lightweight and easy to scan by Google robots.

Also, with cybersecurity concerns significantly affecting businesses today, many organizations opt for static websites that are more secure than dynamic ones, Gatsby being an efficient static site generator.

8. Why are Gatsby websites so fast?

Gatsby JS is one of the fastest options when it comes to front-end development thanks to several features:

  • pre-rendering a website at build time
  • preloading the next page when the user hovers over a link
  • automatic optimization of images

9. Are there any challenges associated with Gatsby JS?

Although it all depends on your skills and needs, here are a couple of aspects often regarded as Gatsby’s downsides:

Mastering Gatsby takes time, so before you start building your first Gatsby website, be ready to spend a lot of time and effort on learning.

Next, as the content on your Gatsby site grows, the build time will also increase. If your site is supposed to change frequently, Gatsby is not the best solution.

10. When not to use Gatsby?

It’s not recommended to use Gatsby JS for building websites with much content, websites with frequent updates, and corporate-size eCommerce sites (over 500 pages).