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Software Development

Netlify Adds Local Dev Server to Platform for JAMstack Apps

Apr 15th, 2019 5:00am by
Featued image for: Netlify Adds Local Dev Server to Platform for JAMstack Apps

Netlify, the startup focused on making web development easier, continues to build out its web-based web development platform, adding the Netlify Dev, a plugin that enables developers to build and test their applications directly on their laptops.

Debuting last week at JAMstack_conf in New York City, and creating the most buzz, was Netlify Live — a project preview developers can stream to a live URL that updates as code changes.

“Modern applications… you have serverless functions, that requires Lambda, configuring the gateway, it’s hard to work with. Last year Netlify made it easy, saying, ‘We have our own gateway, we have our own authentication service.’ So what we can do is push it to Lambda, authenticate it — all you need to do is upload it to a git folder. What kind of got left behind is how are you going to work with this locally — a desk server,” explained Chris Bach, Netlify co-founder.

“Today, we announced a product that wraps around it. Wraps around your favorite build tool — Webpack or Gatsby or whatever it is. It wraps around your YAML script frameworks and anything else you use to build the site. It wraps around your serverless functions, it wraps around advanced things like CDN edge logic … All of this is entirely stuff you can test on your laptop, push it live and it behaves the same way.”

The plugin is in public beta.

Rather than having a site with a content delivery network (CDN) in front of it, Netlify provides a purpose-built modern application-delivery network decoupling the front end from the back end and the building from the hosting. Developers just push a project to Git and its automation service takes care of everything from there.

Netlify Dev runs the production routing engine in a local dev server to make all redirects, proxy rules, function routes or add-on routes available locally and injects the correct environment variables.

The company has compiled its entire edge redirect engine into WebAssembly so developers, using modern JavaScript in the command line interface, can locally test before deploying to production and deploy Lambda functions as full API endpoints.

It automatically detects common tools like Gatsby, Hugo, React Static, Eleventy and others.

“Even if your build generator doesn’t have any kind of pipeline, you can take advantage of serverless functions, dependencies and all of that,” Matt Biilmann, CEO and co-founder, explained during a demo at the conference.

“It takes all of our edge logic and makes it available locally with the production library. Every time you push more functionality to the edge, you also get it in your laptop locally. It takes all of our functions capabilities and gives you this really easy tooling around scaffolding and compiling it with dependencies and running a local server for it, as well as handling all the proxying and routing that you’d otherwise have to set up locally. It takes care of these API integrations, it syncs and injects environment variables. It does all of this running locally.”

Biilmann coined the term JAMstack to refer to client-side JavaScript, reusable APIs, and prebuilt markup.

To use Netlify Dev, you should have the latest version of its CLI.

Last year, Netlify introduced Netlify Functions, a tool that makes the deployment of AWS Lambda functions as simple as adding a file to a project’s Git repository. In a previous episode of The New Stack Makers podcast, Biilmann and Bach talked about how the company uses AWS Lambda and its focus on Git-centered workflows and microservices.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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