Ian Evanoff

Chicago, IL

Getting started with the Nobelium template for NextJS on Vercel

It’s new blog framework time! …Again! 😄 Time really flies when you’re blogging leaving your site untouched for years at a time.
It’s definitely time for a refresh, including the tech.
My previous site was built on Gatsby with MDX, which was the newest hotness I could find at the time. I had wanted to learn a bit more about GraphQL, so Gatsby seemed a natural choice.
I worked on it for about 40 hours, got a couple of pages up, and never went back to it again.
I’ve learned a couple things in the interim:
  1. Gatsby is—or at least, in its state in 2019, was—not for me. I spent a lot of time learning and writing GraphQL only to load a couple of simple static pages. It’s always good to be exposed to a new syntax, but I definitely let learning about GraphQL get in the way of actually producing anything enjoyable to use or keep up to date.
  1. Speaking of enjoyable to use, turns out I just really don’t like writing in Markdown that much, even with React-y bells and whistles. In fact, I think the bells and whistles make it even less appealing for me. Markdown may be a decent lingua franca that anyone can learn, but insofar as a personal site, it’s become clear to me that I need to pick tools that are easy for me to use, so I can jot down an idea for 5 minutes while, say, tests are running or my Docker image is spinning up.
So, with an eye toward “how far can I get in about an hour,” I chose the Nobelium template, built on NextJS and ready to deploy on Vercel. The backend / CMS would be a Notion notebook with a publicly shared URL.
I’d had a good experience on a work project getting NextJS up and running fairly quickly, including pulling in and retrofitting decent sized chunks of legacy React code.
I wagered I could get even farther when working on a greenfield project, and the wager paid off.
I followed the instructions for cloning the repo and Notion template, hooked up my GitLab to a fresh Vercel account, and had a CI/CD pipeline in place almost immediately. It was astonishingly easy and error-free. In fact, I haven’t even dug into how to run the site on my local machine yet, as the deploys have been so easy and lightning quick! 😅
I’m looking forward to digging into the JS structure more and adding a fresh design on top. This actually feels fun and rewarding to work on, so I’m definitely more likely to come back to it.

© ian evanoff 2022