Let’s Try This Again, Without WordPress

June 04, 2020

For the second post in my revised website, I thought I should journal why the delay in posting to the site and what has been holding me back. No excuse…it’s almost been a year! I also needed a second post so that I can push this site live on Firebase and test out the Netlify CMS live editing.

I was looking forward to blogging again, posting tutorials, and doing this all on a new web platform that I was learning and building for myself, but life and distractions happen to that got me off track from that. I realized that the personal website can be a linchpin for other projects I’m working on or want to work on in the future.

One of the benefits of being an academic is that you have the summers off to work on your own projects. During this time, I’m working on learning new technologies, personal commercial projects, client work, and prepping for the next academic year. Last year, I discovered Gatsby though enjoying developing with React Native the previous year. Gatsby brought back my love of making websites because it feels like I’m building a dynamic application and not just an HTML website .ReactGatsby, and GraphQL are amazing technologies and then hosting on a platform like Firebase it because a great developer experience.

Then there was WordPress. I have built a lot of websites with WordPress for clients and myself. While I don’t do WordPress client work anymore, I maintain the NCC Art Department which is hosted on WordPress and I continue to teach students how to develop WordPress sites because learning a web platform that 30% of the internet is hosted on is a valuable skill-set to have. I like to try to integrate what I’m doing outside of the class to what I’m teaching in the class and wanted to see how I could integrate Gatsby with WordPress.

I implemented the last revision of this site using the Gatsby WordPress Plugin that uses the WordPress API to pull content for the static pages that Gatsby generates. It worked great and I even set it up with a headless multi-site instance of WordPress on the Google Cloud so that I could develop other websites using the same system. My next goal was to make a plugin that automates the Gatsby build process using the Google Cloud and Github. I was living the dream and then the dread set in.

I love the WordPress admin and they are doing some really cool things with the new block editor, but every time I thought about making a plugin or theme I felt like I was losing my soul and in turn, I would drag my feet on it. Not that it was hard, it mostly because it’s a bad development experience for me. It feels like I’m working on a 20-year-old system that has the rust of a 20-year-old system. I’m over 40 now and don’t have time in my life to work on code that I don’t love and get excited about. Life is too short to not love what you do.

So I dragged my feet since last September because I didn’t want to make WordPress Plugin for the build process but I still need a CMS to manage the websites that I build with Gatsby. Over the past month, I found something else that solves this problem. Netlify CMS plugin for Gatsby. I’m planning on creating a tutorial that documents this process, but I have a few things to finish on this site and another one I’m building on this system.