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  • Responsive and streamlined design.
  • Gatsby compiles the blog into HTML+CSS+JS so hosting the blog costs nothing at CDNs like Netlify.
  • Blazing fast UX: The website is visible and functional after only 1 round trip and ~20kB of data. That first round trip can be super fast to anywhere in the world, because the blog is only static assets which can be delivered by CDN. Subsequent pageloads render ~instantly thanks to link prefetching.
  • Autogenerated tracedSVG image placeholders are stylized to create a smooth look and transition as the image loads without the page jumping around.
  • Write blog posts into Markdown files (easy to format and content will not be married to any platform).
  • Expandable: possible to embed custom React components into Markdown.
  • Posts organized by tags.
  • Teasers of posts are generated to front page with infinite scroll which gracefully degrades into pagination.
  • Allow readers to be notified of updates with RSS feed and email newsletter.
  • Hero section with animated 3D WebGL art.
  • Contact Form.

How to create your own blog with this repo

  • Setup like a typical Gatsby project. If you run into trouble:
    • Install nvm to manage different Node versions
    • Use nvm to switch your Node version to v16: nvm use v16
    • Install v4 of gatsby-cli globally: npm install -g gatsby-cli@latest-v4
    • Install other dependencies: npm install.
    • Run in development mode with gatsby develop.
    • Run in production mode with gatsby build && gatsby serve.
  • Make it your own
    • Go through everything in content/meta/config.js and content/pages and content/parts
    • Search all files for my name and replace it with your name
    • Replace static/preview.jpg (this is the image that is used when someone shares a link to your blog on a social network like Reddit). Recommended aspect ratio is 1.91.
    • When you publish, make sure caching and redirects work reasonably. I recommend Netlify, in which case cache configuration in static/_headers is fine and you just need to edit 1 line in static/_redirects.
    • Move your own icons into src/images/app-icons, run npm run generate-app-icons, then replace static/favicon.ico.
    • Environment variables can be set in a .env file. It's good practice to keep it in .gitignore so it doesn't get published to the repo. When you publish your website, find out how you can add environment variables to your host without publishing the .env file. If you are wondering why environment variables are used, it is to prevent people from accidentally spamming (for example, people who forked this repo used to test the contact page by sending me messages like dffdsffdsfd).
    • Add Plausible Analytics: add to environment variables. Note that this variable is also used for OpenGraph (social sharing) tags, so if you don't set this variable, you need to fix the OpenGraph pathing.
    • Do you need an email newsletter? There is a Subscribe page for this purpose, though the link is hidden at the moment. You can add a link to the top navbar and set the URL as an environment variable EMAIL_SUB_LINK.
    • There is a Contact page. Remove it or set up handling for your form submissions. The POST address where forms are sent is defined in environment variable CONTACT_POST_ADDRESS. I'm using Google Script to handle form submissions. If you also want to use Google Script, instructions are here and here is an improved version of the script.
  • Creating content
    • Blog posts are in mock_posts and posts folders. By default only mock posts are used (to help you tweak the website before you have a lot of content). You can switch to real posts by creating an environment variable POSTS_FOLDER=posts. Please try not to accidentally repost my real posts if you are only tinkering.
    • When you create posts, a folder with a name like 2020-03-05--my-book-review will be published, whereas a name like my-book-review will be considered a draft and will not be published. There are ways to accidentally publish drafts. If you are worried about that, the easiest way to avoid it is to deploy your site from GitHub via Netlify and never commit draft posts to the repo.
    • You have to manually crop images to 2.222 aspect ratio.


Hi, I'm Baobab. I didn't do everything by myself; I leveraged the work of many awesome creators.

  • Photos are mostly from Unsplash, hover over to see photographer attribution.
  • Icons are mostly from FontAwesome.
  • Hero section 3d animated background is from VantaJS and wavey divider from Softr.

I started building on top of Greg Lobinski's excellent hero-blog-starter. Main changes from Greg's version:

  • Fixed draft posts (used to leak draft posts into production)
  • Fixed RSS feed
    • Dates were added to RSS items so that RSS readers are able to tell which content is new.
    • Non-post pages removed from RSS feed.
  • Fixed 404 page (text used to be hidden under header)
  • Contact page entirely redone.
    • Had a font issue caused by antd library. I was unable to reproduce the issue locally to find what was causing it, so I redid the entire form without the library.
    • Submission used to require entire web site to be hosted on Netlify. Now the Contact Form submission uses Google Scripts and web site hosting / form handling can be changed independently.
    • Submission works for users who have JS disabled.
  • Allow multiple tags (used to be just 1 category per post)
  • Allow custom React components inside Markdown files.
  • Added 'Subscribe' page, so users know that RSS feed exists (the page also contains a link to email newsletter)
  • Added infinite scroll, which gracefully degrades into pagination.
  • Many design changes. Spent a lot of time tweaking image placeholders 💎 Removed and simplified a lot of features to create a less cluttered look (matter of preference, eye of the beholder and so forth...)