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10 Best Headless CMS in 2020, That Cover Most of Your Requirements (Part 1)
Overwhelmed with options? Are you building your first (e-commerce) headless CMS and you don't know what headless CMS platform to choose?  What are the best headless CMS in 2020, so you can at least narrow down your choices and start... somewhere? Which system matches most of your feature requirements? Here's a top 10: 1. But First: What Is a Headless CMS, More Precisely? Relax, I won't bore you with too many details — we already have an in-depth post on the differences between headless and traditional CMS. So, if we were to sum up the concept in just a few words, we could say that: A headless content management system is an architecture where content is separated from the presentation layer (the client-side front-end). Meaning that you get to create, store, and edit "raw" content (with no design or layout) in the backend and deliver it wherever needed —wearable, mobile app, website — via API. In short, what you get in a headless architecture is: a database to store your content in a dashboard for editing your content Source: Zesty.io As for the "head" that serves your content to the end-user : you're free to build your own front-end, from the ground up … and even multiple front-ends, if needed, that will all use calls from the API to retrieve and display content 2. … Then What's a Decoupled CMS? Headless CMS vs decoupled CMS: what's the difference? And why headless over decoupled? The role that the API plays… That's what makes the difference (and why you'd want to go for a headless approach): If, in a decoupled architecture, the API plays the role of an intermediary between back-end and front end, in a headless architecture the API can be used by any of the front-end portions for pulling data. In other words, a decoupled CMS does come with a built-in front-end delivery layer, that you can rely on, but a headless approach is an API-driven content repository. Which gives you more flexibility for delivering content to any type of display layer. … to multiple "heads". You're free to distribute it wherever it needs to get displayed. 3. Why Choose a Headless CMS? Top 9 Benefits Before I "divulge" the best headless CMS in 2020 to you, here's a shortlist of the key advantages of using a headless CMS software: you get to engage your customers with personalized content across an entire network of digital channels, at different stages in their journey you can deliver richer digital experience, tailored to each channel you gain platform independence you're free to choose your technology of choice you benefit from cross-platform support you get to manage your content from a central location and distribute it to multiple platforms/IoT-connected devices, in a universal format you're free to manage all your platforms from one interface your development team gets to choose the development framework of their choice, integrate new technologies and, overall… innovate you're free to redesign as often as you need to, without the dread of re-implementing your entire CMS from the ground up     4. … And When Should You Use It? 5 Best Use Cases  How do you know for sure that you need to adopt this approach? You know it because your scenario describes one of the following use cases for headless CMS: you're building a site using a technology you're familiar with you're building a website with a static site generator you're building a JS-based website or web app you're building a native mobile app you're building an e-commerce site and you know that the commerce platform you're using won't… cut the mustard as a CMS; or you need to enrich product info in your online store 5. What Are the Best Headless CMS in 2020? Top 10 "Which CMS should I use?" you wonder. "The one that meets most of your requirements…" So, you should start by pinning them down. What features are you looking for in a CMS? Maybe you need a system that should: be straightforward and easy to use for the marketers/non-technical people in your team be built on… Node be highly customizable and editable for your content team to be able to change overlay text, logo, background video/image be simple to set up integrate easily with Gatsby support multi-site setups not be tied up to (just) one specific database provide ease of content entry and rich-text support provide a granular permission system provide native support for content types What are the features that your project couldn't live without? Now, with that list of "mandatory" features at hand, just drill down through your top headless CMS options in 2020. Here they are: 5.1. Storyblok A purely headless CMS that ships with a visual editor, as well. Why would you go for Storyblok? What makes it one of the best headless CMS in 2020? it provides the experience of a page builder for all those non-technical users in your team: editors get to manage content via a more user-friendly interface it grants your developers easy access to the APIs they need 5.2. Prismic Its major selling point? It allows you to choose your own language, framework, technology… And these are the 3 good reasons to go with Prismic as your headless CMS: it allows you to model your content schema and to add your content you're free to choose whatever framework that meets your feature needs: React, Vue, Next, Nuxt, Node, Gatsby… you're free to choose either GraphQL or RESTful API to query content 5.3. Drupal 8 Headless CMS   Another great option is to exploit Drupal's headless capabilities and pair them with the JavaScript framework of your choice. Here are some of the best reasons why you'd use a Drupal 8 API-first architecture: Drupal's a mature and enterprise-level headless solution backed by a wide community, used by more than 1 million sites globally; you get to tap into its massive module collection and even create new custom ones to extend your website's functionality its JSON:API follows the JSON:API specification; developers in your team can start using the API even if they're not experts in working with Drupal you get to load your GraphQl schemas straight from your Drupal content repository; there's a specialized module for this: the GraphQL module you get to use all of  Drupal's famed features (granular access to content, processes, workflows, modules, etc.) right away; you get them out-of-the-box since the REST API is… rooted deep into Drupal 5.4. Strapi, One of the Best headless CMS for Gatsby. It's an open-source Node.js headless CMS, a "host it yourself" one, that allows you to build Node.js apps in… minutes. Why would you use it? because it generates available RESTful API or uses GraphQL shortly after installation, making data available via customizable API because it allows your developers to invest all their resources in writing reusable app logic (instead of having to use some of that time to build an infrastructure) because it's fully JavaScript because it supports plugins that extend the platform's functionality because it's open-source: you'll find the entire codebase on GitHub  5.5. Contentful  Looking for a platform-agnostic solution? A… content delivery network that would enable your development team to manage and distribute (and reuse) content to multiple channels? Then this is the API-driven headless CMS you're looking for. Here are 6 other reasons why you'd want to put Contentful on your shortlist: consistent APIs easy to set up you're free to create your own models easy to use: ships with a robust, non-technical, user-friendly UI you get to add custom plugins quick and easy you get to set your own schemas to get displayed the way you want them to, across different apps Good to know! There's even a Shopify extension available. What it does is connect your online store to your content, stored in Contentful. And if you'll need help with building, fine-tuning, and integrating your content hub, we're ready to tweak Contentful to your needs.  END of Part 1! Stay tuned, for there are 5 more candidates for the title of "the best headless CMS in 2020" waiting in line.  Image by Couleur from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 25'2020
Why Use Node.js with React? 11 Reasons Why You Should Hook Up Your React App with a Node Back-end
So, you’d like to build an app with React. And, while weighing your back-end options, you ask yourself: “Why use Node.js with React?” Why would you go with Node for hosting and running your web server? Why not… Ruby on Rails? Or maybe Python/Django? This is precisely what you’ll find in this post: the 11 main reasons why you’d want to choose Node.js as a backend for your React web app: 1. But First: What Is the Difference Between ReactJS and Node.js? We already have a blog post focused precisely on the React vs Node dilemma, so in today’s post I’ll only pinpoint, briefly, the main differences between the 2 technologies:   While ReactJS is a front-end library, Node.js is a highly popular choice for back-end development (thanks to its event-driven nature and to being asynchronous and highly scalable)   While React provides you with a language to describe the user interface of your web application, Node.js helps you with all sorts of (back-end) things like setting up your server, building CLI tools, scripting; a key difference to help you solve your “React vs Node.js” dilemma   While ReacJS helps you build your UI components, Node.js stores your app’s data in the backend   While React is web app developers’ top choice to address challenges like low performance and slow user interface, Node.js is the go-to technology for creating enterprise-level solutions based on WebSockets, event quests, and microservice architecture. 2. Does ReactJS (Really) Require Node?  In other words, do you need to have a Node.js backend to run React? No, you don’t. Node.js is not required for running Reactjs. So, why use Node.js with React? There are certain use cases and reasons why you’d want to pair the 2 technologies for building your app: you cut down on your web app development time (which always has a major business impact) the Node.js and React duo is your ticket to scalable and efficient code … But more on the strongest reasons why you’d use Reactjs with Node down below... 3. Why Use Node.js with React? 11 Top Reasons Now, going back to your initial question — “Why do you need Node.js for React?” — here are the key reasons why you’d go with this “duo”: 3.1. Because they’re both JavaScript: you can execute them server-side and client-side The benefits you get from having a JS-based technology in the back-end, as well, are obvious: you only need to be familiar with JavaScript (no Ruby or Python expertise needed) same language means… same packages same language means that you get to speed up your app’s development process 3.2. Because you get to inject V8 engine performance into your React app In other words, your React app will be perfectly equipped to handle bulk requests with no compromise on quality. The V8 engine that Node.js uses grants your app the best page load times. 3.3. Because you get a collection of NPM packages to choose from With the NPM CLI at your disposal, you get to install any of the packages available in the registry quick and easy. 3.4. Why use Node.js with React? Because the “duo” helps you address high server load issues  They work perfectly together to help your app handle multiple client requests while striking a server load balance. 3.5. Because Node.js bundles your app into a single, easy-to-compile file Using various modules along with Webpack, Node Js bundles your app into one file. One that can get compiled much easier... 3.6. Because it’s a real-time, data-intensive React app that you’re building. Does your React application depend on Data Streaming or Data-Intensive, Real-Time management? Is interactivity a major requirement for your web app? Is it a real time application that you have in mind? Then Nodejs makes the best choice for continued server connection in a context of intensive computation. 3.7. Because you get to run React.js code straight in the Nodejs environment 3.8. Because you get to scale your React & Node.js app to much higher loads A Node.js back-end will help your app accommodate many more users and many more future calls.  It's your best option for building scalable applications. The 2 giants are using Node.js precisely for its great scalability potential. 3.9. Because you get to build JSON APIs for your app much easier when using Node and React together How come? You get to share and reuse code in React.js quick and easy when you pair it with Node.js in the back-end. 3.10. Because rendering server-side becomes a more streamlined process Since React DOM comes with components built to work with Nodejs out of the box, you get to cut down on the lines of code.  Which translates into streamlined server-side rendering.   3.11. Because it’s a single-page React app that you’re building The “React with Node.js” duo makes the best choice for building a SPA. The lightweight Node backend will be in charge of handling asynchronous data loading via callback functions. 4. In Short, You’d Want to Use React and Node.js Together Because... “Why use Node.js with React?” As a conclusion, we could narrow down the entire list to just 2 key reasons:   Convenience: same language in the back-end and the front-end; Node.js makes the go-to option for running and hosting a web server for your React app   ReactJS depends on Node and npm (Node Package Manager) to notify the native side (iOS/Android) of the packages that you need to use in your app; then, it can add all the needed dependencies. The END! Now that you know why and when you’d want to use React with Node.js: how do you build that high-performance, conveniently scalable React & Node.js app? We’re here to help you get the most of these 2 technologies. Just drop us a line to have a team of React and Node Js developers handle your project. Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay ... Read more
Adriana Cacoveanu / Sep 16'2020
Create React App vs Next.js: Which One Should You Go With for Building Your Next App?
You're about to start working on a new app project and you're confused: Create React App vs Next.js - what's the difference?  Which option's best for you? Considering your SEO,  SSR, API, and performance needs. And they're frustratingly similar: they both enable you to build React apps without the need to use Webpack for bundling it (or the need to do any code splitting) they both make it possible for you to have your React app up and running in no time Still, each framework comes with its own pros and cons and specific use cases. So, in this post, you'll find your answers to the following questions: What are the key differences between CRA and Next.js? What are the main benefits of using Next.js? What are the main benefits of using Create React App? What are the downsides of Next.js? What are the downsides of Create React App? When would you want to use one over the other? 1. What's the Key Difference Between CRA and Next.js? SSR vs CSR... It's where all their differences stem from. Next.js apps are rendered on the client-side (CSR), but the framework supports server-side rendering (SSR), as well. By comparison, Create React App apps are rendered only on the client-side. In other words: CRA generates HTML code in the client browser, whereas Next.js generates it in the server, based on the URL.  So, your "Create react App vs Next.js" dilemma comes down to whether a static page meets your needs or not entirely. 2. What Are the Main Benefits of Using Next.js? Now that you know what's the fundamental difference between the 2 systems for building React apps, let's put the spotlight on Next.js. Why would you choose it? because it's so simple to set up, build, and even host a Next.js app: you have packages for almost all the key additions that call for Webpack configuration (SaSS, CSS, TS...) because rendering React apps becomes much easier, regardless of where the data comes from because you can benefit from automatic server rendering and code splitting (that will increase performance) because SSR (server-side rendering) will give your app a major performance boost  because it's a lightweight framework for both static and server-rendered universal JS apps because it's good for SEO (with everything being generated from the server...) 3. Create React App vs Next.js: What Are the Main Benefits of Using CRA? In a "Next.js vs create-react-app" debate, what are the strongest reasons for opting for CRA to build your React app? it's easier to deploy you get to build a single page React app with... zero configuration (no time-consuming setup needed) you don't need to deal with Webpack or Babel it's plain simple (an empty div and just a few js files) and provides all the needed HTML code to render your app on the client-side  the development process is much smoother better developer experience In short, with Create React App you basically run just one command and the framework sets up all the tools you need to start developing your app on the spot. 4. What Are the Downsides of Next.js? What could make you think twice before choosing Next.js for building your next app? the fact that it's opinionated: there's a Next.js way of doing things and you're constrained to... adjust to it if you later want to use a router different from its own filled-based one (or add Redux maybe), you'll discover that it's not that flexible  5. What Are the Downsides of Create React App? In a "Create React App vs Next.js" debate, why would you rule out CRA? because it only supports client-side rendering, which is not enough if it's a high-performing app that you want to build because no code splitting translates into lower performance because it's not good for SEO (since it doesn't render pages on the server) 6. When Would You Want to Use Next.js? As a rule of thumb, use Next.js: if you need to build a fast, production-ready app (SSR injects top speed into your React application) if public SEO is a crucial factor for your app project if it's a dynamic page that you need to create (wihout having to write your own bundling) if it's an eCommerce app that you're building (Next.js is more suited for the cart, the stock inventory, and other highly dynamic pages) 7. When Would You Want to Use Create React App? When would you choose it over Next.js? when you need to build a React app really fast; with CRA you can skip the configuration and the setting up part when you need to create a landing page for a product: Create React App makes it so much simpler to put it together when it's a SPA that you need to build 8. In Conclusion... CRA is easy, while Next.js "seduces" you with better performance and SEO. Is it a single page React app that you need to get up and running fast and you don't need SSR? Create React App might just be the best choice for you. Is it a fast-loading app that you're building? Is performance business-critical for you and SEO much more than just a nice-to-have? You might want to consider Next.js then for your next app. Need a team of experienced app developers to build it for you? Just send us your feature list and... let's build it! Image by Pexels from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Aug 07'2020
What’s the Fundamental Difference Between Gatsby and Next.js? How Do You Choose?
You're building a React website/application. You have your bulky list of functionalities all set, you know how you want it to look, but can't decide on the React framework to build it on: What's the main difference between Gatsby and Next.js, after all? And what's the difference between server-side rendering and static site rendering? Since both frameworks seem to be serving your main goals:   not to get tangled up in config or routing to generate a fast, fully accessible and SEO-friendly website to provide you with boilerplate application   So, what's the fundamental differentiator between Gatsby and Next? The one(s) that'll help you identify the framework that best covers your specific use case. Or, are there several of them (differentiators)? Just keep on reading:   1. But First: What Do Gatsby and Next.js Have in Common? How are they similar?    they're both React frameworks they're both great options for SEO purposes they're both great options if you need a high performance React app/website they both provide entirely formed HTML pages they both provide boilerplate application they both simplify and speed up the React app/website development cycle  they both generate SPA out-of-the-box they both provide great developer experience   In short: both Next.js and Gatsby score well in categories like speed and SEO; they're both awesome solutions to streamline app/website development in React. But the way they go about it... that's where these frameworks are fundamentally different.   2. How Does GatsbyJS Work? It builds HTML code on build time. That would be the short(est) answer to your question. But if we were to elaborate upon it: GatsbyJS is a static site generator that... generates (static) HTML code during the “build” process. How? It fetches data from external sources — APIs, Contentful, WordPress, markdown files —  and uses GraphQL to render it. Example: say you have a blog. In this case, you could use Gatsby to fetch your blog posts from... Contentful. Or any other repository where you might be storing your content (e.g. WordPress or Drupal).   3. What's Next.js? A tool for rendering pages on the server-side. And a more detailed answer would be: It's a React framework that supports server-side rendering. Meaning that it generates the needed HTML code dynamically, from the server, each time a request is being sent through. In short: your browser's provided with pre-rendered HTML code instead of empty “div”. Now, how does its distinctive way of going about building a React app/website suit you? It enables you to develop multi-page applications using static rendering and serving dynamic data from a back-end.   4. What Are They Used For? Specific Use Cases for Gatbsy and for Next.js What's the difference between Gatsby and Next.js in terms of use case? In other words: when should you choose one over the other?   4.1. Specific Use Cases for GatsbyJS 1. Blogs and small-scaled websites And I'm talking here about a particular scenario: When you have no comments section on your blog or, at least, not a very “busy” one. So, a use case where you don't need to render content every 5-10 minutes. Since blogs are static and their content doesn't change that frequently, Gatbsy's ecosystem makes the perfect fit for them.  And you have 2 options for your blog post creation and publishing process:   you write a blog post and the npm build will generate a corresponding HTML page you write a blog post in Contentful (or a CMS of your choice), publish it and recompile your blog in Netfly   2. Landing pages Again, since they use static content, landing pages make an ideal use case for GatsbyJS.  Where do you add that Gatsby “spoils” you with such a wide collection of plugins to choose from and to boost your landing page with: PWA, inline critical CSS, AMP...   4.2. Specific Use Cases for Next.js 1. Content-packed websites Dealing with lots of content? Or are you expecting your site's content load to grow, over time?  Then Next.js should be your first choice.  The reason is simple: Just imagine your Gatsby framework overstrained to rebuild all that content over and over again. Not precisely the most time-effective solution to go with, don't you think? 2. When you need more freedom for accessing your data Do you want to empower your content team to publish content on their own? Then you might want to consider Next.js.   3. To-Do Apps They make the perfect use case for server-side rendering: Next.js retrieves the content for your list, from the server, and displays the to-do's upfront.   5. The Fundamental Difference Between Gatsby and Next.js Is... … that Gatsby's a statically generator, while Next.js generates HTML dynamically.  Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay The first creates JS/HTML/CSS at build time, while the second generates it at run time. Or, if you wish to put it this way: Gatsby doesn't depend on a server, while Next can't function without one.   6.4 Other Main Areas Where They Differ For the “Gatsby vs Next” debate doesn't end at the “static vs dynamic” comparison.  There are other factors, as well, that set these 2 React frameworks apart. And we'll outline the 4 most obvious ones:   6.1. Data Handling In case of Gatsby, the framework's the one “deciding” how you should handle data in your app. It needs to know where your data, your images and other types of content will be handled.  What's in it your for? Why would you accept this... “compromise”: to be told how to handle data in your own app? Because: Gatsby, through its rich collection of plugins, enables you to hook up your site to various data sources. This way, you gain external control over your data... By comparison, Next's totally unopinionated. Is gives you the freedom to decide your own data architecture. In short: it doesn't “tie” you to a specific technology. You're free to handle data your own way.   6.2. Deployment You can deploy Gatsby anywhere you need to, with no special configurations, since it's no more than compiled CSS, JS, and HTML. And things are equally straightforward with Next.js, as well. Since it's a Node application, you can host it anywhere you want to...   6.3. Routing With Gatsby, you have a pages directory where you're free to create all the HTML pages needed for your app/website.  Moreover, they provide you an API, as well, for creating routes dynamically. With Next.js you get a “pages” folder, as well, where you can set up your new pages and get your app running, with no routing to config.   6.4. Plugins “What's the main difference between Gatsby and Next.js?” Plugins sure are a powerful differentiator. Gatsby comes “loaded” with an entire ecosystem of plugins.  So, do you need to have your JS minified, you CSS compiled, your...? There must be a Gatsby plugin for it. Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay   Next.js, on the other hand, doesn't “tempt” you with plugins, since its smaller scope doesn't justify the usage of plugins... The END! These are the key differences between Next.js and Gatsby, along with their common points and specific use cases. Have you had your “Aha!” moment(s) reading through our post? Have you managed to identify the right framework for your own use case? Photo by Charles ?￰゚ヌᆳ on Unsplash ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 12'2019
React Native vs Flutter: Which One to Use to Build Your Cross-Platform App With? And Why?
They're both open-source and some highly popular options for cross-platform app development. They're both backed by huge tech communities... so your struggle is real: "React Native vs Flutter: which one should I go with?" On one hand, you have Flutter, which has gained momentum incredibly fast this year, putting the same question on most developers' lips: Will Flutter replace React Native? On the other hand, you have React Native, which has been around for +4 years now and uses "good old" JavaScript. Should you place your bid on "familiarity" and reliability or should you take the leap and go with a newer, but so promising platform instead? Speaking of which: What are Flutter's selling points more precisely? Those that have instantly propelled it in developers' radar so quickly? Why would you choose Flutter over React Native? And when is the latter the best option?   1. Why Choose Cross-Platform App Development in the First Place? Why would you go with this approach to mobile app development instead of taking the "native" path? Here are the most powerful reasons:   you get to write (most of) your code once and use it on multiple platforms you get to tap into the features of your cross-platform framework of choice to develop various types of mobile apps: social apps, eCommerce apps, interactive apps you get to build a native-like app without getting tangled up in Android, iOS or Java development   Notes:    optimizing your cross-platform app might get discouraging if you're not prepared for it expect it to be less performant than its native counterpart your platform of choice might not ship with all the functionalities that you need (Bluetooth, GPS...), so consider creating new plugins or opting for 3rd party ones to compensate for the lack of certain native features   2. React Native Is an... ... open-source JavaScript framework — or a new version of React, if you wish — launched by Facebook, used for building Android and iOS mobile apps. Source: Facebook.Github.io How does it work? What kind of "witchcraft" does happen under its hood that enables you to build a hybrid app? One that works both on iOS and Android? React Native uses a JavaScript bridge which... bridges your UI code to native components.   3. Reasons Why You Would Choose React Native over Flutter: Top 3   Source: Google Trends So, going back to our "React Native vs Flutter" dilemma: why would you go with Facebook's "prodigy"?   because it's written in JavaScript (entirely) and so it's much easier to find experienced JS developers for your app project because it's more... mature: it's been around for +4 years, which translates into reliability and a high level of popularity among developers because it streamlines the app's development cycle: it's faster (just think "ready-to-use components") to build app-like experiences with React Native than with Flutter   4. Flutter Is... ... Google's open-source SDK, written in Dart, used for building cross-platform apps. How does it work? It leverages the skia rendering engine to render Dart-based UI in both Android and iOS. Source: Flutter.dev 4 Key Features of Flutter:   design-specific features entirely customized environment platform-specific SDKs native-like performance   5. Flutter: Biggest Selling Points and Main Weaknesses What makes this "new kid on the block" so tempting among developers? Source: Stack Overflow What does it bring to the table that React Native can't provide?   it's easier to install it: when using React Native, many developers choose to use Expo precisely for this purpose; there's no way of automating the whole process and you bump into errors pretty often   it's easier to test it compared to the complicated setup that you need to do for testing a React Native app   it uses proprietary UI widget sets (by comparison, React Native uses native components), which give you more freedom to customize your UI block components   it benefits from first-party support for its iOS-style and material design widgets   it uses object-oriented design (due to Dart)   it performs better: Flutter's slightly faster since it depends on a JavaScript bridge, like React Native, for interacting with native components   it speeds up the UI designing process (React Native uses native components, while Flutter uses owner widgets)   And this last one is Flutter's most "seductive" feature:  It allows you to create a new custom layout in no time. "And why would I be hesitant to choose Flutter over React Native?" you might also ask yourself. Here are some of the aspects that might discourage you from using Flutter for building your cross-platform app:   there aren't so many developers working in Dart, the language used for writing Flutter, compared to the deep pool of JS professionals  the development process is a bit lengthier it's still relatively a young platform: you might not have a library for every functionality that you want to implement; not just yet...   6. React Native vs Flutter: You'd Be Better Off With... ... Flutter if:   you need to have your app running on both Android and iOS you're already an experienced C++/Java developer (or developers in your team are), since it'll then be easier for you to learn Dart  high performance is on top of your priority list you want a visually-appealing UI for your cross-platform app   And opt for React Native if:   you're already an experienced JavaScript developer  you put a high value on the support of a giant, mature tech community   The END! How do the scores look like on your evaluation list? Which of the 2 cross-platform solutions would you go with and why? Let us know in the comments below: Photo by Coffee Geek on Unsplash    ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 06'2019
What Is Next.js Used For? Is It a Good Fit for Your Project? 2 Clues that You Should Use It
It sure is “the thing” these days. But does that make it “the perfect... thing” for your project, as well? For your specific project needs and priorities? What is Next.js used for more precisely? Can it handle both portfolio sites, let's say, and... particularly large web projects? Is it the best fit for both rarely and frequently updating websites? For both websites depending on a rich third-party ecosystem and those that don't use so many libraries? Let's dig up some answers on:   when (and when not to) why … to use Next.js.   1. But First: What Is Next.js? It's a lightweight React framework used for server-rendered and static web applications.  Now, if we were to highlight some of its main features, any shortlist would have to include:   (default) server-side rendering ecosystem compatibility prefetching HMR and Error reporting automatic code-splitting   Note: since it resembles PHP development so much, many developers find it easy to “jump on the Next.js bandwagon”.   2. And How Does It Work? Next.js renders your React app/website on a server (as opposed to being rendered on the client-side). Source: GoogleDevelopers So, do keep in mind that you'll need to have a server... somewhere. The main gain here is that it supports scenarios where data has to be updated in real-time. As for the drawbacks of server-rendering:   higher level of complexity: expect to write more code to get everything working properly it's a bit more challenging when dealing with third-party services a bit more difficult to deploy (compared to client-side rendering and HTML)   3. What Is Next.js Used for? What Types of Projects Would You Use It For? Now, back to the question that generated this blog post in the first place: When should you consider Next.js? When is it the best choice? Does it serve your... specific use case, for instance? In this respect, we've identified 3 types of projects that Next.js makes the best fit for:   3.1. When SEO is your top priority Do you need SSR (server-side rendering) to ensure SEO-friendly pages on your website? Then Next.js is your only option. It's built to serve precisely this type of project, where good SEO is a crucial objective.    3.2. When content gets updated particularly often Let's say that new and new data gets uploaded on your website and that the content on your web pages needs to get updated within... 3 minutes, maximum. Source: When Should You Use Gatsby? And I'm thinking here: news sites large eCommerce websites property listing websites where new comments get added and descriptions updated on a regular basis   In short: if you expect content on your future website to get updated often, then it writes Next.js all over your project.   4. Final Word Now, would you care for a piece of advice? When trying to answer questions such as:   “What is Next.js used for?” “Should I use it on my project or should I go with static?”   … make sure you evaluate both your short-term and long-term needs. In other words: your website might not need to update its content frequently right NOW, but maybe you're considering scaling it up in the future... For in that case, build performance and SEO will become some key requirements and your client-side or static architecture won't serve your goals anymore. Just make sure you coordinate your final choice with your future goals, as well. Image by Lynn Neo from Pixabay   ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Nov 04'2019
When to Use GatsbyJS? What Are Its Strongest Use Cases? Top 10
It's fast, it's secure, it boosts SEO and it provides a great developer experience, but does it fit your use case? For it all comes down to one key question: “When to use GatsbyJS?” Is it suitable for both a portfolio or documentation site and an app with a large content base? Or a large-scale enterprise website, for instance? Should you use GatsbyJS irrespective of your/your team's JavaScript experience?  What are the obvious and some of the... less expected use cases for GatsbyJS? Key benefits that would make you want to choose it over a framework like... NextJS, for instance? Now, let me break down the strongest use cases of Gatsby for you. See for yourself whether your own use case has made it to the list or not:   1. When to Use GatsbyJS? When You Need a Static Site... Obviously GatsbyJS's is optimized for this particular use case, after all: generating static websites. Say you have a static web page (a landing page), that serves plain HTML, some JS, and CSS. As for your more specific types of content, you plan to use Youtube and a platform like Medium to host it on. Gatsby would make the perfect choice for your use case since:   it provides server-side-rendering out of the box it ships with a heavy load of plugins to delve into (extract data from your CRM of choice: Contentful, Drupal...) it has a robust data layer built-in   Use it to create pages dynamically from almost any data source.   2. Use It for Your Documentation/Personal Portfolio Website or Blog Use GatsbyJS for your blog, eCommerce website or any other general static site that's under 500 pages, where you don't expect to serve any kind of dynamic content.  Note: there are the obvious use cases of GatsbyJS and the more... project-specific ones.  The volume of content served on your website and the amount of traffic aren't always clear indicators of whether you should or should not use Gatsby.  It's all a matter of infrastructure and of whether:   you do afford a build process for your React-based web app your team's experienced enough to get the most of a micro-service architecture and of serverless functions  you depend on a database that should reflect, instantly, any changes made   GatsbyJS's built to go beyond small/medium scale static sites if used to its full potential.   3. Use It When You “Crave” High Performance Not only that it's fast by nature, but GatsbyJS even stands out from the crowd of static site generators... If page load time is your main concern, you might want to consider Gatsby as your first choice.   4. Use It When Your Project Demands a High Level of Security    “When to use GatsbyJS?” you ask yourself. When you need to add an extra layer of security to your website. Since it serves plain HTLM files and there's no database or sensitive customer data stored on the server... there's not much to hack there, is it? The only thing left to “contaminate” if they do manage to get in is... your HTML files.   5. Use It to Build Your Progressive Web App For GatsbyJS is far more than just another static site generator: It's designed, from the ground up, to be a PWA website framework. Quote source: The New Stack In this respect, it:   ships with robust progressive web app features is built to be fast and highly accessible across all devices and in all hardware and network contexts   6. Use It If Developer Experience Is One of Your Top Priorities Luckily enough for your development team, GatsbyJS provides a modern development environment: simple, robust tooling and powerful built-in features. To give you just a few specific examples:   it automatically generates static assets like CSS and images from the “static” directory it builds routes between pages automatically it minifies everything “behind closed doors” before it serves it up to the client   7. Use It If You Have Enough JS/React Experience One of the few constraints when it comes to using GatsbyJS is the above-the-average JS/React experience required. There's no two ways about it... Also, another answer to your “When to use GatsbyJS?” question is: When you already have some React components or codebase available to reuse on your static web pages.   8. Use It if You Fancy a Huge Ecosystem of Plugins  Why use GatsbyJS? Source: Reddit.com   Because it ships with an impressive collection of plugins. Basically, it enables you to enhance your otherwise simple, static website with all kinds of powerful plugins:   you could just plug in Google Analytics into your site you could “inject” a gatsby-source-medium plugin and have previews of your articles automatically served up on your website   9. Use It if SEO Is Crucial for You When to use GatbsyJS?  When the SEO factor is of critical importance to you.  The web performance boost that you'll get from powering your website with Gatsby — since it'll render static HTML only — won't go unnoticed by your users and... by Google itself. Just make sure:   a static architecture is, indeed, the right fit for your project you've configured your SEO settings properly   10. Use It with a Headless CMS It's another one of those primary use cases for GatsbyJS: Pair your Gatsby site with a CMS data source of choice (a “headless” CMS):  Contentful, Drupal, Netfly, WordPress. This way, you pass all the “worries” regarding hosting and serving your data over to your CMS. GatsybyJS integrates seamlessly with any data repository, so you can focus on implementing your front-end instead. The END! These are the top 10 use cases for GatsbyJS, ranging from the most common to specific ones.  Which of its benefits — security, high performance, plugin system, developer experience, CMS integration — is more important for your own use case? Image by nugroho dwi hartawan from Pixabay  ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Oct 25'2019
How Does Using Component-Based Development in Drupal 8 Benefit Your Team More Precisely?
With the Twig templates replacing the old PHP templates, Drupal has been brought to a whole new “era”. We can now leverage the advantages of a component-based development in Drupal 8. But what does that mean, more precisely? How does this (not so) new approach in software development benefit you? Your own team of developers... And everyone's talking about tones of flexibility being unlocked and about the Twig templates' extensibility. About how front-end developers, even those with little knowledge of Drupal, specialized in various languages, can now... “come right on board”. Since they're already familiar with the Twig engine... Also, we can't ignore all the hype around the advantage of the streamlined development cycles in Drupal and of the consistent user experience across a whole portfolio of Drupal apps/websites. But let's take all these tempting advantages of component-based UI development in Drupal 8 and point out how they benefit your team precisely.   1. But First: What Is a Component? It's a standalone piece of software that can appear in multiple places across your Drupal website/application. One of the most relevant examples is that of a content hub. One displaying teasers of the latest blog posts, events... You could set up a component that would determine how each item in that content hub should look like. In short:   one single component can be used by several types of content any update to its template/style would automatically reflect on all those content types, as well   Accessible via an API, this independent piece of software explicitly defines all its application dependencies.| Your team could then easily architect a new interface by just scanning through and selecting from the library of components.   2. What Is Component-Driven Development? What Problems Does It Solve? A succinct definition of component-based software engineering would be: A software development technique where you'd select off-the-shelf, reusable components and put them together according to a pre-defined software architecture. “And what challenges does it address?” It streamlines and lowers the level of complexity of otherwise intricate, time-consuming development and design processes. As the author of given components, your role is to get them implemented. No need to worry about how they'll get “assembled”; this is what the well-defined external structure is there for. Word of caution: mind you don't get too... engrossed in putting together the right components, in architecting the best component-based structure, for you then risk investing too little time in... building them properly.   3. Component-Based Development in Drupal 8 Now, if we are to focus our attention on the component-based UI approach in relation to Drupal 8 software development, here are the key aspects worth outlining:   with the Twig engine in Drupal 8, you're free to “joggle with” extensible templates; once you've defined a Twig template in one place, we get to reuse it across the whole Drupal website/app   the Component Libraries module allows you to set up template files (storing all their needed JS and CS), assign a namespace for them and place them pretty much anywhere on your Drupal filespace (not just in your themes' “templates” directory)   you then get to use the KSS Node library and define a living style guide; it's where you'll store all the component templates built for your Drupal website (styles, markup, JS behaviors, etc.)   By filling in your toolboxes with all these tools — the results of a joint effort of the Drupal and the front-end communities  —  you're empowered to design themes that are more modular. And, therefore, more efficient... 4. The Top 6 Benefits of the Component-Based UI Approach   4.1. It Ensures UX Consistency Across All Your Drupal 8 Websites Take your library of components as the “headquarters” for all the teams involved in your Drupal project: QA, business, development, design teams... It's there that they can find the pre-defined standards they need to keep the consistency of the features they implement or of other tasks they carry out across multiple projects. A consistency that will bubble up to the user experience itself, across your whole portfolio of Drupal 8 websites/applications...   4.2. It Accelerates the Process of Turning Your Visual Design into a UI  Embracing the component-based development in Drupal 8 you'd avoid those unwanted, yet so frequent scenarios where the front-end developer gets tangled up in the wireframe he receives and:   he/she translates parts of it the... wrong way he digs up all types of “surprise” issues     By using a component-driven UI approach translating a visual design into a user interface gets much more... event-less.  With:   a pre-defined component architecture to rely on well-established standards to follow a whole library of component templates at hand   … there are fewer chances of discrepancies between the UX defined in the visual design and the one delivered via the resulting user interface. Not to mention the reduced delivery timelines...   4.3. It Streamlines the Whole Development Process  “Sustainability” is the best word to define this approach to Drupal software development. Just think about it:   whether it's a particular grid, navigation or layout that your front-end developer needs when working on a new project, he/she can pull it right from the component library at hand   … and “inject” it into the app/website that he's working on   in case that element needs further updating, the developer will already have the baseline to start with   … there's no need for new components to be designed, from the ground up, with every single project: the already existing ones can always get further extended   And that can only translate into significant savings of both time and money.   4.4. It Reduces the Time Spent on Setting Up the Functionality & Defining the UX And this is one of the key benefits of using component-based development in Drupal 8. Your various teams would no longer need to define the UX requirements and the functionality every single time during the design process. With an easily accessible library of components, they can always pull a component standing for a specific requirement (display of complex data, filtering, pagination in grids, etc.) and just define its extensions. And the business logic, as well.   4.5. It Enables You to Systematically Reuse Your Components And “reusability” goes hand in hand with “sustainability”. I would even say that it's a synonym for “future-proofing”, as well... Just think about it: by having a Drupal 8 website in a component-based format you can always rearrange components as technologies grow outdated and new ones emerge... In short, embracing a component-based development in Drupal 8 enables you to remove the need of rebuilding your website every time its underlying technologies “grow out of fashion”. With your component library at hand, you'll be able to swap your guidelines, design patterns and various content templates in and out, keeping your Drupal app or website up to date.   4.6. It Integrates Seamlessly into the Development Process  By leveraging a component-based development in Drupal 8, you'd also gain better control over the whole development cycle. The update process here included... Since you'd then build your components and manage your production quality user interface code in a repository like GitHub, every update that you'd make will be displayed in there. And be easily accessible to everyone in your team. In short, your developers get to pull pieces of code from the repository to further extend them, then re-submit them to GitHub (or to another source code repository) for review. With the ability to version your component library, your team can keep a close track of all your Drupal applications with their corresponding versions of the approved UX.   The END! This is how the component-based development in Drupal 8 would benefit you and your team. Have we left out other key advantages of using this approach? Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay ... 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Silviu Serdaru / Apr 11'2019
What Are Some Compelling Use Cases for WebAssembly? Top 6
Isn't it ironic? On one hand, you've kept hearing/reading have all this talk about WebAssembly and what a game changer for the web it is. Yet, on the other hand, few developers are actually leveraging it in their projects? There's all this hype around the new way of assembling code in any language and running it right in the web browser, yet everyone's still a bit hesitant about using it. Are there any truly compelling use cases for WebAssembly? Why would you use it? What are its primary use cases? For now, what you do know are its “selling points”, that everyone's blowing the trumpet about:   it enables you to build reliable, dynamic, faster websites it's now shipping in all major browsers it enables you to write your piece of software once and then have it run on... every platform with a browser it's a “revival” of the smart client software development On the other hand: it's still a “steamy fresh” technology and people are half-hearted about using it.  And where do you add that it requires a huge shift in mentality, as well: using the browser for tasks that developers are used to performing in the back-end.  Now, let's shed some light here and bring forward the most compelling use cases for WebAssembly:   1. Writing Faster Code               And writing “almost fast as native code for web browsers” has been one of developers' ever-present goal.  Well, yes: WebAssembly does enable you to write faster code. And yes, it is faster than JavaScript, “showing off” its performance-oriented side particularly when it comes to performing highly computational tasks. Those kinds of operations where lots of numbers and memory strain are involved. Notes:   Do keep in mind that being able to write faster code to be run with ES6 doesn't mean that WebAssembly will replace JavaScript. It's designed to cohabit with it, not to be the “cause of its death”. benchmarks have shown WebAssembly to be 10% slower than C code. Still, many consider it as a too little compromise for all the flexibility and portability they get in return.   2. Client-Side Compression: One of the Primary Use Cases for WebAssembly Just think of the tones of convenience that such a use case comes bundled with. Let's take this hypothetical user who takes a photo on his/her phone and then uploads it on a website. In that case, it's the server that normally handles the compression part: the user uploads the image at a default maximum resolution, then the server compresses it. When using WebAssembly all this compression happens in the... browser. The result: fewer server resources and data/bandwidth used... You get to run your web apps using the client's CPU instead. Compared to the “old way”, where you would access the server first, then send the result to the client.   3. Writing Code for the Web in Other Languages than JavaScript By far one of WebAssembly's biggest “selling points” is the flexibility that it provides. You get to write your code for the web in a... non-JavaScript language. And that's huge! Just think that till recently you were constrained to write your code for the web browsers in JavaScript. There was no alternative... Again, that doesn't mean that we'll witness a migration of developers from JavaScript to other specialized languages. Instead, scenarios where you'd use JS for the app's logic and UI alongside WebAssembly, used for the core functionality, are more likely to happen. As well as those scenarios where performance bottlenecks in your existing JS apps will get rewritten in a more... specialized language. One that's more fitted to tackle those specific issues...   4. Compiling Existing Applications for the Browser Another one of the compelling use cases for WebAssembly is this: compiling your current apps so that they run on the browser. A possible way to do this is by writing your existing apps in a managed language that has a large runtime. Take for instance a scenario where you'd compile Photoshop for the web browser. That, of course, if you don't have anything against sending an oversized file over each user's network.   5. Compiling & Accessing C/C++ Libraries … and compiling Rust, I must add. “What is WebAssembly good for?” To access C/C++ libraries for a wide range of operations:   digital media processing graphics compression physics simulation   And, of course, to compile C/C++ and Rust (or other statically typed languages) to a new format, to be easily run in the web browser. All that with a low runtime, so that you can reap the benefits of predictable performance.   6. Moving from Desktop-Only to Browser-Based Applications WebAssembly marks the “extinction” of the last desktop-only apps.  From VR/AR apps to apps with heavy data usage, to photo and video editors, to games with complex system requirements, they can all be run in the web browser now.   Final Word  Just imagine all the possibilities that WebAsembly unlocks: it enables you to take code from any language and run it in the web browser. Moreover, since it's a compile target, it “plays nicely” with other languages on the web: C++, Rust, C... And this leads us to the required shift in mentality mentioned at the beginning of this post: using technology for operations that would normally be performed in the back-end, but which, in this case, involve the web browser... Image by Rani Suarni from Pixabay ... Read more
Silviu Serdaru / Apr 02'2019