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Valhalla Content Hub Explained

Kassian Wren
November 3rd, 2022

I know many of you have been waiting for this—it’s time to introduce Valhalla Content Hub. We’ll talk about why Valhalla Content Hub (for the rest of this post, Valhalla) exists, what problems it solves, what it is, how it works, and finally, how you can sign up to start using it.

Why Valhalla Content Hub Exists

We like to make things faster here at Gatsby. One of our biggest optimization opportunities is builds. They can take a while, and we love seeing those numbers go down. Another thing we love is our data layer. Source plugins make integrating your data into Gatsby a breeze. But the data layer can be a bit of a bottleneck when building: sourcing from several APIs at once every build can make them take quite a bit longer than we’d like.

So, we started thinking about ways to optimize our build times with regards to data sourcing. We asked the question: “What if you didn’t have to source data on each build?”

A Deeper Look at Valhalla Content Hub

Valhalla is a unified GraphQL layer for your various data sources.

With Valhalla, you’ll configure your source plugins to send their data to a real-time GraphQL API that represents the data your site needs. This data can be queried on your server, during both builds and runtime, allowing you one interface for all of your data needs. 

Note that Valhalla is framework-agnostic—you do not have to use Gatsby as your framework to use Valhalla. It is meant to serve as a unified GraphQL layer for any web application.

Problems Valhalla Content Hub Solves

Today’s websites and web applications are very complex—they often require content from multiple external and internal APIs in order to create a compelling experience to the user that also has dynamic as well as static content. Valhalla solves this problem by pulling different and unique sources of data into a unified, real-time GraphQL layer you can use to create those user experiences easier and faster.

Your site could use Contentful, Shopify, legacy APIs, and instead of remembering each APIs methods and calls, you query a GraphQL layer that has all the data you need, no matter the source. This means developers can work smarter and faster, communicating through the same GraphQL layer every time instead of disparate source APIs.

Valhalla also solves an issue with many modern front-end frameworks: it creates a data layer that these frameworks can use instead of each site creating its own. You can now use the framework you want, and know that your data layer is already covered.

Finally, let’s talk about build times: build times can bloat when you add multiple data sources, as those need to be pulled from every build. With Valhalla, build times are slashed, as your build will only need to source from the unified GraphQL layer.

How Valhalla Content Hub Works

The way you work with Valhalla is you use the Valhalla API to source your data into Valhalla from anywhere—your CMS, Shopify, or your legacy API. Valhalla pulls from these data sources and creates a unified GraphQL data layer for your application. This data is now available to your front-end application, your server application for SSR, Gatsby Functions, wherever you need it, using the same GraphQL API. 

And again note the framework agnosticism—we can’t stress enough that Valhalla is not dependent on using any one web framework. Using Next.js? Astro? Great! Valhalla can help with your data layer.

Benefits of Valhalla Content Hub

One of the main benefits of Valhalla is creating a unified content hub that you can access through a real-time GraphQL API, no matter how many data sources you have and where they live. This allows developers to work more easily with the data layer, and makes adding new sources simpler.

Because of the cached data layer, you can access the same data in your builds, your SSR functions, your Gatsby Functions, anywhere in the pipeline you need.

We’re bringing this up repeatedly because being able to use Valhalla no matter what web framework you use is a huge benefit.It’s never fun trying to pivot a tech stack, and being able to wrangle your data layer—no matter your framework choice—is a huge win.

How to get started with Valhalla Content Hub

You can get started on Valhalla Content Hub in two ways: you can sign up for Valhalla, and you can play with a GitHub repo the Gatsby team set up, that also has live demos for Next.js, Gatsby, and Astro. We’re excited to hear how you’ll use Valhalla, and can’t wait to see what you build!

If you’re interested in more information, we have a webinar recording available here from launch day and a product page that will be a great starting point to learn more.

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