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GatsbyConf Q&A: Alfredo Navas

Michelle Gienow
February 17th, 2021
Alfredo Navas

Tech’s primary verbal language is English, which can create a barrier for developers in countries where it’s not the main language. Technologies are constantly evolving, and by the time they are translated into other languages they are often not in their latest version or even deprecated. We caught up with Alfredo Navas to discuss the importance of developer communities where these technologies can be shared, and supported, in the native language. Don’t miss his GatsbyConf talk, “Building a Gatsby Community in Latin America,” to learn how these communities get created — and how to help get one started! 

How did you come to start using Gatsby?  Is there anything you especially love about it?

When React came out, I saw that it was perfect for creating single page apps (SPAs). In my job as a web developer I also have worked a lot with WordPress. I was very interested in having a model that combined the best of both worlds, and so signed up for an advanced course in JavaScript to see if I could figure out a way to make this happen. By chance I saw a tweet from Kyle about launching Gatsby and that’s how I discovered it was exactly the model I had been hoping for! I remember the next day I told my friend Zac Gordon, who taught the course, Wow dude you got to try this, it’s magic! I tell you, I fell in love 😍.

I really liked that there was already a strong community, very good documentation, obviously the built in performance aspect, above all the development experience, in short, it was love at first sight!

How does being part of a community — in open source in general, and Gatsby in particular — make you stronger as a developer?

When I started with Gatsby it was early days and I didn’t know many people who used it. I started giving workshops and talking about it at a few conferences and met folks who had heard about Gatsby or who, like me, were starting to use it for projects. I realized then that I was not alone. Meeting people who share your same interests is very enriching and the fact of sharing experiences makes you a better developer, that is the personal importance of being part of a community. You learn from each other and everyone moves forward faster, together. 

What kind of community involvement have you personally done, and how did this inspire you to work to create new community meetups, groups, etc?

My first experience was helping to create the WordPress community, which opened the doors for me to organize meetups, workshops, and even a WordCamp in Costa Rica, which to date is still the largest in Latin America. It inspires me to create inclusive and safe spaces for everyone, where opportunities to learn and share can be created so that as a community we can grow together both as developers and as individuals.  My GatsbyConf talk is the story of how I helped a Gatsby developer community get started in my country.

What are some of the challenges that devs in Latin America face?

I personally believe that the language barrier is the main cause in which developers struggle. English is the main shared language in tech. Many technologies are constantly evolving and changing. Unfortunately, by the time they are translated into Spanish, so often they are already discontinued or not in their latest version. So it is hard for a developer that doesn’t speak fluent English to keep up to date. The major importance of developer communities in Latin America (and anywhere that English is not the primary language!) is so these technologies can be shared and taught in the native language.

What excites you most about the Gatsby community?

To ensure that developers can learn about Gatsby and how incredible it is to develop with this technology. Communities not only open doors to being a better developer but also making sure you are gaining the most current and in-demand skills to help you find employment opportunities — which are sorely lacking in this region. I hope very soon to be able to organize a GatsbyDays or a GatsbyConf here in Latin America!

Ready to hear more? Register for GatsbyConf — two days of speakers, workshops, and some really cool launches and announcements. And don’t miss special event Gamer vs. Gatsby. Watch live as David Livingston, a.k.a. Kosmic, tries to beat his world record Super Mario Bros speed run time of 4:55 while Gatsby engineer Kyle Gill races to spin up and deploy a live site! Thrills! Chills! Free and virtual, March 2-3, see you there!

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Writes things @ GatsbyJS. Chaotic good frontend dev, caffeine addict, backyard chicken wrangler 🐓.

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