Once Upon's new website was created in the middle of the forest* image


Once Upon's new website was created in the middle of the forest*

1 January 1970

In the croft from 1873 stands a MacBook from 2019. In the middle of Västerbotten's hinterland, the sparsely populated countryside, the forest (choose what you want, they are all true) sits Jonas Sunnari, developer at Once Upon, working on the new website. Solar cells and 4G make it possible to combine work and his great passion, hunting! Here Jonas writes about the exploration of architecture and the hunting grounds that are his paradise.

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Written by Jonas Sunnari


During the night, the cold air has reached into the timbered cottage. It's 6:00 a.m. and I've just woken up. Quickly, I throw some logs into the wood stove and light a warming fire. Autumn is upon us. A season so strongly connected to hunting for me, and also the reason I find myself here, in the middle of nowhere with only my dog as company. 

When the fire catches, it's time to take Raikko for a walk. The frost lies white on the ground, the forest shines with all the colors of autumn, and the air is fresh. If I wasn't awake before the walk, I certainly am afterwards. The cottage is of a simple kind, and there's no electricity here, but working as a developer from the cottage still works out just fine – with solar panels and 4G, you can get by very well. After breakfast, I open up my computer. The plan is to work until lunch, then spend the afternoon in the forest.

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Read more: Work on site or remotely from e.g. a croft. We are looking for new colleagues!

We at Once Upon had been talking for some time about building a new website, and I quickly raised my hand. I already had some ideas in mind. Since we often operate by the principle of testing to fail quickly, I had already been tinkering a bit. Here are some of my thoughts.

The old website, built on WordPress, hadn't received much maintenance for a long time, and in my search for a new architecture, I had these points in mind:

  • We strive to only use TypeScript
  • We try to break up monoliths into smaller services
  • We want to stay ahead with new technology
  • We want to be able to use the CMS for more than just the web

The result of my research spoke against continuing with WordPress, and instead testing an architecture with a headless CMS. A headless CMS has no built-in frontend interface but provides managed content with an API that can then be consumed by a website, mobile application, desktop application, or whatever really. There are many advantages such as:

  • Performance
  • Security
  • Scalability
  • Full control and freedom
  • Easier version control
  • No server maintenance

Now there's only one thing left – to head out into the forest!

Since there's no built-in frontend interface, you're free to choose whatever you want. Our native app is built on React Native, so it felt natural that the website would also be built in React. However, we want to focus on SEO and therefore not have a classic React application that renders on the client side. The choice fell on using Next.js with statically generated pages hosted on Vercel. Besides better SEO support, there are a number of other advantages to using the framework, such as built-in routing and language support.

The downside of statically generated pages is that with each change, you have to rebuild the entire site, and if it's large, it can be very time-consuming. Next.js has a feature called ISR (Incremental Static Regeneration), which will automatically update certain parts of the site without having to rebuild the entire thing.


Read more: Interested in our tech stack? A small click here is all it takes!

For a while, I've been testing a few different CMS services to determine which would suit us best, but I haven't quite found the right one. I need a little break. I go to the stove and heat up the coffee. So grateful for the fact that I’m able to work from here, in an environment where I feel so comfortable. I pour a cup, and just before I get ready to head out in the autumn-painted forest, I find it; the last puzzle piece. A CMS with an integrated translation platform. The architecture feels really good, and now it's just the matter of building it. A build that will later be tested in an MVP version for further evaluation. It's important to both research and test things live. Sometimes it may look like a great solution in theory, but without tests, it's hard to know how it will work in practice. We prefer to avoid unpleasant surprises.

It’s after lunch, and I put my boots on. And an extra sweater too since it's still chilly outside. Hunting with a barking bird dog is a very free form of hunting where you and your dog go out into the forest in hopes of finding forest birds. Just the two of you. My and Raikko's hunting rounds usually last around 3-4 hours, and today it's perfect to have the afternoon off. Hunting is my great passion, and during the autumn, the cottage with its endless hunting grounds becomes my paradise. Now there's only one thing left - to head out into the forest!

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*Okay, not solely in the middle of the forest. We tested adding "among other things" to the headline, but it turned out best like this. Apologies for the tendency toward clickbait. Hope we're forgiven.