Site Customizations Journal

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edpike365.com started with Gatsby Starter Blog. I used Gatsby after doing some research in late 2020.

Here are my customizations and plugin installations, in rough order.

- Strategic TODOs

  • Short form “Journal” with Contentful
  • Convert blog to MDX
  • Blog/Journal Categories
  • Blog comments, threaded
  • Newsletter signup (Netlify form)
  • College Search Form that hits a SQL db with REST and GraphQL
  • A CRUDS form set, probably for “groups”, hitting a graph DB.
  • Protected area with OAuth 2 (Octa or Auth0)
  • Implement Google Site Analytics (I need to go deeper with SEO)
  • Google Maps demo
  • CRUDS to NoSQL demo
  • Demo sub sites using combos of (Svelte, Angular 2) and (SvelteKit, NextJS, Hugo)
  • TS and automated testing

- MD Blog Publising Workflow

- Site Build Date

- Mobile First UI

  • I had only developed internal corporate websites for years. They were only ever meant to be used on desktops and did not use media queries.
  • I used Chrome tools emulators to design it to work with the narrowest old smart phone (320px) and then modify multiple things (fonts, icons, menus) as width increases.
  • I ditched a fixed footer and use a hamburger nav for most of my nav, even in desktop mode.
  • I like vice.com’s responsive website.
  • TODO: floating fixed hambuger icon in lower left corner for mobile sizes.
  • TODO: left and right “thumb first” usability in mobile sizes

- CSS Customizations Overview

  • Emotion CSS in JS
  • Dark Mode with inital load flash prevention
  • Multiple Style Selection
  • CSS Grid
  • Animations/transforms
  • Custom Components on blog core
  • TODO Sub sites will demo Materialize and Bootstrap.

- Emotion CSS in JS

  • Learning to customize styling in things like Gatsby’s image tag was challenging. TODO: gotcha details.

- Dark Mode and Multiple Style Selection

I have not published my blog post about this yet but should have one up by end of Aug 2021. In the meantime: quick notes.

  • TLDR: I chose to write a Gatsby plugin, Gatsby Head Style Boss, so I could learn a lot. See it in action here.
  • I started off just wanting Dark Mode. I wanted to use 3 traditional style sheets.
    1. reset style sheet
    2. default “core” style sheet, mostly with root –css: variables, similar to materialize’s approach.
    3. a dark mode style sheet that just overrides the color variables in the core sheet.
  • I wanted to enable and disable the dark mode sheet
  • I tried using Emotions global theming, but WebPack combined all the style sheet “classes” into common.css, which prevented that approach.
  • There were no plugins that did what I wanted. I thought it would be a great project to create a plugin that had what I wanted: Gatsby Head Style Boss. This was my first node package.
  • Since I was going to write a package, I decided to add a secondary capabilities:
    • multiple style options
    • remote or local styles
    • optional minification
  • I learned many things:
    • using an IIFE in the head to prevent an initial flash when the user loads the site.
    • minifying CSS with postcss and cssnano, and to minify the IIFE with Terser 5. All are mandatory ASYNC.
    • you can’t pass async functions to the gatsby-ssr api, but you can with the gatsby-node api.
    • media queries, other odd attributes, and custom data-xyz attributes for LINK and STYLE components.
    • how to use React CSS modules (for the custom component library)
    • how to style and use SVG icons.
    • customizing gatsby’s default html.js with the SSR api
    • React stuff: global providers, select controls, hooks

- CSS Grid

  • It evolved over iterations from a traditional desktop first layout with media queries for mobile to being mobile first (width = 320) with media queries for multiple larger formats.
  • TODO: I’m still getting some scroll bar issues with some pages.

- CSS Animation, Transitions and Transforms

  • Colors transition gently when changing styles
  • Mouse over my icon to see it spin indefinitely.
  • Resize my home page and see the logo animate from center to left justification. This was very hard. TODO details.
  • TODO: mouseover icons, nav bar slide out

Gatsby Critique

  • Mostly good. Friendly team.
  • Can’t access Gatsby GraphQL or cache api from SSR. They need to make lofting resources from the node phase to the SSR phase easier.
  • Can’t access FS in SSR without ugly warnings.
  • Convoluted WebPack config (necessary evil but could be made more modular, at least better documented how to customize it using the provided hooks)
  • Site docs diagrams use GraphViz and it is broken, does not render

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Written by EdPike365 : Full stack developer, tech educator, science enthusiast.