Can you use Gatsby.js with static websites only?

November 23, 2023

Tags: Technologies



In the dynamic landscape of web development, choosing the right tools to build your website is crucial. Gatsby.js has gained widespread popularity for its ability to create high-performance websites, but a common misconception is that it is exclusively for static websites.


In this article, we will explore the capabilities of Gatsby.js and whether it can be used beyond the realm of static sites.






What is Gatsby.js?


To briefly define what this technology is about, there is nothing better than going to its official documentation, where they explain in the simplest way: “Gatsby is an open source framework based on React for creating websites.”


In a more technical way, Gatsby.js is a modern web framework that leverages the power of React.js and GraphQL to create blazing fast websites. One of its main strengths lies in its ability to generate static sites, where content is pre-created at build time and served as static HTML files. This approach offers several advantages, such as improved performance, SEO, and a simplified deployment process.




Static website: Can they only be created with Gatsby.js?


While Gatsby.js excels at generating static sites, that doesn't mean you're limited to static content. Gatsby.js is a versatile tool that enables dynamic content through client-side rendering (CSR) and server-side rendering (SSR). This means you can incorporate interactive elements, real-time data, and dynamic content updates, making your website more than just a collection of static pages.




  • Client-Side Rendering (CSR) with Gatsby.js


Gatsby.js supports client-side rendering, allowing the creation of dynamic and interactive web applications. With CSR, certain parts of the web page are displayed on the client side, providing a seamless user experience. This is particularly useful for applications that require real-time updates or user interactions.


Gatsby.js achieves CSR by hydrating React components on the client side, allowing dynamic content to be loaded and manipulated after the initial page load. This approach maintains the benefits of static site generation while incorporating dynamic elements where necessary.


  • Server-Side Rendering (SSR) in Gatsby.js


In addition to CSR, Gatsby.js also supports server-side rendering for parts of your application. SSR pre-renders React components on the server, delivering fully rendered HTML to the client. This can be beneficial for content that requires custom data or for pages that must be generated dynamically at runtime.


By combining SSR with static site generation, Gatsby.js allows developers to create websites that offer the best of both worlds: static content for improved performance and SSR for dynamic elements.




Harnessing the power of GraphQL


Gatsby.js uses GraphQL as a data layer, providing a unified and efficient way to retrieve and manage data. GraphQL allows you to query data from multiple sources, whether it's a CMS, a REST API, or a database. This flexibility makes it easier to incorporate dynamic content into your Gatsby.js site, even if most of the content is static.




Final words


In conclusion, while Gatsby.js is known for its ability to generate static websites, it is by no means limited to static content. With support for client-side and server-side rendering, as well as the flexibility of GraphQL, Gatsby.js allows developers to create dynamic, interactive web applications.


The decision to use Gatsby.js for your project depends on your specific requirements. If your goal is to create a static site for optimal performance, Gatsby.js is a great choice. However, if you need dynamic elements and real-time updates, Gatsby.js can seamlessly incorporate those features into your application.


At its core, Gatsby.js provides a powerful and flexible framework that adapts to your project needs, making it a valuable tool for a wide range of web development scenarios.


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