Table of Contents
- What is Jamstack?
- Key Features of Jamstack
- Benefits of Jamstack
- Use Cases
- Related Articles
What is Jamstack?
Jamstack (or JAMstack) is a frontend web application/architecture that dynamically fetches content as needed and rewrites websites using static HTML as a base. It allows you to design websites that are faster, safer, and easier to extend.
This approach is particularly beneficial for mobile users, as the amount of data required for the first load on the browser of a prerendered Jamstack page is usually a fraction of what is loaded on traditional server-loaded web pages. This greatly improves the user experience, and reduces bounce rates on landing pages.
The 3 main parts that make up the Jamstack are as follows:
In reality, however, API gateways are commonly deployed to ensure that only secure requests are made before data is sent to the browser.
HTML markup is the skeleton of the modern web, used to create the document object model (DOM) parsed by browsers. Traditionally, HTML pages are generated by a server and sent to the browser. In Jamstack, pages are prerendered in advance (using a build tool, found static site generators like Gatsby and Gridsome) and stored on a content delivery network (CDN).
Because all the Jamstack pages are served from the CDN as prerendered static assets, there is a much reduced loading time compared to pages loaded from traditional backend servers.
Key Features of Jamstack
The API economy enables developers to implement functionality without complex server-side development. Jamstack leverages APIs to decouple technical complexity from the risks involved, thereby increasing the flexibility and portability of your websites.
The front end uses tooling separate from the back end. The front end is typically built using a static site generator. And the back end is often integrated with the front through the use of APIs used during the build process. Server-side processes can also be run using serverless functions.
Using a CDN enables such static content to be delivered at high speed.
Benefits of Jamstack
Pre-rendered static pages are able to load lightning-fast, directly in the browser, compared to traditional pages that have to first be generated by a server, and then parsed in the browser.
Faster page loading speeds provide a superior user experience. This is particularly important for users on mobile devices, where slow loading pages result in significantly higher bounce rates. Static pages also typically use less data to render.
This is in contrast to sites built on traditional CMSs like WordPress, where frontend and backend is tightly coupled. These security vulnerabilities are well-known and discussed by authoritative blogs online.
Superior Experience for Developers
As the Jamstack ecosystem has continued to grow, the ease with which developers can build websites using popular frameworks like Next.js, Nuxt.js, Gatsby, Gridsome, etc. has increased dramatically. It is possible to build a basic static website in a matter of minutes, and ship it to hosting service like Kuroco, Netlify, or Github Pages.
Once the basic site is up and running, the developer can focus on building out the frontend UI components - without having to worry about the usual issues involved with building out a backend application from scratch.
Related to the previous point, Jamstack projects require a lot less (or in some cases, zero) support from backend teams. This eliminates a lot of the overhead that is normally required to manage backend servers and databases.
As a project scales, it may be necessary to make use of some backend support (ex. if setting up custom API gateways or other serverless infrastructure), but in nearly all cases this will still be much more cost effective than maintaining a self-hosted backend at scale.
Instead, the backend could be handled by popular ‘serverless’ frameworks, hosted on cloud providers (including AWS, Google Cloud, or Netlify)
Some of the more common use cases for Jamstack include:
For any blogger with technical/coding abilities, Jamstack makes a far better (and cheaper) choice than nearly other option.
In the first place, it is possible to host the static pages extremely cheaply (or free) on many services. Paid hosting for other blog platforms using traditional CMSs will be sigificantly costlier.
As discussed above, Jamstack pages are also much faster to load in the browser, meaning readers of your blog will have a better user experience.
However, the main downside is that without at least some basic technical knowledge, it is unlikely that a non-technical blogger could set up and customize a blog site on their own. Paying a developer to build a Jamstack site, with a headless CMS for the content creator to use and manage their site's content is still a reasonable option.
The most common approach for e-commerce remains traditional CMS platforms, like WordPress (using e-commerce plugins). Other paid plaforms like Shopify provide an easy content creation experience.
However, excellent Jamstack compatible options do exist. Since Jamstack pages are powered by APIs, it is possible to connect them to cloud-based e-commerce services with just a few lines of code. Once the page is mounted, that third-party data will load on the page separately.
In addition to the e-commerce functionality itself, page content can be managed by marketers using a headless CMS.
As the Jamstack ecosystem continues to grow and improve, the benefits for larger enterprises are becoming apparent. See this related article for more information: "Jamstack for Enterprise".
One of the most important factors in making a Jamstack viable for a team that includes dedicated content creators and marketers, is having a headless CMS. Kuroco is a headless CMS built with enterprise clients in mind, and is an ideal solution for content-heavy Jamstack projects.
Other Resources for Learning About Jamstack
Official website for Jamstack.Welcome to the Jamstack
An introduction by Netlify, a supporter of Jamstack.
VideosJamstack TV - YouTube
Official YouTube channel for Jamstack. Includes videos on the annual Jamstack Conf and other related content.Jamstack: The Complete Guide | Udemy
Udemy course on web development using Jamstack.