Chris Biscardi talks about what makes Gatsby themes worth learning and how he'll be teaching you them in his egghead.io course, Building Composable Gatsby Themes. Chris also talks about his live-streaming and how the experience differs from producing recorded material.
Be sure to check out Chris Biscardi's egghead.io course Composable Gatsby Themes!
Taylor Bell: Hey, Chris, thanks for joining me.
Chris Biscardi: Yeah, of course.
Taylor Bell: So I wanted to talk to you about your new composing Gatsby themes course. So what are Gatsby themes?
Chris Biscardi: Gatsby themes are a way of taking subsections of your Gatsby site, shipping them to NPM, and letting other people use them. And then, once they're being used, allowing people to customize them as well.
Taylor Bell: Cool. And so, when we're talking about themes, I know that a lot of people will jump to the strictly visual aspect, and I know that Gatsby themes compose or can compose functionality and not just visual stuff. So how do you show this in your course?
Chris Biscardi: Well, we go through, and we take you from sort of the visuals of a basic theme all the way through to the deep schema customization APIs by the end, where we actually build a blog that is supported by a single data structure, but renders MDX to a developer blog or WordPress posts to a product blog.
Taylor Bell: And so you, just kind of for my own clarification, so you can take things from different places and make it look like it's just one place?
Chris Biscardi: Yes, you can.
Taylor Bell: Cool. Yeah, that's one of the mental kind of ... I'm so used to we're going to have to make a request here, we're going to have to make a request there, and then doing a bunch of weird client side stuff. So that's not a thing anymore, it sounds like.
Chris Biscardi: Yeah. I mean, with Gatsby's plugin ecosystem, you get a bunch of sources that can source data from a bunch of different places. You get a bunch of transformers that can transform data in different ways. And then now, with the schema customization APIs, you actually have a way to unify both of those pipelines into the same representation, which means that, when you build a theme, you can say that I'm building a theme that works with blog posts. And then, if somebody wants to source their blog posts from any other CMS that you don't support, they can do that.
Taylor Bell: Cool. And so what does ... I'm reading through the description of your course. What does horizontal composition mean?
Chris Biscardi: So there's this concept of vertical composition and horizontal composition. Horizontal composition is a fairly new concept in the world of theming because other ecosystems like WordPress only allow you to use a single theme or only allow you to have a parent-child relationship, which is a vertical composition. Horizontal composition is that you can use multiple themes in the same site for vertical slices of functionality.
Taylor Bell: Cool. And so I think we've kind of danced around this a little bit, but if I was to explicitly ask, how would learning about Gatsby themes help a developer, what would your answer be?
Chris Biscardi: Gatsby is one of the leaders in the JAMstack space right now, and they're only growing. They just raised another round of funding. And if you're looking to hop onto an ecosystem that could become the next WordPress themes ecosystem and earn some money, then Gatsby themes are a great place to get in on the ground level.
Taylor Bell: Cool. So it's not just for agencies then?
Chris Biscardi: No, it can also be for agencies who want to build similar sites for multiple clients, but it's also for individual entrepreneurs who want to build themes and sell them and maybe make some side income, maybe make it their full-time income kind of thing.
Taylor Bell: Cool. So what would be the kind of rundown of the material you cover in your course?
Chris Biscardi: We basically take a site that has a client side authentication-gated section, a couple of marketing pages like you would give to your marketing team, a WordPress blog, a developer blog, which are WordPress and MDX respectively, and then we also have a Shopify site. And we take all of those pieces, which are a single monolithic blob of a Gatsby site when we start, and we turn each of those into themes, and we show how each of them can be composed together without conflicting with each other in either terms of styles or in terms of data. And then, by the end, you basically have a number of themes that do each of these things individually that you can then go use on other sites.
Taylor Bell: Awesome. And so just as a ... I know that you have a lot of experience with streaming, and this has been ... you've done material for Egghead before. How does does doing a workshop compare to the streaming compared to recording lessons? You're so helpful in all of these areas, and I'm just wondering how the experience of producing this, how it compares to other ways that you've produced material in the past.
Chris Biscardi: Yeah, live-streaming is super interesting because it's very raw. It's very like a material testy kind of ecosystem. And then, when I do a workshop, it's much more prepared. I know basically where I'm going to start and where I'm going to end, whereas on a live stream I start, and maybe we don't know where we're going, right? Somebody comes into chat, and they have a question, and we go deal with that for a while. So that aspect of it is nice. So, when we're doing the workshop and somebody has a question, I'm now pretty experienced at taking that question and answering it in flow and then continuing with the rest of the workshop. But the workshops are much more produced and then the courses themselves give you an opportunity to record them, check them out, and then, if they're not good enough, rerecord though, which is not an opportunity I have when I'm live-streaming or giving a live workshop.
Taylor Bell: Yeah, good point. Well, yeah, so thanks for meeting with me today to talk a little bit about your new course, and I'm excited to check it out, and I look forward to seeing more material from you in the future.
Chris Biscardi: Awesome. Yeah, I'm excited to produce some more.
Taylor Bell: Cool, thanks Chris.
Chris Biscardi: Thanks for having me.