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Why I Am Using Gatsby For This Blog

September 11, 2019

It may be a bit odd as someone who has worked professionally making and hosting WordPress websites to create a blog using a different tool. WordPress is a fantastic tool, and truly is a wonderful tool for creating all manner of websites from blogs to e-commerce sites. That said, with the focus of this blog being more about my personal growth using JavaScript and mobile technologies it seems only fitting I use a tool based largely on that. But there is more to the story.

Something New

After years of blogging on WordPress, I admit I was keen to try something new. I wanted, not just a new technology stack, I wanted a new user experience. I wanted to think about blogging software from a new perspective. No yes, I am aware, Gutenberg blocks are really new in the WordPress space, but that still didn’t quite cut it. And yes, I know Gutenberg blocks are written using react, a technology used in Gatsby, but again. I just needed something new.

Learn By Doing

Everyone has their own style of learning. While I can of course gain knowledge through reading and 3rd party demonstrations, the best way for me to retain and build on new knowledge is to actually do things myself. By attempting to put something new into practice, I find the skills are etched deeper into my brain and I am able to repeat the process again, with less assistance or reference material. An additional benefit is I often learn the pain points of doing things the hard way. It is when I learn the pain points that I tend to start thinking of creative solutions to the problem. To this end, I am starting with nothing more than a basic Gatsby installation using the Gatsby Starter Blog project. There is so much I want to learn that Gatsby is built upon or can utilize.

Learn By Teaching

As I gain a better understanding of things, I find that I can even better understand and extend that knowledge by teaching it to others. Often those I am teaching think of questions that I either can’t answer in the moment causing me to do more research and add to my knowledge. Other times they will ask questions in a way I would never have considered. Again, causing me to do more research. And at the end of if it all, to be an effective teacher I have to break things down to an understandable level.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” —Albert Einstein (Or not, the internet can’t seem to decide who said this originally)

To this end, I am wanting to advance my existing knowledge of JavaScript and React, and gain new knowledge in GraphQL. This is core to what Gatsby can do for me. Additionally, the flexibility of Gatsby means I could continue to use a markdown backed site (as I am doing to start this blog), or back it with something like Netlify, or even have the backend be a headless WordPress installation. The point is, many of these things are the very topics I wish to teach via this blog.

The Only Constant Is Change

If you work in the IT industry for even a handful of years, this statement will ring very true. Change is the only constant, and to that end, being relevant in the software industry means staying current. Falling behind isn’t necessarily a job search killer, but as you fall further behind you will find it increasingly more difficult to find a gig. I know this from experience all too well. So, as I increase my skills, and teach these new skills, I will use the changes I make to this blog as a focus on some of the tutorials I will be posting. Every time I add a feature that I need for the blog I will do my best to document it in a tutorial that can hopefully help others.