Building MTG Builders

How I built a SaaS as a solo entrepreneur

In this series of articles, I will illustrate the process that led to the launch of MTG Builders.
Why I decided to build it, why I chose a technology/architecture/framework/library over another, what were the main roadblocks, and how this project improved my understanding of web development.


Part 1 | Why?

About a year and a half ago I attended a meetup in Manhattan about Gatsby and immediately wondered about its possibilities. Not long after that, I launched my first Gatsby project, Late Edition! I enjoyed working with Kyle's creature so much that I immediately started thinking about what I could have built with it Next.

The elephant in the room is menacingly staring at me, so let's talk about it. Gatsby goes beyond static websites. The static HTML content it generates can then be augmented with client-side JavaScript via React hydration. This article from Dustin Schau, VP of Product at Gatsby, is a good starting point if you have never heard about it.

What really impressed me at the time was the way Gatsby handled images. It was actually one of the reasons I chose to build a big web application with Gatsby rather than with Next. Bear in mind that this isn't any more a decisive factor, because Next v10 brought to the table a built-in Image Component and Automatic Image Optimization. Furthermore, services like Cloudinary have improved a lot both in their offer and documentation.

So, this Gatsby thing is very good with images. Let's build an app with lots of images! Also, let's take advantage of all the cool improvements that the CSS ecosystem has had in the last years. Let's have a lot of images, let's move them, let's pile them, let's find them, and in the darkness...

Magic of the Gathering (MTG) was released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast (WotC). A collectible card game, an object of worship, an indelible part of pop culture. Recently, a Black Lotus in perfect condition, one of the most sought cards in the world, was sold on eBay for $511,000.

For me, MTG is the way I spent my teen-age summers, in the early 2000s. I recall those precious moments, and those beautiful, beautiful cards. I would move them, pile them, find them, and in the darkness, under the shade of the trees, I would build decks. Scattering hundreds of cards on the table to find a smart way to combine them in a deck was, above all, a true feast for the eyes.

Building MTG decks online is an awful visual experience. More efficient, yes, that's without a doubt. Nonetheless, would it be possible to combine the efficiency of online tools with the satisfying feeling of freely dragging cards in real life?

© Michele Paladino | Built with Gatsby