I took most of Veterans Day off. I did not serve in the military myself, instead doing civil service through Americorps, but I am grateful for those who did go off to war and defend the ideals I get to enjoy. I like to review history of service on this day. Learning from history will hopefully help us all avoid mistakes in the future. So I canceled all my meeting and dedicated some time to reflection.
A Reddit rabbit hole
I also used the day to catch up on some reading from all the bookmarks I have been making lately. I was catching up on Reddit and came across a post that at first seemed like a dev who found a neat tool:
Quick next.js blog starter with automatic deployment to Vercel and Preview Hello! 📷 I just tried this quick next.js blog starter with automatic deployment to Vercel with headless CMS and Preview amd Page Management and boom Published - Live! wow it made me feel smart and efficient so fast :)))) 📷 just wanted to share… 📷 https://agilitycms.com/starters
Then I noticed this was published by u/agility-cms. And I thought “OK, maybe this is a pull from a testimonial”, so I clicked the link, read a little more. When I could not find that quote anywhere on that page or on that site, a little suspicion set in that this might not be a legit quote. But I work in the world of marketing and decided to just try it for myself.
Overwhelmed by options
The link provided actually took me to a screen that made me choose between Next.js and Gatsby for my blog site. Clicking on either took me to a landing page with a preview of the theme. From there it was to another page to generate the needed repository.
As I was about to generate the repo, I noticed I could select other SSGs. Like a LOT of them; 29 static site generators listed plus an ‘other’ option. I had already picked Next.js when I read the Reddit post. Then I had to choose between Gatsby and Next. And then this many options? I love the freedom of choice but this overwhelmed me. As a curious person I started opening new tabs and reading about things like Sapper, Docusaurus 1 and 2, Middleman and a few others I had not run across yet. Not going to count these side adventures in my overall time estimate for building a site.
As a tinkerer I am a little torn on this point. If I was a dev for a real project, I would just ignore all the others. But as someone trying to learn all I can I was sent on a path of learning many new things while I was attempting to focus on one thing. There is good and bad to this.
Next, I generated a new repo. No issues.
After that, I created a Vercel account to ‘install on my Github account’? I have granted read/write permissions before for other services, but I wondered ‘what is it going to install exactly?’ Maybe just poor wording? It seems on par with permissions I gave to Netlify, so i went to click Confirm.
But at the bottom of the screen was “User Permission - Read access to emails”. I supposed from an automation standpoint this makes sense as emails contain sometimes needed auth codes but I am not sure I am comfortable with this. Only options are cancel or install. Dear reader, I hit install without stopping to search for what this means and what security issues might happen.
Now, once again I was asked to confirm the repo I wanted to deploy. All good.
And I get to a…. wait for it…. “Error connecting to Vercel.” Uh oh.
So I backed out and went to my AgilityCMS dashboard. It looked like I had my site working but there was a dashboard and a lot of links to decipher.
I clicked ‘View Site’ expecting a preview URL on Vercel. Nope, I got a pop-up telling me “Production Domain Not Set - Click below to manage your channels and setup a production domain.” I hit the “Manage Domain” button in that pop up and got taken to a rather intimidating screen to ‘add a domain’.
Meanwhile, I got the normal alert emails from new account spin up. The last one I got contained a list of my new preview URLs. My mind says ‘of course, DNS is hard and this is going to take a few minutes.’ I made some more coffee and waited. After caffeination achieved, I hit all 3 of the links in the emails…. and saw 404, 404 and a 404.
I was ~10 minutes in at this point.
I think I had been through 12 screens altogether, not counting Reddit.
I went back to the ‘add a domain’ button and attempted to configured my preview and live URLs. It gave me the option of Custom or Vercel URLs, so I picked Vercel.
I was thrown back to the screen that asks which repo I am trying to connect. Like, what happened with the other deploy? But ok, no other option, so I tried to do it again. But I couldn’t since that instance already exists.
I looked at my Vercel account and there were the logs I was looking for. Highlighted were some warnings about
url-loader unmet dependencies (neither of which I know too well) but those weren’t failures just warnings. Then is see it, Agility fails to load because of a missing GUID.
I was not too worried yet.
After all, deploys can fail for a lot of reasons and with all new accounts connected to a new github repo, failures happen. That’s life.
I tried a redeploy. Only to get the exact same log with different time stamp.
I am around 15 minutes in and about to try and research GUID and AgilityCMS. I stop myself and think “ok, something went horribly wrong maybe because perhaps, Agility needed to pre-populate something to generate that GUID from an existing Vercel connection. By the way, ‘stabbing in the dark’ guessing is not the best place to be when debugging.
I decided then to just start over with Vercel. So I delete the Vercel instance of the site. Now I should be able to reattach my AgilityCMS and have it build anew. I also deleted the repo on Github entirely for this to work.
Then I tried to delete my instance from AgiltyCMS.
I could not.
I tried for a few minutes to do this and just could not. 4 google and duckduckgo searches later and found nothing. There has to be a simple way I am overlooking, which makes me feel kinda dumb. That is the opposite of what the Reddit post promised me. I sat there about to open a support request when I stopped myself.
I was a little more than 30 minutes in at this point and I still didn’t have a site. This was supposed to be a simple, quick demo site. So I decided to bail on the whole thing and start over 100% from the original link.
I closed all the tabs I had been working in. I tried again. This time I had all accounts set up and permission-ed. I immediately ran into my account limit of 1 free site with AgilityCMS. No option on deleting and now I can not test a new one.
So I am gave up on this approach. Not the likely outcome the OP wanted me to have. I was frustrated and feeling a not the smartest to be honest.
Breath and think about what I was really trying to accomplish.
I still wanted a site with Next.js to poke around at. So I built and deployed one.
Setting up my site locally, reading all the needed docs, making minor content edits and deploying it to Vercel took me 15 minutes total. I had never, ever done any of that before this attempt either.
You can see that site here
I felt really smart and accomplished after this step! Perhaps, in a way, that Reddit poster was right all along, just not about the AgiltyCMS part.
I took the day for myself so I could reflect on the valuable lessons of Veterans Day, of which there are many. If you want a great resource for history, I can not recommend a better source right now that The History Guy on Youtube.
I also wanted a day to tinker and learn. I learned a few things for sure:
So far I love Next.js.
Tech will fail sometimes and that is OK. Patience is a virtue after all and
I do not know how to delete an instance from AgiltyCMS.
You can not deploy a second instance to AgiltyCMS for free.
Do not believe everything you read on Reddit that says something “made me feel smart and efficient so fast.”