Episode #20 - Jamstack champions Brian Rinaldi and Raymond Camden share the love of the jamstack and their new book all about it
We quiz Brian and Ray on their upcoming book, The JamStack Book, as well as share some tasty discount codes so you can join in the jamstack fun!
In this Episode
This Jamstack-loving pair have co-authored a book called The Jamstack Book, which is published by Manning and dives deep into the Jamstack and helps you build up a portfolio of Jamstack-architectured sites including a full-blown e-commerce store.
Now, as a very special reward for you lovely listeners of the show, Manning have been kind enough to offer some free copies of the book and some permanent discount codes so you can snap up a copy for yourself and learn all about the Jamstack.
Want to sponsor the show? Head on over to the sponsorship page to take advantage of early sponsorship!
We mention a few different resources in the show and you can find them here:
- Find Brian Rinaldi on twitter.
- Reach out to Raymond Camden on twitter.
- Discover their new book, The Jamstack Book available at manning today!
The Jamstack Book
We've been gifted a bunch of discounts and free copies by Manning Publications and Brian and Raymond. If you'd like to bag your own copy of The Jamstack Book then you have two options:
The guys have generously provided us five free copies. You can grab yours using the link below:
and then simply use one of the discount codes below for your 100% FREE copy!
35% off discount code
It's no doubt going to be a very popular book, so if you haven't been fortunate enough to grab a free copy, we've also got a permanent 35% off all of Manning's books, not just The Jamstack Book. To claim your discount, head over to this link:
And enter the discount code, podfrontend21
[00:00:00] Rob Kendal: [00:00:00] Welcome everyone to the first episode of season three, I can't believe we're at season three already. And today's show features not one but two whole guests. Today we have Brian Rinaldi and Raymond Camden. Brian is a developer advocate at StepZen in he's also a runs cfe.dev, a friendly online meetup space for developers and is the editor of JAMstacked, an email update on the evolving JAMstack ecosystem.
[00:00:23] His partner in crime. Raymond is a lead developer evangelist working at Here. Uh, location technology company, as well as being a star Wars, nerd and Gammer. Nice. He's often found speaking at conferences and writing lots of helpful articles on a range of JAMstack topics. Now the Jamstack loving pair have co-authored a book called the JAMstack book, which is just published by Manning and deep dives into JAMstack and helps build up a portfolio of JAMstack architected sites, including a full-blown e-commerce store. That's just a brilliant name, the JAMstack book. Now as a very special reward for you. Lovely listeners of the show Manning have been kind enough to put some free copies of the book and some permanent discount codes our way. So you can snap up a copy for [00:01:00] yourself and learn all about the JAMstack.
[00:01:01] I'll link to those in the show notes. And we can talk about it later on.
[00:01:04] So welcome both to the show. Very excited to kick off season three, with the double whammy guest combo and an exciting book giveaway no less, how you both doing.
[00:01:15] Excellent. Now the appeal of the front end are, you know, one of the things we like to talk about is exploring guests sort of developer stories and how you got into it.
[00:01:23] You're both developers gonna say developer avocados, but developer advocates. How did you find your way into the realms of developer advocacy and I'll I'll point at Raymond just cause he's purely at the top of my screen right now.
[00:01:34] Raymond Camden: [00:01:34] Yeah. So I've been working with computers for a very long time and failing at working at computers for a very long time. And I discovered early on that if I failed at something and I wrote about it, You know, can I explain what I did wrong and how I fixed it? It helped me learn and it ended up helping others as well.
[00:01:51] So I've been blogging for almost 20 years presenting for a long time as well. And like nearly all of that was, I really [00:02:00] sucked at X here's what helped me get better at X? And I didn't really officially get this role until about maybe five or six years ago. When I got hired by Adobe when they were interested in HTML for a few minutes,
[00:02:12] Rob Kendal: [00:02:12] I think yeah, I, I like that. I think we're all secretly. Anyone who does, who produces content to help other developers I think is, is secretly a kind of developer advocate. I like the nobility of like wanting to help other people, but secretly for me, it's just to help my future self when I completely forget how to do that thing with Next.js.
[00:02:30] But if I write about it now. That's really helpful. Yeah. You're helping the communities like, yep. Secretly just may in the future though. What about you, Brian?
[00:02:37] Brian Rinaldi: [00:02:37] Yeah. So I like, I, I have a similar story to Ray. I mean, I was doing, I was blogging. I was, I was already running conferences, running meetups, and just like heavily involved in the community, but all of that was outside of work. And just kind of finding a way to, to turn that into a full-time job was like a dream for me.
[00:02:57] And I also got hired by Adobe. [00:03:00] Initially as a community manager. So like kind of a dev REL is ish or DevRel adjacent type role which is kind of where I've been on and off throughout, throughout the 10 years or so that I've been doing developer relations. So you know, I've worked at Adobe and then moved on to progress off well, Tellerik in progress and I've kind of been doing developer relations ever since.
[00:03:23] And you know, Same, same kind of thing. Just love being a part of the community and helping out people. It's just great to do that and be paid for it, right?
[00:03:55] It was an nightmare, you just drop those controls in. And they did like paging tables and things. It was amazing [00:04:00] stuff, but yeah, Tellerik there you go. Blast from the past.
[00:04:02] Brian Rinaldi: [00:04:02] Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was there for six years. Well, they got bought by progress about a year after I got, I was hired, but yeah, it was,
[00:04:12] Rob Kendal: [00:04:12] Small world and uh, when did you discover the JAMstack? Was, was that a natural transition for you both or have you seen the huge value in the approach to development and decided to move towards it
[00:04:23] Raymond Camden: [00:04:23] I think around 2013, I ran across say product called harp JS which was a simple static site generator, very easy to use. And I took one of those sites that I had in cold fusion, converted it to harp and realized, Oh, I could run this with nothing, just a web server, nothing else attached to it.
[00:04:41] And it was. Just eyeopening this whole new way of, of building things. And it's been that for me since then. Pretty much.
[00:04:51] Brian Rinaldi: [00:04:51] Yeah. And I guess my story, like I have a bunch of these in my career started with somebody telling me no. So essentially I was toying with [00:05:00] Jekyll for a little bit, just experimenting with it for my blog and things like that around 2013 ish timeframe as well. And, and, and we were gonna launch a new site at my job.
[00:05:12] And, and I was like, you know, we should probably rather than using WordPress because, you know, WordPress had always was always causing problems with like error, you know, database connection errors, or like when we had a lot of traffic, I had been running a bunch of WordPress sites and like, when they get bombarded with traffic, they tend to go down and things like that.
[00:05:33] And I'm like, I'm thinking like, Why don't we just use Jekyll for this. It would be great for the, for what we were building at the time. And after some debate inside the company, they said, no, so, and I've been focused on JAMstack well, static site, generators and jams. I kind of. Became a little bit obsessed with it outside of work and just kind of kept going with it spoke about it a lot back then.
[00:05:56] And you know, I've since moved on used a ton of [00:06:00] different static site generators and wrote a prior book with Ray and stuff like that. So it's been, you know kind of a focus for me for like seven years now, at least.
[00:06:12] Rob Kendal: [00:06:12] Wow. And how have you seen, yeah, that's quite good length of time. How have you seen the JAMstack landscape change of the course of that career?
[00:06:19] Brian Rinaldi: [00:06:19] Oh, God.
[00:06:20] Raymond Camden: [00:06:20] Yeah, well, so I think when we both started, it was just a static site generator and that's it. And now there's a, so ecosystem of both hosts that provide specific support for it, a better CMS tooling around it, more APIs that are well-suited for the jamstack. So it, it kinda started from like one very useful tool to like a whole.
[00:06:40] Set of things that just make it a much easier to platform to adopt
[00:06:45] Brian Rinaldi: [00:06:45] Oh, totally. I mean, it's, I'd say the whole range of changes. I mean, I remember at one time this was a while back I was presenting at Actually at the Google office in San Francisco about this topic. And [00:07:00] these two guys came up to me and said, told me about this cool service they had. Cause I was telling people how you deploy these sites.
[00:07:06] And I was, I had found some tricks because at the early on I'd use FTP. And then, then I found some tools that made a little bit easier. So I could just run some command line thing and it would. Basically just FTP stuff. But it made it a little bit easier and these guys came up to me and they'd like, Oh, we've got this thing.
[00:07:22] We want you to try. Well, it, it, it was Netlify, but I think they had a different name at the time. I don't, I don't quite remember. Anyway. I mean, though, like things like that all really changed th that building this into a whole CICD workflow change things, I think at the time there really wasn't good services to be the backend of a JAMstack.
[00:07:42] I mean, we had APIs. But like there wasn't a whole set of services that were really easy to use either to generate content when you're at build time or to pull dynamic aspects at, at run at on the client side. So, I mean, all those things are, are now out there. I mean, the whole [00:08:00] idea of even building an e-commerce site, which like you, what you mentioned, like even maybe four or five years ago seemed to be kind of ridiculous.
[00:08:09] And now it's like, yeah, that would be how I'd recommend you build an e-commerce site in a huge number of cases. Right. So yeah, so much has changed. It's really kind of amazing.
[00:08:20] Rob Kendal: [00:08:20] Yeah, he's awesome. It really is. I don't, I, this next question might be, if you're, depending on what you're trapped into with your, with the kind of ecosystem at your work outside of that, I suppose, do you have any favorite jump stack tools or libraries or frameworks and things that you prefer to kind of use or recommend to people.
[00:08:36] Raymond Camden: [00:08:36] I mean, I'll start off by saying that with all the tools out there, to me, it's very much a religious type choice. You'll either love it or hate it. Just like, you know, people talk about react and Vue. I think most people have a very strong feeling. I really don't like so-and-so I really like so-and-so.
[00:08:52] And by the way, you'd like Vue, that's just the right answer. So I, I have gone through multiple iterations of what I think the best. [00:09:00] Tooling out there is right now, I think eleventy is the most flexible the most I think familiar to people already doing web type stuff anyway. So it's the best no debate.
[00:09:11] We can end the podcast now. Thank you.
[00:09:15] Rob Kendal: [00:09:15] see you on episode two.
[00:09:17] Brian Rinaldi: [00:09:17] Yeah. You know, I've, I don't have like a particular one I'd say is is my absolute favorite. I will say I use for a lot of projects. I have used and continue to use Hugo and love it. Ray has intense feelings and that are opposed to that, but,
[00:09:36] Raymond Camden: [00:09:36] I didn't name anything, Brian? Yeah, don't don't out me on this.
[00:09:41] Brian Rinaldi: [00:09:41] but but I, I still, I love, I love Hugo, but I also like have been doing a lot more with next JS and thinks thing next JS is awesome.
[00:09:51] And then there's even like a whole bunch of you know, things outside of just the static site, generator and framework. I mean, like obviously I, I [00:10:00] have been using Netlify for a long time. It's the love Netlify. And things like Netlify functions and so on really, really have changed the way I built sites tools like Algolia I find like really, I mean, search was always such a pain in the butt on JAMstack sites and now like Algolia just makes that brain-dead easy and just works.
[00:10:21] Great. So there there's, there's a number of them and we, we actually cover a bunch of that in the book as well.
[00:10:26] Rob Kendal: [00:10:26] That's the thing you've got to get them book plugs in as we're talking and get their, get the plugs for the book and it's not going to, it's not going to sell itself. So I see that you, Brian ruin an online meetup space for developers. How did, how did that come about?
[00:10:39] Brian Rinaldi: [00:10:39] It, it really came about as I've ran conferences for years. I mean, I started running, I think conference, the first conference was maybe 15, 16 years ago. I ran that Ray, you probably were there like my, my flash camp, Boston or whatever. I know you spoke at a bunch of them. So yeah. I love to running [00:11:00] conferences.
[00:11:00] And I kind of, I was planning on running physical conferences in it, morphed into this idea of just running these online kind of meetups mixed in with occasional conferences. But now that we don't even have physical in-person conferences, it's, it's really, it's funny. Cause I've been running for three years, all online pretty much.
[00:11:20] And you know, and then. This whole pandemic happened and everybody started moving online. Like, Hey, I'm a here, I'm already doing this online and been doing it for years. So I just, you know, I love. What I loved about running conferences was just meeting people and hearing different stories. Maybe much like you do with this podcast, right?
[00:11:38] Like you get to meet different people, hear their stories, learn different perspectives. So I just love to invite people who I really want to hear. And, and I, I have this very eclectic interest in technology. I mean, I love the JAMstack, but I just, I want to learn a little bit about everything. And so that's what I love about.
[00:11:56] Running that it's just the ability to be like, Oh, you know what? I don't know a [00:12:00] lot about artificial intelligence, but I've this person I've seen them speak and they're great. I really want to hear more from them. So that that's kind of how it's what it morphed into. And thankfully, a lot of people seem to love it as well.
[00:12:12] Rob Kendal: [00:12:13] Yeah, that was that was going to be my next question. Actually, it was whether it was something that was born out of this pandemic situation, which is terrible as it is some good things, kind of have been born out of necessity, but it's great to hear that it was something that you were on with and kind of championing before that and again, it's been recommended on the, on the podcast a few times where, you know, people should get out and go to conferences. I lie, I'm quite lazy. I like the fact that it's, the more things are online now. I'm not as bothered about meeting people in person. But the, yeah, anything you can get outside your box and even if you learn something, like I'd go to a Vue conference. I'm not a Vue developer, I'm in the react camp. But I would happily go to a Vue conference. Could you just get you outside of that little box that you put yourself in and you kind of learn and different things get different exposure. So that's definitely great. I'll definitely be checking the the [00:13:00] conferences out there on there.
[00:13:00] Now that I know about it and just get myself through a few. Now Raymond, to, to go over to you, y'all working at Here, which is a location technology specialist, business, dealing with kind of geolocation and maps and things. Do you get to flex your jamstack muscles as much as part of your day job?
[00:13:16] Raymond Camden: [00:13:16] No, not really. Yeah. I mean, obviously I've, I've been able to do random blog posts on, you know, kind of using our API for the jamstack. It's not like anything special, our API versus anybody else's, but. Hopefully being able to expose readers at the Here blog about the JAMstack kind of makes everybody happy.
[00:13:36] Rob Kendal: [00:13:36] What, what sort of projects do you get involved with as part of the evangelist role that you do?
[00:13:41] Raymond Camden: [00:13:41] kind of what you expect at any company. So writing about our products, presenting about our products you know, giving feedback on documentation, creating samples last big thing I did was we had a hackathon right before the end of the year. So. Doing a lot of judging on other people's projects which is kind of fun.
[00:13:59] I'm [00:14:00] not actually doing the work just judging. So yeah, your typical dev role type type thing.
[00:14:06] Rob Kendal: [00:14:06] Now, obviously we're here to talk about this ace book, the JAMstack book, which is just a great title. I like things that were just named like on the nose, the Jamstack book, and I both co co author in at the moment. Tell me how that came about.
[00:14:17] Brian Rinaldi: [00:14:17] well, I mean, we, we did do this before we, so like four years ago we did one for. O'Reily I mean, Ray and I have been friends for. Got it. How long has it been Ray? Very, very long time, you know, when you get to be our age and can't remember. So you know, we've always maintained a great relationship. We talk all the time and we both obviously shared an interest in these topics and wrote that book for O'Reily four years ago. This time it came around because the topic needed. Revisiting Ray really wanted to revisit it. Yeah. And, and harangued me into doing it after repeated no's. He, I find those, I find I'll do it. [00:15:00] I'll do it again. You know, so I mean, and for I'm glad he did, because it's really, it really is amazing how much has changed in the four years since that last book came out to the point that I think that book is kind of outdated. And, and we had to, I mean, it was purely about static sites. Now, here we are, we're talking about JAMstack it didn't have a lot of the things dynamic things we're talking about.
[00:15:25] There was no e-commerce example, for instance, there wasn't, you know, there weren't a lot of the services, like we're going to talk about You know, the, the use of of a headless CMS, wasn't kind of a standard thing. And now it really is. We took a similar approach to the book, but we shifted every single chapter significantly.
[00:15:44] Rob Kendal: [00:15:44] And aren't the best projects borne out of peer pressure, really at the end of the day, one person pressuring the other to do it. But I believe it's in the early access stages right now. So it's in kind of in mid production. When's the, when's the big publication date.
[00:15:58] Raymond Camden: [00:15:58] I, I remember an [00:16:00] email thread a couple of months ago with the schedule. I'm going to say a couple months from now.
[00:16:06] Rob Kendal: [00:16:06] Because because of the magic of of recording and podcasts, we recorded this just in kind of this, the start of January. I, I think this is going to be released about March, but whenever this is released you'll hear me from the past. But we, we, hopefully the book should be pretty much done by then.
[00:16:20] So we'll, we'll kind of hold you to it. How are you finding the, the, the co-writing process? I suppose if you've done the publication before or a few projects that are together, is it pretty smooth or, you know, what does that look like? Do you divvy up the chapters are all kind of, how does it work?
[00:16:34] Brian Rinaldi: [00:16:34] Yeah, we divvy up the chapters. That's what we did last time. I mean, we kind of it's what works best because we each have slightly different focuses or interests, like. Like for instance, the chapter on Hugo was me for obvious reasons, but, but you know, like I, I was interested in documentation, so I did the documentation chapter and then doing the e-commerce chapter and, you know, and Ray's doing had his [00:17:00] thing on eleventy, obviously.
[00:17:01] So, you know, we have a little bit different interests, which works out great. And you know, we also have. Different writing styles, which also works out great. So we tend to like each chapter has a little bit of a different voice. You can tell, I honestly, you can tell who wrote it. And we, even the first time we did the book, we even had the names there so that you, it wasn't like disjointing suddenly hop into the other chapter and it's like, you know, you could tell the voice changes.
[00:17:27] But yeah, I think it works out nicely because writing styles are different, but they kind of mesh well together.
[00:17:34] Rob Kendal: [00:17:34] What sort of things that people can learn if they're, if they pick up a copy.
[00:17:37] Raymond Camden: [00:17:37] I think so we explained the why, which is important. But then we also go into a couple of concrete examples where we have like four different chapters, four separate, a static site generators. So people get an idea of, Oh, like Hugo does it this way. You know, Jekyll does it this way. I like this. I don't like that.
[00:17:56] You know, it just kind of gives them a feeling about how there's different [00:18:00] approaches to working with static sites. And then we go from there in terms of, you know, working with CMS, working with dynamic features, working with, with D deployment. So it's not super deep into one particular static site generator.
[00:18:13] It's more about the JAMstack as a whole, which I think gives it cause a more weight. I, more usefulness. I hope.
[00:18:20] Brian Rinaldi: [00:18:20] yeah.
[00:18:22] Yeah. And I think, I think the key was, we'd seen a lot of JAMstack type books, but they tended to pick a static site, like basically a stack of a JAMstack stack like Gatsby and Contentful and whatever, and then just go from there. And this is you're going to learn the JAMstack, but you're going to learn it using the one set of tools.
[00:18:40] And what we wanted to do. We think the, the strength of JAMstack is that it's not prescriptive that you can pick and choose, and you can find the things that work great for you. And that's still JAMstack. So we wanted to give people an array of options and let them explore a little bit
[00:18:58] Rob Kendal: [00:18:58] That's such a nice approach as well. Cause I, [00:19:00] I think I know. I'm one of those developers, you know, I'm very kind of chalk and cheese on things. And usually it comes down to documentation, but some people like to get in and pull it the bowels of stuff and go along, see how this works. Me. I like a nice kind of descriptive set of developer docs and things to be able to dig in and see how do I do stuff and how do I solve my own problems?
[00:19:17] So sometimes, you know, projects and libraries and frameworks can kind of live or die depending on that for me. So it's nice to give people exposure, like you said, to. Yeah, because ultimately the end user does not care how or why the magic works, but you as developer, they're going to be the one make and maintaining it and so it's nice to give people the exposure to different options and stuff.
[00:19:36] Is it beginners are fairly experienced devs or is it kind of something for everyone? Is it just, you know, kind of, he's the jamstack and here's some, some options for you and no matter where you are in your development career, you're going to get something useful out of it.
[00:19:47] Brian Rinaldi: [00:19:47] Yeah.
[00:19:48] I would agree with that. I mean, I think, you know, some front end experience is probably going to help you if you've, if you're starting out, but this but other than that, I mean, we're, we it's designed for [00:20:00] people who are new to the JAMstack, but also I think the way the chapters are kind of broken down allows you, if you're, even if you're somebody who's already using the JAMstack, we hopefully will introduce some things that you haven't tried yet.
[00:20:12] Rob Kendal: [00:20:12] I know, like you said, you kind of divvy up the chapters do you each other specific favorite chapter that you that you kind of either have really enjoyed writing or you think you're going to enjoy writing you kind of really looking forward to that particular chapter.
[00:20:23] Brian Rinaldi: [00:20:23] good question. I would say For, for weird reasons. I really enjoyed writing the documentation chapter. I don't know why I just documentation is kind of a thing, you know, I think it's a hard thing to get. Right. And it's a really easy thing to, you know, to do with some of the tools, if you choose the right thing.
[00:20:43] So I don't know. I always enjoy doing that, that chapter. I enjoyed it last time and I really enjoyed it this time, even though I, you know, I kind of did it all from scratch again, but what about you, Ray?
[00:20:52] Raymond Camden: [00:20:52] The one I'm about to write, which is basically multiple examples of adding dynamic crap back in so like getting forms and commenting and [00:21:00] search back in just to show, you know, like for me, like, so I, I entered this space coming from cold fusion where I could do anything. I wanted period. This was an app server and I immediately was thinking, Oh, like, how do I do comments now?
[00:21:14] How do I do search? And. That there's absolutely ways of, of getting that done, which is nice.
[00:21:19] Rob Kendal: [00:21:19] mega. Is there anything else we need to is anything else you want to cover? Anything else you want to plug? Obviously the book's a big plug, but if there's anything else you want to kind of cover or mention, I'll give a shout out to now is the time.
[00:21:30] Brian Rinaldi: [00:21:30] Well, it didn't get mentioned, but you know, I worked for a company, a startup called Stepzen, and I'd, I'd love to call them out. Cause we've got some really cool stuff with, with regards to that, to the JAMstack. And one of the things like is that's kind of playing a more important role in the JAMstack is graph QL.
[00:21:46] And so we kind of help you build your graph QL, APIs. So. I think, you know, it's why I get to focus on this stuff on, on doing jamstack stuff at work unlike Ray, unfortunately for Ray
[00:21:57] Rob Kendal: [00:21:57] You can go. Yeah, you can go and check Stepzen out there, [00:22:00] @stepzen_dev on Twitter give Brian shouts he's on Twitter at @remotesynth. Is there a musical connection there? Do you do a bit of music in your spare time?
[00:22:09] Brian Rinaldi: [00:22:09] God. So there's a, there's a very quick dumb story about why, where that name came from, which was basically that Ray and I both did cold fusion. I was starting a blog. I needed a name and I put cold infusion into the, and like got synonyms for cold fusion, which came up with remote and synthesis. And I just kind of put them together.
[00:22:30] And so remote synth is just short for the remote synthesis, which is my domain name.
[00:22:36] Rob Kendal: [00:22:36] I like those. I like those. And Raymond is just nice and plain vanilla. He's at @raymondcamden I love it, straightforward, straight to the point . I'll put all their links and various other bios and little bits and bobs in the show notes. So you can go and check them out. Do check the book out again.
[00:22:53] I'll mention the kind of links to the, to the discounts and you can go on there and grab the book while it's in early access. And I think it works [00:23:00] on early access where obviously there's no printed copy, but you can get access to the chapters that are alive. And then when it's, when it's complete, it's, it's just a complete book and happy days.
[00:23:08] That's probably about the gist of it. Isn't it.
[00:23:11] good times. Thank you both so much for coming on. That has been awesome. It's always good to talk about the jamstack. I love the JAMstack. Don't use it as much as I would like to in my normal job, but I, anywhere I can shoehorn a JAMstack project in outside of work, we'll do including this podcast outside of the audio parts, it is a Gatsby driven website, which is slightly over complicated for what the website actually is, but I copied it from my.
[00:23:32] Personal website at the time. Cause it was just easier to change a few colors and that's that's dev life for you: what can we copy and make better? Thank you both so much for coming on. It's been awesome. And we will, I'm sure will enjoy reading the book. When it's out
[00:23:44] Brian Rinaldi: [00:23:44] Thank you so much.