GatsbyConf 2021 brings new 3.0 version and new images

Latest revision: March 4, 2021

The online virtual GatsbyConf, which kicked off today, announced at least six significant updates, including a 3.0 release of Gatsby itself; a new component that goes beyond the already savvy Gatsby-sharp handling images used within Gatsby sites; and the addition of a CDN service (in partnership with Fastly) to the Gatsby Cloud service. Additionally, there were new, substantially changed releases of key plugins tying Gatsby to headless instances of WordPress, Shopify, and Contentful.

Patrick Sullivan, Senior Product Manager at Gatsby Core Team, noted that the past year has seen a 40% increase in the number of Gatsby sites on the web, but conceded that there were “a number of struggles with using Gatsby.” Toward addressing issues such as build times, especially as part of the local developer experience, Gatsby Senior Software Engineer Lennart Joergens walked through two significant updates being released as part of 3.0. First, local development warm rebuilds will use a “query on demand” capability so that only altered pages are regenerated.

Joergens showed a second change where the directory structure of content in a site can be mapped onto the source file directory tree. You might have a “products” directory, a “shirts” directory within it, and then the slug for each file will reflect a product name. This is the sort of organization good developers tend to lean toward in any case, but here the logic that’s encapsulated in the setup can be combined with the partial rebuild capability so that, as Joergens demonstrated, changing the name of a shirt product causes several pages to rebuild (because there are links on other shirt pages to this product along the lines of “you might also like”), but changing the description on the shirt page causes that page only to rebuild, because that’s the only place where that text is rendered.

Online resources relevant to 3.0:

The Chasm

More than one speaker in the conference lineup—and this includes Product VP Dustin Schau —talked about website creation as a function of two presumably rather different groups: marketers (for the words on the pages in the site), and developers and designers (for the site itself).

Nick Gernert, CEO of WordPress VIP (the high end consulting and hosting arm of Automattic), took the position that the JAMstack world has been too focused on tools to grease the skids for developers (and enhancing performance), but would need to shift the priority to enabling creators (that is, the marketers). He proposed a website version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, where the base of the pyramid is Security and Scalability, and the peak is the “meaningful content experience.” Just below the peak? Agility.

Seize (and Discard) the Moment (Library)

One final takeaway: more than once in presentations during the day, the moment.js library was called out as something that, when used, causes an outsize bump in the size of your JavaScript bundles. You’ve been warned.

A second day of the conference will offered several workshops, including a 101 course to get yourself started with Gatsby.