The software industry is evolving lightning fast. Constantly there are new tools with new features that promise to make your life easier. The options are plenty, and software developers often have a hard time properly recognizing and selecting which technology is best to include in their tech stack.

A tool that generated buzz when released a few years ago and still going strong is Gatsby.js. Gatsby.js is a React-based static site generator that helps you build high-performance, secure, and easily scalable websites and applications.

Gatsby's popularity is increasing rapidly, and has managed to build a thriving community of professionals and enthusiasts over the years who are contributing to its growth. Gatsby.js offers out of the box features that make it easy to build fast, functional applications quickly and efficiently.

Want to learn more about why Gatsby.js has become a popular choice among software developers? In this article, you'll see what Gatsby.js is all about, what makes it special, and why you should consider using it for your next e-commerce project.

What Is Gatsby?

As mentioned above, GatsbyJS is a React-based static site generator, but it also leverages many other front-end technologies like GraphQL, NPM, webpack, etc., to offer the best performance and the most powerful and seamless developer experience. 

In case you're not familiar, React is a very popular open-source JavaScript library that offers robust functionality developers can use to build user interfaces. A common question that accompanies many Gatsby conversations is why would you want to use it instead of just using React? The reality is that even though Gatsby is considered a static site generator, it has capabilities that go way beyond the usual features of these kinds of tools. 

It combines the performance of a static site generator with the functionality of a modern, robust framework that you can use to build advanced applications and websites, ranging from e-commerce sites to serverless function providers that load dynamically. You can create modern applications with great performance thanks to lightning-fast page and image loading, service workers, code splitting, asset optimization, server-side rendering, data prefetching, and many other features.

Why Is Gatsby Often the Right Choice for an Ecommerce Website?

Businesses planning their next e-commerce project usually pick Gatsby mainly for three reasons. The first and perhaps the most common is that they're already familiar with React, and therefore the learning curve for Gatsby is relatively low. The second is that they prioritize performance, which is one of Gatsby's strongest points. Finally, the third reason is that due to its vast ecosystem with many plugins to work with, they can integrate with tools they're already using.

Of course, the advantages Gatsby brings to the table for your e-commerce needs aren't limited to those just mentioned. In this section, you'll see in detail what to expect from Gatsby and what makes it stand out, so you can decide for yourself if it deserves your attention.

Gatsby Is Based on React

Let's start with a key advantage of Gatsby that has already been mentioned throughout the article. Gatsby is based on React, the most popular front-end library. React is used in numerous projects and has a vast community that helps the tool grow, and frankly, its popularity shows no signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future. The fact that Gatsby is React-based allows you to build on top of its functionality and leverage its features. Anything you can build with React can be built with Gatsby, whether it's an e-commerce site, a personal blog, or a business website.

Gatsby Is Performance Oriented

Web developers and users alike want websites to load fast to provide the best user experience possible. Of course, most times, this is easier said than done. Gatsby was created with performance as its focal point and delivers excellent results from the beginning.

With Gatsby, you get optimal performance because of the many built-in features it offers. For example, Gatsby's code splitting feature helps increase speed and performance by serving only the code necessary for every page. Lazy loading and heavy image optimization allow you to load heavy images fast and without lag. Smart and lightweight content pre-fetching also optimizes performance as it loads only the data that's necessary for each page, and the list of features goes on. In the end, you have a fast application that performs efficiently and offers the coveted user experience you want.

Gatsby Has an Extensive Plugins and Integrations Library

The Gatsby plugin library has grown tremendously over the years, mainly due to its active community. The Gatsby community has already created over 2,000 plugins. Therefore, the chances are that a tool with the functionality you need for your application has already been made and is ready for you to integrate. Additionally, developers can customize the entire development process by using any of the React packages they use already, as well as a great collection of API hooks. With an extensive plugin and integration library, developers can easily add many new features with a few lines of code and reduce development time.

Gatsby Can Load Data From Anywhere

One of Gatsby's most valuable, if not the most valuable, features is that data can be loaded from anywhere. You can bring data from content management systems (CMS), APIs, markdown files, or wherever your content lives and build a website with a single stack. Gatsby eliminates manual integration, allowing you to connect third-party platforms and manage a variety of data sources with ease.

Gatsby Is SEO Friendly

Improving the search engine ranking of your website is highly desirable, and businesses go to great lengths to achieve the best results. The Gatsby team has put in a lot of work to make the tool SEO-friendly so that you can have a higher ranking. This means that Gatsby sets you up for success and offers you out of the box functionality and additional plugins to help you satisfy the variables search engines use to determine which website will rank higher.

Gatsby Is Secure

Web applications are vulnerable to many security risks. Attackers always seek to find system flaws that they can exploit to conduct malicious attacks and steal valuable information or disrupt business activities. Gatsby is a serverless technology, which means that the surface exposed to attacks is notably lower and, therefore, much more difficult for attackers to impair your website. The fact that Gatsby's websites aren't an easy target is another considerable advantage that contributes to the growth of its popularity.

Gatsby Has Great Documentation

Gatsby has plenty of helpful resources that you can use. Besides many high-quality resources created by Gatsby's community members that are available on the internet, the documentation on the official website is top-notch. It's simple to follow, and it covers in detail everything you need to know about how to make the best use of the tool. It's one of Gatsby's strong points because it makes it easy to use and accessible to novice and experienced programmers alike.

Gatsby’s Disadvantages

Of course, all technologies have some drawbacks you need to know about, and Gatsby is no exception. 

The learning curve is steep: Gatsby is based on several front-end technologies like React, Gatsby, webpack, etc. Unless you're familiar with these tools, learning them to a level that allows you to develop a project can be challenging and time-consuming.

Build times are slower: Gatsby's default rendering method, where the website's assets are pre-rendered, can increase build times. This means that the website can't immediately reflect the changes made, which can be frustrating for users.

Troubleshooting can be challenging: Gatsby comes with many features and preset configurations out of the box. Although this is one of the tool's advantages, it makes it difficult to resolve potential issues.

Some plugins are low-quality: As mentioned earlier, Gatsby has an active community that contributes to the ecosystem of plugins and integrations. In some cases, you might implement community-built plugins into your projects that don't meet your quality standards.

Final Thoughts

Gatsby is undeniably a powerful and flexible tool that can help you elevate your game and create a project that your users will love. Gatsby can artfully and rapidly present a beautiful, content-filled e-commerce site with a beautiful front end and strong, secure back end.

One very important thing to keep in mind, though, is that you have to be extra careful when it's time to select your tools. Choosing suitable technologies shouldn't be taken lightly, and you must always base your decision on your needs and your team's capabilities.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand what Gatsby is and why it's such a popular choice among the developer's community.

Are you interested in Gatsby and want to learn more about how to use it in your project? Give Solwey a call!