Build Fast and Elegant Sites with Gatsby, NetlifyCMS and Material-UI

This tutorial will show you how to use Gatsby, NetlifyCMS, Netlify, and Material-UI to build out a multi-page site that can be updated with an intuitive CMS. Before diving into the code, I’ll first tell you about the the tools we’ll be working with.

Gatsby

Gatsby is React-based framework that has recently gained a lot traction and use in production. AirBnb, Flamingo, and Impossible Foods are all companies using Gatsby to build production sites and apps. Gatsby sites get built with React, GraphQL, Gatsby plugins, and some sort of CMS. Gatsby outputs production assets as HTML/CSS/JS files that can be served from a cloud host like AWS S3 or a Google Cloud Storage Bucket.

Material-UI

Material-UI is a React UI framework that implements Google’s Material Design principles in React. It can be added to Gatsby projects in a variety of ways and we’ll see how to use it simply with a plugin.

Netlify/NetlifyCMS

One of the smaller hosting services that works really well with Gatsby is Netlify. Netlify (the company) authored an excellent CMS called NetlifyCMS that makes it really simple to produce/edit/manage content stored in Github. All in all, the combo of GraphQL, Netlify, and NetlifyCMS makes it really simple for developers (who already know React) to build fast websites with an intuitive CMS. NetlifyCMS can be setup so that non-technical users can easily make changes to the content and have Netlify push the changes live. Gone are the days of managing clunky WordPress sites or plugin catastrophes! Also gone are the days of slow loading heavy client side sites (looking at you Soundcloud and Yelp 👀).

Ok, whoah whoah. I’m mostly kidding. The WordPress ecosystem is actually pretty amazing and I use Soundcloud every dang day. What I mean to say is that Gatsby and the entire JAMstack paradigm represent a very exciting evolution in websites that developers will enjoy working on and people will enjoy using.

This tutorial will show you how to setup Gatsby with NetlifyCMS and build out a small demo site (see below). The goal of this tutorial is help give you a better conceptual framework for how Gatsby sites come together. Gatsby already has a very nicely done 8-part tutorial so this tutorial will seek to build upon that and make it even easier to learn Gatsby.

Tutorial Outline:

  • Part 1
    • What We’ll Build
    • About Gatsby (and why try it)
    • Setting up Gatsby
    • A high-level overview of what’s what in Gatsby
    • Understanding Gatsby’s Magic
    • Creating Basic Static Pages with Gatsby
    • Dynamically Creating Pages with gatsby-node.js
    • Creating the About Page
    • Creating the Blog Page and Blog Posts
  • Part 2
    • Setup NetlifyCMS to make editing the content more accessible
    • Create the Courses Page and Individual Courses
    • Add Images and more fields to the Courses and Blogs
    • Style it all with Material-UI

What We’ll Build

This tutorial will be focused on building a very basic clone of the appendTo site (that you’re on right now). This demo site consists of pages for About, Courses, Home, and the Blog. There will also be individual pages for each Course and Blog Post.

The site can be found here: https://appendtostaticstyled.netlify.com/courses

Kyle Pennell
Kyle Pennell is a marketer and writer with a variety of technical chops (JavaScript, Google Sheets/Excel, WordPress, SEO). He loves clear and helpful copy and likes automating things and making web apps (mostly maps). Found at kyleapennall.com and many other digital spaces