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Incremental Deploys: A New Generation of Content Publishing

Shane Thomas
September 21st, 2022

Incremental Deploys now powers all builds on Gatsby Cloud enabling Reactive Site Generation (RSG)

We’re happy to announce that Incremental Deploys is now enabled by default for all builds on Gatsby Cloud! This news comes as a follow-up to our previous Incremental Deploy announcement. After months of testing, we’re excited to bring these content publishing improvements to all Gatsby 4 sites on Gatsby Cloud.

If you’ve been on the fence over updating your site to Gatsby 4, there’s no better time than now—and no better place to do that than on Gatsby Cloud. Incremental Builds was originally available in Gatsby 3 and was the first step in the direction of incremental content publishing for static websites. With Gatsby 4 and Incremental Deploys, we’ve taken that one step further to make the entire publishing process incremental.

There are multiple steps involved in publishing content changes to a static website.

Content Publishing pipeline with 5 steps; Webhook from CMS, Queue, Build, Deploy, and Published.

Step 1:

When you make a change in your CMS, a webhook is sent that triggers a new build. The time it takes from when that webhook arrives at Gatsby Cloud, to when the build starts processing, is the Queue time. Over the past few months, we’ve been improving our build queuing system which allows certain types of content updates to start building much faster. This drastically reduces the median queue time from over 10 seconds to 2 seconds (pretty impressive, right?). These queue improvements are now available to all Gatsby Cloud customers.

Chart showing how queue time has improved significantly on Gatsby Cloud

Step 2:

The second phase of publishing content changes to a static website is the build time. In Gatsby 3, we released Incremental Builds which only builds the pages of your site that have changed since your last build. A large site that previously took more than 5 minutes to build can now be built in less than 10 seconds for content updates

Step 3:

Last but not least, the final stage in publishing content changes to a static website is the deploy time. Deployment is where the updated files from the incremental build are deployed to the CDN so your website visitors can see the updated content. Prior to Gatsby 4 and Incremental Deploys, Gatsby Cloud would deploy your entire website every time there was a content update. This meant that most sites would still take more than 30 seconds to deploy content changes even when using Incremental Builds. With Incremental Deploys, we have reduced the median build and deploy time to 3 seconds—a 10x improvement!

A chart showing how Build + Deploy time has improved significantly using Incremental Deploys

When considering the entire publishing workflow on a static site, what content editors actually care about is the time to live. This metric is the actual time a content editor has to wait after pushing the publish button! In the case of static content publishing, this is the sum of queue time, build time, and publish time. With Incremental Deploys on Gatsby Cloud, the median time to live is now 5 seconds!

A chart showing how Time To Live has improved significantly with Incremental Deploys

In this Twitter thread, Webstacks (Gatsby’s agency of the year in 2021), noted the significant performance improvements they were seeing with Incremental Deploys. Webstacks mentions that “enterprise sites saw 30-50% faster time to publish” and “there was even a 601-second publishing time that dropped to 7 seconds”.

Tweet from Webstacks mentioning how Incremental Deploys improved build performance

So, are you ready to truly experience incremental content publishing for your static website? Test drive your Gatsby 4 site on Gatsby Cloud and give your content editors what they really want—Reactive Site Generation (RSG).

If you have any questions about the improved content publishing speed on Gatsby Cloud, you can find me on Twitter (@smthomas3). I’d love to hear what you think!

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Technology enthusiast, kind of a musician, former engineer, former engineering manager, currently living the Product life.

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