Can Gatsby Replace Your CMS? Part 1

GatsbyJS is quickly gaining momentum in the web industry. But how does it fit into the landscape of the traditional CMS? In this series we will explore the trade offs between a decoupled Gatsby site and a traditional, monolithic CMS such as Drupal or Wordpress.

TLDR: Gatsby only deals with the presentation (aka theme) layer, so it won't replace your CMS completely. But it can be used to strategically replace parts of it in order to maximize performance and scalability.

What Gatsby Offers

Gatsby is a static site generator (SSG) powered by React and GraphQL. As a member of the JAMStack family, Gatsby offers all of the associated architectural benefits that come with static sites:

  • Fast Page Loads: Every page of a static site is generated ahead of time, which means your users don't need to wait for a server to generate the page on demand. You can also easily distribute your entire site to a Content Delivery Network (CDN), further improving performance.

  • Reduced Security Concerns: Static sites don't require a direct connection to your back-end data source (aka your CMS). Server-side processes can instead be offloaded to microservice APIs or trusted 3rd party applications.

  • Lower Hosting Costs: Static files are much cheaper and easier to host, which makes scaling to meet demand simpler.

On top of this, Gatsby provides it's own set of benefits

  • Front-end Performance: Much of Gatsby's value proposition in relation to other SSGs comes down to front-end performance. Performance best practices such as inlining of critical CSS, prefetching of linked pages, page caching, responsive image support and progressive image loading are baked directly into Gatsby's core.

     

  • Progressive Web App (PWA): Gatsby supports PWA methodologies out of the box. This provides your site with, a host of benefits many related to performance, offline support and accountability for unstable network connections.

     

  • Data Agnostic: Gatsby is capable of connecting to many different data sources, including your existing CMS. It can also connect to multiple data sources at once, which makes it easy to bring content from multiple sources together under one roof.

     

  • Rich Plugin Ecosystem: Gatsby has a strong open source community behind it, which means there are many plugins available, which you can use to extend the core functionality.

Let's explore the tradeoffs

Needless to say, there are considerable benefits to be had by embracing the JAMStack methodology via Gatsby. But before you start tearing down the front-end of your monolithic CMS, let's explore the tradeoffs you make by doing so in part 2.

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