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From Zero to Hero: Superpowering Your Next.js Blog with Sanity

February 12, 2024Lev Gelfenbuim28 min. read

In the ever-evolving landscape of web development, creating a blog that stands out for its speed, flexibility, and content richness is paramount. Next.js, a React framework, has become the go-to solution for developers seeking to build fast, SEO-friendly web applications with ease. However, the true power of a Next.js blog unfolds when paired with Sanity, a revolutionary content management system designed to supercharge your digital experiences.

This guide is crafted for developers and content creators aiming to elevate their blogging platform. Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to enhance an existing blog, this journey will transform your approach to content management and delivery.

Next.js offers a seamless development experience with features like server-side rendering and static site generation, which are key for building high-performance websites. But when it comes to managing and deploying dynamic content, that's where Sanity steps in. With its real-time content studio and customizable schemas, Sanity provides the flexibility and efficiency needed to manage your blog's content effortlessly.

In this article, I'll walk you through the initial steps of setting up your Next.js project and integrating it with Sanity. You'll learn how to define content schemas that reflect your blog's structure, fetch and render your content in Next.js, and superpower your blog with advanced customization and optimization techniques. By focusing on enhancing your blog's content management capabilities and user experience, you'll unlock new possibilities for growth and engagement.

By the end of this guide, your Next.js blog will not only be equipped with a robust backend powered by Sanity but also optimized for performance, SEO, and scalability.

Getting Started with the Basics

Let's begin with laying a solid foundation. Here's how to get started:

Prerequisites

Before diving into the world of Next.js and Sanity, let's make sure you have everything you need:

  • Node.js: Ensure you have the latest LTS version of Node.js installed on your machine. Node.js is the backbone of modern web development, powering both the Next.js framework and the Sanity CLI.
  • npm or Yarn: These are Node.js package managers used to install libraries and manage project dependencies. Next.js and Sanity can work with either, so choose one that best fits your workflow.
  • Git: A version control system to manage your code changes and collaborate with others. It's also required by many hosting platforms for deployment.
  • Text Editor or IDE: Use a code editor such as Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, or any IDE you're comfortable with for editing your project files.

With these tools in place, you're ready to start building your enhanced Next.js blog with Sanity.

Setting Up a Next.js Project

If you're starting a new blog, the first step is to create a Next.js application:

  1. Create a New Next.js App: Open your terminal and run the following command to create a new Next.js app. Replace my-nextjs-blog with your project name.
1npx create-next-app my-nextjs-blog
  1. Navigate to Your Project Directory: Move into your project directory with cd my-nextjs-blog to start working on your app.
  2. Run Your Next.js App: To see your Next.js app in action, run npm run dev or yarn dev in your terminal. Open http://localhost:3000 in your browser to see your Next.js application running.
Introduction to Sanity

Sanity is more than just a CMS; it's a platform for structured content that comes with an open-source editing environment called Sanity Studio. Here's how to get your Sanity project rolling:

  1. Install Sanity CLI: In a new terminal window or tab, install the Sanity CLI globally on your machine with npm or Yarn:
1npm install -g @sanity/cli
2# or
3yarn global add @sanity/cli
  1. Initiate a New Sanity Project: Create a new directory for your Sanity project or choose a location within your Next.js project structure. Initialize a new Sanity project by running:
1sanity init

Follow the prompts to set up your project. You'll be asked to authenticate or create a Sanity account, select a project template, and configure your dataset.

  1. Start Sanity Studio: Once your Sanity project is set up, start the Sanity Studio with:
1sanity start

You can now access the Sanity Studio at http://localhost:3333 and begin defining your content models.

With your project environment set up, you're well on your way to developing a dynamic, content-rich blog. In the next sections, we'll dive deeper into integrating Sanity into your Next.js application, defining content schemas, and bringing your blog to life with real, dynamic content.

Integrating Sanity with Your Next.js Blog

Now that you've set up your Next.js project and initiated your Sanity studio, it's time to integrate these two powerful platforms. This integration will enable you to fetch and display dynamic content from Sanity in your Next.js blog, creating a seamless content management and delivery experience. Follow these steps to bridge your Next.js application with your Sanity content.

Connecting to Sanity

The first step in integrating Sanity with your Next.js blog is to install the Sanity client library, which facilitates fetching data from your Sanity project.

  1. Install Sanity Client: In your Next.js project directory, run the following command to add the Sanity client:
1npm install @sanity/client
2# or
3yarn add @sanity/client
  1. Configure the Sanity Client: Create a new file in your Next.js project (typically in a lib or utils directory) named sanity.ts. This file will configure and export the Sanity client for use throughout your application. Here's an example configuration:

1import sanityClient from '@sanity/client'
2
3export const client = sanityClient({
4  projectId: 'yourProjectId', // Find or replace it with your project ID in Sanity management
5  dataset: 'production', // or the name of your dataset
6  apiVersion: '2024-02-12', // use a current date string
7  useCdn: true, // `false` if you want to ensure fresh data
8})

Replace yourProjectId with your actual Sanity project ID and adjust the dataset if necessary.

Defining Content Schemas

Content schemas define the structure of the content types (e.g., blog posts, authors) in your Sanity project. They are crucial for organizing and managing your blog's content.

  1. Navigate to Your Sanity Project: In your Sanity project directory, find the schemas folder where you'll define your content models.
  2. Create Schemas: Define schemas for your blog posts, authors, categories, etc., by creating new schema files within the schemas directory. Here is a simple blog post schema example:

1import {defineField, defineType} from 'sanity'
2
3export default defineType({
4  name: 'post',
5  title: 'Post',
6  type: 'document',
7  fields: [
8    defineField({
9      name: 'title',
10      title: 'Title',
11      type: 'string',
12    }),
13    defineField({
14      name: 'slug',
15      title: 'Slug',
16      type: 'slug',
17      options: {
18        source: 'title',
19        maxLength: 96,
20      },
21    }),
22    defineField({
23      name: 'author',
24      title: 'Author',
25      type: 'reference',
26      to: {type: 'author'},
27    }),
28    defineField({
29      name: 'mainImage',
30      title: 'Main image',
31      type: 'image',
32      options: {
33        hotspot: true,
34      },
35    }),
36    defineField({
37      name: 'categories',
38      title: 'Categories',
39      type: 'array',
40      of: [{type: 'reference', to: {type: 'category'}}],
41    }),
42    defineField({
43      name: 'publishedAt',
44      title: 'Published at',
45      type: 'datetime',
46    }),
47    defineField({
48      name: 'body',
49      title: 'Body',
50      type: 'blockContent',
51    }),
52  ],
53
54  preview: {
55    select: {
56      title: 'title',
57      author: 'author.name',
58      media: 'mainImage',
59    },
60    prepare(selection) {
61      const {author} = selection
62      return {...selection, subtitle: author && `by ${author}`}
63    },
64  },
65})

Repeat this process for other content types you plan to have on your blog.

Querying Content

With your schemas defined, you can now query your Sanity content from your Next.js pages or components.

  1. Fetching Data: Use the configured Sanity client to fetch data in your Next.js application. Here’s an example of fetching all blog posts:
1import { client } from './lib/sanity'
2
3const query = `*[_type == "post"]{
4  title,
5  slug,
6  "image": mainImage.asset->url,
7  author->{
8    name,
9    image
10  },
11  publishedAt
12}`
13
14export async function getPosts() {
15  return await client.fetch(query)
16}
  1. Using Data in Next.js: Import your data fetching functions into your Next.js pages or components and use them to render content. For example, you can display the fetched posts in a blog list component.
Rendering Content

The final step is to take the data fetched from Sanity and render it within your Next.js components.

  1. Displaying Posts: Use the data returned from your getPosts function (or similar) to dynamically generate your blog post previews or full posts. Here, you can leverage Next.js's capabilities to build interactive and engaging UIs.
  2. Handling Rich Text and Images: Sanity’s rich text and image types require special handling. Use the @portabletext/react package for rendering rich text and the @sanity/image-url package to build image URLs for your Sanity-hosted images.
Enhancing Your Blog with Advanced Features

After integrating Sanity with your Next.js blog, it's time to leverage the advanced features of both platforms to truly superpower your blogging experience. These features will not only enrich your blog's functionality but also its overall user experience and visibility on the web.

Custom Input Components for Sanity Studio

Sanity Studio offers the flexibility to create custom input components, allowing you to tailor the content editing experience to your needs. This feature is particularly useful for blogs that require unique content formats or specialized input methods.

  1. Creating Custom Input Components: Dive into the Sanity documentation to understand how to build custom input components. For instance, you might create a code block for sharing code snippets.
  2. Integrating Custom Components: Once you've created your custom components, integrate them into your Sanity schemas to replace or complement the default inputs. This customization can greatly enhance the content creation process for authors and editors.

Here's how to add the @sanity/code-input to your Sanity Studio:

Step 1: Install @sanity/code-input

First, you need to install the @sanity/code-input plugin in your Sanity Studio project. Open your terminal, navigate to your Sanity Studio directory, and run:

1npm install @sanity/code-input
Step 2: Update sanity.config.ts

After installing the plugin, you need to incorporate the code input into one of your schemas. This involves updating the configuration file and a schema file where you want to use the code input, such as a blog post schema.

Open sanity.config.ts file and add codeInput to the plugins section of the configuration:

1import {codeInput} from '@sanity/code-input'
2
3export default defineConfig({
4  name: 'default',
5  // ...
6  plugins: [codeInput()],
7  // ...
8})

Open the schema file (e.g., schemas/blockContent.ts) and add a field that uses the code type provided by @sanity/code-input:

1export default defineType({
2  title: 'Block Content',
3  name: 'blockContent',
4  type: 'array',
5  of: [
6    // ...
7    defineField({
8      type: 'code',
9      name: 'code',
10      title: 'Code',
11    })
12  ]
13})

In this example, a code field is added to the block content schema. This field uses the type code to indicate that it should render a code input in the studio. The options object allows you to customize the appearance and functionality of the code editor.

Step 3: Use the Code Input in Sanity Studio

Once you've updated your schema, the new code field will appear in the Sanity Studio editor for blog posts. When creating or editing a post, you can now include code snippets using the code input field. The input supports syntax highlighting based on the selected language and theme, enhancing the content creation experience for technical articles.

Step 4: Display Code Snippets in Next.js with Syntax Highlighting

To display code snippets in your Next.js application with syntax highlighting, you can use the react-syntax-highlighter library. This library offers a straightforward way to render code with various styling options, supporting numerous languages and themes. Here’s how to integrate react-syntax-highlighter into your Next.js project to display code from Sanity.

Step 1: Install react-syntax-highlighter

First, you need to add react-syntax-highlighter to your project. Open your terminal, navigate to your Next.js project directory, and run:

1npm install react-syntax-highlighter
2# or
3yarn add react-syntax-highlighter

Step 2: Create a Code Component

Create a new component in your Next.js project that will use react-syntax-highlighter to display the code. For example, create a file named code-highlighter.tsx in your components directory:

1import React from "react";
2import { Prism, SyntaxHighlighterProps } from "react-syntax-highlighter";
3import { prism } from "react-syntax-highlighter/dist/esm/styles/prism";
4
5const SyntaxHighlighter =
6  Prism as typeof React.Component<SyntaxHighlighterProps>;
7
8export default function CodeHighlighter({
9  language,
10  code,
11}: {
12  language: string;
13  code: string;
14}) {
15  return (
16    <SyntaxHighlighter
17      language={language}
18      style={prism}
19      showLineNumbers={true}
20      className="text-xs"
21    >
22      {code}
23    </SyntaxHighlighter>
24  );
25}
26

In this component, language and code props are expected, where language is the programming language of the code snippet (e.g., javascript, python) and code is the actual code text. The prism theme is used for syntax highlighting in this example, but you can choose any other style provided by react-syntax-highlighter.

Step 3: Use the Code Component in Your Next.js Pages or Components

After creating the CodeHighlighter component, you can use it to render code snippets in your Next.js pages or components. Assume you have a blog post page where you fetch a post from Sanity, including a code snippet.

First, ensure you fetch the necessary data from Sanity, including the language and code for the code snippet. Then, use the CodeHighlighter component to display the snippet.

Here's a simplified example of using the CodeHighlighter component within a TextBlock component:

1import {
2  PortableText,
3  type PortableTextReactComponents,
4} from "@portabletext/react";
5
6const components: Partial<PortableTextReactComponents> = {
7  // ...
8  types: {
9    // ...
10    code: ({ value }) => {
11      return <CodeHighlighter language={value.language} code={value.code} />;
12    },
13  },
14};
15
16export default function TextBlock({
17  className,
18  value,
19}: {
20  className?: string;
21  value: any;
22}) {
23  return (
24    <div className={className}>
25      <PortableText value={value} components={components} />
26    </div>
27  );
28}

And here's a simplified example of using the TextBlock component within a blog post component:

1import TextBlock from '../components/TextBlock';
2
3const BlogPost = ({ post }) => {
4  // Assuming `post` is the fetched blog post object from Sanity
5  // and it includes a `codeSnippet` field with `language` and `code` subfields
6  return (
7    <article>
8      <h1>{post.title}</h1>
9      {/* Other post content */}
10      <TextBlock value={post.body} />
11      {/* More post content */}
12    </article>
13  );
14};
15
16export default BlogPost;
SEO Optimizations

SEO is crucial for increasing the visibility of your blog. Next.js and Sanity together provide powerful tools to optimize your blog's SEO.

  1. Meta Tags and Structured Data: Use Next.js's Head component to dynamically add meta tags and structured data to your blog posts. These tags can include titles, descriptions, and even structured data for articles, enhancing your blog's search engine visibility.

Here's an example of meta tags you can generate for a blog post:

1import { type Metadata, type ResolvingMetadata } from "next";
2import { client } from "../lib/sanity";
3
4export async function generateMetadata(
5  { params }: { params: { slug: string } },
6  parent: ResolvingMetadata
7): Promise<Metadata> {
8  const post = await client.fetch(
9    `*[_type == "post" && slug.current == $slug][0] {
10          "image": mainImage.asset->url,
11          title,
12          "author": author->name,
13          publishedAt,
14          _updatedAt,
15      }`,
16    { slug: params.slug }
17  );
18  const metadata: Metadata = {
19    title: `${post?.title}`,
20    authors: [{ name: post?.author }],
21    openGraph: {
22      title: `${post?.title}`,
23      type: "article",
24      publishedTime: post.publishedAt,
25      modifiedTime: post._updatedAt,
26      authors: [post?.author],
27    },
28  };
29  if (post?.image) {
30    metadata.openGraph!.images = [{ url: post.image }];
31  }
32  return metadata;
33}
  1. Generating Sitemaps: Implement a script to generate a sitemap for your blog automatically. A sitemap helps search engines index your content more effectively. You can use your Sanity content to dynamically update this sitemap as new posts are added or updated.
  2. Optimizing URLs and Links: Ensure that your blog uses human-readable URLs for posts, categories, and authors. Use Sanity's slug type for post titles and implement Next.js rewrites if necessary to create clean and SEO-friendly URLs.
Performance Optimization

Performance is key to retaining visitors and improving your blog's search engine ranking. Next.js and Sanity provide several strategies to optimize your blog's performance.

  1. Image Optimization: Use Sanity's image pipeline to deliver optimized images for different screen sizes and resolutions. Combine this with Next.js's Image component to ensure fast, responsive image loading.
  2. Static Site Generation (SSG) and Incremental Static Regeneration (ISR): Leverage Next.js's SSG and ISR features to pre-render pages at build time or on-demand. This approach ensures that your blog loads quickly, providing a better user experience and improving SEO.
  3. Lazy Loading: Implement lazy loading for images and non-critical components. This technique delays loading of non-essential resources until they are needed, reducing initial load times and saving bandwidth.

By enhancing your Next.js blog with these advanced features, you're not just improving the aesthetics and functionality of your site but also its performance and visibility. Custom input components for Sanity Studio allow for a more tailored content creation experience, SEO optimization ensures your blog reaches its intended audience, and performance optimization techniques provide a smooth and fast user experience.

As you continue to explore and implement these advanced features, your blog will evolve into a powerful platform that stands out in the digital landscape. Remember, the journey to superpowering your blog is ongoing, and there's always room for innovation and improvement. Stay curious, experiment with new ideas, and keep pushing the boundaries of what's possible with Next.js and Sanity.

Superpowering Your Blog

Taking your Next.js blog to the next level involves more than just integrating Sanity and optimizing for performance and SEO. It's about creating a dynamic, interactive experience that engages your readers and keeps them coming back. In this section, we'll explore how to leverage the full capabilities of Next.js and Sanity to superpower your blog with personalized content, dynamic routing, and advanced content strategies.

Personalization and Dynamic Content

In a digital landscape filled with content, personalization can make your blog stand out by tailoring the user experience to individual preferences and behaviors.

  1. User Preferences and Content Tailoring: Implement functionality to track user preferences, either through account settings or behavior analysis. Use this information to dynamically adjust the content displayed, such as recommending posts based on previously read content or selected interests.
  2. Dynamic Content Blocks: Use Sanity to create dynamic content blocks that can be rearranged or switched out based on user behavior or special events. This could include featured posts, seasonal topics, or trending discussions, offering a fresh experience with each visit.
Leveraging Next.js for Dynamic Routing

Next.js's file-based routing system, combined with dynamic routes, allows you to create highly customizable URL structures that can enhance navigation and improve SEO.

  1. Slug-Based Post URLs: Implement slug-based URLs for your blog posts, using Sanity to manage the slugs. This approach not only improves SEO but also makes URLs more user-friendly.
  2. Category and Tag Pages: Use dynamic routes in Next.js to create dedicated pages for categories or tags, automatically populated with relevant posts from Sanity. This structure helps users discover content that matches their interests and can boost page views.
  3. Author Profiles: Create dynamic author profile pages that showcase biographies, social links, and all posts by the author. This not only adds credibility but also fosters a sense of community.
Advanced Content Strategies with Sanity

Sanity's real-time content infrastructure supports advanced content strategies that can elevate your blog's quality and engagement levels.

  1. Modular Content Creation: Embrace a modular approach to content creation in Sanity by using portable text and custom objects. This flexibility allows you to assemble posts from reusable components like text blocks, images, quotes, code blocks, and embedded media, facilitating rich, engaging storytelling.
  2. Collaborative Features: Leverage Sanity's collaborative features to enable real-time content editing and commenting within the studio. This can streamline the content creation process, especially when working with a team of writers and editors.
  3. Scheduled Publishing: Utilize Sanity's scheduling capabilities to plan and automate the publication of posts. This ensures a consistent content flow and allows you to time posts for maximum impact.

By superpowering your blog with personalized content, dynamic routing, and advanced content strategies, you transform it into a vibrant, living platform that resonates with readers. Personalization makes your blog more relevant to individual users, dynamic routing enhances navigability and SEO, and advanced content strategies ensure your blog remains engaging and high-quality.

Deployment and Maintenance

After superpowering your Next.js blog with Sanity, deploying it to the web and establishing a routine for maintenance are crucial final steps. This section covers the essentials of deploying your enhanced blog and tips for maintaining it effectively, ensuring it remains fast, secure, and up-to-date.

Deploying Your Next.js Blog

Deployment puts your blog out in the world for everyone to see. Next.js offers seamless integration with various hosting platforms that provide global distribution, automatic scaling, and performance optimizations.

  1. Choosing a Hosting Provider: Select a hosting provider that supports Next.js applications, such as Vercel (the creators of Next.js), Netlify, or AWS Amplify. These platforms offer easy deployment processes and integrate well with GitHub for continuous deployment.
  2. Setting Up Continuous Deployment: Connect your GitHub repository to your chosen hosting platform. This setup enables continuous deployment: every time you push changes to your repository, your site will automatically build and deploy the latest version.
  3. Environment Variables and Secrets: Ensure that your Sanity API keys and any other sensitive information are securely stored as environment variables or secrets on your hosting platform. This keeps your data secure and separates development and production configurations.
  4. Custom Domains: Configure a custom domain with your hosting provider to give your blog a professional touch. Most providers offer detailed guides on linking your domain to your deployed Next.js application.
Routine Maintenance

Maintaining your blog involves regular updates, security checks, and content management to ensure it remains relevant and performs optimally.

  1. Updating Dependencies: Regularly update your Next.js and Sanity studio dependencies to their latest versions. This practice not only secures your application by patching vulnerabilities but also ensures you have access to the latest features and improvements.
  2. Monitoring Performance: Use tools like Google's Lighthouse or Web Vitals to monitor your blog's performance. Address any issues that could slow down your site, such as large image files or unoptimized code.
  3. Content Updates: Regularly review and update your blog's content for accuracy and relevance. Sanity's content studio makes it easy to edit existing posts, add new content, and manage your content architecture as your blog grows.
  4. Security Best Practices: Implement security best practices, such as HTTPS, Content Security Policies (CSP), and regular audits of your code and dependencies for vulnerabilities. Also, ensure your Sanity studio is only accessible to authorized users.
  5. Engaging with Your Audience: Use analytics and feedback tools to understand your audience better and adjust your content strategy accordingly. Engage with your readers through social media, comments, or email newsletters to build a community around your blog.

Deploying and maintaining your Next.js blog are as crucial as the development process itself. By choosing the right hosting provider, setting up continuous deployment, and following routine maintenance practices, you ensure that your blog remains secure, fast, and relevant. Remember, a successful blog is not just about great content and design; it's also about reliability and a seamless user experience. Keep your blog updated, listen to your audience, and continuously strive for improvement, and you'll see your blog thrive in the digital space.

Conclusion

Embarking on the journey to superpower your Next.js blog with Sanity has taken us from the foundational steps of setting up and integrating cutting-edge technologies to deploying a dynamic, personalized, and engaging platform for your audience. Along the way, we've explored advanced features, optimization strategies, and maintenance practices that not only enhance the functionality of your blog but also ensure its growth and sustainability in the long term.

The process of transforming your Next.js blog into a powerful content platform underscores the importance of leveraging modern web development tools and practices. Sanity's flexible content management system, combined with Next.js's robust framework, offers a potent combination for creating fast, SEO-friendly, and content-rich web applications. By customizing your blog with personalized features, dynamic content, and advanced strategies, you create a unique digital space that resonates with your audience and stands out in the crowded online world.

The deployment and maintenance of your blog are crucial, ensuring that your efforts in building and enhancing your site translate into a seamless and enjoyable user experience. Continuous improvement, regular updates, and engagement with your audience are key to keeping your blog vibrant and relevant.

As we conclude, remember that the journey doesn't end here. The digital landscape is ever-evolving, and staying curious, experimenting with new ideas, and adapting to changes are essential for keeping your blog at the forefront of innovation. The strategies and practices discussed in this guide provide a solid foundation, but the true potential of your blog lies in your hands. Continue exploring, learning, and pushing the boundaries of what's possible with Next.js and Sanity.

In closing, I encourage you to take what you've learned, apply it to your projects, and share your experiences with the community. Your insights and innovations can inspire others and contribute to the collective growth of web developers and content creators around the world. Here's to building dynamic, engaging, and superpowered blogs that captivate and inform.

Additional Resources
Official Documentation and Tutorials
  • Next.js Documentation: The official Next.js documentation is a comprehensive resource covering everything from getting started to advanced concepts and best practices.
  • Sanity.io Documentation: Sanity's official documentation offers in-depth guides, reference materials, and tutorials to help you master content management with Sanity.
Online Courses and Video Tutorials
  • Next.js Crash Course: Various platforms like YouTube, Udemy, and freeCodeCamp offer crash courses on Next.js that are perfect for both beginners and experienced developers looking to enhance their skills.
  • Building Projects with Sanity.io: Look for project-based tutorials on YouTube and educational platforms that focus on building real-world applications with Sanity.io. These can provide practical experience and deeper insights into content management.
Communities and Forums
  • Next.js GitHub Discussions: The Next.js GitHub repository not only hosts the source code but also facilitates discussions where developers share insights, ask questions, and offer support.
  • Sanity.io Community: Sanity.io boasts a vibrant community of developers and content creators. Join the Sanity Slack community or explore their forums to get advice, share your projects, and connect with others. Join here.
Blogs and Articles
  • Next.js Blog: The official Next.js blog features updates, tutorials, and case studies that can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your projects.
  • Sanity.io Blog: Sanity's blog is an excellent source of articles on content architecture, best practices, and innovative uses of the Sanity platform.
  • My Blog 😊: If you find this article useful, please visit my blog here for more related stuff.
Tools and Plugins
  • Sanity Plugin Library: Sanity offers a library of plugins that can extend the functionality of your content studio, from custom input types to third-party integrations.
  • Next.js Examples: The official Next.js GitHub repository includes a directory of examples showcasing various features and integrations, which can serve as inspiration or a starting point for your projects.

Happy coding!

Article last update: February 12, 2024

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