From Gatsby to Statiq

6/3/2023 in code
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Goodbye JavaScript, and good riddance

I think good software should just keep on working.

WarmAndFuzzy has been controlling my house's heating for four years continuously with no reboots, no bugs, no refactors, nothing. I couldn't be more proud.

However, it seems that the JavaScript/npm ecosystem punishes software that was built to just keep going (e.g. "We're deprecating your Node LTS version, you must migrate"). WarmAndFuzzy is now at least a week+ of effort away from even being able build again let alone advance, and I just don't have the time to deal with that.

How we got here

I moved this site to Gatsby, a JavaScript and React-based static site generator, about four years ago. At the time I was about to start the WarmAndFuzzy project, which I knew would be a full-stack TypeScript + React(Native) project, so it made sense to invest in the JavaScript ecosystem across all my projects.

However, it seems that if you're not willing to invest about a day per quarter per project to move your dependencies to their latest-and-greatest versions, enough breaking changes will accumulate that it becomes near-impossible to catch up.

At some point in the last two years I had wanted to write a new blog post but various dependencies refused to install and/or build, so I had to spend a few days migrating this site from Gatsby v3 to v4 as that was apparently necessary to access newer package versions. Not a good use of time, but okay, just the once.

The final straw was a recent attempt to rebuild WarmAndFuzzy in anticipation of some larger improvements I wanted to make. It pretty quickly became clear that its dependencies were so out of date (e.g. Serverless Framework v1, now on v3) that it was going to be a week or two to get it working again. No thanks.

Where we're going

I'll be moving WarmAndFuzzy away from the JavaScript ecosystem and towards an ecosystem that actually values longevity, which is .Net Core. I figured I'd get back in the groove of C# by moving this site over to a C#-based static site generator, which is Statiq. (It could have also been Python, for example, but I like statically typed languages.)

To be fair to TypeScript, I still think it's a great language. I'm not mad at the language (be it TypeScript or JavaScript), I just don't have time to put up with its ecosystem.

How it's going

It took me less time to migrate this entire site to Statiq than it took me to migrate Gatsby from v3 to v4.

Lines of actual (.ts* and .cs/.cshtml, respectively) code required to pull this site together:

  • Gatsby: 1494
  • Statiq: 576


The outcome is pretty much the same (automated image resizing pipeline, archives, ...).

The development experience is a lot cleaner on Statiq, though the content authoring experience is a bit faster on Gatsby because they're a bit more aggressive about caching and evaluating what needs re-rendering. I'm sure Statiq could get there (and/or I could make it work if I felt like it).

Overall, Gatsby suffers from making an extreme amount of complexity available via its GraphQL foundation which is quite verbose, difficult to use and debug, and not something I need.

Statiq meanwhile relies largely on C# and the C# type system (and, by extension, the C# compiler) to make things work and it's glorious.

Where we're going next

At some point AWS is going to pull the plug on the "ancient" version of Node I started running my lambdas on four years ago so at that point I'm going to retire the entire stack and rebuild it as something local instead; having the system globally available is cute but just not worth it.

Thankfully I don't need to heat much of anything over the summer so that buys me a few more months. :)

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