TABLE OF CONTENTS

Jamstack Session feat Colby Fayock – Effective Product Development #004

Mariusz Marcak
By Mariusz Marcak

Introduction

We are talking about what is Jamstack, the pros and the cons of Jamstack, best use cases, and much more with one of the top Jamstack experts in the web development community – Colby Fayock!

Contact Colby at:
colbyfayock.com
@colbyfayock

Download Jamstack Handbook at:
jamstackhandbook.com

Other free resources from Colby:
50reactprojects.com
spacejelly.dev

Watch the video

Transcripted version

Colby’s intro: 

We all hope that at one point maybe we have a blog post or something that goes viral.

And when that happens if you’re going on a more typical server-side approach, if you’re not prepared to handle that flux in traffic, You might be looking at downtime or servers that are crashing or, you know, things that are pretty bad for your business when you’re getting a good opportunity, but with a static website, well you don’t have to worry about some of those scalability concerns.

About Colby

Mariusz:

Hello everyone, today we have our guest, Colby, but maybe i will give him a chance  to introduce himself a bit more, so, Colby welcome, it’s great to have you here.

Colby:

Yeah thanks for having me, I work with the development community  as a developer advocate at Applitools,but i’m also, I still consider myself  a UX designer and front-end engineer, where i create tutorials and educational content to help people learn things like javascript and react, and actually some different web tools.

About Jamstack

Mariusz:

Great, so it’s really good because today we would like to discuss a bit more the problems of a modern web. In fact, most of the problems comes from Google and the high demand for user experience and performance stuff, and right now, one of the hottest technologies probably on the market that actually make things easier for Google is Jamstack. Could you elaborate a bit more about it?

Colby:

Yeah, so, Jamstack is an interesting approach, it’s more of an architecture and less than an actual stack with the names Jamstack, but the gist is, when you’re serving a Jamstack site the core of the website,  the HTML and CSS and JavaScript it’s gonna be static assets that you serve to somebody’s browser, so that doesn’t mean that it has to not have a lot of content in it though, that could mean that maybe you’re using requests in the  browser to populate dynamic data or, you might be using a Static Site Generator where you’re making those requests for  that dynamic data at compile time, but the person who’s actually visiting the site, doesn’t know anything about that all they know is they get a really  fast application right in their browser and they can immediately get productive.

Mariusz:

That’s great, that’s really technical point of view, but at the end of the day, yes, for user it doesn’t really make a difference as long as he has this website opened in one second

Colby:

Sure so, maybe if I can look at it from a less super technical point of view then, so there’s kind of two main approaches for the way that websites get rendered or the way that websites get delivered so – one is static, where it’s just a file that comes from storage. Imagine a folder on your computer is just getting sent to somebody’s browser as opposed to somebody actually hitting a server which is more called Server Side where they’re going to hit that server, the server is going to do a bunch of functionality like request data and stuff they’re going to build that same file and then send it back to the browser. 

Now, the biggest difference is there’s a lot  more work happening on that server-side request, so typically it’s going to be  slower than serving it statically

Benefits of using Jamstack

Mariusz:

Yeah, oh yeah that’s definitely a bit more laic. So, maybe now it’s a good time to think about the benefits of using Jamstack for companies that are not really technical, but they’re searching for more business opportunities. Is that something that you can also tell us about?

Colby:

Yeah, sure, so, from like a businesses’ perspective there’s a lot of benefits  in terms of things like reliability where, l don’t know them off the top of my head,  but I know AWS has like five pillars  of a well-architected framework, but they’re things like cost and  scalability and really just things  that generally make your website,  a well-architected website right, but the thing with Jamstack is you hit  a lot of those things out of the box where, if you’re serving those files statically, you’re going to get a really fast  page experience pretty much by default, because static storage is really easy to send quickly to a browser, but you’re also going to get things  like, it’s cheap like, static storage whether you’re doing AWS S3, or Netlify,  or really a lot of the different options, static storage is really cheap.

You can do a lot with a low  budget that you might not typically be able to do on a Server-Side approach, but the scalability aspect is important as well, and while not everybody here is trying to  manage the next Amazon or a huge big website we all hope that at one point maybe we have  a blog post or something that goes viral and when that happens, if you’re going  on a more typical Server-Side approach, if you’re not prepared to  handle that flux in traffic you might be looking at downtime, or  servers that are crashing, or, you know, things that are pretty bad for your business  

when you’re getting a good opportunity, but with a static website (now this doesn’t include things like APIs  which might still be server-side requested), but that core website that gets taken to you  in the browser that’s going to scale infinitely as they like to say, where you don’t have to  worry about some of those scalability concerns.

How decoupled websites work?

Chris:

I also would like to add something about this modern trend that it’s nowadays so, nowadays, the modern websites are decoupled, so you have the front end that can be statically generated, but you also can have very, very great APIs like, for example, you can have Shopify API so you can provide e-commerce functionalities to your website and it’s a great benefit for the business, because you don’t need to code the whole e-commerce website you just plug in the Shopify API and you have very user-friendly checkouts, and you can integrate your Shopify with any other tools that you like so, I just like to add to the Jamstack that it is following the modern approach the decoupled approach.

I also see in software development, that some times ago everything had to be monolithic now everything needs to be decoupled what do you think Colby, is it something like, like you know, technology waves that we are going back in future to monolithic systems, or you see the modern web development like building from you know no code or low code blocks that you are connecting to the one website if you want to have a better product?

Benefits of using decoupled approach

Colby:

Yeah, so, it’s interesting because  this whole kind of decoupled look is very similar to what you’d expect  from something like microservices where each of those parts of the  entire application as a whole do its own individual parts really well you know, some people complain that one of the things about Jamstack, and how decoupled it is that you have to rely on a bunch of different services that you’re paying for  and while that might be true at the same time as opposed to something like WordPress which does really  great things out of the box, but when you are paying each  of those individual services, you can know and be confident that they  specialize in each of those different aspects whether it’s authentication with companies  like Auth0 who do a really good job with that or Cloudinary for asset management,  but being able to bring those in, I know Gatsby has kind of coined  that as the “Content Mesh” and there’s kind of two places where that can happen where with  Gatsby that’s typically at compile time kind of like, what I was getting at before, where you pull in the different data  sources to compile the site dynamically but you can also do things Client-Side  which is more with the browser request, so it’s just kind of two different  ways of looking at it, but i think, ultimately it’s a  good thing because, again you’re able to concentrate and focus it on making sure those individual pieces  are very good at what they do.

Now, one other comment I will make is some gotchas that you can get are kind of optimizing too early into the process and I think that’s why some of the different frameworks, like Blitz.js and Redwood.js, might become compelling because if you optimize with all these different microservices with a very small team way early when you’re just starting an application you might split the application into different parts into the wrong parts rather where with the monorepo or the monolithic approach you’re able to kind of see what those splits might look like later in the life cycle of the application where you can optimize for those things later and find out what actually makes logical sense for you and your team.

When is best to use Jamstack, and when not?

Mariusz:

Okay, yeah, that’s great I think this is also a good moment actually to mention best use cases for Jamstack, like, okay, so who can use Jamstack, or who can use the best of Jamstack, let’s say, for his own business?

Colby:

Sure, yeah, so, I like to say that, I believe that Jamstack websites can really handle any use case, but of course, there’s some, you know,  complexities that you kind of have to work around and while a static website is a pretty web old when it comes to technology-wise, like, we’ve been doing this for years, right? Like the tooling that’s been coming  around the Jamstack has been really changing the game with this so, typically when people think of Jamstack, they think of those Static Sites where a Static Site Generator, like a blog, of course, that’s  going to be a really compelling argument for doing something like this, but there’s a lot of other things like  e-commerce where you can do things just the same the issue is, if you’re running  maybe 10 or less products, you can compile all those pages statically and not really have to worry about long  compiling times, whereas if you’re managing thousands or millions of products you would have to wait for every single one  of those pages to compile in that process, but the nice thing is these tooling, the tooling that we have are really continuing to try to tackle these issues where some of them will do, they’ll only compile the pages that need to be compiled when it senses in the CMS or the data management that particular part of the application has changed Others, like Next.js, where it’s starting to blur the line of what Jamstack really is where they’re doing approach where they call it a hybrid approach, where they serve the file statically, but you’re still hitting a server, so when you hit a Next.js site with this hybrid approach you’re hitting a server, but they return the static file to you, but in the background, they’ll regenerate that static file so if you’re more familiar with the traditional approach it’s very similar to some of the edge caching that you might expect from a  typical Server-side product, but it’s a way to bring universal JavaScript applications particularly React to the modern web.

Chris:

That’s great, I would add to that, that in my opinion Jamstack is frequently chosen by developers, of course, because it’s a new tool on the market and the development experience is great, so we all like to jump to new technology to check how it’s working and of course if you are using Gatsby or Next.js it’s based on React so, yeah, all kinds of React developers love to use this kind of tools, so I think a lot of developers like to choose Jamstack. 

And the other part can be some b2b businesses that like to have the best user experience, because, if the goal of their website is to collect leads, generate sales, they want to have a great user experience and attract more people also thanks to better google rankings. In the past, and also since today, this kind of business often also use AMP. Do you have your opinion about AMP? Do you think, because, sometimes it can be,  you know, pretty similar to Jamstack, because it’s allowing to have a very fast website, but the website is also cached, but not cached on CDN, but it’s cached on Google servers? What do you think about this approach?

AMP vs Jamstack

Colby:

I think, ultimately with AMP it’s interesting because a lot of developers and content managers don’t like it because they push back about Google trying to take over every little inch they can,  you know, I get that and I think there are a lot of concerns that we should keep an eye on for that but I also think that it’s ultimately helping pushing developers and people towards providing a better experience like I wonder if that helps influence the direction of Jamstack at all because they’re ultimately providing those heavily cached pages to provide a better user experience. 

So, you know, I think there are trade-offs with that, there are definitely some good parts and some bad parts, but it’s interesting.

Migration to Jamstack

Mariusz:

I would also like to ask about the possibility  to migrate to Jamstack, because as we can see, a lot of our clients are actually  asking to migrate to Jamstack, so, we also know that building a website in Jamstack might be a work from the scratch, but still, there are a lot of people that  probably are interested, like, “okay, I have a website on WordPress so, can I  migrate to Jamstack, and how should I do it?”

Can you say something more about  it? How to get prepared for that? And what people should be aware of?

Colby: 

I think that’s an interesting question, because there’s, you know, there’s a wide spectrum for what the possibilities here and of course, you know, starting from scratch that’s not what everybody wants to hear it’s definitely a solution, but the nice thing is some of the solutions that people are already relying on like WordPress and even Shopify, they provide the ability to serve that data Headless and what that means is you can build an entire separate front-end application that still retrieves the same data that you’re used to from WordPress and Shopify you’re just splitting up and decoupling those parts of the application so that it makes for a bit easier of a migration where you’re not having to completely change a different infrastructure in the back end you’re really only providing that separate  UI layer that is retaining that same data. Now that said, you know, some different stacks it can be more challenging than others, I know from past experience with stacks like  Ruby on Rails where it’s really well suited to transform an existing solution into an API, where, if you want you can have a Ruby on Rails server where you do the same thing, you turn a lot of those routes, or a lot of the data fetching methods into API routes where you, again, decouple that UI and you can hit that Ruby on Rails as your backend server.

Headless approach to Jam-stack

Chris:

You also started speaking about headless CMSes, so maybe you can tell us  what is your favorite headless CMS, and why?

WordPress vs other CMSes

Colby:

So, that’s a can of worms, so, I still really like WordPress, and I know a lot of people, especially in the Jamstack community, they’re a bit bitter about that, because there’s, I don’t know why, there’s a lot of  tension between WordPress and Jamstack where it doesn’t make sense, because  they work really well together where, again, you can treat  WordPress as a Headless solution, where I do that for my own  personal website at spacejelly.dev where I use it as an API at compile time, where  I reach out, I grab my data, and I bring it back, and the reason why I like it, is because I  still think WordPress provides one of the better editing experiences for the user for the UX behind the actual  dashboard, where a lot of the solutions that exist now in the Jamstack space they’re amazing solutions, Sanity  is amazing, you know, Graph CMS, but some of them tend to be a little bit more developer focused and that’s totally okay, that’s what they’re intending to do to make a great developer experience, but I know a lot of clients, if they’re not used to managing their content  in this kind of developer focused ways it’s going to be more of a  struggle for them to move on to a new platform, and let alone, a new  platform that is more developer focused.

So, the nice thing about WordPress is a lot of people already know WordPress,  especially in this kind of market where you’re doing the client websites and such, so it’s an easier way to transition people into that approach, but ultimately I wouldn’t say WordPress is my favorite because it does have some cons to it, but it is kind of my go-to right now, until the UX part of things kind of develops a little bit more in the Jamstack community.

Chris:

Yeah, of course, we also see that our clients love WordPress and all kinds of marketing managers or content editors also love  WordPress because they have a lot of plugins that they’re using on daily basis, so switching CMS can be hard stuff, and also when the content is modulated in a different way, when the content is not split into pages but into the data sources, it can be a little bit harder to understand where to edit content and how it will look on the website, because also some of the headless CMSes are pretty hard to do the preview and also, you don’t want to wait five minutes till the preview is generated. 

Colby:

Absolutely, and that’s the same with WordPress I guess, so this is getting into some of the territory where I’m not an expert about, but I know that, for instance, the Gutenberg editor because it’s somewhat new in the WordPress world you have less ability to attach into some of the APIs where things like the preview button. My understanding is, you can’t change that or at least you used to not be able to change it so it’s harder to create those same kinds of preview experiences in the Jamstack world, but you know, in my experience it’s kind of a limitation that  I’m not too particularly worried about, I know some people like to see it, but ultimately,   inside WordPress, they provide a  great looking editing experience that, more or less like it’s a good looking way to read it, so in my opinion it should kind of look roughly the same in the browser unless you’re doing something wildly different with your content.

Chris:

Several days ago, as I remember, there was a Gatsby conference, or stuff like that, and there was a demo of headless WordPress with preview working, so I think in the new versions it’s there and probably it’s using Gatsby cloud to have the preview experience, so it’s getting better.

Colby:

Absolutely, and that still speaks to the nature that like the Jamstack tooling kind  of like what I was saying earlier, like the Jamstack community  is still relatively young, so like, we’re trying to compare this to very older mature systems, like Ruby on Rails that have a great developer experience, but you know, as soon as Jamstack catches up I think we’re going to be able to see a lot of awesome improvements that just keep making it better and better for developers

Chris:

I also checked your Github account and I see that you have Next.js startup  that can be connected with WordPress Is this correct?

Colby:

Yep, so it’s called Next.js WordPress Starter, and I’m pretty excited about it because part of my goal with it is to build a  completely static WordPress site using Next.js and that’s, you know, that’s more of a challenge than it sounds because there’s a lot of dynamic parts about WordPress that you don’t kind of think about whether it’s like the images or even the search mechanism so the way that I’m doing a search for instance and this is getting a little bit technical depending on who the audience of this is but I create a search end index using a static file so that when you go in the browser to actually search it searches that file rather than reaching out to the WordPress API which it provides for a really if you go to the demo website it provides for a really snappy search experience but it’s not hitting those server-side requests.

Gatsby vs Next.js

Mariusz:

Maybe that’s also a good moment to ask the question which one could be better Next.js or Gatsby.js for Jamstack websites?

Colby:

That’s another question that’s a can of worms and,  you know, I personally prefer Next.js right now, because I feel like I have more flexibility in the tooling to kind of make it what I want, and I like having the data fetching APIs really close to the React components and everything, I just think they’re doing things really well. That said, Gatsby is a phenomenal application framework there’s so many great things about it, they have a huge plug-in ecosystem where if you’re not familiar with doing a lot of these data sourcing things, there’s a lot of ways that you can plug and play,  and have a really powerful website kind of out of the box. It’s great for newcomers for example,  but yeah, I just really like the flexibility with Next.js, and while I wish some of the Gatsby features, like a global data layer, existed, you know, there’s workarounds and I’m excited to see what they come out with Next.

Next.js – Static pages that behaves like dynamic ones

Mariusz:

Internally we also prefer to use Next.js a  bit, because of the flexibility, of course, and there is also another thing about Next.js, because they are static but they already able to behave a bit more like dynamic. Can you say something more about this? How it works?

Colby:

Sure, so, when you deploy a Next.js website like you kind of have a few different options so the way that I like to go, is I like to go static first and the way that you do that is by only using static data fetching methods, but additionally, you need to export the project so when you build a Next.js website it builds into a certain directory, a Next.js directory, where it’ll use those files to serve the site, but when you deploy that to Vercel, as is it gets deployed server-side, and they make the decision whether or not serve that file statically, still after hitting the server, they’ll serve that file statically, or if they need to server-side render that request,  based on the data fetching methods you use, so it’s a little bit confusing and complicated if if you’re not familiar kind of with the concepts, but it really depends on, like, what you’re trying to do, and what approach you to like to take. I like to go static first, just because there’s a lot of benefits in having a static first website, but you know, it’s great that we do have that option,  because, ultimately, like the Next.js goal was to provide a universal React experience like,  and that means throughout the entire life cycle of an application, and they’ve really done that by providing the data fetching methods.

First Colby’s project

Chris:

Can you tell us what was your  first Jamstack project and what technology stack was  involved in this project?

Colby:

Oh wow, I don’t know if I can remember my first project. It might have been my personal website because my personal website is a Gatsby static site. I know for a while, a lot that i was working on were mapping projects and that was  due to the nature of my work at the time, where i had to create mapping applications  particularly for a satellite tasking dashboard, and it was an interesting challenge because  those APIs, particularly the library leaflet, was all inside the browser, so I would build this underlying static site with gatsby and then  overlay the mapping utilities on top of that,  but the thing that really engaged me about Jamstack generally, was the developer experience, because I didn’t have to think about a lot of the  infrastructure things, a lot of the server side things that you would typically have to with a traditional website i could spin up a Gatsby site, which was completely static, I could deploy that  with Netlify, which was pretty much as simple as using oauth to connect your Github site to Netify,  and I had a website on the web, as a front-end engineer who doesn’t really want to deal with any  of that other stuff, it’s a pretty magical thing.

Best Jamstack resources

Mariusz:

Yeah, indeed, that’s really great. Okay,  maybe this is also a good moment to actually tell our visitors where we should start learning or where should we search for some good resources to start with Jamstack?

What can you learn from Colby’s Jamstack Handbook

Colby:

So, I’ll go ahead and plug my book I have a  book called “Jamstack Handbook”, of course, I’d love for you to check that out at jamstackhandbook.com, however, there’s definitely a ton of free resources out there where you can get started. I have a ton of tutorials on youtube but even if you go to jamstack.org, there’s a lot of resources, really if you’re completely new to this, I would still probably go the Gatsby route, if I’m telling somebody what’s like recommending something to somebody just because there’s a lot you can do without having to know a lot of extra things, like sourcing data, you can use those plugins to your advantage and really get a lot, get a powerful website going with a little bit of effort, but then using a tool like Netlify and  Vercell can deploy Gatsby sites as well, but Netlify just has a really great developer experience for connecting your Github project to Netlify, and getting that out to a working static website on the web.

Mariusz:

And also about your handbook, are there any case studies or real life  examples of stuff that you did?

Colby:

So inside the book, I wouldn’t say that there’s case studies per se, but I do go pretty in-depth in terms of what exactly it is, I go through the pros, the cons because every solution isn’t perfect, there are definitely some downsides too, that you have to consider, but I do also have three step-by-step tutorials within that book, where the first one is simply getting a website up and running with Next.js,  and I think it’s Next.js and Vercel, then the second tutorial is spinning up a new project,  where you add an eCommerce platform using Snipcart, which is a nice drop-in solution for providing, you know, you’re creating an online store very quickly with the Jamstack world.  Then the third one I’m trying to remember it’s, your sourcing content from Graph cms,  so you’re providing a dynamic experience and I think it was a blog where you can actually manage your content in a separate entity, just like a WordPress, but you’re using one of the more Jamstack community tooling, and then setting it up so that it rebuilds the site and provides that dynamic editing experience.

Chris:

I think it could be very useful for people that want to start with Jamstack, because also the use cases that you mentioned like Jamstack or headless e-commerce, this is also a powerful industry that can benefit from Jamstack, so I think using  Next.js and Snipcart also as I see in your table of contents, AWS S3 bucket for hosting files,  so as I see it’s a complete technology stack, and I hope a complete recipe for how to build a performance Jamstack website, that’s great.

Colby:

One of the goals of the book from my point of  view is I wanted to come at it from, like an unbiased perspective, where you know there’s  still a lot of great resources from Netlify and like Vercel, and stuff, but I wanted to come  at it from a perspective where i’m not working directly with them, I’m trying to showcase  more of the different solutions available, so that people can have a better look as to what  the Jamstack community actually looks like, but in terms of e-commerce I think one of my anecdotes  that makes this kind of thing super powerful, is, you know, I can build my own sticker store on Jamstack, and I can have it up on the web for free, but in terms of thinking about, especially in the times we are in now, with a pandemic and everything, there’s a lot of businesses, real  world businesses that are struggling because they don’t have an online presence, but if they come  in here to using these kind of tools, they can build even free online stores where they only pay  for the processing fees, for things like Snipcart or Stripe for instance, where  it’s cheap for them to get up and running and get an online  presence which is really powerful. 

Mariusz:

And we really have to thank you for bringing  this knowledge into the one place, so we definitely recommend everyone, hit the link in  the comment, so you can go and buy yourself.

How Colby stays always up to date?

Chris:

I guess the handbook is a very useful source of the information about Jamstack and practical usage of Jamstack, but maybe also you can tell us where you’re finding some interesting ideas for projects, and also web development resources because as I see from your YouTube channel, you’re following the latest trends, so I guess you’re always up to date.

Colby:

I like to think that i’m always up to date, and it’s challenging because there’s always new tooling coming out, but I like to try to see what the different options are in the field, and try to help people learn them, because ultimately,  the more different options that you know you have, a better way of kind of making the decision for  what’s best for your project, but in terms of resources to get started, I recently came out with  a free course, where I take you through a lot of these Jamstack technologies from Figma, Storybook, Next.js, and all the way deployed to Netlify, but I also have another ebook that’s free called “50 projects for React & The Static Web”, where it’s less of a traditional approach, where it’s not a bunch of tutorials, what it is, is 50 different project ideas, where I give you project briefs and even layout ideas and resources so that you can try to figure out and learn by doing for  how to actually use some of these technologies to your advantage, and of course there’s an escape hatch with tutorials for you to help you through that, but ultimately it’s a way for  you to get moving, and actually start learning.

Chris:

I enjoy it very much, this approach that to learn something you need to do something, you cannot learn how to ride a bicycle by reading a blog post “how to ride a bicycle”, you need to try that, so if you are presenting step by step exercises and real-world projects, I think that’s a very very useful way of getting to know new stuff.

Colby:

Exactly, and while a lot of my content is tutorials, like on my youtube channel, the way that I kind of see it, is not that somebody might sit down and just kind of look through all my tutorials, I would instead prefer that they actually apply it to a real-world challenge and go step by step through that way, they’re actually able to still reference that tutorial on how to do something, but they can apply it to a real-world context and situation, which is really going to help them learn that concept, and how it fits into a bigger idea.

Upcoming Colby’s initiatives

Chris:

That’s great, maybe also you could tell us a little bit about your next project because, you already published some books, some video materials, some tutorials. Are you working on some new projects right now that you can share?

Colby:

My latest project was the course that I  put out on youtube, but I still have yet to identify exactly what I’m doing next for my big idea. I have a smaller one where I see a lot of people struggle with putting out CFPs (Call for Proposals) for speaking at different events, so I’m putting together this template, that can help people have an easier way of doing that, I wouldn’t consider that one of my bigger projects that are upcoming, but that’s just something that’s on my radar, but I’m also looking to do a course with Storybook, where I’m doing that along with Applitools, which is the company that I work for so that we can provide on testing out the websites called testing automation university, where it’s a free collection of courses in the testing area, so I’ll be walking through Storybook and how you can actually apply testing to design systems and stuff, like that in the far far future I still have yet to decide what exactly what I want to do, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll definitely be doing more stuff as the year continues, so we’ll see.

Using Saas styling in JavaScript

Chris:

Sounds good, also, in your projects I see  that you’re using Saas. This is your styling preference? What do you think about Saas,  and what do you think about using CSS in JS?

Colby:

I do really like Saas, I love a lot of the things that it gives you, like, even just simply being able to nest your styles is a really great thing, I will admit that I haven’t actually used things like CSS and JS in a dedicated project, I have toyed around with it just to get the idea. but I really like using Saas and I really like the approach, particularly with the Next.js, I’ve been using what I kind of like call Saas modules, where it’s CSS modules, but using Saas under the hood, so I can still provide the kind of the best of both worlds, where I have those scoped modules for different components and using the benefits of Saas, but I really like that approach, I think there’s a lot of benefits to it, and I think one of my kind of criticisms of CSS and JS, and again, without having a tremendous amount of experience with it, is some of the problems that are that it’s trying to solve, aren’t problems that everybody has, and that’s kind of where I just put on my critical thinking hat, and just wanting to make sure that people aren’t trying to do things just because it’s trendy, it’s because it should actually help you in your project.

How and why Colby started with educational content?

Chris:

Maybe you could tell us something about your story, how this thing with publishing teaching developers, how to code, and knowledge sharing. How did it start?

Colby:

The reason i kind of got into creating the educational content is from my last job, where I was mentioning that I was doing a  lot of work with mapping technologies, so when I refer to mapping, I’m talking about things  like, if you imagine google maps where you go, and you can search for different locations, where the project that I was working on, was satellite tasking, where somebody needed to go  to a map and they needed to search for satellite data, based on a location, and the thing is, before I got into that project, I remember being told about what the project is and I was kind of like “how in the world am I going to create a map?” and it just seemed  like it was such a scary thing, but once I actually started to learn the tooling around it, like leaflet and that I could use react leaflet to bring something a little bit closer to what I’m used to, it really wasn’t as bad as I expected, because the tools make it not too bad to be  able to create some powerful user experiences so because I felt that way as a senior engineer, I had to imagine that other people felt that way and the impact of maps can be extra huge, because  science data like we saw with COVID being able to tell stories about how a pandemic changes the world, but the way I could figure that I could maximize my impact is by helping others learn those those tools, so I started off with the mapping world where I was creating tutorials and giving a lot of talks about the mapping technologies, but then I started to expand out  into doing more general things, so that’s where I started teaching about like the Jamstack, and  it’s really just kind of flourished around that.

Chris:

Have you been doing also some, not of course now,  it’s hard in in the pandemic times, but have you been doing some on-site workshops, or, are you  rather focusing on remote teaching and and videos?

Colby:

So I haven’t actually ever done an on-site workshop. It’s funny because at the time when I actually started getting into educational content,  I did one single in-person talk in December, before the pandemic actually began, so that was also my only in-person talk, and from then on it’s been all digital and remote since then. I’d love to do in-person workshops when things are definitely safe again. I think that’s definitely something that’ll be on my radar but it’s just something  I haven’t gotten into so, I’ve been really comfortable with being able to create courses and it seems like it’s been helping people a lot, so I’ve been enjoying that, but you know, we’ll see as conferences start to open up again.

People that inspired Colby

Chris:

Do you have any other people that you’re getting some inspiration? Like maybe there was somebody that you liked a lot, and you decided “Yeah, this is something good, I want to do something similar, but in my style”?

Colby:

That’s a great question. There’s so many amazing people out there doing awesome things, like my manager Angie Jones, she’s a phenomenal person who works with the community, and is a really huge advocate of helping people learn and giving people the ability to, so like that’s a great source of inspiration as a developer advocate, but then I look at people like James Q Quick,  where he’s built a really great community around helping teach people and the streaming work he’s done and the youtube work he’s done, it’s been a great inspiration for how I can help build my own community, and my content creation in my unique way, but there’s so many people, it’s you know, it’s both amazing and overwhelming, because there’s so many things I want to do with my kind of audience in my community, but what do I choose to do, so it’s a great problem to have, but you know, there’s just so much inspiration for people.

How to contact Colby

Mariusz:

Maybe you can tell us a bit more  about where people can find you if they have any questions or would  like to go maybe face to face?

Colby:

I’m always willing to help people out if it’s like a question, if they want to DM me or email me I’m @colbyfayock everywhere, so i’m easy to find, my dms are open on Twitter. 

Mariusz:

Obviously, all the links that we have mentioned about, all the things during the conversation you can find below in the description section. 

Colby, it was a really great pleasure to have you.  Thank you very much for all your knowledge,  and first of all, for your positive energy, and for all the resources that you’re sharing with us, and with other people, it’s a really big chunk of great work that can be used by, even newbies, for the subject of web development, which is really cool. Thank you very much for everything and I think we are finished for today.

Colby:

Thank you so much for having  me, it’s been a pleasure.