1. Becoming a Fan Boy

How I found GatsbyJS, why it caught my attention and why I was its number one fan.

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Image of Sam Larsen-Disney

Sam Larsen-Disney

Software Engineer at Amplitude

My journey into the world of GatsbyJS started like most engineering stories do, with a problem.

In June of 2017 I had just started working as an intern at American Express. When starting at any new company you always have a ton of developer tooling to set up and this job was no exception. While there was great documentation on getting on the WiFi and accessing your company benefits, there was very little about VPNs, proxies, helpful bash scripts and all that other good stuff that makes you a formidable developer. Instead this information was passed between colleagues over slack DMs. This led to a less than optimal onboarding with teams often dedicating a week of your time to getting up and running. Having spent a week of my life in this way, you can imagine I wasnt "thrilled" to have to do it all again when I returned as a graduate a year later.

When I completed onboarding for the second time, I found that everyone was asking the same questions that had been asked the previous year. Questions that still did not seem to be stored anywhere but instead were passed around by word of mouth. I thought I could change that.

I got my graduate cohort together and convinced them to build a collection of resources with me that could help new starters. One major point that came out of that meeting was that we wanted it to be graduate owned. We wanted to use it as a way to show the wider organisation what we were capable of. Which meant whatever we built had to be fast. Blazing fast.

This speed requirement meant that Atlassian's Confluence wasn't an option. We were using a legacy non-cloud version which was clogged down by the content created by the 55,000+ employees at the time. I was on the lookout for a leaner tool. I started doing my research and came across static site generators. By using a static site generator we could abstract the documentation to markdown so anyone could easily contribute. The only problem was there was an abundance of choice. Jekyll and Hugo were the two major players but there was also this new kid on the block called "Gatsby" that was getting some attention.


What GatsbyJS was in 2018


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About The Author

Image of Sam Larsen-Disney

Sam Larsen-Disney

Software Engineer

I enjoy teaching the next generation to code through my books, articles, presentations and at hackathons. You can learn more about me below.