Underlost.net originally started as a Gossip Girl-esque blog I maintained during high school. Over the years it morphed into a portfolio piece to show off (and look for) work, and eventually just sort of turned into this testing ground for experimenting with new technology stacks and designs.

One of the ways I was able to rapidly prototype these designs and experiments was UnderTasker, a Jekyll and a Gulp stack I created specifically for aiding in quickly spinning up web projects. While I no longer actively maintain it, even after seven years, I still use parts of it to this day, especially in various wordPress projects for clients.

Over the last few designs, to keep up with trends, I started incorporating more and more movement and flowing elements to the mix. While this is somewhat trivial with modern CSS and just some basic javascript, I wanted to start using more modern animation libraries instead of rebuilding them myself. Enter React and Gatsby.

Why Gatsby?

I may be leaving Jekyll behind, but I still love static site generators. Ive used everything from Pelican, Hugo to Octopress, plus many others for projects, but they all felt either a little too opinionated, or dated. They solve the same thing, just written in a different language. They’re reinventing their idea of the wheel.

Gatsby does this too, but to a lesser degree. Because it’s also React, I have access to a lot more fun new frontend toys at my disposal. Easy page transitions. Fun animations. Fast loading times. I can also swap out components with ease. With minimal effort I could replace Remark with MDX for rendering and displaying markdown files. I can even bring in other libraries from other apps; I could even build out full apps within Gatsby if I really wanted to.

Why not just build a react app then? Libraries like Gatsby (and Next) make it easy to jump start development. I didn’t need to configure webpack or babel. It lets me focus on the content and UX experiments instead of spending an annoying amount of time spending hours on setting up a server or on hosting.

What Next?

I’ll still continue to blog at A Life Well Played, with this site still acting as a way to highlight what Im working on. Have to keep that high quality SEO content going to try and compete with all of that UNDERTALE fan-fiction.

As usual, this site is still a work in progress as I add more content (maybe even some video?), but it’s finally in a good place that I’m happy to put it out in the world!