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What is Netlify: a quick overview of the service

21 November 2021, Sunday By M. Konwar
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Let's talk about a popular free platform for hosting and testing web applications on the web.

What is Net life used for?

Netlify is one of the most advanced web development platforms that helps programmers publish projects on the web. This service makes life easier for users thanks to automated tools for testing, building and hosting applications and sites on the Internet.

Netlify takes a modular approach to development, helping entrepreneurs and programmers forget about setting up an impressive part of the backend aspects and implementing their own server solutions. 

Netlify

Netlify is ideal for small teams or for single developers who are not able to independently create the infrastructure for their resource, but who want to send their brainchild to the Internet (to show the customer, for example, or for additional testing). 

Nevertheless, there are also more expensive tariffs, which in their essence perform the same functions as classic hosting, and offer additional features in the spirit of their own CDN system.

Key features of Netlify

Netlify is a platform that brings together several products and services to make web development faster and easier. Therefore, it cannot be called a simple hosting. It is important to take a closer look at each of the services included in the Netlify family.

Netlify Build

This is the foundation of the project, super easy to learn hosting for websites and web applications. The logic of Build's work fits into two simple steps:

  1. We connect the git repository to the hosting.
  2. We push the application code into our repository.

Netlify takes care of almost everything else. You may need to additionally specify the directory with the already "built" project and the command itself to build (usually npm run build or npm run generate). 

Netlify Build

After that, Netlify will automatically rebuild your project and publish it to its domain every time you push the code to the selected repository. 

Netlify also provides APIs for managing project builds through other software, an A/B testing system, Pull Request Preview functions, and a powerful command line utility.

Netlify Edge

Premium service Netlify, providing customers with their own CDN. This is a network of servers that allows you to significantly speed up the loading of the site and keep it in working order regardless of your actions. 

When a site is hosted on Netlify Edge, it automatically goes to multiple servers. First, it simplifies the loading of web applications, because the user will "download" data from the server closest in geolocation. Secondly, if you make changes to the site, they will be sent automatically and to each server.

Netlify Dev

This is an alternative to Dev-servers used when developing applications and websites in a local programming environment. 

Netlify Dev

Netlify Dev includes Build and Edge logic, allowing you to use all of the services' functionality offline even during the product development phase. 

The main advantage of Netlify Dev is the ability to write backend code, frontend components, logic for a CDN platform, serverless code, etc. in parallel. Everything is committed to one repository, tested in conditions as close as possible to production conditions, and then sent to Edge via Build in one click.

Extensions

In addition to the three key offshoots of the Netlify project, it has several add-ons that extend and complement the core service. 

Serverless functions

A mini-platform for publishing individual functions, launched on the basis of the Netlify backend component. 

You simply create a separate function in jаvascript, TypeScript, or Go and specify the context in which it should fire. Everything. No additional code and no need to write anything in the main project. 

Forms

Using the Forms add-on, you can generate HTML forms on your website (hosted in Netlify) that automatically submit data to the built-in dashboard. 

There is no need to reconfigure a ready-made project and think about how best to collect information about users. Netlify Forms completely automates the process.

Analytics

Built-in data collection and analysis system. It directly collects information from Netlify servers and presents it in visual dashboards in the user's personal account. 

Benefits of Netlify

Benefits of Netlify

  1. This is a relatively inexpensive service. Many of the default features are available free of charge. This is an ideal option for those who are not going to make money on their resource in the near future, but need hosting. 
  2. Netlify reduces development effort. The service allows you to abandon part of the team and focus entirely on the front-end code. 
  3. Netlify takes over some of the administrative responsibilities (providing a domain, SSL certificate, and other required components).

Netlify alternatives

Among similar services, the following projects are worth highlighting:

GitHub Pages

A platform built directly into the repository management system. Allows you to post static sites on the network for free and automatically update them with every push. 

Hostman

Hostman

A product close to Netlify in spirit. Hostman offers a similar layout for projects via GitHub connectivity and auto-build projects. Hostman's advantage is the presence of a marketplace where you can select a ready-made application, server or utility and in one click launch your own copy of any of the offered products.

Instead of a conclusion

Not for everyone and not in all situations Netlify can become a replacement for the usual hosting. But it is a great help for newbie developers and more experienced teams without skilled backend developers and DevOps specialists.

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